One of my guilty pleasures is to be in the kitchen cooking. Nothing could be more satisfying than to create a meal for your family and watch their bliss filled faces as they savor every bite. In ancient times the man gathered and the woman prepared the meals. This theme can also be seen in photographs or caricatures of the 50’s, but is it true today? Lets take a look at the landscape of today culinary artists, most of which are men surprisingly. Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Michael Chiarello, Jean Georges, the list goes on and on, yet when we look at today’s society, has it really changed from times past. Are there not more stay at home moms then dads? Are not men supposed to love sports, hate the arts, and forge for monetary success, and not be stuck in the kitchen or at home with the kids? One of my pet peeves for someone to ask me is if I babysat my kids this weekend. The answer that I give, much to the surprise of the inquisitor is, no, I stayed home like a father and parented the house, after all it was 50/50 when those kids were created, right? There is no reason a father could not be just as nurturing and loving as a mother, in fact it should be an equal split. We, as a society, are still very antiquated in our thought processes and are stuck, in most cases, in the 1950’s with the woman in the kitchen slaving and the man in the arm-chair reading the paper waiting for the dinner bell. Sorry for the digression, but come on husbands and dads, let’s be the role models we know can be for our children and shape who they will become, times are changing all around, do not get trapped on the subway….participate!
Since we have returned home with Liev and August, our close community of friends have showered us with dinners nightly. I am genuinely amazed at the outpouring of support and love from the people we spend daily life around. Needless to say, we have been very well fed and have had no need to even contemplate what to fix for dinner, until last night! Thank you to all of you that have helped and continue to help us through the first few weeks of adjustment. We love you all dearly and appreciate what you have done more than words can express. I must admit though, I was very excited to plan a weekend menu and go to the grocery store, one of my favorite field trips. There is much forethought that goes into what we will be eating and I don’t take shortcuts on food prep. It all must be fresh, organic, and prepared to perfection! Friday night the planning began…….
I start most days with a brown sugar latte that I make at the house. Three shots of espresso (Nespresso), whole milk (why not), and some brown sugar, not a better way to begin. Breakfast is not really my thing, although I love a good, flaky pastry…..And lunch, well it is a hodgepodge of things to fill the void till dinner. Then the prep begins for the evening feast. Always have a good glass of wine while preparing food, it clears the mind, sharpens your culinary senses and is excellent for heart health. All the scents that are wafting in the air make that Pinot, which is the only true foodie wine, taste even better. Friday night the menu consisted of: Chardonnay braised chicken with a Crème fraîche mushroom sauce (classic French cooking always has sauces), sautéed haricot vert with shallots, rosemary and olive oil roasted potatoes and good crusty bread (with French salted butter). It was fantastic, the chicken was falling off the bone (I do not cook with boneless chicken!) and all meals should have good bread and even better butter. If you do nothing else in life, spend the money for good French salted butter, you will not have regrets. Ahhhhh….to be back in the kitchen…..good therapy.
Sunday was an entirely different region of food, but somewhat of the same routine. It was a twist on classic Osso Buco made with brisket instead of lamb shank, I have never been a huge lamb fan and thought it might be a great substitute. The one thing I need to accomplish is to train one of the boys to be my Sous Chef. The prep for a meal in this family can be quite extensive and very labor intensive. So off we go with chopping the veggies, seasoning the grass-fed meat, and preparing the dutch oven for the searing and sautéing. For those that do not know, Osso Buco consists of a braising process that intensifies the flavors and renders the meat extremely tender and flavorful. Mine was made with Amarone wine and cooked for about 4 hours till the brisket was falling apart. The meat was then laced on a bed of egg noodles with the cooking sauces and topped with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano, served with a salad and, of course, some good crusty bread for the sauce. The dish was amazing and the whole house smelled fantastic.
Food should be an amazing experience that thrills all the senses. It can be sweet, yet bitter, with salt and spice which all leads to an explosion of sensuous flavors. Culinary skill is truly an art form that can unleash ones full creative potential. The challenge in life is to find something that makes us feel fulfilled and accomplished. For me its my new-found love of writing, my beautiful family and the time we spend together, and creating culinary journeys as the Executive Chef for our Table for 9. Who know what could be next…….stayed tuned.