So I did go home last night and whip together a delicious meal. And I did have every intention on photographing same. But of course, due to a previous week’s thievery, I no longer have a camera. Luckily, my new roommate has a camera and he’s a pretty good sharer. However, when it came down to chopping, dicing and photographing time last night, my roommate’s camera was completely uncharged. So no pictures. SIGH. I really miss my camera more than I ever thought I would. The thing is, is that I am an extremely dedicated camera owner. Rarely would you ever find me without the camera in my purse and in addition to the camera, I would have handy the battery charger as well as the cable used to connect it to the computer.
So anyways, my camera-less life plods on, but the kitchen is in full swing. Thanks, in no small part, to some generous benefactors. A while back my notoriously generous Aunt Barbara told me that in an effort to support my cooking and writing she wanted to gift me with some good knives. I told her that her gift was entirely welcome but really, if I just had a good chef’s knife and a paring knife I would be good to go. What resulted was sort of like if someone who had asked for a new BMX received a Bentley with a bow on top. She gave me a full block of J. Henckels knives. Do you know what they are? Yeah, I didn’t. See, these knives are so freaking fancy I didn’t even know what they were, but I know now that they are big pimpin. The one chef’s knife I have been using up until this point has been an $8 Chicago Cutlery number, that my Ma picked up at Ocean State Job Lot. Don’t get me wrong the Cutlery number and I have been through some nice business together. She’s been a workhorse and I appreciate every slice she has provided me with. But she also was a little dull. Not in the boring sense, but in the dangerous sense. As in I nearly lopped my wrist off trying to hack a butternut squash open one time. See they say a dull knife is more dangerous than a nice sharp one. The jury is still out on this but I will say I have now prepared three breakfasts, packed three lunches and made one full dinner and thus far, no major bloodletting has occurred with my Henckels at the helm. I may have jabbed the tip of my left pointer finger this morning and a little speck of hemoglobin came out, but otherwise (knock wood) no injuries! Even though my mom, boyfriend and friends are all terrified. I KNOW what I’m doing guys, mmkay?
And these knives? Are they worth the hubbub? Holy good god, are they ever. Last night as I was preparing dinner I had the honor of dicing my first onion. Heaven! I paused, signed, smiled and did a little dance while exclaiming “holy sh*t these knives are something else!”
In addition to my new cutlery, my Aunt Jean (I have wicked good aunts) gifted me with a giant stainless steel sauté pan with a lid. This is HUGE for me, because I currently only have a 12 inch stainless skillet and I also have severe, heavy duty jealousy whenever my mom uses her giant skillet that has a lid. It’s capabilities are just much better than my kitchen skillet. Not that I don’t love it. I love all my children equally. So this newest skillet got her test run last night and she works like a dream. And what depth! What diameter! This thing is a monster. I might have to build a shed out back to house it but seriously, it can make up a whole meal nested inside its curvy stainless edges and I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. Accompanying the gift from Jean was a note which may well be my favorite part of the whole gift. It said that my Nana would be very proud of everything I’ve done with her old pots and pans. You see, my whole set is a hand me down from my Nana’s old kitchen. I am proud to work with her old beat up pots. In fact, I’m quite sure just having been through the paces in her kitchen makes them more successful at everything that they do. It makes me very, very happy to think that I am cooking with the same pots she used to feed 5 kids and all of the rest of us each Christmas and Easter and all the dinners in between. I am also reminded that she did this with no dishwasher and if she can do it, well, so can I.
So in the spirit of giving. Despite the fact that I have no images to share…I am going to continue the cycle. Because the best fortune cookie fortune I ever got said “if you constantly give. You constantly have.” So despite the fact that this post isn’t quite yet up to Porky snuff, I want to give you the recipes for the first two things I made with my new kitchen swag.
CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
The perfect thing to do with leftover grilled or roasted chicken. This isn’t so much of a recipe as it is a suggestion. I didn’t measure any of this, so the measurements are fudged a bit, but as far as I can judge, work with these, and if you want to add more of anything after tasting, please do.
2 grilled chicken breasts, diced or chopped, as big or little as you prefer
¼ finely diced onion. Yellow or purple works equally well.
¼ cup chopped walnut pieces. Any old nut will do here; you might also add sliced grapes or golden raisins, if you’re feeling fancy. I just used what I had on hand
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons curry powder
Salt and cracked black pepper
Combine chicken, onion and walnuts in a bowl. Salt, pepper and curry powder generously. Add most of the mayo and combine. Add more if it’s a bit dry for your taste, and more curry powder, if you’re me. As far as the mayonnaise goes, I like to add a bit (like a big tablespoon) stir it up, and add a little bit more until it’s reached the consistency that I like. I prefer it to not be drowning in mayo, but however much you prefer is between you and your cholesterol level.
This is best prepared the night before you eat it so the flavors really meld together. Serve on toasted multigrain bread, in a pita pocket or over some lightly dressed mixed greens.
MUSHROOM, UH, SAUCE
So last night’s dinner was sort of delicious, but sort of a fail. First of all, I wanted to make lamb chops, but they didn’t have any at the store. Against my better judgment I bought steak tips instead. Even though for someone who doesn’t cook steak all that often, I know that attempting to just whip something up with steak tips when I had no grill and no time to marinate was inviting a world of hurt. So the tips, they were meh. But the mushrooms I cooked with them, they were something else. I sort of just made it up as I went along and it was kind of chaotic because I was simultaneously sautéing some Brussels sprouts and honestly, if I had it to do over I would have just made this a mushroom sauce and spooned it over some pasta. Instead, we had baked potatoes. Would you believe I had to call my mom to find out how long and at what temperature to bake a potato? Shhhh, don’t tell the food police, they’re liable to lock me up in a pantry filled with Lean Cuisines and canned vegetables. Seriously though, I don’t think to date I have ever baked a potato and good lord, do those mofos take a long time to cook. I started the potatoes as soon as I walked in the door and I was still waiting on them after everything else was done. And even then, we had to microwave them for another 4 minutes, because they were a tid bit crunchy. Disgusting. You do not want an al dente potato, I’ll tell you that much. After all was said and done, they were good, but they were entirely not worth the effort. Baked potatoes are one of those things best left to restaurants. Same with steaks. But mushrooms, you can get funky with those right in your very own kitchen, maybe using your boss new knives to dice em up and maybe using your boss new skillet to sauté them to perfection.
I advise you to make this as a mushroom sauce and serve it over some nice pasta, with generous shakes of parmesan cheese. Or it would be great with ravioli or tortellini. Or, if you want to be just like me you can make it with some dried out steak tips and serve it with a baked potato. If you want to be like Paul, you can spoon it over a baked potato, add sour cream and proclaim dinner Baked Potato Sundaes. Whatever fits you best.
Any combination of button, baby Bella and shitake mushrooms (1 used all three), diced
½ large yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Fresh chopped parsley
Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions, sauté until translucent (about 6 minutes), add garlic and mushrooms. Cook down for about 10 to 12 minutes, as the mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add a pat or two of butter, just for good measure. Turn heat up a bit, add a few generous splashes of soy sauce and then approximately a half cup of Marsala. Crank heat to reduce the Marsala. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Allow to simmer together for another five minutes or so; the sauce will start to thicken a little bit. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss with fresh pasta and lots of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. This makes a lot of mushroom sauce, probably enough to serve four or five. There were two of us eating at my house last night, am I my mother’s daughter or what?