Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cooking and Clean up: simple and fun

Prelude: We love to cook.  Or better put: fool around in the kitchen because we rarely follow recipes.  That's the great thing about cooking.  Baking however tends to need at least a base recipe.

For our date night tonight my husband, Chris, and I decided we wanted to copy an amazing chef's pasta (Freddy from Bruno Steaks and Seafood): Roasted tomato, white wine, chicken and spinach pasta!

Here is a picture of some of the ingredients we used: Gemilli pasta, fresh stone ground wheat from our local wheat shop (The Grain Mill of Wake Forest), Chardonnay, butter and tomatoes (Roma)

To get nicely roasted tomatoes:  Cut the tomatoes in half long ways.  Scoop out the seeds and goop.  Turn up side down on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar, olive oil. salt, pepper, and garlic (fresh is best but as you can see i used powdered).

 All the ingredients you need for a fantastic sauce:  White wine (we used Chardonnay), salt pepper, chicken stock, butter, parsley, basil, heavy whipping cream, and stone ground flour.
 Finely chop the herbs (if fresh)
 Put about a half bottle of white wine in a saute pan.  Let it reduce for about 20 min (until about half gone).  Add the warm chicken broth (the picture below is after the chicken broth has been added)
 Freshly and finely chopped onion 

Chicken sautee'ing in olive oil and the fresh herbs while the butter melts for a basic rue sauce

Butter melted add some flour

It will look like this when you have enough flour

At that point add cream (or milk) slowly but immediately, stir continuously
 This is what it will look like after the cream has been put in
 Add the white wine/chicken broth to the creamy rue
 Add the freshly cut herbs to the rue 
 Add the finely cut onion to the rue
 The roasted tomatoes will be done after about 30-35 minutes at 450
 Pull them off the cookie sheet and chop them up into  small bite size pieces
 Sautee' some spinach in olive oil and salt and pepper
 Chicken finishing up and not over done (started at a low temp and moved it up to just under medium to get a nice carmelization on the outside)
 Chop the chicken up into bite size pieces
 Add the chicken, tomatoes and spinach to the rue
 Working for years in the restaurant industry we like to make the table up.  Makes it feel like an evening out without the price tag
 Got to have a fancy napkin fold: super easy!  (it can be done in 4 steps)
 The dish complete and ready to eat!  We put a portion controlled amount of pasta and dip out the sauce and toppings to match
 For and added touch you can grate some Parmesan cheese on top (though not needed).  Our cheese was a gift from a close friend, it is aged 6 years and you only need a tiny bit to add a whole lot of flavor!  Thanks Joey!
 Completed table just before we sit down to eat.  As long as you don't use an over powering white wine you can also drink it with the meal (or a similar wine with the meal).  We used Stonebarn.

 While cooking my rule is to do as many dishes during the process as possible.  The picture below is all the dishes I did while cooking (I was slack this evening... busy day)

 Immediately after dinner I prefer to go ahead and get started one the dishes.  Not everyone is the same.  I find it less overwhelming to just go ahead and get them done (and I find them less hard to clean ;D), Chris is very helpful if I fall behind from my desires and get overwhelmed.  My husband, Chris, is really helpful (we usually try to flirt a little while doing chores... make it more enjoyable and playful) when it comes to house work.  Asking for help isn't a weakness.  Being rescued (needed or not) is nice. . . at least every once in a while.
 Stubborn dish?  I will try and scrub it but if it isn't coming clean: hot water, dish soap and 20-60 min and presto. . . well there is still some scrubbing but a lot easier.  Though not good to cook with I use Crisco to spear my dishes so that things don't stick.  I would suggest Silpats but I only have one so have to find other ways.
 After less than 7 min of direct attention the dishes are done, not put away but done.  You may ask why I hand wash. . . legitimate question.  I don't like.  No, I hate putting dishes away out of a dish washer.  Call me crazy, for I am, but I feel like I am done with them when I put them in and thus don't want to mess with them further.  Then dishes just sit in the dishwasher and then dishes start to pile up. . . not a fan of dirty dishes but then again who is.  My solution: hand wash.  Now I do have the benefit of only having two people but I would suggest it makes you more conscientious of how many dishes you use.
Wiping the counter is the last step.  When you get up in the morning to do your routine, if you are any thing like me, the last thing you want to see is a dirty counter reminding you of all the things you failed to do the day before!

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