Monday, May 07, 2007

three meals from the brink

Apparently I'm doing threes lately.

Look, my wedding is on Saturday. (Note to self: EEEEEEK!) Over the course of this week, I'm going to blog about it a lot--about my bachelorette party, about the catering decisions, and of course about all the fun femme details. And then when it's done, I'm pretty sure I'll blog from my honeymoon road trip from Key West to Savannah. (Got ideas for good veggie or GF places along A1A? We'll be needing them.)

But for right now, a brief look into my life...and dinners.

Dinner #1. Sous-Chef.

I'm the A-chef in the house. I cook a lot, I cook impulsively, and I'm bossy as hell. So when it's me and the Boy in the kitchen, I'm in charge. Chop this, I say. Get me that. No, finer. Do we have any of this? Stir the pot, I have to mix something. And he's good natured about it, and an excellent sous chef.

But I am le crazy right now. To the max. And so I'm letting the Boy take his turn as A-chef, every once in a while. And if he's smart, he picks the one cuisine where he is the acknowledged master: Mexican food. (Really, I don't think that's fair. Just because I don't have a food-professional Mexican grandma to call doesn't make me bad at cooking Mexican food. Hmph.)

There is something satisfying about being a sous. You aren't responsible for anything other than your single task. You cook the thing, you make it right, you don't screw it up. There's no big picture. Being a sous chef is about being in the moment, and letting everything else fade away.

chile relleño, rice and beans, chèvre
Chile relleño; arroz y frijoles; queso de cabra (that's chèvre for most of us)

The chile is stuffed with textured vegetable protein (we buy a bulk GF version at our food coop) rehydrated in tomato juice, sauteed tomato, and chopped ricotta salata, battered in beaten egg whites and cornstarch, and shallow-fried. The beans are pintos, which are more authentic than black beans for most Mexican cuisine, and they are sauteed with cooked rice, chopped shallots, and cilantro. The chèvre is just because who doesn't love chèvre?

2. Dinner #2. Peace

I live with a celiac. I know stomach distress. And I had it. The work. The pressure. Knowing everything I had to do between then and the wedding: the two papers, the problem sets for statistics, the interview for next semester's TA job. Learning how to walk in heels, doing seating arrangements, making sure someone can deliver the Indian food, getting to the Greenmarket to order the flowers. My digestive track gave out on me. Fix us, Emily, it said.

shoes, books, snap peas
Wedding shoes; homework; dinner

It's steamed white basmati rice, steamed snow peas, and wheat-free tamari with garlic and ginger. It was filling, and calming.

I'm doing other things to try to keep my body going over this next stressful patch. I'm hitting the probiotics hard: yogurt, kombucha, and these fabulous candy bars with lactobacillus in them that they sell at Whole Foods. I'm also cutting out uncultured dairy nearly entirely; like most human beings, I'm at least a little lactose intolerant, and I don't want to give my body anything additional to deal with.

Dinner #3. Impulse.

I walked in the door from class. I was in a good mood, cheerful about the impending wedding, the fact that it wasn't quite dark yet, and being done with a little more work. My Wife looks up at me from our couch, smiles, and says, "I just watched Alton make macaroni and cheese. Can we have it for dinner?"

I was in a good mood. "Sure," I said.

I then noticed that we were nearly out of, well, food. So I sent the Wife to the Yemeni bodega down the street for a half-gallon of milk (W: "The guy at the store thought I was you. Although I should know what to say to what he said." Me: "What did he say?" W: "Kay hai? Something like that?" "كيف حالك؟" "Yeah, that." "You say بحر.") and went through the cheese drawer. Turns out we had some really old gruyère and a little bit of cheddar. We also used up our last bag of Tinkyada spirals on it; I couldn't make extra like I usually do.

mac and cheese
Gruyère Mac and Cheese

This is actually a simplified version of my regular recipe. Boil pasta in one pot. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large saucier, sauce pan, or something big enough to hold all that pasta once it is boiled. Add 2 tbsp cornstarch (wheat flour is ok, if you do that sort of thing). Let it brown slightly. Pour in...some milk. I didn't measure. About half a half-gallon, whatever that is. Whisk. Once it starts thickening, add a whole bunch of diced or shredded or crumbled gruyère and whatever other cheese you have in the house that won't taste nasty with it. When the cheese is melted through, dump the pasta into the sauce. Turn the heat off, stir, and pour the whole thing into a casserole. Run it under the broiler until the top looks crispety-crunchety. Makes many fewer servings than you would think, because everyone takes seconds. In fact, it's so good the blogger forgot to document it before she took her own serving.


Anonymous koonj said...

Saturday! My dear, my dear, how exciting! Mashaallah, I am so happy for you and your dearest. May you be blessed and happy together and may the wedding be sublime! Pictures? please?

10:56 PM  
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