Monday, April 26, 2010
According to my family, Gordon Ramsey’s got nothing on me. They think I am a wild woman in the kitchen: having tantrums when things don’t go my way and berating all those around me with curses. In fact, I do get irritated when the ingredients won’t cooperate but I’m really just a pussy cat with a few bon mots. At least compared to the characters I have worked for in the past, I am really as gentle as a lamb even when things are falling apart around me.
My nephew came over the other day to help me prepare a slow cooked, southern inspired feast for our families on New Year’s Eve. Our time was tight and I chose to make recipes that I had not made before. (Yes, I know you are not supposed to do this when planning to entertain, but I like to live on the edge!) I should have known we were in for it when the meringue cookies fell flat due to my choice of using pasteurized egg whites from a carton instead of fresh. My kids were raising hell, as usual and creating the type of distraction that slowly wears me down to a nub by the end of the day. So, poor Ryson arrives in the middle of my chagrin over the floppy meringues and the occasional yell at the kids to go play and to stop fighting. After melting chocolate to spread on the cookies, (almost anything can be salvaged by dipping it in chocolate) we decided to make the biscuits and then onto the corn spoon bread.
AARGH! The biscuit dough was ridiculous! Not only was it dry but the recipe claimed it made 24. I could tell we may only get 6-8 out of it. After the first attempt was a bust and ended up in the trash, I was determined to make the second one work. However, I am no southern belle and I don’t really know what I am doing with biscuit dough so, on a whim and a prayer, the dough went into the refrigerator and we began work on the corn pudding.
Ryson’s job was to cook the bacon while I focused on the now chilled biscuit dough. Rolled out, it did not even cover the area of a cookie sheet. And they were rolled out so thin, it seemed they would be more like crackers than fluffed up vehicles for my BBQ pork as intended. Damn it! Ava stop turning up that music and leave the dog alone! Shit! I almost dropped the whole thing on the floor. Stupid biscuits!!! I cut them out anyway and we baked them. Upon tasting a little piece (we barely had enough to serve), they were deemed tasty but not what we /I hoped for.
Amid the madness we almost omitted half of the corn spoon bread recipe before sticking it in the oven; the most critical ingredient, the eggs. Well we managed to get it all together after pouring it into the large baking dish then the smaller then the large one again.
When the guests arrived, I was still p.o.’d over the stupid biscuits, knowing I could have done better and angry at myself for using this unknown recipe. Everyone enjoyed the spread and actually fought over the biscuit tidbits. The pimento cheese was a hit with us northerners and the tweaked cole slaw was a perfect match to the tangy barbecue and creamy corn spoon bread.
During dinner, Ryson ribbed me about getting mad in the kitchen, seemingly shocked at my behavior. Everyone else at the table raised their eyebrows when they heard I said a few expletives over the stove and got mad at my children for adding to the chaos. Well if they think I’m like Gordon Ramsey, so be it. Just don’t get in my way when the meringues flop and the biscuit dough misbehaves!
P.S. The biscuits in this photo are from a different recipe and another day!
GETTIN' FANCY BISCUITS
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter
4 tablespoons crisco
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and crisco. Pulse a few times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse until mixture just begins to come together.
Place dough on a lightly floured board. Roll out to about 1/2" thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Press together scraps of dough and repeat until all dough is used. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the cream and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.
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Rule #1 in my kitchen (well, when I'm allowed to make rules - I have to share the kitchen with my wife...) is (and this is only a rule for her because she insists on transgressing) never attempt a new recipe when guests are coming to dinner.
This is a recipe (literally and figuratively) for disaster, as witnessed here on more than one occasion. It's not enough that the house (and kitchen!) has to be cleaned, components inventoried, assessed and purchased as necessary, recipes followed closely (without distraction!) to be sure everything that is supposed to be included actually gets into the pot or pan BEFORE it goes on/in the heat. Trying a new recipe is like flying a plane with no lessons. Sure, you've seen it in the movies, but do you really want to trust your life (or stomach, in this case) to someone who thinks it's OK to practice on you?
NO WAY, JOSE! ;-)
I take my cooking and my rep way to seriously to not know a recipe inside and out before springing it on unsuspecting victims. Consistency is difficult enough without stacking the deck against myself, thank you very much!
The Culinary Obsessive
(PS - Glad to see another blog entry - I thought you'd given up!)
I haven't given up, I have just been ridiculously busy but maybe I'll have some more time now to get some thoughts posted. I'm so glad you commented as sometimes I think no one is out there reading about my insanity.
Yeah, the whole tackling an unknown recipe for invited guests is gutsy but I just can't help myself. I am truly a glutton for punishment!