Friday, March 25, 2016

Chicken Cacciatore

Let’s talk chicken! After I made Joyce’s Baked Sour Cream Chicken two days ago, Ron had a hankering for Chicken Cacciatore. Once again, I used chicken thighs, making this a relatively inexpensive dish. As experienced cooks know, a little sugar cuts the acidity of tomato-based dishes. Be sure you don’t forget it!

Chicken Cacciatore:

1-to-2 tbsp. (15-to-30 mL) canola oil
8-to-10 large chicken thighs, skinned and bone-in (about 3 lb. or 1.4 kg)
One 28 fl. oz. (796 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained (see Note)
One 13-oz. (384 mL) can tomato paste (see Further Note)
1 green pepper, diced large
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced large
2 tsp. (10 mL) dried basil
2 tsp. (10 mL) dried oregano
4-to-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. (10 mL) granulated sugar
Two 10-oz. (284 mL each) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
1/4 c. (60 mL) fresh chopped parsley, stems removed
Parmesan cheese, as garnish
Additional chopped parsley, as garnish

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. In a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded casserole, bring oil to sizzling over medium-high heat (see Dutch Oven Note). 

My trusty Dutch oven!

Sear 3 or 4 pieces of chicken at a time; do not cook through. 

Ready to brown in sizzling oil; turn with tongs.

Remove from Dutch oven; drain fat. Return chicken to Dutch oven. Add all remaining ingredients except Parmesan cheese and parsley to be used as garnish.

Add all remaining ingredients...

Add parsley; reserve some for later garnish.

Ready to be covered and baked.

Bake, covered, 90 min. Serve over spaghetti cooked according to package directions. Serves 6. This dish is even better the next day. Cooked leftovers freeze well.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley. Enjoy!

Note: Metric equivalents are sometimes loose approximations in canned goods, depending upon where you live. Under the US Imperial system, this equivalency is 828 mL; in fully metric countries, it is 796 mL. While the lower number is a “cheat,” a lost fl. oz. here and there won’t make any difference to most recipes. 

Further Note: In the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live, tomato paste used to come in 8-oz. cans that later dropped to 6 oz. and now to 5.5 oz. (The metric equivalencies shown on the cans arent quite true, and some countries sell tomato paste in tubes, but the general trend is smaller size, higher price). It’s pointless to shake a fist in the air, because down-sized packaging and up-sized pricing is common practice. Fortunately, not a lot of recipes call for tomato paste.

I used a large can of tomato paste in this recipe; whether you use two or even three smaller cans won’t make much difference. While precise measurements are important in baking, recipes such as this one still work well with a few loosey-goosey measurements. If you’re unsure, check the Index for How to Measure Ingredients Accurately.

Dutch Oven Note: As a valuable addition to your kitchen repertoire, a Dutch oven is a heavy, lidded casserole, often made in cast-iron. Mine is large - about 12 c. (2.8 L).  For a fascinating look at the history of Dutch ovens, read:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How to Make Bread Crumbs

A lot of people dont know how to do a lot of things. That’s okay. Even if you know how to do just a few things, youll still be ahead of the game. If you haven’t already noticed, the Index features a large number of How to’s.” One of those How to’s is making fine, dry bread crumbs in four easy steps.

How to Make Bread Crumbs:

1/ Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Place leftover bread on large, parchment-covered baking sheet.  Toast 10-to-12 min., or until golden. Turn over and repeat. I use stale white bread; multigrain  bread doesn’t produce crumbs as fine as I like, but that’s a matter of personal taste. If you freeze leftover bread (as I do), thaw it before placing it on your baking sheet.

2/ Break toasted bread into 3 or 4 pieces per slice. Transfer to wide-mouthed blender or food processor with steel blade in place. Work with no more than 8 slices at a time, being careful not to overload your machine. 

Consider ... If bread were a sentient being, it still  wouldn’t 
have a clue what awaits. Weird, but true.

3/ Whirl (the dried bread, Dollinks) faster than you ever did in one of those lame teacups at Disneyland. Buzz the dried slices intermittently - pulse/pause, pulse/pause - so you don’t wear out your machine.

As you can see, this live action shot is spinning the slices like crazy!
Well ... Maybe you can
t see it, but its happening.

4/ Done! Label, date, and store crumbs in airtight container at room temperature. Putting the words “dry bread crumbs”into the search engine at the top left of this page will bring up many great recipes in which you can use them.

