Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Test Kitchen. Life in a Corporate Apartment.

I eat out less than I used to. Not that I'm not on the road all the time, or that I don't love to stumble upon a genius chef in an unexpected corner of the world, it's just that now, I have a corporate apartment.

Living out of hotel rooms has its perks in small doses, but when I figured out that my current project was going to keep me going back and forth to Lansing for a good long while, it was time to get a little more settled in. My place in Lansing is right downtown, plenty comfortable, but most importantly, it has a downright livable kitchen.

I thought I'd take a quick moment to post a few of my experiments that worked out particularly well. These are not ambitious meals - noting more than 30 or 40 minutes to make, and generally a serving or two. I won't go into the recipes here, just a few notes on the modifications I made to Mark Bittman's fantastic recipes from How To Cook Everything (I use the iPad app, which is awesome)

Beef with Basil
Could not be an easier dish to make, and the flavors were surprisingly engaging for such a simple combination. Starting from the Bittman recipe, I added about 1/2 tbs of finely chopped ginger with the garlic, and I doubled the amount of lime juice and then some. Basic process: marinate the beef in the basil and little oil, get a pan hot, and add a little oil, ginger, garlic, the beef, and fresh basil. End with lime juice and a little soy. Amazing flavors, and once everything is chopped and prepped, it's literally a 5 minute operation.

Chicken in Wine Sauce
This one is cheating, really. Because this much butter just makes anything awesome. Basic approach here is to fry breaded chicken in butter and olive oil, and build a reduced wine/butter sauce once you're done. It was awesome. My main change to Bittman was to use egg to get the breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken before frying. From a steps perspective, I did as told, but added a step to filter the oil/butter after the chicken was done to get rid of breadcrumb bits. And when I added the extra butter (I used about 6 tbs all told) and the wine, I also added a tiny drop of honey, which helped soften the intense savory flavors. I served this over pasta, which was kind of awesome tossed in the sauce. Not healthy. Not even a little bit.

Eggs Benedict
This was my first attempt at hollandaise, and, though the flavor was spot on, it was a little thin in the final analysis. A little more heat near the end would have helped. Still, the outcome was lovely. I followed the instructions here to a tee, no adds or removals. Since Lansing is a little light on high-quality meats, I just went with a shaved Boars Head ham from the deli counter at the Krogers. Would have been better with a homemade english muffin or some really hot-shot cured meat, but this was very tasty, and came out pretty as well. Side note: poached eggs are awesome. I learned how to make them for this meal, and now eat them all the time.

Back to our regularly scheduled program next time, but I thought some homemade treats might be fun.

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