Cooking

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If anything has romanced me entirely, bewitched me and kept me hostage, it is brown butter. All you do to make it is caramelize a pat of butter, moving it constantly to keep it from burning but allowing it to toast up into a dark brown smooth sauce that is perfectly sweet from the lactose in butter turning into, essentially, caramel. There is nothing better… Lots of things better FOR you, but nothing that tastes more rich and decadent!

My first encounter with it was with a banana bread recipe – i heart eating has a scrumptious version. The brown butter made a great complement to my version of banana bread, which uses mostly fruit for sweetener and thus isn’t naturally super sweet. It doesn’t bother me as much as other butter applications, because without that glaze I’d still put butter on warm banana bread… such is my weakness. The glaze, however, does satisfy me to the point of not needing another layer of butter!

Recently, I had the above-pictured meal, and the brown butter was a treat. A sprig of crispy sage garnished a pile of ravioli filled with butternut squash; a little parmesan, some pomegranate arils for tang and color, and olive oil were all it needed. I knew that butternut squash was a sweet vegetable, but I think the brown butter sauce brought it out and made me feel like I was eating one of the sweet potato casseroles that is so popular at thanksgiving, not a regular savory pasta dish at all.

If you are looking to try out brown butter, I can recommend it as a sauce for… pretty much anything? Specifically pretty much anything that could use a sweet counterpoint to some other dominant flavor, since sweet on more sweet is not usually my style. For great, step by step tips on browning butter, check out the Kitchn, which always seems to be there to help me in tricky cooking situations.

If you aren’t a butter eater, I’m always in the market for healthier sauce alternatives, so feel free to fill the comments with your favorite kinds of sauces that can be slightly less rich but still make a dish pop the way that a concentrated little amount of brown butter does. See you all tomorrow; I’ll just be over here daydreaming about that ravioli again.

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Amazing enchiladas, avocado, and salsa with rice; one of my rare forays into a real, complete home-cooked meal.

Husband has been getting prepared for our 2nd anniversary, and his favorite idea was for us to do a cooking class together: we’d learn how to make some really nice food and learn some nice side benefits, like knife skills. However, I balked at the price: $160 for us both to learn and eat.

In looking for other options, we stumbled upon HelloFresh. It ends up being a great deal for us: for 60 dollars a week, we get three meals for us both, we avoid at least one trip to the grocery store, and we save time on chopping and locating various items throughout the kitchen and pantry. So we decided that getting three weeks of meals for the same price as the one class would make more togetherness!

I am especially in love with a new feature they have, called Dinner+Lunch. It uses the same main ingredient, like chicken, and makes it really easy to assemble a second meal that isn’t just leftovers. For instance, you roast up chicken for a pesto pasta dish one night, and leftover pesto chicken gets added to tomatoes on a baguette for a lunchtime sandwich the next day. I really like it and the added lunch is cheaper than the normal meals, only 5 dollars a person, which is way less than the typical 10 per person.

There are tons of subscription services, so not all of them are best for everyone, but this one was advertised on a ton of podcasts I listen to so I gave it a shot, and I figured, no matter what, 10 meals for the price of one cooking class was awesome! I’m committing myself to watching some online videos on knife skills and other integral parts of being a successful cook (what is a sear, for instance?) while I work on these meals too.

Lastly, there will be no banishing of Husband from the kitchen while I’m cooking; it’s a small kitchen, and so when I’m really focused on a meal, I often get Husband to go have fun elsewhere. With these meals, it is usually easy enough to create them that I know there is no reason why we can’t do it together, even in close proximity.

If you want to give it a try, this link should get you 40 dollars off your first box! Let me know if you have other subscription food delivery kits that you like, because I might do it for other “presents” in the future too. 🙂

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