Ready or not, here I crumb!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Joyce’s Baked Sour Cream Chicken

Life is complicated: This outstanding recipe comes to you via my late husband Lorne Parton’s ex-wife Joyce (now Joyce Cooney). I pinched it from Joyce’s excellent 1974 cookbook: How to Laugh at Meat Prices: Butcher Money Where Your Mouth Is

Joyce’s recipe uses a cut-up frying chicken. That seemed like too much work for me, so I slammed six meaty bone-in thighs into a 9x9 in. (23x23 cm) casserole dish (which reminds me of the annual attempt to squeeze my own meaty bone-in thighs into last summers bathing suit. Not a pretty picture, Dollinks)

This casserole is easy and delicious - a great little dish to serve guests with almost no work. I’ve modified Joyce’s recipe, but only slightly.

Joyce’s Baked Sour Cream Chicken:

2 tsp. (10 mL) canola oil

6 large chicken thighs, skinned and bone-in
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
One 10-oz. (284 mL) can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg dried onion soup mix (see Note)
1 c. (250 mL) sour cream
1 tbsp. (15 mL) lemon juice
1 tsp. (5 mL) dried dill weed
2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped, fresh parsley, stems removed, as garnish

Preheat oven to 350° F.  On medium heat in a large skillet, bring oil to sizzling point. Brown chicken on all sides until golden. Place thighs in spray-greased 13x9-in. (33x23 cm) casserole. Season chicken to taste. In a medium bowl, combine mushroom soup, dried onion soup mix, sour cream, lemon juice, and dill weed. Spoon over chicken in baking dish. Bake 1-1/2 hr. Serve immediately. 

Note: The quantities in packages of dried onion soup mix vary around the world. I used a popular brand that contained slightly less than 1/4 c. (60 mL).

Further Note: As so often happens, we just couldn’t wait to eat this! That’s why there are no photos!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Maple French Toast

Mah, oh mah! How I love French Toast! If one recipe’s great, two are even better! Another follows immediately after this post. This overnight make-ahead recipe is easy to rustle up in the morning. 

Maple French Toast:

One soft white baguette, in six 1/2-in. (1.3 cm) slices
3 eggs
1/2 c. (125 mL) maple syrup
1.2 c. (125 mL) milk
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) salt
2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter

Place bread in a single layer in a 13x9 in. (33x23 cm) baking dish. Beat together eggs, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate 3 hr. or overnight. In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add slices of bread, browning on both sides. Serve hot, with extra butter and warm maple syrup on the side. Serves 3.

Cinnamon French Toast

What foods these morsels be! Yet another irresistible treat for French Toast lovers. 

Cinnamon French Toast:

2 c. (500 mL) milk
8 eggs
1/4 c. (60 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) cinnamon
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
Dash salt
8 thick slices bread
1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter or margarine
Fresh berries
Icing sugar (“confectioners” or powdered sugar)

Beat together milk, eggs, granulated sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Dip bread into mixture one slice at a time; allow to soak. Melt butter in electric griddle or large skillet at medium heat. Add soaked slices of bread, cooking on each side until golden. Top with berries. Shake small quantity of icing sugar through a small sieve to dust berries. Serves 4.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spinach and Olive Puffs

Quick and easy to prepare, the topping for these puffs can be refrigerated a day ahead of use. Do not spread this topping on their Crostini in advance. That’s obvious to an experienced cook, but to a novice? Not so much. 

Spinach and Olive Puffs:

To Prepare Spinach and Olive Topping:

One 10-oz. (285 g) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-oz. (170 g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. (125 mL) mayonnaise
1/2 c. (125 mL) powdered Parmesan cheese
1 tsp/ (5 mL) lemon juice
Dash salt
1/4 c. (60 mL) chopped black olives, drained and blotted dry

Squeeze spinach until dry. Beat together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt. Hand-stir in spinach and olives. Set aside until needed. 

To Prepare Crostini:

1 c. (250 mL) olive oil 
½ tsp. (2 mL) garlic salt
1 narrow-diameter French baguette 

Combine olive oil and garlic salt. Raise oven rack to highest position and preheat broiler. Slice baguette into approximately 30 thin slices. Dab each side lightly with garlic-infused oil. Broil approximately 1-½ min. per side, until pale golden. 

