Waaaaaay back in 2015, when Trump was trying to be a thing, but wasn’t yet, and COVID was absolutely not a thing, I wrote a couple of posts about my foodie fails (If you’re interested, they are here: Radishes, Carrots and Kale, Oh My!, Foodie Fail Number Two, Foodie Fail 3: A Lentil by Any Other Name Will Ruin Your Recipe)
The short version is that I am a very basic cook, and when I attempt to change lanes, it never ends well. While I accept that, I don’t think I completely understood why until this latest foray. I understand many kinds of porn — Zillow porn, book list porn, and even porn porn, but not food porn. The only food videos I watch teach me things like the most efficient way to chop a head of cauliflower. Recipe blogs drive me bonkers. No, I don’t give a rat’s butt that you created this receipe for your husband who developed a mushroom allergy, or that you recreated your favorite restaurant meal at home, or have an intense desire to share your passion for tripe. JUST GET TO THE FLIPPIN’ RECIPE.
I do have a tendency to collect recipes from magazines, which perhaps is food porn lite; I outright reject 80% because they require ingredients I don’t know/like/will never use again. The others, I’m like, well, OK that looks kind of good, and I cut it out, shove it in my recipe notebook and then promptly forget about it.
I have the ability to cook once and eat it all week long. But COVID has tested even my superior skill; I was tired of my repertoire and thought, hey, why don’t I look at the recipe graveyard? So I came upon a recipe for a cauliflower and broccoli tart. It reminded me of quiche, which I like and haven’t made in a long time. In retrospect, I should have stuck with the quiche. I think the recipe’s main attraction was the cauliflower and that it called itself a tart, which I can relate to. And the ingredients weren’t outlandish — puff pastry and creme fraiche, which I just learned is pronounced “free.” Fuck you French language and all your letters you never pronounce. I got enough going on for chrissakes. That should have been the tip off, but Stop and Shop delivery had the Frenchie dairy thing, so all systems were go. The recipe said you could substitute sour cream, so I ordered it just in case.
The second tip off? The recipe called for a tart pan. Who the hell has a tart pan, and how is it different from a pie plate? So I used a pie plate. When recipes tell you how long to do something, they absolutely straight up lie. Every. Single. Time. And yet, I continue to believe them. Even though hundreds of recipes have mislead me for how long I should stir, simmer, boil, process, I always think, “This time will be different.” It never is, but you know what? That’s on me. And that contributed to my realization: I make a recipe like a one-night stand. Meet up, have a little chat, get in, get out. If I like the recipe, it may turn into a FWB situation. But foodies, I have come to understand, go all out seducing, loving, romancing, and pledging themselves to the long haul. They see those minutes only as a guide — they are tasting and touching and watching closely to the reactions of the object of their desire. I ain’t got time for that. If the recipe says boil the cauliflower and broccoli for 3-5 minutes that’s what I’m going to do, even though I notice adding the frozen broccoli stops the boil altogether. The recipe should account for that, shouldn’t it? Wham, bam, thank you boiled water. Why must I give you more?
It turns out that Stop and Shop was out of the Frenchie dairy thing and sent me an Italian dairy thing instead — mascarpone cheese. I started to read about the difference between those two and sour cream; sweet vs sour, blah, blah, blah. Honestly, it was like the one night stand talking too much. I didn’t sign up for a chat; let’s get this show on the road. When I poured the sour cream/egg mixture over the not-boiled-long-enough-because-recipes-lie vegetables, it didn’t even fill half the depth of the dish. I glanced back to the recipe photo. Crap. But what can I do at this point? I don’t know enough about these things to know if adding another egg and more sour cream will help, or make it worse. Or is this what happens when you go rogue and use a pie plate? If this were a one-night-stand, I’d be showing it the door.
I baked it for 20 minutes — lying recipe said 15 — which did nothing to un-crisp the vegetables and solidified the little bit of egg I could see, way down in the dish.
And ultimately, it was wholly disappointing. I still don’t know the difference between a tart pan and a pie plate, or what the hell to do with the Italian dairy thing. However, unlike a fair number of our politicians right now, I take responsibility for my hand in it. I also do know this: food, I will not now, nor ever love you the way you want to be loved. I’m just in it for the basic nutrients and some tastiness. I guess deep down, I’m really just a tart.