Sometimes I find myself in a rut. OK, to be truthful I jump from rut to rut.
The other night I thought about the ruts I've been in, cooking-wise, over the years and discovered that they're not so much ruts, something one gets stuck in, as tracks; something one follows.
Hamburger surprise. As a student I lived for hamburger surprise. Of course, it never appeared as a surprise; I cooked it every night. Yet, every night I looked forward to cooking it because it was hamburger and a surprise. What could be better? Often the surprise took form as a mushroom soup-based sauce of some kind ladeled over rice. The surprise became whatever I had to put into the mixture to jazz it up a little; jalapenos, sour cream, onions, garlic, bell pepper and stuff like that. Always an invention, hamburger surprise kept me going for many years. Ah, youth!
Culinarily speaking we follow tracks for a while then switch to new tracks, or the tracks change. Take Chicken Kiev, for example. When's the last time you made Chicken Kiev? It's a chicken breast stuffed with garlic butter, breaded and deep fried. Depending on which diet plan you're on at the moment I've just described a horror of horrors: deep fried stuffed with butter. But in it's heyday Chicken Kiev was a rave dish. To this day I remember the raves. And, diets be damned, it's a very tasty dish!
Fondue. Obviously near and dear to my heart has been a track. Fondues were all the rave a while ago but now they come and go. Again, it might be the diet factor. All that cheese. Although in the proper setting with some restraint "all that cheese" can be controlled and the fondue experience preserved. Once in a while, which is when you typically have fondue anyway, what's the harm?
Casseroles. What's up with those? I avoided casseroles as a kid on General Principle Number One: Avoid Casseroles! That's because casseroles were synonymous with "leftovers." Grate some cheese on that old whatever, toss in some macaroni and bake at 350 until brown. Yummy...not.
So, tonight, in celebration of cooking experiments past (and, really, what cooking isn't an experiment) I'm celebrating my hamburger surprise by serving my family...hamburger surprise. Hamburger, mushrooms, onions, red wine, garlic, seasoning and cream; over rice with steamed vegetables on the side.
Steamed vegetables. The Marquis de Sade's favorite dish.