Cooking is fun. This is a great activity while we are all at home sheltering during the Coronavirus crisis.
I love to cook. Always have, since I was a little kid. I have four brothers so every Sunday - breakfast was for at least seven people. You learn about timing - how people like their eggs, or toast, or bacon. Sunday breakfast was a demanding meal with a very picky clientele - my family. Once we graduated to Eggs Benedict - holy smokes - do you know how to rescue a broken Hollandaise sauce? Better learn fast...
Now in COVID-19 land it's just me and my wife and our dog Freddie. He is demanding but not so picky. He likes green beans and he likes his kibble. Time on my hands working from home I can do things I wouldn't normally do.
I can spend a lot of time planning menus for the next few days as we are getting food delivered rather than taking the time to shop. A mixed blessing, I have more time but I don't know what I am getting or the quality of the stuff until the food shows up.
The menu changes unexpectedly. When the delivery shows up you only have half of the food that you ordered. We are here, we are home and we are safe. Just got to shift gears, make do and switch up the menu.
Certain things you can count on like dried pasta and canned goods. A jar of capers or those anchovies you forgot about. Chick peas, dried beans, The good mustard, that stuff from Beaune. African friends in Paris used to cook scrambled eggs with canned sardines and scallions because they were poor. It's a delicious dish.
I ordered lamb. They sent a chicken. So we will have that and then I am going to make chicken stock from the neck and gizzard and wing tips and leftover bones. I made stuffing so all of the vegetable peels, the onions, carrots, celery go in the stock pot with garlic, a bay leaf, peppercorn, parsley, and a whole clove.
I keep the stock pot simmering, it makes the apartment smell really nice.
Took the liver, salt and pepper and briefly cooked it in some rendered chicken fat with some minced shallots. Still very pink. Mash this up with some of that good mustard from Beaune, make a piece of toast, then take a clove of garlic cut in half and rub it on the toast like it's a piece of sandpaper. It will absorb the garlic Smear this mustard - shallot- liver stuff on your toast. Share. It is only a little bite of food but holy cow - is this good with Beaujolais!
I sauteed carrots, celery and onions in olive oil. Added some sliced mushrooms, then some cubes of stale bread and cooked wild rice. Stuffed the chicken and baked it. Served with asparagus. I keep the asparagus coffee mug half full of water in the refrigerator. They keep very fresh. I do the same with scallions, root side down. They continue to grow. You can keep cutting the green tops for weeks. Treat them like cut flowers.
Two people can only eat so much roast chicken, so after the chicken dinner pick the leftover meat off the carcass and put it in a bowl. Take the carcass and boil with the vegetable peelings for your chicken stock. Take half the leftover chicken, combine with the leftover wild rice/mushroom stuffing and some stock and you have instant chicken soup or stew.
With the rest of the leftover chicken tomorrow you can make the greatest chicken salad ever known. This will incorporate some of the vegetables from dinner, raw onions, more of that good mustard, maybe some mayonnaise. Make your own, you have the time and it's so much better.
Vegetable stock and chicken stock is great to have around. You can freeze it or keep it in the refrigerator. Boil it every few days to sterilise it. This will keep longer. You can make soup, risotto or:
- Take an egg (or two)
- Beat the egg in a bowl.
- Add some chopped parsley or cooked spinach or the leftover vegetables.
- Add some grated parmagiano or pecorino romano
- Put this mixture in the boiling chicken stock and it will rise like the most wonderful, light, airy dumpling.
- Ladle into a bowl, add salt and pepper.
My downstairs neighbor was a chef from Florence. He taught me this one.
- Soak a cup of dried chickpeas overnight.
- Put in a pot, cover with cold water and add a big sprig of fresh rosemary, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf.
- Simmer, covered adding water as needed. This will take an hour or two.
- Add salt & pepper.
- Chop up a medium onion and saute in olive oil until translucent. Add to the chickpeas.
- Take half of the chickpea/onion mixture and puree in a food processor or food mill. I use a potato ricer.
- Combine the chickpea mixtures.
Cook pasta that has a tube shape like ziti or mostaccioli or tubetti. You want a big enough pasta that some of the whole chickpeas can fit inside.
- Heat up the chickpea sauce and add some more good olive oil.
- Add grated cheese if you like.
Stay safe, eat well and be nice to each other. And drink wine!
- John B. Truax