Food Group met this week for dinner. Our host selected Ina Garten as the theme. (FYI, I’m selecting Betty Crocker when I get my turn.) Anyway, I have nothing against Ina, she’s always having gays over for dinner so at least I know I could possibly be on the list of people she’d eat with. But I think her food is sort of run of the mill-ish. Not that I have any problem with it, it’s well done but just relatively normal food. At least that’s what I think, as it turns out, I have many opinions.
I chose “side dish or starch” as my assignment and then picked Provençal potato salad as the dish to accompany a mustard glazed chicken dish that would be the main course. I was skeptical of the potato salad recipe because I also think that Ina over-complicates things sometimes and this recipe was complicated. I had the opportunity to undermine Ina and simplify but our commandant, er, host has often accused me of not following directions so I just went with it and really, when it comes down to it when do I ever simplify things?
Like I said, I was skeptical and it was far more complicated than I’d imagined. After a suitable amount of handwringing, covering with clean towels (Like who would put a dirty towel on anything?!?) dousing with stock, blanching, chopping, mincing and whisking, I finished it and got it over to Karen’s. I tasted it earlier on and it seemed too vinegary for me but, like I said, I’d followed the recipe with military precision. Any too-vinegary-ness would be Ina’s fault. Just sayin’
This meal was just fabulous, Ina Garten notwithstanding. The potato salad was perfect as was everything else. Menu follows, recipes are linked.
I asked one of my co-workers to help me with this blog, I had no freaking idea what the hell I was doing, of course, what else is new? He gave me a lot of help (as far as I know he just pushed a button but the hell? it was a button I didn’t know how to push) So I told him I’d make him a key lime pie. He responded by asking me if it could be chocolate. I am really unfamiliar with people who don’t like key lime pie. I mean, even if it’s not your favorite, it’s still good isn’t it?
OK, whatever. I’m fine with that except that I can make a key lime pie in my sleep and I’ve never made a chocolate pie. I went with a Nigella Lawson recipe that seems (haha) easy-ish. (recipe here) The crust was easy, it’s just ground Oreos and butter. What’s not to like? as what’s-her-name Garten says fatuously when she’s using fattening ingredients. The filling, though, having never made anything like this before, was, you know, an anxiety-provoking hell. It worked out (as it usually does, so much for all the anxiety) until I picked it up after it had cooled to a relative solid. The pie was in a tart pan with a removable bottom. So fun.
I picked it up and the now cooled-and-set-pie-sitting-on-the-removable-bottom leapt out of the tart ring and into the air in front of me. Fortunately my quick thinking and possibly the fact that I had not been drinking saved it from total disaster. I was able to catch it and shimmy it back into the tart ring. Less fortunately the top of the thing was a damn mess. My nimble mind immediately envisaged a concealing topping of cream cheese and whipped cream. And as if that weren’t enough I decided to decorate with cocoa powder. Somehow whatever the hell I did looks vaguely shamanistic if not downright Nazi-ish.
I took it over to Javier and his family before noon and they were eating it by the time I was pulling out of his driveway (he texted me a pic as I was backing out). I don’t think they were bothered by the less than stellar decoration situation.
Lidia Batinianch inspired me to make chicken breast schnitzels. I have never made them before. A chicken breast pounded flat, dipped in flour, egg and then herbed bread crumbs. Fried in butter. As Ina Garten says, how bad can that be?
On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give it a 4. It was fine. But it turns out I don’t particularly like schnitzel. The sauteed tomato and rice were good.