Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Today's Theme Ingredient: Fun

I was going to make a really boring stir fry for dinner tonight. Mostly because I have most of a giant head of nappa cabbage in the fridge and that's just what you do with some leftover nappa cabbage. However, we live in Westchester, land of the 90's style Asian-fusion restaurant. And it's my birthday. And I just didn't feel like making a stir fry.

So for that reason I opened the fridge, took a good look, and decided I was going to just make some other stuff that would be delicious and would be something I'd want to eat.

I'm not claiming to be as great a chef as Hiroyuki Sukai. In fact I'm not even claiming to be great at all. Or even a chef. However, Jen and I have been watching a ton of Iron Chef recently. The original Japanese version, not that terrible abomination that is Iron Chef America. Watching this has made me wish to serve more than just one course for dinner. The only downside is there's generally not one theme ingredient. If there was a theme ingredient it would be something like frugality, or leftovers, or laziness. There weren't enough abstract themes on Iron Chef.

I started with this "salad" made from a halved comice pear and filled with a very simple blue cheese mousse which I made with some leftover blue cheese, cream cheese, and cream. I served it atop a bed of kale with lemon vinaigrette.

For a second course I threw together some ingredients to make a smoked salmon omelette. I added some smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, caper, and served with some cornichons, and peppadew.

For a main course I threw together a makeshift coq au vin. I went to culinary school and that particular school placed a large importance on French cooking. In fact I'd say that 98% of what we learned was classical French. So much importance was placed on French cooking that in the two years I was there we took three days to study the cuisines of Asia. You know, the continent. The one with hundreds, maybe thousands, of individual and distinct cuisines which go back millenia.

I'd be graded somewhere in the neighborhood of F for the authenticity of this version of coq au vin. However, I'd be graded an A+ for use of ingredients I had lying around the house kitchen having to do any additional grocery shopping. It also helps that I'm the one giving out the latter grade.

There are a number of things I'd be graded poorly on for this version of coq au vin. One would be the lack of noodles to serve it on. Another would be the thinness of the sauce. Another would be an absence of mushrooms.

However, I would grade the chefs at my esteemed cooking school an A+ in going to hell!

I simply broke apart a chicken into 8 parts, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and dredged them in flour before browning them in a pan. I put them aside in my makeshift Dutch oven, then browned up some salt port, onion, carrot, celery, and chopped potato. I also tossed in the remainder of the roasted garlic I had in the fridge. Then I deglazed the pan with some red wine (the rest of a bottle I didn't really care for) and some of the turkey stock I made over the weekend. After that I put it in the oven at for a little over an hour.

So this was vaguely traditional but, honestly, I probably preferred this over the classic recipe. Though I did miss the mushrooms. With the potatoes I didn't miss the noodles at all.

Jen brought home a selection of cupcakes from Crumbs which served as my birthday cake. The best part is that after splitting one tonight there are still three left!

Jen worked very late this evening but returned late to shower me with presents. One of which was Chore Boy. Chore Boy is the greatest item in the entire world for helping clean pots and pans. I haven't been able to find it for over a year and research recently revealed that it's because apparently some people use it to make crystal meth. I may be the only person in the world who would actually be happy to receive this as a gift. Except maybe someone who wanted to get start up the world's smallest meth lab.

Our pizza stone broke a couple of months ago after several years of service. So I also received a new pizza stone and a pizza peel which I intend to put into use as soon as possible.

I also got this handsome flannel shirt which prompted me to launch into an extended Eddie Vedder impression. Here I am singing the song "Hunger Strike."

At this point I think Jen had wished she'd worked even later this evening than she had.

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