Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unexpected free evenings...

Yesterday morning, my 6pm client called and canceled his appointment for Wednesday night, gifting me with an entire evening of blissful nothing that I hadn't dared to dream of. So what did I do? I decided to fill it with domesticity the likes of which have rarely been seen in my vicinity. I decided I was gonna cook up a(nother) storm, Julia style.

Last night, I flipped around MAFC, looking for a chicken dish to tackle. I decided on Supremes de Volaille Archiduc (Chicken Breasts with Paprika, Onions, and Cream), with Risotto and my new favorite veggie, frozen peas a la JC. Yum. I scanned the ingredient lists and the instructions, and it all looked pretty straight forward, even the risotto, which I always imagined was something that only first class chefs can cook, but Julia made it seem do-able, and I was feeling brave.

Then I realized that both the chicken and the risotto called for things that were nowhere to be found in our house. Things like cheesecloth, and cast iron pots, and Madeira cooking wine. And, just like that, my otherwise lazy Wednesday became a kitchen-stuff buying spree that I actually really enjoyed!

My first stop this morning was Home Goods, my go-to shop for kitchenware, especially the fancy stuff that I can always count on them having half off. Both the chicken and risotto called for very specific pots: "a heavy, covered, fireproof casserole about 10 inches in diameter" for the chicken, and "a 6-cup fireproof casserole about 8 inches in diameter with a tight fitting cover" for the risotto. Okay, Julia, geez, you're so anal!

I headed for the cookware (after waiting for 10 minutes for someone to surrender one of the 5 shopping carts they had in the freakin' store today, ugh) and straight to the Le Crueset section. Not being a cook, I don't know why I even know about Le Crueset cookware, but I do. I know it's the best out there, and that it's probably what Julia had in mind for me. But something I did not know about Le Creuset cookware is that it is insanely expensive. I mean, wow. $120 for one small casserole. No, thank you! I got the "Palm restaurant" versions instead, which were still pretty expensive, but they're beautiful (see pictures below) and will last a really long time, and make me feel like I'm actually cooking for real. Cool.

So I bought my specifically-diametered casseroles, plus 2 more skillets, a baster, and more measuring spoons (I'm realizing you can never have too many), then high-tailed it back to my 4 hour chunk of meetings that were rudely interupting my day of domesticity. Then I picked up the Madeira and a bottle of Pouilly-Fusse (a White Burgundy that Julia suggested would be perfect with the chickent), went to S&S for a few essentials (and more butter), and then went to, get this, a hardware store for the cheesecloth! So ridiculous, and in the opposite direction from home, but I was gonna make me an herb bouquet, damnit! (More on that in a sec.)

By the time I got home, it was already after 5, and I'd invited a friend over for dinner at 7, and there was a mountain of dishes I had to clear out of the sink before I could start cooking. (To be fair, I could have started cooking with the sink full of dishes, but that always skeeves me out, and I never cook with the sink full if I can help it.) So, even though dishes are hubby's designated chore, I happily loaded the dishwasher, then handwashed stuff I needed immediately, and was amazed all the while that I was voluntarily cleaning the kitchen so that I could cook. So bizarre, but a nice change.

Finally, finally, I started working on the risotto. Aside from the onion chopping (bane of my existence), and almost breaking a sweat trying to get the plastic thingy off the casserole dish so that I could actually take the lid off, the prep was pretty easy. I nervously read and re-read the instructions, though, knowing I was gonna screw it up, and almost did, when I was almost ready to add liquid to the rice and hadn't made the herb bouquet yet! The horror!

(Sidebar: Okay everybody, so this is an herb bouquet. It's basically a bunch of herbs-parsley, thyme, etc.--tied up together in a little cheesecloth bag tied with string. Very cute, very french. And I made one! See?

So I made my herb bouquet, was very proud of myself, threw it in the pot with the rice, put the casserole in the oven to cook undisturbed, started the broth (and butter) for the peas to boil, and then realized that I still had to prepare the entire chicken dish. The time? 6:40. Oh well.

The chicken to a lot more time than I thought it would, for various reasons. For one thing, I had to freakin' mince more onions (*groan*) and then cook them (I think I blanched them? What's blanching? I don't know), rinse them, and cool them before sauteing them with butter (shocker) and paprika, and that whole thing took 15 minutes. Then I had to cut out a 10-in diameter piece of wax paper and butter it (which hubby and friend watched amusedly, as it was pretty ridiculous), which I pressed on top of the chicken before covering it in the casserole to cook in the oven. Why, Julia, why?? She doesn't even explain why this silly wax paper step is necessary! But I'm realizing that it's this little, fairly neurotic, steps that make the food taste so damn good, so...I'll do it. So then the chicken took twice as long to cook because I put extra chicken in to make sure I had enough for everyone, and then the freakin' sauce wouldn't...sauce! I was supposed to boil down the broth and wine until the liquid was syrupy before adding the cream, and this, of course, did not ever happen. So I said screw it and made the freakin' sauce. And it was still really good, so there, Julia!

Long story slightly shorter, we didn't eat until after 8. See how excited hubby and friend were to finally have food in front of them?

The chicken:

The risotto, which actually came out really well!

The meal (it doesn't look very impressive, but was quite tasty! We all kept getting more sauce to smother everything in):

Phew! So now I'm tired. Appropriately equipped, and tired. I think I'll french it up again this weekend, so stay tuned! (I also do have some none-Julia/food related things to write about, so if you're bored with buttery food talk, never fear!)

Today's Butter Count: 1.25 sticks

(9/28/09 Butter Count: 1.75 sticks. Yowza!)

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

Post a Comment