Sunday, October 19, 2008

Introducing EDR and some Apple Desserts

I signed up for a blogger account in December 2004, which means it has taken me nearly four years to write my first post. I wasn’t sure what to write about; it seemed very self-indulgent—not to mention boring for anyone who might read it—to share the idiosyncrasies of my daily life on the internet. A couple years ago I thought about using my little piece of internet real estate to vent about the (six!) housemates I had at the time. I chose not to for fear one might discover the blog, and there was definitely enough tension in that house already.

I have always been fond of photographing food, so I thought maybe I’d start a food blog. That was a year and a half ago. I recently moved in with my boyfriend, Mr. Penpen, and started cooking a lot more. Impressed with how quickly a wonderful meal can be prepared, he implemented an “effort to deliciousness” rating, which we often use to rate our kitchen concoctions.

The Effort to Deliciousness Rating (EDR) works like this: The finished product of each recipe is evaluated according to two different criteria – Effort (E) and Deliciousness (D). In terms of Deliciousness, the food is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst-tasting concoction imaginable, up to 10 for super-deliciously awesome. The Effort rating also uses a scale of 1 to 10, but 1 is actually the “best” rating for the chef as it indicates the least amount of effort possible (think bagel & cream cheese), while 10 is used for a dish that would exhaust all but the most patient chefs. Once these two scores are created, the numbers are displayed as a fraction, with Deliciousness as the numerator and Effort as the denominator (in other words, the ratio “D/E”). Once the fraction is created and the resulting ratio is calculated (dividing the D score by the E score), the product is the Effort to Deliciousness Ratio (EDR). The highest possible EDR is 10 (10D/1E), but this score is obviously exceedingly rare. Most of the EDR scores in the “good” range lie in the area of 1.5 to 3, with anything higher than 2 generally demonstrating a dish that would definitely be worth preparing again. An EDR of 1 is just an average dish, as it lies exactly in the middle of the range of scores, and an EDR less than .5 should indicate a dish which was probably not tasty enough to be worth the effort used in creating it. The EDR is also subjective, depending on factors such as mood and tiredness.

I have made three apple-based desserts in as many weeks. The first one was an
Apple-Cranberry pie from Cook’s Illustrated’s “Fall Entertaining” special , available on newsstands through December and definitely worth the $7.95. It was quite laborious to peel several pounds of apples, construct two separate sauces, and make pie crust from scratch. Not to mention the five stores Mr. Penpen drove to in order to find cranberries—seriously, fresh or frozen. (Turns out we were just one week too early, they are now available at our local market). I rated this dish a 6 for E and a 10 for D, giving it an EDR of 1.66, a good but not great score. I would make it again, though probably not on a day when I wasn’t also chopping up a butternut squash to make lasagna.

The next recipe was Chaussons Aux Pommes, or apple turnovers, from this month’s issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I had seen the recipe when I thumbed through the magazine and put it in the back of my mind, figuring I may remember it one day when I saw puff pastry sheets at the grocery store or something. However, Mr. Penpen happened to notice the recipe and expressed interest in the turnovers. I figured that since I had made an entire pie the weekend before, this recipe would be a breeze to put together, and I was right! It was quite quick to peel and slice the four apples and it was great to just roll out the frozen puff pastry rather than fuss around with homemade pie crust. I only made four turnovers since there are only two of us and I figured they were probably best right out of the oven. This left a lot of leftover “applesauce” filling, which was delightful on its own—not all of my apples must be consumed wrapped in buttery carbs. This recipe rated 3 for E and 7 for D, giving it an EDR of 2.33.

Normally I wouldn’t make another dessert in the same category so quickly, but our first
CSA box arrived just days after the turnovers. The box contained a lot of pears, which were unlikely to be consumed unless turned into a dessert. I remembered that my Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook had a recipe for a Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp. I checked the Food Network website, and Ina’s recipe for a simple Pear and Apple Crisp (the same recipe sans cranberries) had a lot more ratings—good ones—so I omitted the cranberries. I cut the butter by half a cup and the white sugar in the topping by a quarter cup, and the crisp was absolutely fabulous. There were quite a few apples and pears to peel and chop, but that was the only mildy time-consuming element of this recipe. (And it was very mild because Mr. Penpen helped me. I guess I now know to bake apple desserts on Friday nights when he’s around rather than Saturday mornings while he is sleeping.) I gave this recipe a 3 for E and a 10 for D, with an EDR of 3.33.

So there it is, I finally had to post my first blog entry before I baked a fourth apple dessert to prevent this post from becoming even longer. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the web!