Several years ago, I baked a lemon cream pie. It looked fantastic. Well done! Turned out, I used cornstarch instead of powdered sugar. Just imagine how it tasted. I haven't baked much since then. I don't really even like to bake, and that sealed it.
Last weekend, I made a most elaborate eggplant parmigiana. The eggplant part was fairly standard; Dredged in flour, dipped in egg wash, dredged in reggiano breadcrumbs, and pan-fried. I set it aside to work on the sauce.
I was using a Novelli recipe for fresh tomato sauce: Fresh cut roma tomatoes, paper-thin sliced onions, and garlic sauteed in a dry pan until the juices from the tomatoes rendered. This was then mashed to combine everything and left to simmer for an hour. I added a vanilla bean ( fascinated with this addition), salt & pepper, a sqeeze of lemon and torn fresh basil. This was left to simmer for another hour until the tomatoes, garlic, and onions melted into each other, creating almost a tomato jam. I added good chicken stock to thin it out and let it simmer. It was a beautiful sauce.
I layered the crisply fried eggplant with sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese into individual eggplant & cheese napoleons.
At the last minute, I thought the sauce needed something. I put it back on the stove to bring it up to heat. I thought a can of san marzano tomatoes would add a nice touch of sweet acidity to the sauce, so I reached into the cabinet, opened the can and poured it in.
It was not a can of beautifully sweet harvested-at-their-peak-of-freshness san marzano tomatoes.
It was a can of Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce.
I was stunned. I stood there and stared at it as if I could change it. Maybe hit rewind and let the Manwich Sauce un-pour itself back into the can.
Then I remembered Julia Child's mantra: "No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize."
So, without apologies, I trudged on with the recipe, ladling the sauce over the eggplant mozzarella napoleon stacks with great care, topping them with additional fresh mozzarella. I placed them in the oven, poured myself a glass of wine and let them bake.
They actually looked quite good.
They. Were. Awful.
They were so bad, it was funny. Very funny. We actually laughed at them. We pointed our fingers and laughed at them. Lesson; Never take yourself so seriously. Into the trash they went.
For dinner that night? Again, without apologies, a bag of the new Late Night Cheeseburger Flavored Doritos. They were tasty.
Upon re-telling this tale at last Monday's MLK, MJM margarita-imbued combined birthday celebration, Banjo, our Faerie Princess told me I that should blog about it.
And, as it turns out, she and Julia Child were both right.