photo courtesy of worldcommunitycookbook.com
I learned something. I couldn't decide how to sum it up, so here's 5 versions:
It's the little things. In cooking just as much if not more as anything else.
It is possible to ruin kale.
It is possible to ruin a tested, well-received, simple!! recipe by missing one tiny important step.
God is in the details.
The harder you try to be impressive with your dinner the more likely it is you will fall on your face.
But now wait a minute, actually, in my defense: This was NOT a trying-hard dinner. I know better than that! I wasn't going to bone a duck or make tapenade. The Date was coming over, and I was going for graceful, effortless, 'so-what-if-my-kitchen-must-be-viewed-through-a-microscope' sexiness. No stress. I chose a very very easy and tasty menu: Pasta Puttanesca (as endorsed in your Valentines post), and the Kale with Bacon and Vinegar that everybody loved at Fall Equinox. (Duh - it has BACON and VINEGAR). Fast, simple, AND impressive, right? FYI I based my version of 'Whore's Pasta' on the Amateur Gourmet's version ... though I just couldn't do the 8 cloves of garlic!!! (Sorry Adam!) and stopped at 5, as The Date's eyes were already bugging out at the pile on the cutting board.
The Kale is a breeze - into the boiling water for 5, into the pan with the fried-up bacon for 10, into a bowl, splash with vinegar, serve. I was way more focused on the Pasta of Ill Repute, having never made it before. And while flitting around trying to appear gorgeous and not sweaty, I blithely splashed the vinegar into the saute pan during phase 2. As in, I cooked with it, instead of finishing with it. But so what, big deal.
The Puttanesca - salty, savory, garlicky, sour - was a big hit. "This is great", the Date (who had claimed to hate anchovies) enthused, piling on the grated parmesan White American Man-style.
The kale, however, got this response:
"Tastes kinda weird."
And, Mouse, it did. Oh, my bruised FoodBlogger Ego. It was, like, musty, or kind of fruit-gone-bad. No denying it. And I was all, "but it has BACON and VINEGAR..." I couldn't figure it out. I'd made it before!
There was but one thing to do. Go upstairs, visit The Neighbors, and eat most of their cake. And, while there, learn a few things. Firstly, that Puttanesca was the first thing that Mrs. Neighbor had ever cooked for Mr. Neighbor, and secondly, that she had also screwed up a perfectly good vegetable recipe by doing guess what: putting the vinegar into the pan while cooking instead of using it to finish the dish. She likened the taste to a bottle of wine that had turned. Yep.
I tested out this theory a couple of days later with a whole new bunch of kale and I have to say it holds up. Delicious once again, bacon and all. photo courtesy myrecipes.com and Boo's laziness
So, while most of my posts are of the "Just get in there! Make it up!" variety, the moral of this one is: Attention Must Be Paid. Stick to the G-D recipe and stop worrying about your waterproof mascara.