I'm feeling no passion for Gourmet Today. Last week I was happily cheating on Ruth Reichl with Todd Wilbur who is so completely sleazy he uses margarine in some of his recipes. I bought margarine, which is simply wrong and just goes to show how bored I am in my primary relationship.
Wilbur's longtime schtick is to try to "clone" brand-name recipes -- Popeye's biscuits, Pepperidge Farm cookies, McDonalds' shakes, et cetera -- and I was messing around with his latest book, Top Secret Recipes Unlocked, for a review that is presumably going to appear in another venue shortly. (After that, all details about onion rings, donuts, and more will be revealed) The project was extremely fun and funny and surprisingly delicious.
The other morning, on my own time, I made Wilbur's version of Starbucks' pumpkin scones. He calls them "orange triangles of goodness," which is typical of his prose. They really were orange triangles of goodness -- soft, sufficiently pumpkiny (rare), like a muffin married to a scone. We didn't bother cross-tasting them with the store product as I have recently sampled enough Starbucks baked goods to know that they are all substandard and overpriced. These were like the Platonic ideal of a Starbucks scone.
As for Gourmet Today. Sigh. I keep fishing out the recipes with the lowest "active time" which is a bad sign. To wit, the other last night: hoisin turkey cutlets (active time: 15 minutes), panfried Romaine (active time: 20 minutes) chocolate sorbet (active time: 15 minutes.)
Writing about this drab weeknight convenience food feels like a sad joke. Plus, just look at it.
The turkey was fine.
The sorbet was fine.
The panfried Romaine was better than fine. You buy packaged hearts of Romaine , cut them in half lengthwise, wash well and dry. Heat olive oil, put the Romaine hearts face down, salt, sear for a minute, flip, cover, cook for two minutes more. I loved this and will make it again.
The next night I made a Gascon white bean soup (active time: 30 minutes) that was fine, and baked apples with candied walnuts, (active time: 15 minutes) also fine.
It's all fine. But this whole book feels like fine leftovers someone has turned into a casserole by topping with a little cheese and reheating.