Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Sous Chef Needs Help

I love to cook. I really do. I actually cook from scratch most nights, and I *gasp* enjoy it.

But there are certain aspects of it that I could really do without. I hate dishes. In fact, once things get into the sink I get pretty grossed out in general. Yeah, I know... another quirk.

I'm also not the biggest fan of chopping and other prep. I really need to have my food come the way it does on the food network. There, it's already portioned out and cut up perfectly. All you have to do it take the cute little ramekin and place it into the bowl or pan.

This is where a generous husband comes in. While I love to cook, he loves to eat. We've made a deal, and he does all the dishes for me. Sometimes even the same night I cook with them! Frequently he also helps out as my sous chef.

On Monday night, I was making the marinade and sides for my Thai Beef Lettuce Cups. It has a lot of ingredients in it, and many of them involve chopping and cutting and slicing. I asked my husband at about 9pm (right after I finished my sushi!) if he would help me prep. He let me know that he was actually planning on heading to the gym right then, so he was headed out the door.

With no one to help me, I of course procrastinated another ten minutes. When I moved into the kitchen and started prepping the limes to be squeezed, my husband finally stood up and announced he was on his way to the gym. Really, I wasn't at all suspicious that this was just a ploy to avoid helping me. It sure seems awfully coincidental though, doesn't it?

We negotiated though, and he agreed to help me for 10 minutes, which would make things much faster and easier for me. First I assigned him the cilantro to prepare to go into the blender.

As he reminisced about the first time he had ever heard of cilantro (I assumed it was going to be some time while knowing me), he started picking off each individual leaf of cilantro. I giggled and explained that he could just remove the thick stems and leave the leaves attached to the thinner ones.

He continued by explaining that he first heard of cilantro while working at Taco Bell in high school. Apparently it was in their pico de gallo that went on a Maxi Melt or something of the sort (I'm not a Taco Bell connoisseur, sorry). My guess is that he didn't make the pico that often.

Once the thick stems were removed, he decided he needed to chop the cilantro that was going into the blender. I was only half paying attention, as I was busy juicing limes, adding my fish sauce, and the like. I did notice that he was using my tiny Global paring knife, however. I made him use a real man's knife once I noticed. A good 10" chef's knife is far safer when doing unnecessary chopping like that.

The next task was garlic. Now, I love garlic. He knows I love garlic. I needed six cloves, and the cloves in my bulb were sorta wimpy. He got six small ones and asked if that was enough. Of course not! We ended up using eight. Since this was also going in the blender to make the marinade, he just needed to skin them.

Easy, right? Just put the flat of your knife atop it, give it a good whack and the peel comes right off. He got most of it right, except for the girly little tap he gave the knife. Again, I had to encourage him to whack it like a man. That helped matters. And again he commenced chopping. This time, I was paying enough attention and reassured him that the garlic cloves could go into the blender whole.

Fortunately, the jalapeno was no issue for him, and that went into the blender quickly halved (with seeds removed -- kids are eating this too, after all!).

The last task for his ten minutes was julienning the red pepper. Once I explained what julienning was, he started cutting. The first quarter of the pepper was cut into four pieces. I got out a set of matches to show him the actual size of a matchstick that he was trying to achieve. That helped. Then of course he blamed me picking the pepper as his last task because I knew it would take him more than 10 minutes. Honestly, my lips are sealed with regards to my intentions on that one.

The good news is that the marinade was completed before he left so he was able to sneak a taste before going to work out. It met his approval -- assuming that "Interesting" is valid as an approval. He forgets that Thai cooking likes to incorporate sweet, sour, spicy, salt, etc all in one dish. He was doubting me. Bad form, really.

Fortunately the rest of the prep was quick. I just had to chiffonade some basil and julienne a cucumber. That makes prep for a Tuesday dinner easy. The flank steak goes into the prepared marinade which is given one last whirl on the blender before going into the Ziplock. Once marinated, it gets grilled, rested and then cut into thin strips. All the prep work is done, so divvying it among the homes I cook for on Tuesdays is a snap. And suddenly, all the work for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is done (since my friends deliver to me on those days).

Oh, and it was yummy. Really yummy. As in we have no leftovers yummy, and I was really hoping to take it for leftovers to work today. My husband even admitted that his doubting was totally out of line and it rocked. If you want the recipe, let me know and I'll post it. It has some more unique ingredients but all yummy and getable at the right markets! And on Saturday, I'm trying Angela's salmon, spinach and gouda quesadillas. And Sunday may be Mama Kat's Thai Chicken.

So what are your favorite dishes to cook?


