Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beware of Chef

Lunch: BLT’s and French Fries
Dinner: Oven-baked Chicken Strips, Butter and Herb Boiled Potatoes and Corn

The kitchen has been infiltrated, repeat: the kitchen has been infiltrated! I don’t know if I’ve ever explained that I’m really a one person per kitchen kind of gal. When I’m cooking, I don’t really like people getting in my way or making unnecessary comments about how they think things should be done (“backseat driving” I call it). Oh, I don’t mind people coming and chatting, and on occasion I can even cook with other people (so long as we all have designated jobs and space). But when they invade the kitchen unwanted and unannounced, it drives me batty. It’s like someone coming in to your office, plunking their butt down at your computer and playing games when you’re in the middle of trying to finish a project on deadline. Ok, that might be a little extreme, but that’s what it feels like. One of the brothers came in just after I served lunch and started making his lunch. Ok, usually I don’t mind that. Then his girlfriend came in and they turned the radio on loud. Ok… getting a little annoyed. Then they started using the dishes I laid out. He was cutting raw meat on the cutting board I laid out for cutting the vegetables with the knife I’d laid out, and they were moving around all the spices I’d laid out. Ok… I’m really really annoyed now. Just as he was finishing, another brother came in and made eggs and left a huge eggy mess all over my clean work surface, and if that weren’t bad enough the steward came in with no other design than to bother me. That’s it, I have to leave the kitchen or people will get hurt!

I can’t help it, I’m territorial. I have my kitchen just so, and I have it that way for a reason. When cooking for a large group you have to have a game plan (and contingency plans for when you find some little “mousy” has gone and eaten all of the cheese you put aside). You can’t just go into the kitchen and see what you can find and start throwing things together because things won’t turn out. Before I start cooking, I get out everything I’m going to need, ingredients, pots, pans, knives etc. I lay them all out so A. I know I have them and B. So I’m not scrambling for an ingredient while I’m in the middle of trying to keep my roux from burning and C. So everything will be done when I need it to be done. Plus, I have limited resources. I only have 1 large cutting board and 2 really sharp knives. So, I have to plan carefully to avoid contamination etc. My path to kitchen enlightenment is organization. (Remember my dream kitchen? That’s kitchen nirvana). When someone goes and messes with it, it can throw me off. I have to stop and redo everything, wash the cutting board, wipe down the counters and realign my ingredients. People who know me may find this rather strange. I am not what you might call a “neat” person nor am I particularly organized. I am not a type A personality, at least not until you cross the threshold of my kitchen. Then… well perhaps the guys should get a sign “Beware of Chef, Enter at Your Own Risk".

For a quick and delicious lunch, try these chicken melts… they have a kick. They guys loved them.

Spicy Chicken Melts
Serves 12

24 slices Toast, good with whole wheat or 7 grain bread
5 cups Canned Chicken
3 tbs Hot Sauce (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
2 cups Miracle Whip
1/3 cup Sweet Pickle Relish
3 tbs Dijon Mustard
¼ cup Red Onion, diced fine
½ cup Celery, diced fine
A couple pinches of Cayenne Pepper, if you dare
Tomatoes, sliced
12 slices Provolone Cheese

Mix together chicken, celery, red onion, hot sauce, sweet pickle relish, Miracle Whip, and Dijon mustard until well mixed. Arrange ½ of the toast on a baking sheet and top with a generous scoop of chicken mixture. Top with tomato slices and cheese. Place pan under a hot broiler until cheese is just melted, 3-5 minutes. Top with the rest of the toast and serve immediately.

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