Archive for the ‘The Crisper Chef’ Category


Okay- the Science Fair rough draft is due Wednesday, we have yet to perfect our hypothesis, let alone perform the experiment. Tween angst, coupled with parental guilt (NYC vacation) leaves the boys and girls in the house wondering what’s for dinner at 8pm. Haven’t shopped for two weeks…down to a handful of shallots, can of marinara, rice and a couple of thawed chicken breasts. Rinse two cups rice until water is clear, add water up to the first line on your index finger (swear), bring to boil, cover and simmer until the steam holes have no bubbles. I have my favorite glass lidded pot for the rice. Who has time to check the clock…ha! Use your eyes.

So pan is smoking hot after a tablespoon of butter is added, add chunked up chicken, walk away. Peel all the shallots, if large, make 1/2 inch. Stir chicken around, nice and brown. Add shallots and more browning, splash of what you’re drinking or chicken stock, throw in whole can trader joe’s marinara, pinch of red chilies, several turns on the pepper mill, big ole pinch salt. Herbs if you have any, parm if you have any.

Totally delicious, kids were all asking about the shallots, really sweet flavor. They liked them, they really liked them! Moral of the story, keep onions, shallots, garlic and salt in the house at all times! In the most desperate of times they fought for onions and salt…never forget it! Marcella Hazan remembers salt rationing…hear her tell the story and you’ll never take it for granted. A tense evening was turned around quickly with a 20 minute dinner and a story from Grandma about her silver toed boots getting tangled up at the airport and then falling in to a skycap…her hand went right in to his pants as she broke her fall. Funny how a glass of chardonnay and your mom telling your kids how she groped a porter, makes for near hysteria at the dinner table. Hmmm, that stuff doesn’t happen to just anyone…


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This time change, baseball and the ongoing extra curriculars have the dinner hour in flux. I look up and it’s 7pm, no dinner on the stove and no prospects come to mind. The kids have acting class behind them and a couple of hours of homework in front of them and I am staring in to the open fridge.

I find the following: 6 carrots, 1 head of garlic, 1 large onion, 1 full bag organic baby spinach, 2 fingers of chardonnay, 1 large can tomato puree, 10 sprigs old marjoram, 4 stalks chard, 20 favas, 2 cups whole peas, 14 cheese ravioli dying in the freezer. Yum. The garden has thankfully contributed marjoram, chard and peas to that list. The flavor and healthy components…now what would I be looking at without the produce? Yikes!

Now it’s all about the clock. Everyone will be grumpy if I miss the appetite window of opportunity. Everything on the list goes in the pot, but not all at one time, of course. Pot #1 – Water on for favas & ravioli. Pot #2 – Diced and sautee onion in butter and olive oil, add the chopped carrots (on the small side for speedy cooking), add garlic, marjoram and chard stems. Once veg are well caramelized add wine. Pot #1 – Blanch favas. Pot #2 – Add tomato puree and 2 cups of water, simmer for a couple of minutes…add spinach and chard leaves, salt and pepper. Pot #1 – Cook rav. Pot #2 – Get out the immersible blender! Blend until smooth. Wow, seriously! No basil, no oregano but a new fave (I have a lot of faves) Marjoram! You have to plant Marjoram. It’s a flavor explosion. I have been adding it to the top of many dishes with great results. So I ladled the pure flavor and nutrition in to bowls and topped with ravioli. Some adults got the favas, some children just got rav and peas. Never mind, their nutrients are in the bowl.

Time! Hands up step away from the plates…okay, it’s not quite as dramatic as Top Chef…but it does seem as frenetic in the home kitchen at times. I wonder if I subconsciously create these “line cook” opportunities for myself to stay sharp, hmmm?

Okay – good fast dinner – I was also left with over 1 quart of sauce. The next night chicken is sauteed and when almost done, a couple cups of sauce is added to the pan. Sauce on plate, sliced chicken fanned out, fresh peas sprinkled, parm grated. Meal number 2 from the dregs of the pantry.

A quick search turned up this site, with nutrient breakdowns for The World’s Healthiest Foods.

As you can see the nutritional benefits of hiding chard and spinach in your tomato sauce are very, very good. The beauty of this dish is that the crisper is now empty and the whole family is full, which is also very good. And today I better shop.

Oh! Here’s another tid bit of information…the fava water turned red…deep dark red. We are doing a plant dye experiment for the science fair, and I think we may now be including favas as a potential source for a dye bath. Interesting….

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