Monday, November 5, 2007

Pleasure Cooking

While there are times when I most certainly love the hectic, fast-paced, crazy lifestyle of cooking in a professional or semi-professional kitchen I spent my Sunday cooking a meal for some family and friends at a slow, leisurely pace. It was remarkable how pleasant the whole experience was. I was cooking with a very good friend that I met through my uncle. He is great cook and very knowledgeable in the kitchen. He also has a talent for planning out the cooking process so that all goes well.

Together we made a crispy, juicy, perfectly succulent, and magnificently cooked standing rib roast served along with carrots, celery, and pearl onions roasted until they were just soft around the edges and aromatic, creamy and buttery mashed potatoes, and soft yet durable miniature Yorkshire puddings that held it all together. To top it all off I made merlot reduction gravy that gave the dish a sweet and tangy finish. To end the meal my friend taught me to make a sachertorte. This is something like a chocolate cake except that it is superior in that the cake portion of it is light, fluffy, and chocolaty without being overly dense or overwhelming. The chocolate glaze that it is then covered with is creamy and thick and after spending several hours in the refrigerator it hardens just slightly so that the texture is similar to a soft candy bar. I have to say, this may have been the best chocolate cake I have ever had!

What was most incredible about my afternoon was that everything went so smoothly. I make big dinners similar to this often, and yet even with more than one person it can be a rush in the kitchen over the course of the afternoon which, in my family, has led to screaming, fighting, and the occasional small-scale kitchen fire. This meal however, was different from Thanksgivings, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, and Passover in the past (yes, I realize I just mentioned days celebrated by two different religions, but I was raised in Jewish and Italian families and therefore Judaism and Catholicism was often mixed). The difference was that the entire day went without flaw, without chaos and without any stress or anxiety. How wonderful it is to cook without stress! This was the way to cook when it comes to family dinners and special occasions. While the idea of cooking professionally is still a thrill, this was a major draw to cook for pleasure. While a little bit of la Vida Loca can always be fun, in the long run cooking when it's convenient, and in a manner that suits the chef, is never a bad way to enjoy a meal!


Cristina said...

Hey Max! It's Cristina, your older East Coast cousin here. So glad to finally have a younger member of the family who loves to cook as much as I do, but you're quickly surpassing my skills! I'm going to have to catch up. Fran told me about your blog so of course I had to take a look and I love what I see. By the way you are in big trouble for going to Boston and not coming to New York to say hello. Send me pictures of the family I miss you guys so much!!! big NY hugs and kiss ~Cris~

hoo.asked.yoo said...

This blog is dangerous to my waistline. It so often makes my mouth water.

Bruce Weitzman said...

I am so moved and impressed by your words. You are one way articulate guy. If you don't land a job writing for Bon Appetit or Gourmet, I will give up my subscriptions to both. One point of discussion, though. Could it have been your presence in the kitchen that made things go so smoothly? Take care, friend.

Marsha said...

Great to see you can break the hold of drama and stress and create a more harmonious cooking experience. The meal and the company were marvelous and I hope you can now teach us a thing or two....XO