Friday, October 10, 2008

Cooking for Two.

I had read that a way to keep spice in your marriage is to do things together that are outside your regular routine. So last night, R. and I went on a date to a cooking class. As we drove over, we both sighed that we wished we were just going out to dinner and then back to watch some TV – a sign that doing something different was definitely a good idea. As we parked, we could see that the brightly lit kitchen where we were heading was full of people milling about:

Kate: “Yuck.”

R.: “Look at all those people. Do we have to talk to them?”

Kate: “No way, man, we’re on a date; let’s just talk to each other.”

R.: “Why are we doing this?”

But we walked in, got our menus and sat down, and proceeded to have a most excellent time. Not only did we learn a new cooking method, a patented process called “Glorious One-Pot Meals,” but I discovered that what I had read about romance was true. R. looked, well, hot with his messy haircut, gray long john t-shirt, jeans and an apron. I liked watching him get into preparing our dish, chopping garlic and tomatoes and brushing olive oil on baguette slices for the crostini. I especially liked seeing him relaxed and distracted from the awful economic news of the last few weeks, which has consumed our household like a flesh-eating bacteria.

As the night went on, I found myself hanging all over him like a lovestruck teenager; grabbing his elbow or sticking my face in his for a quick peck. And hey, so what if as soon as we got home he fell asleep without so much as a kiss good night for me; the benefit of doing something different was clear.

Aside from the lovey-dovey aspect of the evening, the next best thing was the class itself. First, the instructor was awfully cute and engaging as she described this method of cooking she had come up with in response to the discovery at age 29 that she had multiple sclerosis. She decided that one of the best ways to combat it was to eat as healthily as possible, but with no nutrition background she had no idea how to do that. Nor did she have any time to make extensive meals. One night she decided to just throw a bunch of ingredients into a Dutch oven, stick it in the oven at 450°, and let it cook. 45 minutes later she took it out of the oven, and saw that everything was cooked perfectly. She experimented with this way of cooking for awhile, and basically learned that this was a whole new method of cooking– so she patented it.

We made several recipes with her process, but the basic idea is that you take a protein, vegetables and a carb, and whatever herbs, spices, etc. that you want, layer them in a 2 quart, cast iron Dutch oven in their whole state (just cleaned, trimmed and scrubbed, or cut up if you want), then stick them in a fully pre-heated 450° oven. Exactly 45 minutes later, everything is cooked perfectly. Strangely, this is apparently even true if the meat or vegetables you are using are frozen.

I was definitely skeptical about the whole thing, but every single recipe we made was excellent. We made a ginger-citrus chicken dish, honey spiced pork, eggplant parmesan, a Portuguese shrimp dish with quinoa, edamame and tomatoes, a sausage and polenta dish – even a chocolate, coconut and hazelnut bread pudding. What was neat about all the dishes is that the ingredients didn’t seep into each other to make a big, messy stew, but instead stayed separate while still infusing everything with the flavors of all the ingredients. And SO easy: you just clean and assemble everything, toss it in the pot, and there you go. The only thing you really need to make sure of is that your oven is exactly 450°, which apparently is often an issue.

I immediately reserved her current cookbook from the library, and if the dishes continue to turn out well at home, then I’ll order her new cookbook when it comes out in January.


Broady said...

Sounds awesome-- I'm surprised that it doesn't turn into a goopy stew, too. I want one of those Le Creuset dutch ovens so bad I can't see straight!

Kate said...

Yeah, the one impediment to all this is I don't own a Le Creuset Dutch oven either, and they are $125 for the 2 qt. size recommended.

Kimberly said...

note to self: get a dutch oven

Just when I thought a crock pot is what I needed. Damn.