Monday, January 25, 2010

Purple Fingers and Decent Mondays....

We made it through another Monday. That's always an accomplishment, I think. Today wasn't actually a bad Monday. We had another birthday lunch for two of my coworkers, my boss was working from home and I got a lot done. Ignoring the fact that my boss doesn't like it if we work from home but often chooses to do so himself, there really wasn't too much to complain about.

It's even snowing again which, of course, makes me very happy. It was a nice beginning to the evening. Since I had lunch out, I didn't want to make anything too heavy for dinner. Since I'd made out menus for the week last night based on ingredients I have, I picked something light to make: Stuffed mushroom caps and roasted beet and parmigiano bruschetta.

I have to say, I might just be in love with cooking. The stuffed mushroom caps are always fun to make. I usually buy the big caps from the grocery store when they're reduced because they're near the expiration date. As long as you use them quickly, they make an inexpensive appetizer. I never use a recipe but more of a formula. I brush the caps with melted butter. I suppose you could use olive oil if you wanted to be a bit healthier but the butter adds a really nice flavour. Then I take some type of cheese, add some breadcrumbs to soak up a little of the oil when the cheese melts, an aromatic, usually chives, garlic or sweet onion and most often a herb to finish off the flavour, usually something that goes well with the cheese. Tonight, I made Fontina stuffed caps with garlic and fresh basil. I have to say, they were absolutely delicious. The roasted beet and parmigiano bruschetta was a Mario Batali recipe (naturally.) It, too, was tasty. I love roasted beets, they're sweet and juicy and when you add caraway seeds, it brings out a whole new flavour.

The only slight problem is that now I have purple fingers. To be fair, it's more like neon pink because I've scrubbed my hands rather a lot. I also had a bit of a purple kitchen as well as a bright red sink. It actually looked like I'd murdered someone when I washed the bowls and plates I'd used to prepare the beets. It was sort of interesting, if a little gory looking. I'm also a wee bit afraid my mouth is purple. Beets are delicious but they're messy.

Then again, I'm probably the messy one. I often make a bit of a mess while I'm prepping. I do clean between each prep though because I like my workstation to be neat and tidy- another lesson I learned from Mr. Batali.

What I don't get is those TV chefs like Giada and the Barefoot Contessa. They use their hands to prepare ingredients and yet they never seem to have a crumb on themselves. Also, they chop onions and their eyes don't water. I've read up on how to chop onions without crying and I've tried everything. However, I have overly sensitive eyes to begin with and by the time I'm done chopping the onions, my eyes are streaming, my nose is running and I can barely see.

I'm sure those TV chefs have artful editors who make sure the messy hands aren't shown, that the scenes are cut between sections so Giada and her fellow TV cooks can actually wash their hands before they continue. Me, personally...I'd rather see their hands messy. It makes them a little more relatable.

Yet there are some cooking shows that do let you see the mess. I watched Worst Cooks in America again last night. Anne Burrell taught her team to make pasta dough. I've watched her make that dough countless times on Iron Chef America when she was Mario Batali's sous chef. She's a pro. There's a technique to making pasta, you see. You make a pile of flour and then make a deep well in the middle, deep enough that you can crack eggs into it, swirl in the flour as you gently beat the egss. All of this has to be done without breaking the well which slowly forms a dough.

Last night, Anne Burrell's "students" were sent off to imitate her technique and make their own dough. I watched as one of her team attempted to make the well. I saw, immediately, that it was too high and deep and I knew what would happen. Sure enough, as the "student" tried to swirl the eggs into the flour, the sides collapsed, the eggs spill out and it was like a volcano erupting as the "student" tried to stop the eggs from escaping and ending up with a giant mess.

I knew what would happen because the first time I tried to make pasta, I, too, made a high and deep well. It was Mount Eggs erupting over my kitchen counter. I still managed to catch them and make it into a dough but it was pretty hairy there for a while. Now, I've learned to make a high but wide well into which I can crack the eggs, still have room to beat the eggs without collapsing the walls of the well and letting the eggs run away.

My point is that even though these are supposed to be the Worst Cooks in America, it was rather nice to see someone on television screw something up that we can all relate to possibly having done. I'm not a huge Emeril Lagasse fan; I used to like him but his "Bam"-ing got a little annoying and overdone and I lost interest. However, one thing I did like about him was that there were quite a few times when he broke a cake or did something wrong and he'd keep going, often laughing about his catastrophe.

It's always nice to know you're not alone when you do something silly. Of course, I don't think I've ever quite seen anyone on the Food Network stain their fingers- and possibly their mouths - with beet juice so maybe I'm alone in that. I'm hoping I can get it off. Otherwise, as Lady Aero suggested, perhaps I should just tell my boss I have contagious Pink Finger Disease and take a sick day.

Maybe I shouldn't take leftover beet bruschetta for lunch then....just in case.

Happy Monday!


Fe said...

You're not alone in having purple fingers. I've definitely done that before. It goes away and they are definitely worth the purple fingers.

I love your blog. :-)

Captain Monkeypants said...

Fe- I agree- I love beets and I'm REALLY glad I'm not the only one.

Thanks so much for commenting....I like your blog too although I think I'm not crafty enough to replicate some of your projects...I still love to see them though! :)