Friday, June 25, 2010

Iron Chef Kitchen and a Full Pantry

I suppose there is a chance that you have never heard of the Iron Chef food contest on Food Network. If so the short explanation of this program is the specialty ingredient that is revealed at the beginning of each contest to three chefs who then have to create several courses using this item and a fully stocked pantry.  They come up with some pretty stunning pieces I tell you.  And to be sure, many of them I would never touch, much less my family.  So what's the parallel here?

Our kitchen doesn't usually feature a stunning surprise ingredient too regularly, but it usually does offer up extras of several ingredients or containers of leftovers that don't seem to appeal to anyone the second time around. So my own personal Iron Chef dilemma is to simply turn those items into our next meal or face the fact that they need to go to the chickens before they spoil.  I do keep a pretty well-stocked pantry which might rival those of the TV studios. It's just one of my priorities to be sure I have on hand what I might possibly need just so I can run my own personal Iron Chef dinner any night of the week.

So here's an example of how it went this evening:

There were bowls full of spring greens from the garden needing to be used up...romaine, kale, radicchio, mache, endive, spinach. Good healthy stuff. So a main course salad was where I was headed. I mixed up some of my Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, grabbed some frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer (a branch of my well-stocked pantry) and threw them on the Foreman grill, still frozen, with a little seasoning salt.  There were snap peas from the garden and a red onion as well. In they went.  Main course was finished after the chicken slightly cooled and was sliced to top the salad.

I had some smokey paprika goat cheese that I had made, but then of course needed something to go with it. So using my recipe for Parmesan Flaxseed Crackers, I popped them into the oven...once again thanks to my pantry and my lovely Parmesan producing goats.  Since we were fresh out of croutons, the crackers would also double as 'crunch' in the salad for those who just had to have a crouton substitute. As far as goat cheese goes, some of the plain chevre would have been pretty good in the salad too, but that would have been too exotic for probably everyone.

The mystery ingredient of the week would have to be strawberries from our patch.  I had just finished reading Blue Jeans and Cotton Tees's recipe for Strawberry Pie, so I put that together as well with only a few modifications based on what I had on hand.

Another dinner down the hatch thanks to inspiration from the Iron Chef and my pantry. But in reality the majority of a lot of our work in the kitchen is probably Iron Chef based. What was on sale this week at the grocery store? What do we have too much of that we'd like to use up? What produce is overly abundant thanks to our gardens? It's a tough job sometimes, creating something from the situation we're currently handed versus what we otherwise might plan out in advance. But that's the beauty of a culinary challenge...keeps us on our toes, keeps a little extra change in the pocketbook, and keeps the dining interesting. Bon appetit!

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