There is little more satisfying on a snowy day than soup and a grilled cheese. I would argue that a good book, a quiet house, and a warm afghan are also nice, but I don't know when I will experience those again what with two young children in the house. But I can and did set about to make the meal happen at least. I picked up Essential Pepin, a cookbook totally worth its weight in gold as I see it, to guide me in the soup department. To trim this book down to its 700+ recipes, Jacques Pepin had to seriously cut. Can you even imagine having a repertoire so vast? I chose his cauliflower soup, which is flavored with curry powder. This is one of the things that makes JP so amazing - he is sooooo classically trained, coming up through the ranks the old fashioned way, yet he is not wedded steadfastly to strict French technique and tradition. He loves corn and sour cream! I think a lot of French chefs would sneer at that.
I even made the bread for my grilled cheese. I have been gun-shy on bread as of late because of two enormous mishaps. Blunders, really; no, travesties in yeast. I made four doughs that I ended up chucking after baking. I baked for twice as long as recommended - going by internal temperature on the last two loaves and tapping on the first two - and all four were undercooked. So strange a thing too. The inside of an undercooked bread is doughy and moist and smells like beer. So wrong. You think, I can salvage this. Maybe it's not underdone. You take a bite and realize that it is hopeless.
I went to America's Test Kitchen for a whole wheat loaf and hit the nail on the head. This bread was awesome. The crust was perfect and the chew was great. It was not dry, like wheat loaves I have made in the past. I followed the recipe to the letter - even setting a timer for the kneading process - because ATK is all about The Letter. Knead for 9 minutes? Check. Such a relief to get back into bread and have it work out. There's nothing that hurts more than a bad loaf. You put in all this effort and time and you so look forward to fresh bread, and then Yuck! you have to pitch it because it's nasty and unsalvagable. You feel like less of a person. I do, anyway. But I am back in the saddle. Yee-haw.