Yesterday was the hubby’s 27th birthday, and — as I do every year — I let him pick out his birthday meal. And, like every year, he picked out something that I had never made before. I’m not sure if it’s because he likes to live on the edge, or if it’s because he thinks that recipes will always come out perfectly if the cookbook is followed carefully. I know full well that this is not always the case. Lemon meringue pie comes to mind. I never can get it to come out just right, even though I follow every single instruction.
But my husband is a lover of science. And for him, cooking is a science. If you throw an apple in the air, gravity will make it fall. And if you pull out your Joy of Cooking cookbook and follow each line of the recipe, you will end up with Fettucini Alfredo and Coconut Custard Pie. Easy as pie, right?
Let’s start with the pie crust. Pie crusts and I are not friends. I’ve been told that I make a very good one, and I smile sweetly and say “thank you” as if it had been no trouble at all. But back home, a flour dust storm raged through the kitchen, and everything is covered in a thin layer of the white powder. My clothes are no exception. Also, the first pie crust attempt always ends up in the trash and I end up having to make a second one. The second one comes out perfect every time.
I’m not the scientist, so I can’t tell you why that’s the case. It just happens every single time.
And if you’ve ever cooked with the Joy of Cooking cookbook, you know that it gives very specific instructions. I was flipping back and forth, going to page 860 to read about how to roll out a pie crust and then being moved to page 863 to read about how to pre-bake it.
I felt as though I were reading a science textbook. I had to follow the guidelines or else chaos would result. That’s another thing about the Joy of Cooking. It doesn’t skirt around the truth. Over-bake your pie and the edges will crystallize. Under-cook your pie and it will be soggy. Bake your pie at too high of a heat and it will curdle. Pour the custard into a cooled pie crust and the crust will become soft. Forget to add the egg yolk glaze? You’ll have a disaster on your hands.
I guess I should have been grateful that they were warning me about all the things that could possibly go wrong. Still, I won’t lie. I think my blood pressure may have gone up just a notch.
The Fettucini Alfredo was a lot easier. Freshly grated parmesan cheese mixed with pasta, heavy cream, butter, and a touch of salt. To add color, and a bit of healthy, I served it with sautéed green beans and mushrooms.
Both dinner and dessert were a hit, so I think I’m onto something. The Joy of Cooking may be very specific, but it does know what it’s asking you to do.
Happy Birthday to my man. I hope that your day was special and that you got everything you wanted!!
(Our cat Highstreet obviously wanted to be one of the birthday presents).
I found the link for both recipes online:
Fettucine Alfredo (I’d add two cloves of garlic. I also added more parmesan cheese than asked for to make the sauce thicker and more flavorful. Don’t forget to add salt for flavor).