My mom is a lot of things and talented in the kitchen is really close to the top of the list. She routinely makes awesome meals for my Dad, for me, for friends and for family. She tackles every ethnic background from Mexican to Italian, Thai, Moroccan and Americana and manages not to just make it edible, but most often incredible.
But everyone has an Achilles heel and my moms self admitted weakness is baking.
She has at least 3 recipes for "no fail pie dough", recipes for cookies, cakes and brownies and probably hasn't made any of them for 20+ years. She has a kind of fear of baking mainly because of the exact-ness of the process. If she can't adjust as she goes, tweak seasonings or salt, substitute accordingly based upon what she has on hand she is equivalent to a frustrated artist. In her very own words "She don't do dough".
After a trip to Santa Fe with girlfriends wrapped around cooking and killer restaurants my Mom came home with new cookbooks and recipes and enthusiasm for southwestern cooking.
I came over tonight to find her with beautiful stuffed chiles, guajillo chile & pumpkin seed sauce, a beautiful salad and enough blue corn gnocchi to feed a family of 20.
With flour smeared on her cheek and a touch of self righteousness to her tone, she told me the tale of making blue corn gnocchi that started a few hours prior to my arrival. She read the recipe a few times to make sure she had all the ingredients and understood the steps. Followed the instructions to a tee.....And still wound up with dough too wet to make gnocchi. She then consulted other cookbooks for advice and adjusted as needed until the dough "felt" right and finally found she had the right consistency. When she found the right consistency, she also found she had enough gnocchi dough for about 20 people instead of for just the three of us.
So while getting recipes from well known restaurant chef's is a fun thing, be forewarned, the recipes may not always turn out as well as what you get in the restaurant. Perhaps the potatoes weren't dry enough. The eggs a smidge to large. The fog in Ventura made the dough too wet....it could have been any number of things that made the dough not quite right the first go-round.
In the end we enjoyed the stuffed chiles, gnocchi and sauce immensely.Tomorrow, she will freeze the 4 pounds of leftover gnocchi for future use.
And I have a beautiful picture in my head of Mom with flour on her face and defiance in her eyes because, damn it, she conquered the dough.