The first supper

Posted by Anita on 03.28.07 7:55 PM

pan-seared chicken (c)2007 AECAs I told a friend today in email, “finished” is perhaps too strong a word for the current state of the kitchen remodel, but that didn’t stop us from moving back upstairs over the weekend. And since everyone — and I do mean everyone, from my boss to the craftsman who created our gorgeous countertops — has asked: The first thing we cooked in our new kitchen was …pan-seared chicken.

Boring, you say? Delicious, says me. And, more to the point, a dish that would have been nearly impossible to create in our temporary kitchen. But with a vent hood, a powerful stove, and an oven that comfortably holds an entire skillet, it was as easy as one, two, three.

One: Cam cut a Prather Ranch heritage-breed chicken into parts, seared its duck-like skin on the stovetop, and then slid it into the oven to finish cooking through.

Two: I sauteed some broccoli di ciccio in a pan with peppery olive oil, added a bit of garlic to sweat, and combined it with some orecchiete and parmesan.

Three: Cam removed the now-roasted chicken from the pan, sauteed some quartered mushrooms in the rendered chicken fat, added a bit of wine, and called it sauce.

Damn. Having a good kitchen makes these kind of simple meals a real pleasure. I’d almost forgotten how much fun it is to make something by heart. Sure, it’s been a challenge — and I mean that in the best way — to get delicious stuff on the table with only a toaster oven and a porta-burner, but it’s so nice to finally be living and cooking in this space, this project that’s been taking up the vast majority of our energies for ages.

mock porchetta (c)2007 AECOver the last couple of days, we’ve celebrated many other “firsts.” Our inaugural breakfast included Fatted Calf bacon, perfectly fried eggs, and toasted Acme pain de mie. We made our first old favorite, the Zuni Cafe mock porchetta with roasted roots, in our new oven. And for our first new-to-us dish, I turned to a recipe that had been calling my name for weeks: Spaghetti al’ Limone from Avenue Food, which I’d printed out and squirreled away with the express idea of cooking it as soon as I could boil a pot full of water without waiting two hours.

Last night, we made our first braise, and our first meal from our favorite cookbook — a Moroccan-esque chicken with preserved lemons and olives. Stumped for a side dish, I concocted the kitchen’s first new recipe, a jumble of veggies from this weekend’s farmers market trek and a few pantry staples. Like everything else we’ve cooked this week, it was nothing extraordinary. But the joy of making it, and the pleasure of its first-ness, were enough to keep me smiling even through the dishwashing.

Amid all this giddy cooking, it’s easy to forget that we still have plenty of items on the punch list — including dealing with the joy(!) of knob-free doors and drawers until sometime around Easter week, when our re-made cabinet doors are due to arrive. In the meantime, we’ve got a lot of great dinners planned, a lot more hoarded recipes to try. And we’re amusing ourselves by slowly coming to grips with the fact that it’s all finally REAL. We can’t wait to share some photos (and some more meals) with you soon.

The “First” Salad
1 cup (about 1/2 can) drained garbanzo beans
1 small cucumber, diced (peeled if thick-skinned)
1 small heirloom tomato, seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp. whole Mexican oregano, crumbled
1-1/2 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 stalks green garlic, white and light-green parts, sliced thin
1T (or to taste) rich olive oil
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon (about 1T)
salt and pepper, to taste

cookbooks, cooking, kitchen, recipes



Comment by hot toddy

Do you have any idea how many things would explode if I tried to make any of these dishes? Maybe I could do the salad without having a fire extinguisher handy. Maybe…

Posted on 03.28.07 at 9:54PM

Comment by ilva

Cooking frenzy indeed but I do understand you! Wish I could come around for dinner(I’m unashamedly inviting myself but don’t worry, I’m at a safe distance) while the frenzy lasts!

Posted on 03.28.07 at 10:37PM

Comment by Anita

Toddy: Oh, you crazy man.

Ilva: I wish we could have you over for dinner! When you come to San Francisco (and I do mean “when” — everyone gets here eventually!) you have a standing invitation. We might have trouble getting all your SF fan club around one table. :D

Posted on 03.29.07 at 6:42AM

Comment by Garrett

Wow, all that looks shibby tasty. Ugh, makes me hungry at work.

Posted on 03.29.07 at 8:00AM

Comment by Lauren

How exciting! I remember the first meal we made in our remodeled kitchen….like yours, boring to everyone else but a favorite of ours: John Hinterberger’s Clam Spaghetti. We make it so often that it was a great comparison from our old kitchen to our new one.

I can’t wait to come see it!

Posted on 03.29.07 at 8:19AM

Comment by Anita

Garrett: Sorry, mate. I have some leftovers here you can share.

Lauren: We can’t wait to have you and Paul over for dinner! Let us know when you’re coming to town.

Posted on 03.29.07 at 8:57AM

Comment by cookiecrumb

Whoa, don’t burn yourself out! ;-)
Seriously, such a cause for celebration. How fun that you just jumped in and fired the new place up.

Posted on 03.29.07 at 9:13AM

Comment by Sarah

Anita, where are the photos of the nearly completed kitchen?? I want to see!

Posted on 03.29.07 at 10:56AM

Comment by Anita

Cookie: Fret not, girl. We’ll save some energy for when you and Cranky come for dinner.

Sarah: Patience, Grasshopper. :) I’m planning to publish a post about the kitchen itself (rathter than the food we’re cooking in it) on 4/2, to keep in synch with the last three kitchen posts (from January 2, February 2, and March 2).

Posted on 03.29.07 at 11:16AM

Comment by Lucy Vanel

Anita, congrats on the kitchen being done and you cooking in it!

Posted on 03.29.07 at 11:32AM

Comment by Sean

Ah, so you were the lucky recipient of one of the last Heritage chickens. I was as well. I think I got one of the last 3, so by now they are surely completely sold out. And will be for at least several weeks! The Bay Area chicken crisis continues!

Posted on 03.29.07 at 6:36PM

Comment by Jan

How exiting to be back in cooking gear! Can’t wait to see the new kitchen. I think the simple meals are often the best, especially after a long hiatus from cooking.

Posted on 03.29.07 at 9:06PM

Comment by Deborah Dowd

Truly something to celebrate!! Five years ago we added onto our house including an new kitchen, and I think I am just now getting over the experience! I am jealous of your counters since we had a limited budget and I sacrificed marble for my Dacor dual-fuel range. Life is full of compromises!

Posted on 03.30.07 at 11:18AM

Comment by Anita

Lucy: Thank you! We’re so happy to finally be living and cooking in it.

Sean: That’s -not- good. I had no idea that we’d gotten one of the last ones. No wonder they only had the ginormous ones left. Maybe it’s time for a drive to the East Bay to buy a Hoffman chicken from that shop…

Jan: We can’t wait to see you tomorrow!! Funny that our kitchen’s first visitor is coming all the way from Seattle and not from the City. :)

Deborah: Thank you! We never thought we’d be able to afford stone counters, either, but our real-estate agent turned us on to a really talented artisan who liked what we were doing and cut us an amazing deal.

Posted on 03.30.07 at 1:56PM

Comment by s'kat

At last, at long last: REAL STOVE FOOD!!! Congrats.

Posted on 04.02.07 at 8:44AM

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