Breakfast was an overpriced chocolate croissant from the bakery next to my home. I ate it with a cup of tea.
The first call of the day was for biscuits from the Food Processor book. They were perfect—I stashed a few away to take home to my wife. After a couple minutes, I ate two more. It seemed I’d be taking less home to my wife.
The Cook’s Country team was testing their TV recipes again. This time it was fried peach hand pie. Spectacular.
Next up: pesto pasta for the Make-Ahead book. It was the same story as the day before: the flavor was great, but the fresh one looked brighter green than the multi-day-old one. Again, it was still tasty and acceptable.
The test cooks working on the soup chapter for Make-Ahead then called for four soups. First was a roasted red pepper soup. It was great—absolutely one of my favorite soups (and I'm not just saying that because it's a make-ahead adaptation of a recipe I created for the Complete Mediterranean book). Because of the bulgur, the day-old version was not as good—the bulgur absorbed too much liquid, got too big, and got too mushy. The solution was to keep the bulgur out and stir it in when reheating the soup. I took an extra bowl to snack on later.
The next soup was fish stew. It was a bit seafood-y—the fish flavor was getting stronger, but all the vegetables and flavors held up after a day. I asked if we could serve it with lemon wedges.
The next soup was posole, a Mexican soup that often features hominy, which is nixtamalized corn (or corn treated with lye or slaked lime). Hominy is essentially corn kernels without their shell, and they puff up like popcorn when cooked. The soup was great—one of my favorites.
The final soup of the tasting was chickpea and escarole soup. It was the first time I’d tasted it, and it was very good. The chickpeas held up, the escarole added a pleasant bitterness, and the broth was very flavorful. A well-rounded soup.
I held a tasting next for my garden vegetable pasta again. This time we were tasting a from-frozen version. It did not go well. Somehow the zucchini was both mushy and chewy. (Guess you can’t freeze this one.) We decided we’d test a four day-old version the following Monday. (Update: It went so well, I secretly high-fived myself in my head.)
Later, a call for the Make-Ahead salad chapter came through: cannellini bean salad with sherry vinegar and red peppers. Very flavorful. The beans were tender and rich with an acidic dressing—it was very pleasant. The day-old version needed a bit more sherry vinegar added in.
The Cook’s Country team left some unguarded pulled pork tacos in the kitchen. As I passed the tacos, I caught eyes with Steve Klise, one of the test kitchen’s staff photographers—we both snuck a taco or two.
We noticed the Cook’s Country team was busy tasting flank steak tacos, so we hovered around until their tasting was over. There was plenty left over. Another taco down the hatch. Both the tacos were fantastic. Which was better you ask? Two different beasts, my friend, but they were both perfect in their own right.
Another salad for Make-Ahead: lentil salad with feta and herbs. This one was exquisite. Rich, tender lentils, topped with briny feta, and covered in a fresh, herby vinaigrette. I definitely grabbed a pint container to take some home.
Later, a nectarine and blackberry tart appeared on the counter. I wasn’t sure where it came from, but it didn’t matter. The slice I grabbed was bigger than my plate. I ate it like a big slice of pizza.
I made the last call of the week for Make-Ahead: defrosted mushroom bolognese heated up and tossed with pasta. It was exactly the same as fresh—no textural or flavor differences. Success! Finally, it was time to clean up and head home for the weekend.
For more stories like this, check out our Features page.