Coming from an Italian family, you’d think I’d know how to cook and how to cook amazingly. But the only things I ever really learned to make were eggs, soup and the occasional batch of cookies. Since my housing for my senior year of college that begins in a couple months will finally enable me to make more than just microwaveable food (Yay for finally having a stove!), I figured now would be a perfect time to hone my skills. With plenty of free time this summer, I decided I’d become the chef in my house for a day.
I started by looking through a cookbook by Giada De Laurentiis, and picked out four recipes: prosciutto wrapped asparagus, stuffed tomatoes, chicken saltimbocca and an amaretti cake. (I had no ideas what amaretti was, tried finding it in the grocery store, couldn’t, so picked up some ginger snap cookies instead. Same thing? Sorta?)
After I got back from purchasing my ingredients, I literally started right away. I decided to begin with the cake, because dessert is obviously important. The recipe told me to blend some almonds and the amaretti (well, ginger snap) cookies together, so I did that… except my family doesn’t own a heavy-duty food processor, at least I don’t think we do, so I used a blender. It went okay for the first couple of seconds until the blades stopped spinning. After making a complete mess by emptying it out several times, I finally got somewhat of a fine consistency and mixed everything else together.
While that baked, I decided to start on the stuffed tomatoes. I don’t really know exactly why I decided to make stuffed tomatoes because I don’t normally eat tomatoes. I like ketchup and tomato sauce but give me a sandwich with tomatoes in it and you bet they will be taken out. I just said tomato a lot of times. Tomato.
So to begin, I had to scoop out all the nasty stuff on the insides.
Luckily, I didn’t cut off any of my fingers, made some rice that I tossed with a bunch of random spices and salt and pepper and whatnot, scooped the rice in each tomato shell and in the oven they went. I should add that I chose an 80+ degree day to turn the oven on three separate times. Maybe not the best idea, but I swear that no blood, sweat or tears were added in this dinner.
Next up: the chicken saltimbocca. This is what threw me off.
I honestly had no idea what I was doing with this dish. Basically, you take chicken breasts (which my mom later told me that I should’ve pounded out more…), then you layer on spinach, prosciutto and some parmesan cheese, roll it up and stick a bunch of toothpicks in it. Then let it sit in this lemon juice/chicken broth mixture until it cooks.
I love asparagus. Prosciutto, not so much. I’m picky normally when it comes to meats, especially if I see any bloody or fatty parts that remind me that I’m eating an animal. Prosciutto reminds me I am eating an animal. It’s slimy, smells weird and is way too salty. So I only wrapped half of the asparagus in it and let my dad eat all of those.
This whole time my dad was home and every single time he’d come near the kitchen I kicked him out. When my mom got home from work she was in awe at how fancy this dinner was.
I guess I’m somewhat of a natural after all. However, this did take me roughly from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m, my feet were killing me afterwards from all that standing and I smelled like a weird concoction of chocolate and chicken.
Oh yeah and that cake?
All in all, dinner was a success. I didn’t set my kitchen on fire, burn anything, burn myself, break anything (at least I think that blender is okay), or make THAT huge of a mess. And no one vomited from food poisoning. I’d do it again, but I think next time I’m opting for recipes out of the 20 minute meals cookbook.