Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Cooking Mojo Was on Overdrive

Monday was one of those surreal days where my culinary skills were in touch with the heartbeat of the universe. I had a pile of bookmarked and dogeared recipes to try on my day off and I seemed to get into that zen-zone Olympic athletes must ascend to when everything clicks and they go on to win medals in seemingly effortless style. That's how it was Monday, my Holy Day of Cooking, when my spatula was golden, my apron strings were winged and my oven cranked out one beautiful creation after another.

First up was some baking for my gluten-free sweetheart, who was bereft of buns and bread. I consulted my new cookbook "1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes" by the amazing Carol Fenster (NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2008), which I will review in a subsequent blog post. I mixed up a batch of her Sorghum Blend, half of which was devoted toward her Russian Black Yeast Bread recipe and the remainder to her Italian Parmesan Herb Yeast Bread. The Russian Black Bread was superb, with that great complex taste of cocoa, caraway and molasses that makes pumpernickel type breads so distinctive and flavorful. I decided to covert the Italian Parmesan Herb Bread into six big buns which I kept in shape with some snazzy new metal egg rings I bought at my local restaurant supply store ($1.90 each). They rose beautifully and cooked up into fluffy, yet chewy buns that Dan enjoyed immediately as a tomato sandwich with some of the last Brandywine beauties from our garden. The buns also were wonderful toasted.

While the breads were rising and baking, I decided to make a batch of Cannellini Beans in Mint Marinade from Kalyn's Kitchen. Easy, elegant and exquisite! Next up was another bookmarked recipe from Deb of Kahakai Kitchens, a Tofu Egg Salad recipe. Vegan daughter loved it after school and the next day, and the omnivores in the house grooved on it too. I still had a half block of pressed tofu left, so I thought I'd tweak my Rice Noodle Salad with Tofu and Nori and use it up, and with my enchanted Kitchen Mojo still in gear, it came out the best I ever made and was slurped up that night with no leftovers!

With a streak like this, how could I stop? Despite a lingering cold I continued this preternatural chain of cooking prowess with another project to use up some of our mint patch with Mint Flavoured Sugar from Italian blogger Briggi. That was easy and perfumed the house with its spicy scent while it cooked in the oven at low temperature. I popped the result into some glittering 1/2 pint jars and am dreaming of giving away this treat at the Christmas holidays and saving some for us to sprinkle on sliced fruit (fresh pineapple is recommended), spoon into hot tea, garnish cupcakes and maybe adorn the rim of my next Mojito!

I thought about taking a restorative nap, but with all the positive culinary vibrations swirling about me, I thought I might try one more project: Dinner! A quick trip back out to the garden for some basil and tomatoes and a nip to the grocery store for shallots after scooping up my soccer star from her afternoon practice provided the missing ingredients for yet another bookmarked recipe, Shrimp Scampi, courtesy of Nataysha of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. Boy, that was plate-licking good! I've made Shrimp Scampi a bunch of times before, but the lemon, hot pepper and shallots really kick up the flavor.

Wow! After seven successes, I thought it best to blow the smoke off the ends of my kitchen tools and bask in the satisfaction of having made a bunch of treats for my family and some holiday giftables for the future. My streak was an amazement, when I think of all the scorched and overbaked goods I've left in my wake, particularly since Glutenzilla showed up. I guess it just takes a bit of practice and a lot of good cook buddies on the Internet and who write cookbooks to help you out. Here's hoping you catch some Cooking Mojo too!


Kalyn Denny said...

Wow you were definitely productive! Glad you liked the beans in mint marinade. I absolutely love that recipe!

Johanna GGG said...

lovely post - so full of the good vibes of a good cooking day - and lots of good ideas - that mint sugar looks like a fantastic idea!

Anonymous said...

Well I am sure you were beat by the end of it all!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Go mojo! It all looks incredible! I keep wanting to make mint sugar.

BTW--I have an award on my blog for you tomorrow!

Maggie said...

I hope some rubs off on me! I had a huge pot of applesauce (chunky so all the apples were peeled and cored) scorch. The whole thing was ruined.

I got my copy of La Cucina in the mail yesterday and I'm really loving it!

Rachel said...

Kalyn: The beans have left the building! No more left. Great recipe and thanks again.

Johanna1: Mint sugar is nice. I used some on applesauce.

Johanna2 (Food Junkie): I was beat, but I was too spooked to quit cooking, so I kept going.

Deb: Thanks again for my first ever blog award! I'm very touched.

Maggie: Bummer on the applesauce! After all that hard work. I hereby send you some cooking mojo by cyberspace! Yeah, La Cucina is good. I'm re-reading it and just tucking into it today!

Alicia Foodycat said...

What a day of cooking! Fantastic that you got such a run of successes.