Here’s a kitchen truth: You can have too much of a good thing. I recently made a meal whose individual parts were all lovely, but together they left “pleasant richness” in the rear view mirror. I guess we needed some salad in here somewhere. Or a level head guiding the hand in my larder.
It began with deep-fried brussels sprouts. Now this was a recipe I was testing for the Washington Post, so there were no corners to be cut, and really how do you make “deep fried” healthier? Cooked in peanut oil and uncoated, these tasty bites were a simple celebration of fall, a Thanksgiving preview. (Maybe the sprouts are making their pitch for inclusion in that meal. Don’t replace us with carrots!)
The main course was French Onion Soup, and I was planning on using Ruth Reichl’s recipe from Comfort Me With Apples. Lots of butter and at the end each ramekin gets an egg mixed in before the covering of bread and cheese. Oh and upon serving, a tablespoon of cream gets ladled over each. Sounds heavy, right? But then someone said, “What about bacon?” And the question hung over us like a family motto admonishing its wayward members. Of course bacon could be good in this soup! So I cut down the butter (a bit), fried up a few slabs, and left the rest of the recipe intact.
It was all delicious, and if my goal was to leave us feeling like we’d just ordered with abandon at a fancy restaurant, then it was a success. But if I went to someone’s house and they served me this meal, I might suspect they’d just taken out an insurance policy on my life.