*   *   *

Heap 1 tbsp. Spinach and Olive Topping over each Crostini shortly before serving. Place oven rack 6-to-8 in. (15-to-20 cm) from heat. Heat oven to broil. With oven door slightly open, broil 2-to-3 min., watching closely. Serve at once. Makes 2-to-3 doz.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Oatmeal Sesame Bars

This easy recipe is a variation of yesterdays Butterscotch Oat Bars - but with the addition of sesame seeds. This makes a huge amount - and a wonderful snack! It freezes well for lunch box totes or backpack hikes.

(Thats my chirpy little blogger” voice talking. The truth is, I don’t have a moment to make these #@! things (see Guilt-Ridden Note). We’re readying the garden for Spring - if it ever comes! With no photos of today’s recipe, here’s the view from our doorstep ... Does this this look like the onset of Spring to you??? Florida, it ain’t.)

News Item: Avalanche swallows hapless Blogger 

Oatmeal Sesame Bars:

3/4 c. (175 mL) butter or margarine
1-1/2 c. (355 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. (8 mL) vanilla
2-1/4 c. (530 mL) large-flake (not instant) oats
3/4 c. (175 mL) sesame seeds
3/4 tsp. (4 mL) baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Line a 15x10 in. (38x25 cm) baking sheet with parchment. In large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter or margarine. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Cook 2-to-3 min. on medium heat, allowing mixture to bubble. In a large bowl, combine oats, sesame seeds, and baking powder. Add to saucepan all at once, blending thoroughly. 

Working quickly, spoon into spray-greased pan, pressing flat and even with large spatula. Bake 7-to-10 min., or until golden. Cool on wire rack. Score lightly before bars harden completely. Cut into 2x1 in. (5x2.5 cm) bars. Or larger. Yields 3-to-4 doz. of the larger ones. 

Guilt-Ridden Note: How could I not bake these and not take a few photos? So I did - better late than never.

Melt butter. 

Let butter, brown sugar, and vanilla bubble 2-to-3 min.

Add sesame seeds.

And rolled pats and baking powder.

Combine well, spooning out onto baking sheet.

Flatten with large plastic or metal spatula.

Ron couldnt wait!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Butterscotch Oat Squares

This, believe it or not, is the very first cookie I ever baked! I love it so much that I still prepare it now and then. Not only is it delicious and foolproof, but it holds strong memories of my introduction to baking. 

Butterscotch Oat Squares:

2 c. (500 mL) large-flake rolled oats (not instant)
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking powder
1/8 tsp. (0.5 mL) salt
1 c. (250 mL) brown sugar
1/2 c. (125 mL) margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Combine rolled oats, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Mix well. Add margarine and vanilla and blend until dry ingredients are completely moistened. Pack into ungreased 8-in. (2 L) square pan. Bake 25 min., or until golden brown. Let stand 5 min. on wire rack before cutting into 2-in. (5 cm) squares. Makes 16 (15 after you sneak the first one!).

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Quick Irish Coffee

Happy St. Patricks Day, Dollinks! Loosen your belts! The first ingredient in this Quick Irish Coffee is whipping cream. Need I say more?

Quick Irish Coffee:

1/2 c. (125 mL) whipping cream
2 tbsp. (30 mL) icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar)
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) vanilla
Two 10-oz. mugs (295 mL) hot, extra-strength instant coffee or instant espresso
1/4 c. (2 oz.) Irish whiskey or brandy, divided between mugs
2-to-4 tsp. granulated sugar, divided

In chilled bowl with chilled beaters, combine whipping cream, icing sugar, and vanilla until cream mounds softly. Prepare instant coffee or instant espresso as package directs - an extra dash of coffee powder, if needed. Add an ounce of whiskey or brandy to each mug (May the leprechauns add more). Sweeten to taste. Top with dollops of whipped cream - and extra cream, if there’s any left over. Sláinte! 

My dirty little secret: Instant coffee. 

Add boiling water.

And Irish whiskey.

And whipped cream.

And more whipped cream.

