I am an avid home cook and have also worked in restaurants, including fine dining, a New York style deli, and a popular steak house for over a decade. Recently moved to Louisville, which I am told has more privately owned eateries per capita than any other place in the nation. :-) I enjoy cooking on a budget and usually stick to recipes that include items I keep in my pantry and what is on sale at the grocery store that week. The challenge of sticking to what is 'locally available and fresh' is something that I happen to believe keeps cooks grounded in reality, and keeps you on your toes--Kinda like the show "Chopped," just in my own kitchen. Working with what you've got is something that almost all of our ancestral cooks have had to deal with, and I am embracing the challenge. That being said, if you don't have your own herb garden, it is a must-have for expert level cooking on a budget.
My favorite things to cook
Mediterranean cuisine tends to be popular in my house, as do sweet baked goods. We love seasonally appropriate dishes, and can't wait for chili season every year. Grilled foods are always welcome additions to any meal and I am known to throw a shish kabob party or two. Mexican dishes seem to be at least a bi-weekly occurrence in any season.
My cooking triumphs
I made my own wedding cake-style cake for my engagement party in 2007. It was a three tier, three layer cake with dark chocolate and raspberry filling. "Blue-raspberry" blue butter-cream frosting with fresh raspberry trimmings, it was beautiful and delicious. I made the same style cake for my friend's 30th birthday party, but this time with chocolate sour cream cake, peanut butter frosting, and peanut butter chocolate ganache. Trimmed with dark Reese's peanut butter cup crumbs and ganache dipped strawberries, it was a sight to see and quite possibly the most rich and decadent cake I ever put in my mouth.
My cooking tragedies
They happen all the time. Trial and error is the name of the game. Anyone that tells you that everything that comes out of their kitchen is "amazing" is LYING TO YOU. To learn the basics, and follow your gut, are my only two pieces of advice to avoid seemingly constant tragedies.