I'm recently married, so the past year has been spent trying new recipes and building a go-to list of favorite recipes that can be whipped up after work without too much fuss but still feel special. I love to cook, but when I was a single gal my cooking was more or less dinner party cooking-- special, rich, fattening, expensive, twiddly dishes that just don't translate to an average Wednesday night, you know? Also, my husband is Portuguese, which means we are living in Europe and trying a whole new range of flavors and cooking techniques I hadn't tried before. It also means a lot of baking and cooking from scratch, when I am craving something that tastes completely American! Good practice, eh? :)
My favorite things to cook
I love cooking cocktail party food (and throwing parties to go with it!) I'm in love with ethnic foods, whether it is Chinese, Italian, Moroccan, or food from my new homeland of Portugal. It is fascinating to learn a culture from making its food. Oh, and lastly-- baking has always been my first love, and still reigns supreme. I adore making cakes and delicious sweet things.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom was a pretty utilitarian cook-- feeding a picky husband and two little kids was no picnic. Only after I had grown up and left home did she start experimenting with new recipes and ingredients. But I do remember baking cookies with her before Christmas. She has the BEST shortbread cutouts I have ever tasted-- I can't even eat any others around the holidays! That's one recipe I DO make over and over!
My cooking triumphs
Anything that makes my guests lick their plates and ask for more. My almond coconut layer cake is pretty good. And I think that over the years I have built up a knack for putting out a huge array of delicious and nicely presented cocktail foods all at once and never having the same menu twice. My Christmas Open House this year was the first one with my new in-laws, and they just loved it!
My cooking tragedies
I once made a crust for apple strudel that was so shiny, thick and hard when I brought it to the table to cut, between four of us we couldn't get it open with the knife, fork, or any normal utensils. That was an interesting dinner party... I have since been introduced to a pastry cutter. VERY helpful!
(And my crusts have improved immensely since then!)