I’ve been trying to think of how to begin. I think I’ll start by listing some of my favorite foods and dishes. Eggs Benedict and Beef Wellington are my favorite dishes, followed closely by chicken with couscous. I love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. The experience of eating in a Middle Eastern or authentic Greek restaurant with the smells, unique tastes, and usually the owners present I can’t duplicate at home, but I do make chicken with couscous quite often for my family, as well as pita, gyros, baklava, and other Greek dishes.
I am German but only eat German food once or twice a year. I enjoy eating it, but it’s just not something I can eat very often. I have fond memories of authentic meals shared with my German grandmother and her sisters, my mother and my immediate family members.
There is nothing like good, home-fried chicken and mashed potatoes with milk gravy. My American grandmother was the best at making it and to my utter frustration I can never get it to taste just like hers. Once, while on a break from culinary school, with much determination I followed her step by step through her process. It was delicious. But even though she was standing beside me and it was made in her kitchen with her fifty year old cast iron skillet, it was not my grandma’s fried chicken.
I love Italian food. Who doesn’t? The usual red sauced and cheesey dishes, of course, are some of my favorite comfort foods. I’ve never met an Alfredo I didn’t like which has become Americanized in its popularity, but what I like best about Italian food is the fresh ingredients. Tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, fresh basil and pesto, crusty bread dipped in flavored oils and vinegars, fresh cheeses, the lemon sauces, and the abundant use of mushrooms and fresh, vibrant vegetables I find more appealing than the heavily sauced pasta dishes that are common. Now Italian I could eat every day and probably do in one form or another. I always say, “Some day I will eat my way through Italy!”, and I will!
Let’s see…I adore parsnips for whatever reason. I am pretty addicted to them actually. I primarily eat them salted, roasted, and then pureed. Mushrooms in any form, all edible fungi for that matter, are near the top of my list of favorite ingredients. I once bought a jar of truffles solely for use in scrambled eggs, my favorite way to eat them, but I have never bought them fresh, as their availabilty and the funds necessary to procure such a luxury item alludes me. As far as the starches go, I am a big fan of cooking and eating polenta, risotto, and orzo. Balsamic vinegar is probably my favorite condiment. It’s popularity has declined a bit, but it will always sit next to the extra virgin olive oil on a tray on my kitchen counter. Blue cheese…what can I say? You either love it or you hate it and I have loved it since I was a child. Some of my other top picks in the cheese department are stilton, creamy havarti, any form of chevre, brie, camembert, and my favorite cheese to just sit and eat is Kerry Gold Irish Dubliner. http://www.foodireland.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=spi403&Category_Code=deli
Flaky pastries top the list of desserts and baked goods that I enjoy most. Don’t even get me started on croissants. I once devoted one week to making croissants in my home kitchen and I was amazed by how difficult it was. I probably made five batches that week, using the same recipe, and every batch was different. I plan to devote another week to this pursuit in the near future and will post the recipe, steps, and results here on Edible Tapestry.
Shamefully, one of my all-time favorite desserts is a large Dairy Queen Chocolate Dip Cone in a cup. The reason I ask for it in a cup is that they don’t quite know how to dip it in the chocolate once it’s in the cup, so invariably they ladle on scoop after scoop in an attempt to cover the entire swirl of ice cream and the end result is a thick layer of hardened chocolate rimming the plastic cup. Need I ramble on about how much I love chocolate? I think that says it all. I will say that my favorite chocolate for eating, baking, and confection making is Lindt chocolate from Switzerland. This goes back to early childhood when my mother would recieve a package from her German relatives at Christmas and one at Easter filled to the brim with different European chocolates and lebkuchen. I will never forget the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon that would fill the room when she would cut through the packing tape and open those boxes. My favorite Lindt product is white chocolate Lindor Truffles which, oddly enough, I discovered with a friend in the gift shop of the Florida Capitol Building on a h.s. field trip. We walked right back in the little shop after our first taste and came close to buying out their supply of the little, gold foil-wrapped treasures. Fortunately, nearly every grocery and discount store carries them a good…eh’ hem…couple of decades later. http://www.lindtusa.com/
I cook from scratch for my family who loves Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Chef Boyardee Ravioli, Strawberry Twizzlers, microwave popcorn, soda, M&Ms, and Pringles probably more than anything in the world. I did not grow up eating these things, so they are rarely allowed in our home and homemade veggie burgers on scratch-made multi-grain buns have been the penance for such indulgences over the past few months. I grew up with parents who put specialty foods as top priority on the list of life’s most important recreational activities. I also strive to expose my family to as much “real” food and as many eating experiences as I can.
I am delighted to see how the availability of specialty foods has spread to local grocery stores. It amazes me that items only found in gourmet food stores and through specialty restaurant food suppliers ten years ago can now be found simply everywhere. It makes experimenting with these products easier even in this rough economy. I recently read somewhere that you should buy whatever you want from the grocery store because everything in the grocery store is less expensive than anything you can eat in a restaurant. I find this so true so don’t mind grabbing a few of my favorite things in the grocery store that may off-set my budget but help to create an indulgent meal at home that would have cost from four to ten times the price in a restaurant.
So there you go…a few of those favorites of mine. Now I’m hungry…