The last two entries were embarrassing. Back to the good stuff.
I am a newlywed, believe it or not. My four kids became “our” four kids a couple months ago. The wedding was small but very nice, and of course we spent way more time planning the menu and choosing the coveted catering task than anything else. Coveted not because we’re anything special, but because the location of our wedding was somewhat of a coup for them…we are so, so grateful to our friends for hosting the wedding at their winery, but we’re not sure they appreciated the after-calls from caterers begging to be allowed to cater there just so they could add it to their lists of “lookie what we did!”
I bring up this wedding detail as a means of introducing my new favorite cookbook, The Best Italian Classics, which was a wedding gift from friends who obviously know us well. Our wedding registry consisted of Riedel stemware and Home Depot gift cards, so what else do you get two middle-aged foodie parents? The cookbook is from the Cook’s Illustrated series, which, if you’re unfamiliar with the whole Cook’s Illustrated thing, is sort of the Consumer Reports version for recipes. They go through the trouble of tweaking recipes dozens of different ways (chop or mince the garlic? Add it with the onions or after? That sort of thing) so that discerning eaters and cooks don’t have to bother. I don’t think I use any recipe exactly the way it’s written except if it comes from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s not because I think I know more than the cookbook writers — it’s just that I have one chance to get this dish on The List, and if I mess it up, there’s usually no such thing as a second chance. The kids are way too clever for that.
The first dish to make it on The List from this cookbook is called “Fish in Crazy Water.” Since adding it to The List I’ve made various changes based on what I happened to have growing outside at the time or what needed to be used to make room in the freezer, but the general idea stays the same.
#5: Fish in Crazy Water (Pesce All’Acqua Pazza)
So this is probably a good time to review Naming Techniques. Dishes with the word “crazy” in the title automatically make them more appealing to this set of kids. I can’t overuse this tactic or it’ll get old, and in this case I didn’t even have to be creative about it — that really is the real name of the dish. But think about it…can you think of any gross food whose name includes the word “crazy?” I can’t.
The second thing this dish had going for it is the fact that it is served on a huge slice of sourdough bread. Sourdough bread has become somewhat of a staple in this house, particularly for kid #2. I could probably serve cat food but as long as it comes on sourdough bread he’d at least try it.
I have to admit I nearly ruined my favorite LeCreuset dutch oven with this dish. A friend of mine from camp gave it to me as a gift, and since she works at the Williams Sonoma headquarters in SF I accepted it, wanting to believe that it didn’t cost her nearly what it would have cost those of us on the outside of the elite WS management club. I’ve learned that I can send the pot back to LeCreuset and they’ll actually replace it for me, since four months of trying absolutely everything posted anywhere online (don’t suggest anything to me…seriously, I’ve tried it already, I promise) still has not removed the blackened mess that has permanently adhered itself to the bottom of my gorgeous red pot. But in order to get a new one I’d have to stop using this one long enough to mail it in AND then wait to get a new one back, so it’ll have to wait for now.
Get the recipe here, on my site.
The List currently sits at 5…