Lately, my kitchen is often a site for tween cooking experimentation with massive deviations from You Tube quick-cut recipe videologs that end in disappointment because the products are not as advertised. There are piles of sticky mixing bowls and spoons that sit in the sink. After prodding, they are hurriedly washed by the users and sit in the drying rack attracting ants.
The kitchen is also a laboratory for various slime recipes, which also don’t always work out as planned. Cast-offs sit in old plastic deli meat containers. There is glitter in weird places. Smears of food coloring decorate the counter and remind me that the concoctions rest in bathrooms and sometimes in the carpeting. I’ve run out of corn starch again. The new bottle of shampoo has mysteriously disappeared in two days.
There was a popcorn-making frenzy last month by all three kids and some of their friends that ended up better than I expected. The microwave was used. There was butter. Lots of salt. Smoked paprika. Furikake. I found dozens of unpopped kernels on the floor with my bare feet for the next few days.
I’ve been usurped.
As I was writing this post, the electrical plug-in strip was accidently turned off by Peach as she plugged in a hot glue gun to make a pillow filled with stuffed animals. (Thank you, Auto Save.) Usurped by a person-sized pillow.
If I don’t post but every month or so now, it’s because my kitchen is not my kitchen anymore. It’s a gathering place but not always cleaned up or freed up enough for me to squeeze in and make something.
The kids have also taken to turning up their noses to many things I make (for dinner, never dessert!), partly because of the pull of screentime (terrible vs wonderful inventions in this era?) or filling up on snacks. Why bother with a two hour meal prep if there’s always complaining, Eat said. They’re obviously not hungry enough, I thought. They want to do some of the cooking maybe (though I can’t eat hot dogs and sugar cookies every day).
The fondue with IPA-style beer, however, was a hit.
It’s a great recipe to pull together in small time chunks (when the kitchen is in high demand for other projects, obviously). I prepped the roasted/steamed vegetables and chicken a couple days in advance, bought the bread, sausage, and cornichons the day of. The fondue itself doesn’t take too long to make. It’s also a fun meal to serve as an interactive feast, forcing those around the table to commune with cheese and each other.
I’ll be back for a birthday post next month. Those posts I never miss — and the kids stay out of the kitchen long enough for the birthday sweet-making by their lovely mother. Well, almost long enough.
One year ago: corn salad
Two years ago: roti
Five years ago: apricot compote, tomato and halloumi salad with pomegranate drizzle and peach-blueberry pie
Seven years ago: kaiserschmarrn with peaches and blackberries and matonella con biscotti sablee (chocolate loaf with butter cookies and nuts), korean dried squid (ojingo chae bokkeum) and danube salad — These are all great recipes. I’ve been craving the danube salad lately, a wonderful recipe I got from my Ukranian friend’s mother.
- 1 cup Abita grapefruit IPA (other similar beer/ale works well too)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ pound Gruyere, hand shredded
- ¼ pound sharp cheddar, hand shredded
- ¼ pound Swiss cheese, hand shredded
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Pinch of cayenne
- Prepare bite-sized pieces from about 4 croissants, 1 baguette, various roasted vegetables (see below), a handful of cornichons, chicken (see below), 1 pound of mini sausages.
- IF MAKING CHICKEN: 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- salt and pepper
- IF ADDING VEGETABLES: 1 medium butternut squash, 2 medium roasted beets, ½ pound of roasted or steamed broccoli. Instructions below for roasting.
- PREPARE THE FONDUE: On the sides of a medium-sized saucepan, rub the cut side of the garlic clove. Add to the pot, the beer, lemon juice, and mustard, and set on medium heat to simmer.
- While warming, prepare the cheese. Put all of the shredded cheese in a large bowl and mix with the cornstarch to coat cheese.
- Add a handful of cheese to the warmed beer mixture, allow to melt, and repeat. The slow addition of cheese allows a smooth fondue to form. Don't rush it!
- If the melting cheese mixture seems too thick, don't worry. It will thin out as it heats slowly and fully melts. Add the nutmeg and cayenne.
- CHICKEN PREP: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Put the chicken in a glass 9x13-inch pan. Pour oil and vinegar over the chicken and use your hands to coat each piece well. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken 20 to 30 minutes, until juices run clear and the meat is firm to the touch. You can use an instant read thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Take the pan out of the oven, cover with foil, and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into bite-sized pieces.
- BUTTERNUT SQUASH PREP: Trim ends from squash then peel it with a vegetable peeler. Then peel it again to remove any remainder of the pale flesh from the brilliant orange. Slice the neck from the body, half each, then scoop out the seeds from the body. Slice into bite-sized pieces.
- Place cut up squash in baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and bake in a 400 to 425 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or until squash is soft and browned. You can prepare this squash days in advance (or with the chicken above) and chill until use. Leftovers are great on salads.
- BEET PREP: Wash whole beets and keep peel on. Wrap in foil, place in loaf pan or on baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees F for 40 to 60 minutes. If your beets are small to medium sized, 45 minutes is usually enough. They are done when you can smell earthiness and they give slightly to the touch.
- Allow to cool fully before unwrapping. The peels should slip off with your fingers. Slices into bite-sized pieces. You can cook these beets days in advance and chill until using. Leftovers are great on salads, just like the butternut squash.
- BROCCOLI PREP: Preheat oven to 425 to 450 degrees F.
- Cut broccoli into manageable florets, toss with olive oil and salt, and roast until browning and softening of florets, about 15 minutes. Season with more salt if needed and hot pepper flakes.
- Serve fondue with cut up croissants, crusty bread, cornichons, roasted beets, roasted butternut squash, mini sausages, and cooked chicken. I love the vegetables dipped in the cheese; the sausages are pretty good too.
- The fondue reheats well and keeps for a few days in the fridge.