One thing we’ve been doing a lot more of lately is cooking from books and recipes from various trusted websites. I generally turn to these sources for inspiration and then go off on my own riff — not as much for baked goods, since I have less experience and confidence there — but I’ve been benefitting greatly from following more closely the printed instructions. Or have at least been introducing somewhat more variety to our table.
Back in November, we made the slow-roasted pork butt from Andrew Carmellini’s American Flavor, which took a few more steps and a few more days than my still-favorite recipe (which, of course, in tinkering I managed to simplify and condense further), but is very tasty, and still ranks above the bo ssam that Sifton had everybody making (too salty, and that last step with the brown sugar is overkill, and also actively dislike the ginger-scallion sauce).
More compelling was the barbecue sauce (the jar in the background) from Carmellini’s book, which also turned out to be quite a project but yielded a generous amount and is more special than most anything you can get in a bottle. Page 300 if you’re following along.
From the same month, Kurt Gutenbrunner’s lemon poppy seed cake, via Smitten Kitchen. A very adult — that is, elegant and sophisticated in its restraint — cake that even the in-laws liked.