Cooking for Fun and Profit

We moved (duh!) and that meant a larger kitchen for me. Tammy’s a baker and not as much of a cook, although she can whip up a mean soup on the strength of smells alone. I’m an event chef; I like to cook for people. That said, last weekend was a “pressure cooker” because I was cooking for some extended family, one of which was a chef himself. The menu was designed to be small courses served with social time in between.

The starter course was potato leek soup, a rustic Cook’s Illustrated recipe that rarely fails to disappoint. What’s funny is that it’s easy to make and not too expensive. Side note: if you have homemade broth then chose that over store brands. I used a organic chicken broth that cost on a quarter more than the name brand and it made a big difference.

Second course was butternut squash risotto, another gem from Cook’s Illustrated, which features a unique method to extract plenty of squash flavor: roasted innards! You scoop the stringy goo and seeds out, roast them in a skillet and add it to the broth as a base for the “stock” to add to the risotto later. I like the flavor where the sage punctuates the sweetness of the squash, but my experience is that it consistently comes out gummy. Most people that have tried it like it that way, but I’m hoping for a better texture that allows the shape of the arborio rice to come through.

Main course was a modified chicken saltimboca. We did the tenderloins instead of the breast and that allowed better portion sizes for everyone. My lessons learned here were important, especially regarding the correct placement of sage and prosciutto. I undercooked the pieces in the pan due to the falling sage burning on the skillet surface, so instead of warming in the oven, I moved the temp up to 375F and then 5 mins of broiling near the end. It produced fantastic results, so I made a mental note to restructure the cooking times with more broiling to crisp the prosciutto.

The title of the post mentions profit so here’s the money shot: cost savings. I was able to feed six people all of the food above (even a white cake and frosting for a birthday cake) for $37.00, much less than we all would have spent at a restaurant and the food was just as good.