When I first started cooking with Alice Waters’ book, The Art of Simple Food, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I loved the book so much. But it started me making souffles and simple salads in a way I hadn’t done before.
Then a few weeks ago I baked Todd a bread pudding from this recipe and loved the experience. And it suddenly dawned on me what appealed so much about these recipes: they explain the process of baking and educate me about why the steps are done in a particular way. For example, the bread pudding recipe instructs, “It is important to create an emulsion quickly or else a chemical reaction that produces heat will occur. If you do not whisk immediately, this heat will cook the egg yolks and cause lumps in the custard.” Ah ha! So now I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
It occurred to me that I like recipes like this so much because they use the same philosophy I use when writing sewing patterns. I think it’s fun and useful to learn why things are done a particular way, and it makes me a better cook (or seamstress) when I understand the process rather than just following a set of instructions.