Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The Bland Taste of Failure
I view failure in my own special way. I have yet to cook anything that is completely inedible (The Carnivore still holds that title from The Catfish Stew incident), but the past two nights have been disappointing nonetheless. Both dinners required about two hours of prep and cooking time, so I had high hopes each time, especially with such yummy-sounding new recipes as Potato Pancakes with Goat Cheese, and Garden-Style Lasagna. But the finished products were booorrring, and the end result has been much pouting and an uncontrollable itch to redeem myself with better meals. I may as well clear my calendar for this weekend, because I can see where this is leading...
Potato pancakes have long been a favorite for me (my old housemate used to make great ones for Hanukkah each year - maybe you have to be Jewish to get these right), but this was the second recipe I have tried for them and I think I'm close to admitting defeat. I'm not entirely sure if the problem lies with the tasteless results, or the fact that my pancakes never hold together. I lean towards the latter since my salmon cakes and my black bean patties never quite hold their shape either (at least they taste good though). But I find it so dang hard to give up without a fight.
The lasagna recipe should have been fabulous. It took two cups each of chopped onions, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and broccoli; and I tend to expect sustained hard work to correlate with stellar results. I hate it when I'm wrong. The veggies were sauteed with garlic and layered with a cheese mixture, lasagna noodles and a spinach cream sauce. Sounds fabulous. Had no taste whatsoever. I'm not at all willing to give up on this recipe though, and I plan to tweak it just as soon as I get my cooking confidence back. Maybe with some herbs and spices, and stronger cheeses...
Matter of fact, both of my recipes came from Cooking Light magazine, and therein may lie the problem. Thus far, most of the recipes I have tried from this source have turned out wonderfully, but sometimes you have to sacrifice too much flavor when trying to cut back on the fat content. There is a fine line between eating healthy and eating boring, and I can only go so far with this. As far as I'm concerned, the goals are to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, to eat whole grains instead of refined ones, and to avoid processed foods. As long as those goals are met, I say bring on the full-fat dairy products (as long as they're organic, of course). The lasagna suffered from the use of cottage cheese in place of ricotta, and by using low-fat milk thickened up with flour instead of just using half-and-half or, God forbid, heavy cream. I don't intend to make that mistake again.
Here's to fattening up those light recipes.