Once upon a time, there was a girl that really didn’t know how to cook. She met a boy, who did and decided she wanted to try to impress him, with her cooking prowess. She failed, miserably.
As a kid, I learned how to “feed” myself & my little brother, out of necessity basically. My Mom was a nurse and would often works nights and long shifts. We did a lot of fending for ourselves. Mac & Cheese was a staple, as was Chicken Noodle & Tomato soup. And scrambled eggs. I remember the day my Mom bought us a electric griddle and I learned how to make really super cheesy grilled cheese sandwiches. I was even able to make Sloppy Joes in that thing! And Hamburgers…that I sometimes covered with the Chicken Noodle soup. Don’t knock it until you try it! Yeah, I know, very gourmet. To this day however, nothing says comfort to me, than a big bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Oh and I could make perfect Chocolate Chip cookies! At least they were perfect to me. And they are still one of my favorite things to make! ❤
Fast forward a decade or so and I met my future husband. He grew up around many fantastic family cooks, spending weekends with his grandparents cooking & gardening. His food career began at the ripe age of 15 working in the kitchen of a neighborhood restaurant, just about an hour outside of Philadelphia. One day, a couple of years after we had been dating, I decided I wanted to make something really special for dinner. By now my cooking skills had improved slightly. I could make pasta, rice, potatoes… you know all the good cheap carbs a busy young girl could whip up, quick & easy. I loved me anything you could make from a box, as well. You know the ones, Pasta Roni, Rice-a-Roni, and yes…even Hamburger Helper. How did I ever survive those days! 🙂
I don’t even know where I found this recipe, but it just sounded so “gourmet” and delicious. I wanted to prove to myself, that I could make something really great. Maybe I was also trying to win his permanent affection. Good thing I didn’t place too much stock on that first “gourmet” meal. It didn’t end well…the dinner, that is.
The recipe was called “Vegetable Stuffed Cannelloni with a Sherry Cream Sauce”… or something like that. I did find a recipe on Epicurious that was very similar. The original recipe was destroyed…on purpose…after the failed meal. You can see that recipe here.
I went shopping for ingredients, some of which I had never bought before (eggplant, zucchini) and then spent hours (or at least it felt that way) chopping, cooking and prepping the meal. Carefully stuffed the pasta…poured that insanely delicious cream sauce over the whole bit and popped it into the oven. I had some leftover sauce in a pan on the stove, that I saved in case I needed more once it was done baking. Once the timer on the oven went off, I carefully removed that bubbling, incredible smelling masterpiece and placed it on the stove top…on the burner that was keeping that leftover sauce warm.
Those of you that have been through this kind of nightmare before, you probably know exactly where I am going… Within seconds, the entire glass baking dish, containing that masterpiece I had spent most of the day toiling over, exploded into tiny shards of glass, all over my stovetop, counters and kitchen floor. I was both shocked & scared and didn’t know what to do, other than fall to ground and proceed to cry like a three year old. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to put any glass baking dishes on direct heat sources. It was insane. There wasn’t even one spoonful we could salvage, for just a bite to see how it tasted! 😦
My sweet future husband just crouched down next to me, telling me it was okay, that I meant well and it was just an accident. I was devastated. I didn’t cook anything “gourmet” for quite some time after that.
Fast forward to about a month ago, I saw a post on Instagram from Dana Cowin, the Editor of Food & Wine magazine, promoting her new cookbook, “Mastering My Mistakes In The Kitchen”. She was asking for people to share their biggest kitchen fail and of course, I had to share this story. I have thought about that dish many times since, and have learned to become a much better cook…not to mention, learning that very hard lesson, that you should not EVER put a glass baking on anything hot or cold!
A day or so later, I see a notification that I won a copy of her new cookbook! My sad story has a silver lining! As I sat there, excited for my luck, I thought “Shawn, you should find that recipe and make it again!” And, this time, make it with Homemade Ricotta cheese…if you haven’t made that yet, DO IT! SO creamy & insanely delicious!
My hubby is returning from another fabulous work trip, this time to Brazil, so I thought I would make this for his welcome home meal. I am also excited to start cooking from Dana Cowin’s new cookbook. I plan to try the recipe for Sweet Potato, Coconut + Five Spice Gratin and the Chili of Forgiveness. Oh and the Halibut with Red Coconut Curry. And the Pimento-Cheese Grits…and possibly the Pear + Brown Sugar Upside-Down Cake. Oh my! ❤
This was a fun post…reminicing about my food journey! I’ve come along way! Do you have a similar kitchen failure story? I would love to hear about it!
Until next time, Cheers! ~Shawn