Kori July 2, 2008 at 9:28 PM  

I can't complain Richard always does the dishes and when he's not here the boys do it. I can not stand the smell of dish water. Oh geez just thinking about it makes my stomach do flips. Yuck!

As far as the prep thing I do pretty much all of that. Richard is more of the simple man he dumps everything in the pan and just assumes it will work. Got to love those the men of the house! lol

Angie July 2, 2008 at 9:51 PM  

Wow, I wish I could find a sous chef that would do dishes. Lucky gal!

Enjoy Angela's recipe for the quesadillas! She's a great cook and she's never steered me wrong. :-)

Kellan July 2, 2008 at 11:45 PM  

This works out so nicely that your hubby helps out with the prep work and clean-up - good for him and you.

I'm not much for cooking from scratch - I hate the WHOLE process - not just the prep and clean-up. Wish I didn't because we love good food - it just does not often come from me. Now I do love to Bar-B-Q and will whip up plenty of meals with meat and veggies on the grill.

Have a good Thursday - I enjoyed this post! Take care - Kellan

Angela July 3, 2008 at 9:39 AM  

LOL Michelle, I think you and I are so much alike in the kitchen. Only your hubby is more willing to help than mine! But I also think (1) there is never enough garlic called for in a given recipe, (2) my hubby scares me to death chopping things with a paring knife, (3) and I detest doing dishes. There again, I get some pushback from hubs on doing "his part," since I did all the shopping/prep/cooking (I think it's a fair deal, but he always insists we should just eat mac and cheese from a box). I swear, I'm not a bad cook! He loves my food, he just hates dishes more, LOL!

Anyway, hope you guys like the quesadillas! It's a very flexible recipe, so you could add anything that appeals to you based on the taste of the salmon mixture.

Mabunny July 3, 2008 at 9:56 AM  

Hmm Michelle, after you try those salmon quesadillas, you have to let me know how they turn out, then share the recipe with me if its worth it.
If you want one for slamon /eggplant patties let me know, they are really good!

Angela July 3, 2008 at 8:03 PM  

You have meals brought to you??? That is like a dream come true.

Angela July 3, 2008 at 9:06 PM  

So glad you liked the quesadillas! But um, if you're cooking cedar plank grilled salmon, could you maybe come over here and cook some for us too!? :0)YUM! I bet the quesas were great like that. The recipe comes from a dish I used to get at one of our favorite restaurants. I guessed at the ingredients and came up pretty close, I think, as far as the taste. But I think they also used grilled salmon, which definitely gives an extra flavor dimension. So I'm sure yours were awesome!

Karen July 3, 2008 at 9:08 PM  

My husband helps more and more frequently, but that's because I cook less and less. It's working for me.

Cookie July 4, 2008 at 12:29 AM  

You almost inspired me to cook more. Instead, I think I'll go to your house at dinner time ;) Cooking dinner is the one chore that I hate most! I can vacuum over and over, wash and fold clothes nonstop. Anything but having to make dinner!

Michelle July 4, 2008 at 11:19 PM  

Kori - I'm there with you on the washing of dishes. As I think back... I think almost everyone I've ever dated has been my dish washer. Hmm. I like his theory on dumping everything in the pan. So how does it work for him, anyway? :)

Angie - Oh, my husband knows that if he wants me to cook, he'd better do the dishes. It's part of our agreement (almost a prenup!). And Angela's recipe ROCKED. It was so good!

Kellan - It does work out nicely. Fortunately, we seem to complement each other like that frequently.

Angela - We are *definitely* on the same page! Fortunately, my husband loves food more than he wants to avoid dishes, so that works out well. Plus, he knows that I can't stand eating processed food all the time. Sodium and I are not friends! And the quesadillas were great -- thanks again!

MaBunny - The recipe was great. If Angela is ok with it, I'll post it one day soon. Otherwise, run over to her blog and look for the post that talks about her meal planning for the week. It's listed in her comments. REALLY good. Yum, just thinking about it make my stomach growl! And yes, the cedar plank grilled salmon definitely added something, I'd bet. So easy to do. Get some cedar planks. Soak said planks. Olive oil, salt and pepper salmon. Light grill. Place plank and salmon on grill and let sit. Remove plank and salmon and enjoy! So so easy, really!

Angela - Meals brought to me by neighbors, I think is what you're referring to. If so, then yes. I do supper swapping where I cook for three families including mine once a week and drop it off hot at dinnertime, then each of the other families does the same for me on their designated days. It's a wonderful system, and we all love it!

Karen - You definitely have a keeper in your husband. You're lucky that he helps out... I've learned that we're in the minority with this!

Cookie - Maybe we can share a house. I HATE vacuuming and laundry and all those other chores... which is why I have a cleaning lady come. But cooking -- I'm all over that!

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