Tuesday, July 8, 2008

zucchini pancakes and the art of baking

Last night I was in a bit of a funk, so I cooked.  Some people go for a run.  Others see their therapist, or go shopping.  I cook my troubles away.  There's something about being alone in my kitchen, creating whatever meal or dessert that strikes my fancy, that just puts me in a better place.  It's my version of meditation, I suppose. 

  I've always really valued the spontaneity of cooking versus the methodical nature of baking.  Always sort of prided myself on my ability to improvise, to doctor a recipe until it is my own.  But lately, I've found myself gravitationg toward baking.  Has there been some sort of shift in the way I view the world?  Have I become a lover of science over art?  I'm not sure the exact reason why this change has occurred, but I have discovered that the idea of following a recipe exactly as it is written, not tweaking a single ingredient, can be a whole new sort of experience.  And I like it.

I think about those who created the recipe.  The women and men who spent hours in a tiny, hot, kitchen trying just a little more baking powder, maybe not so much flour.  I feel a sort of kinship to those who have baked before.  They've already worked out the kinks.  They've already had the disasters of failed cakes and gritty frostings, so that I don't have to now.  

So anyway, last night, I couldn't get this buttercream recipe off my mind.  Dinner was done, the kids were occupied, and the compulsion to make a delicious frosting was absolutely impossible to ignore.  Nevermind the fact that I had no cake to frost.   I knew I would be making a dessert in a couple of days for our play group, probably a cake.  I could have waited.  But I knew there was a scaled-down version of the recipe just for trying it out.  And I had to do it.  Couldn't stop myself.  

Oh, Glory!  What a delicious frosting!  I want to bake a cake every day just so I can make this yummy icing.  I am not even a big fan of frosting.  When presented with an option, I always choose the cake slice that is mostly cake rather than the slice with all the buttercream flowers all over it.  But this one.  Ooohhh.  It is so very perfect.  Not too sweet or rich, perfectly smooth and creamy.  This will be my new go-to frosting.  I'm only sorry there are no photos.  The making of The Frosting (as my family will no doubt refer to it from now on) was so unplanned that I just didn't think of documentation.  Today when I make a bigger batch, for tomorrow's cake, I'll get some pictures and post them.  

With all of that said, I really must also mention that last night I also made one of the most delicious savory dishes we've had in a while.  I made the Barefoot Contessa's zucchini pancakes using some zucchini from my in-laws' garden.  Wow.  The recipe made such a large batch I figured we'd have leftovers for days, but they were just so heavenly that my family polished off every last one.  Only Charlie, with his fear of all foods green, didn't partake.  His loss.  Who knew a simple mixture of grated zucchini, flour, baking powder, onion, salt and pepper could result in such a lovely dish.  I have to say, every Barefoot Contessa recipe I've tried, save the roasted winter vegetable soup fiasco, has turned out beautifully.  I highly recommend her cookbooks.  The recipes are simple and elegant and always turn out the way they're supposed to.  A big plus in my mind. 


The Armstrongs said...

That looks so good...you'll have to share that recipe...

Kate said...

great post...great pancakes. yum!