dinner party

When this whole cooking idea began to form in my head, I knew I wanted to throw a dinner party. I love watching Ina Garten throw parties too much to not try and throw one myself. So I did just that last night! The menu was as follows (all from various Barefoot Contessa cookbooks):

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

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Parmesan Chive Smashed Potatoes

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Crispy Mustard Roasted Chicken

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Salted Caramel Brownies

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Everything was a ROUSING SUCCESS! Even though I was sweaty for a lot of the beginning. Still cool. My friends all praised me appropriately and I was very proud of myself. One thing that always bothers me about the “grown-up” dinner parties my parents throw is that people take so damn long to get to dessert. With this ragtag group of teens, we can go to this brownie immediately after we’ve finished our dinner. Which was quickly. It makes for a pretty fast dinner but that just gives us more time to play Taboo and watch Rugrats in Paris.

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– Sophie

Much-better pictures courtesy of my sister.

eggs and toast two ways

This summer, I studied abroad in a little town in France called Tours. Every morning for breakfast, I ate three pieces of crustless white toast (it comes crustless in the package! It amazed me for some reason) smothered in Bonne Maman blackberry jam. This is a jam we have in the US, but it was only in France where I ate it on a daily basis and fell completely in love with it.

AND….I finally ate it again. I don’t know why it took me so long. IMG_3411

Breakfast brings me so much joy. Even bowls of cereal make me excited to sleep at night. Scrambled eggs and toast isn’t a particularly opulent breakfast, but it still feels a bit fancy to break up the routine, especially with the addition of my favorite jam in the whole world on toasted sourdough.

For lunch, I did a bit of an open-faced sandwich on that same sourdough with prosciutto, mozzarella, and a fried egg. I wish my fried egg was a bit more photogenic, but that will come with practice, I suppose.

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salmon with lemon herb spaghetti

My first real meal! I approached this meal right off the heels of my first failed dessert in quite some time. I had attempted Ina Garten’s Decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake and ended up with a flat, bitter-chocolatey disaster, but I tried not to let it dishearten me too much. This was what I made my family for dinner tonight: salmon on a bed of lemony spaghetti with a lemon-herb butter sauce on top of the fish.

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I am a big fat BABY when it comes to fish, but I always love a good salmon. This was actually my first time handling a raw salmon myself and I think I’ve successfully conquered my small fear of touching raw meat. For now. All I did to prepare the salmon was brush it with olive oil as well as some good salt and pepper, then broiled it for about fifteen minutes. I took a small shortcut and tossed the spaghetti with an amazing salad dressing my aunt made for a dinner party we threw yesterday– I don’t know what exactly was in it, but it was lemony and fantastic.

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To top the fish, I used this sauce recipe (minus the dill and chives because HEY! I didn’t have any. It was still good). Overall, this was a pretty manageable (and quite delicious) recipe for my first dinner in this cooking odyssey. I’m pretty proud of handling a salmon. My mom passed down a lot of meat issues to my sister and I.

And just for shits and giggles, here is the lovely display of cupcakes I made for aforementioned dinner party (my plan B after the disastrous cake). I made Martha Stewart’s One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, which is my go-to recipe. I also made Ina Garten’s lemon bars. If any lemon bar I eat reminds me of the perfect ones served at every fancy reception that my high school had, I count it as a success.

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– Sophie

hello

It started with MasterChef Junior. As some things do. I became certifiably addicted to MasterChef Junior last December, and quickly became inspired. I was watching tiny children cook chard-wrapped salmon with coconut fish broth and salt-crusted branzino and many other foods of which I had never heard. Basically, if you haven’t watched MasterChef Junior, you probably don’t love yourself enough. It has changed my life and the way I look at the world.

From MasterChef Junior, I moved onto harder things like Barefoot Contessa. In the span of four days, I watched every single episode available on YouTube and then found it difficult to concentrate without Ina Garten’s soothing voice and melodic giggles in my ears. I watched every cooking show I could get my hands on. And I started to lose my mind because I wanted to cook so badly!

I’ve loved to bake for years, and I consider myself pretty good at it. I had a certain summer where I baked a different baked good pretty much every day. It was basically a batch of cupcakes daily and the only people who ate them were my sister and I. Flash to my doctor’s appointment and the doctor goes, “Have you adopted a little baking habit?” as a FUN JOKE and I was like “Yup.” I’ve developed a better exercise routine since then but still. That was rude.

Anyways. I bake but I don’t do much cooking. Right now, I’m a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin and still have no access to a kitchen. But I am ITCHING to cook. I plan on going kitchen-crazy when I go home for spring break next week and then dedicating my whole summer to learning the techniques of the pros. My mom is an amazing chef who spent some time at culinary school so I’m relying a lot on her, but I really want to become completely independent and be able to cook a wonderful meal all by myself. I will be using this blog to document my cooking journey and I hope I’ll be learning a lot.

– Sophie