Saturday, January 23, 2010

Random Recipes

My Dad had a great idea when I first told him about this blog. He proposed it in an email, which is better written than any sort of paraphrasing that I could come up with. So here's his idea, verbatim:

"Maybe you could distinguish your cook-a-list blog by choosing a particular recipe from a particular book while blindfolded or via darts or some such "random walk" method, like people open the Bible and let their finger drift to a passage and thereafter ruin their life by following its dictates -- that way you could do a "Oh, crap, I positively *hate* xxxxxx, but what the hell, here goes" kind of thing."

(I felt like we needed a picture, so here you go. Isn't he cute?)

Nick initially liked the idea of picking these recipes as we went along, but I realized that that would maybe not be the best strategy, as a lot of these recipes are highly seasonal and/or require advanced planning. So I'll do it now.

(I guess that to be fair, we have to add Nina. Don't let her fool you--she's not cute.)

A few days ago, we were discussing how to go about "randomly" choosing recipes. I didn't think that throwing the book in the air and seeing which page is displayed upon landing would be very successful. I felt that closing my eyes and attempting to open to a random page wouldn't work either, because cookbooks are generally set up in a certain order, and I felt that it would be too easy to subconsciously open to a certain section.

So my Dad suggested picking numbers out of a hat, which led to the idea of using a computer to randomly generate numbers. This led to a rant courtesy of Hunter, wherein he told us that it is impossible for a computer to randomly pick numbers because it's based on a mathematical equation, which is not random...

My Dad and I sighed, "Anyway...that's probably the best you're going to get. Yes, Hunter, it's not technically random, but it will do."

So I typed "random number generator" into Google and used the first site that it came up with because I'm lazy. This website, however, claims that it is in fact random. (Not that it really matters.) They write: "RANDOM.ORG offers true random numbers to anyone on the Internet. The randomness comes from atmospheric noise, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs." Whatever.

So I took the cookbooks that I have thus far and typed the page ranges into the program. What resulted? Let's see.

(Salsa in Mexico)

Braise: page 184, Eggplant with White Miso, Kaffir Lime, Lemongrass, and Ginger
Fabulous. This isn't a recipe that I would have picked on my own, but it sounds rather delicious. So far so good--pushing the comfort zone without nastiness.

Parisian Home Cooking: page 319, Chestnut Cake
Great. Again, not a recipe that I would have chosen because cake sucks and pies are way better. (Hunter disagrees), but it's probably quite good. I even have some chestnuts in the pantry due to my zombie issues (see the veal packets post).

Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen: page 95, Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze
Shweet. I don't like to have baked goods laying around the house because I end up eating too much of them, but these sound pretty good.

My French Kitchen: page 228, Roulade Bicolore
Blegh. More cake. Enough with the baked goods, okay you "random" number generator.
At least if I have to make a cake, it's a cake filled with cream. I can see it now--I'm totally going to break this thing when I try to roll it.

Mario Batali's Molto Italiano: page 414, either Fire-Roasted Artichokes, or Artichokes in the Style of Italian Jews
This is good because I've never cooked artichokes before, and I don't think I like them, but most foodies love them. I feel that you should never ever say that you don't like some kind of food unless you've given it a fair chance, which I probably haven't in this case. I keep eying them in the grocery store lately, anyway, but I'm going to wait a little bit until they're really in season.


Mastering the Art of French Cooking: page 220, Thon a la Provencale (Tuna or Swordfish Steaks with Wine, Tomatoes, and Herbs.
Lovely! Again, not a recipe that I would have picked, probably, but it sounds delicious. The tuna. Not the swordfish. Swordfish is a wormy, wormy fish, and I will not be cooking it. Plus, it's really high in mercury. Not that tuna isn't, but that's what I'm going with.

French Laundry: page 147, Black Sea Bass with Sweet Parsnips, Arrowleaf Spinach, and Saffron-Vanilla Sauce.
I've actually already made this, and although I didn't make it well, it was delicious. I think it would somewhat defeat the purpose of this exercise to repeat a dish, so I'll pick again.
270, Salad du Printempts: Rhubarb Confit with Navel Oranges, Candied Fennel, and Marscapone Sorbet.
Awesome! I've always wanted to make this, but was never sure that it would be a hit with my companions. Well that's just too bad. Now they're going to eat it and like it.

I don't actually possess Ad Hoc at this time, as it was backordered. A recent email told me that it's shipped, though, so sometime soon I'll pick from that book and the couple others that will complete the list.

(Oh, I wish it was summer)

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