There’s been a bit of a rebellion around here, in case you hadn’t noticed: a conflict between commitments and yearnings triggered by a spate of social engagements, unexpected dinner guests, and the desire for more paella in our lives. There is also the fact that M. likes to cook, and I’m finding that when it is my turn to play in the kitchen, making a complicated side dish is not always at the top of my list of things I want to do.
For example, this week, the girl is home, and M. has been cooking. So far there’s been shrimp étouffée and, between a binge session scored with Italian opera that resulted in a half dozen pizzas and three trays of homemade tortellini, more tomato sauce than I hope you can imagine. The competition for counter space has been mighty fierce. I snuck in my own version of tomato sauce later in the week — mine mixed with chicken broth and seasoned with a pinch of cinnamon and a little cayenne — to top some aushak (phyllo pastries stuffed with thinly sliced green onion and a little spinach) later on in the week. And I think there was one day where we made do without any tomato sauce at all and opted for steak fajitas instead. Salads have been sparse, and vegetables generally ignored. My ideas for trying mee goreng or gado gado were scorned. Scorned. Scoffed. Spurned. Dismissed.
It has taken a toll on my adventuring spirit, and I’m not sure what to make of my goal for the year. Do I revise the purpose of this blog, and simply write about whatever deliciousness captures my eye each week? Or do I continue to use this space to explore Ottolenghi’s recipes as it seems reasonable or possible? I’m honestly not sure just how to proceed.
One thing is for certain: a chocolate cake is always an excellent companion for facing down life’s perplexing dilemmas. And so I made a chocolate cake, this one based on Dorie Greenspan’s Almost Fudge Gateau, with the minor additions of 1/3 cup almond meal, the grated zest from one orange, and a pinch of cayenne. It makes for an even chewier, more brownie-like cake, and I like the way the orange and cayenne perk up the flavor of the chocolate. Around here, everybody likes it that way, too, and that’s a bonus. So while I think things over, let’s everybody enjoy some cake.