I've posted before that I am catering a dinner party down the shore this weekend. Now when I say catering, I don't mean drop the food off and run.
No, I stay and cook. Everything. Soup to nuts come out of the client's kitchen. It's more like a private chef event. Fun. I have terrific people who serve for me, help plate and of course clean up.
It's really a lovely way to have a dinner party. I may try it sometime.
The 2 to 3 days before the event have me practicing mise en place. Mise en place?
Definition: Mise en place: (meez ahn plahs) A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.
Good cooks know that stuff happens in the kitchen. Kids cry, dogs need to go out, phones ring. By practicing Mise en place, you will never ask yourself, did I add the salt yet???
When I arrive at the client's home, I unpack, set up and voila; I'm ready to cook. No measuring, no sifting, no chopping or mincing.. everything is ready to be cooked. It's a lot of work before so it is not a lot of work during. And of course, it cuts down on mistakes. Do try the art of mise en place in your own kitchen. It will cut down on stress and eliminate mistakes.
So what is this post about?
Oh, yeah. It's the thought that counts. The Best Husband In The World, because he is the best husband in the world, is very tuned in to my days leading up to a big event. Last night, out of the goodness of his little old heart he decided that he was going to cook dinner since I had been slicing and dicing most the day.
TBHITW has a couple of recipes up his sleeve for moments like this. One of them is Cashew Chicken. While I was at the market TBHITW called to tell me of his plan to cook me dinner and "since you're already at the store could you pick up a few ingredients..." HUH?
I retrace all my steps and pick up the necessary items for his dinner.
I load up the car and drive home.
I carry all HIS items plus my dinner party items into the house (the kidadults are still sleeping at this point, I mean it is only 11:30 am)
After unpacking all the bags and storing all the food items I proceed to my mise en place.
Fast forward 5:30 pm.
TBHITW gets home and proceeds to cook dinner.
Finished with my day's chores, I pour a glass of wine and prepare to be cooked for. (feet up)
Him: Where's the chicken?
Me: In the fridge
Him: Can't find it.
Me: getting up and going to fridge, here it is.
I sit back down and sip my wine...
Him: Where's the cornstarch
Me: second shelf, corner cupboard
Him: Don't see it
Me: getting up and getting it out of cupboard
Him: where's the chicken broth
Me: getting up and getting it out of freezer
Him: um, don't get up, but where's the soy sauce
Me: in the fridge door.
Him: no it's not.
Me: getting up and handing him the soy sauce which was in the door of the fridge.
Him: um.. what pan should I use?
Me: the wok
Him: where is the wok?
You get the idea. But it's the thought that counts...
Cashew Chicken (serves 4-5)
One 8 ounce can bamboo shoots
One 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts
3-4 stalks celery, sliced on an angle about 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup COLD water
2 whole chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup cashews, unsalted
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons vegetable or other non-flavored oil
Saute the chicken in oil until almost done. Toss in the celery, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Stir. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 2 minutes over medium/low heat.
Add chicken broth, then cornstarch/water mixture and ginger. Simmer for 1 minutes. Add cashews and stir to combine.
Serve this over white or brown rice and thank the cook who made it (even if it was your very own self)
I am cooking tonight.