Booze: Its not just another breakfast drink.
Top o 
the morning to you, Dollinks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nicole’s Pumpkin Muffins

Dear Ms. Tarpon: We will pay you $4,000 to push our brand of canned pumpkin …
Dear Ms. Patron: We will send you a large, free pumpkin (out of season, but who cares?) and $250 to promote the pumpkins from our patch … 
Dear Ms. Parsons: Our supermarket in XYZ will pay you $50,000 to advertise our Swampland Specials on your blog. We’ve got Underwater Pumpkin Grass, Swamp Mix Oil, Raisin Cane …

The answer is no, no, and no. Not that anyone’s ever actually asked, but this blog proudly carries no advertising. And will forever remain ad-free. Using a can of puréed pumpkin I found at the back of the kitchen cupboard (which is nowhere near anyones pumpkin patch), I made these easy and inexpensive Pumpkin Muffins yesterday. 

This recipe makes 
plenty, so I tucked
Pumpkin Muffins: Ready for a cold and rainy day!
most of these muffins into the freezer. It’s still chilly in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live, so a hot cup of tea and a microwave-warmed muffin really hit the spot as we sat by the fire, wondering if Spring will ever come.    

Nicole’s Pumpkin Muffins:

4 eggs
2 c. (500 mL) granulated sugar
1-1/2 c. (750 mL) canola oil
One 14 oz. (398 mL) can puréed pumpkin (or 1-1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. (405 mL) drained, frozen pumpkin purée, thawed)
3 c. (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. (15 mL) cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
1 c. (250 mL) raisins, plumped (check the Index for How to Plump Dried Fruits)
1 c. (250 mL) coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Gradually add sugar and oil in alternate thirds, combining well between additions. Add pumpkin, continuing to beat. In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, gradually adding to pumpkin mixture. Blend in raisins and nuts.

Spoon into ungreased paper liners in medium muffin pans. Bake 20 min. or until a toothpick poked into center of muffins comes out dry. Cool in pan 10 min. before transferring muffins onto cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 2 doz. standard-sized muffins. 

The ingredients for this are basic: Eggs ... 

Granulated sugar ... pumpkin ... flour... spice ...

Ready in a flash! Lets eat!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mini Beef Wellingtons

This dish is very, very special - as well as somewhat time-consuming and expensive to make. If you can vault those hurdles, I promise that the result will be spectacular.
Mini Beef Wellingtons
The recipe has three components: The buttery, finely chopped mushrooms fine chefs call 
Duxelles; the tender, lean, steaks the whole world recognizes as Filets Mignon; and the magic of Puff Pastry. This beautiful combination of ingredients will produce an unforgettably mouth-watering steak laced with mushrooms top and bottom and lovingly swaddled in pastry. 

Don’t use bacon-wrapped filets in this recipe! If that’s what you’ve bought, remove the bacon before covering the meat with pastry. Not removing the bacon will infuse the pastry with fat, spoiling its flavor, rise, and flakiness. Some pre-packaged beef filets (advertised and sold as “4-oz. filets”) actually weigh just 3 oz. That’s because they have a 1-oz. strip of bacon wrapped around them. I consider it misleading advertising to promote bacon-wrapped filets as “4-oz. fillets.” If your filets actually weigh 3 oz., remove them from the oven after 20 min. rather than the longer baking time the recipe calls for.

I found this recipe on an Internet video - which, in its slick, minute-long presentation, made the recipe look simple. Hah! I prepared this dish on three different occasions before I felt confident enough to blog it. My version of this glorious dish serves 4. 

Below are the step-by-step instructions I’ve written to make this recipe foolproof and help you get it right the first time you try it.  Allow a generous 1-1/2-to-2 hr. to prepare this outstanding dish, not including its 25-min. baking time. The good news is that you can prepare these Mini Beef Wellingtons up to 3 hr. in advance before popping it into the oven. 

Here’s the video, giving you some idea of the assembly of this dish. Ignore the quantities the video stipulates. I’ve made the quantities, the method, and the recipes instructions far more precise: 

Mini Beef Wellingtons:

The night before you make this dish, do three things:
• Prepare, cover, and refrigerate the Duxelles
• Place commercially made frozen Puff Pastry in the fridge to thaw (If you’ve never used Puff Pastry before, you may want to thaw extra). 
• Make sure you have all the ingredients you’ll need. This isn’t the time for last-minute shopping!

To Prepare the Duxelles: 

6 tbsp. (90 mL) butter (no substitutes)
2/3 c. (160 mL) finely minced onions
About 20 large mushrooms (about 14 oz. or 400 g, producing 3-to-4 c. when finely minced) 
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Coarsely ground sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
4-to-6 large sprigs fresh thyme (no substitutes)
1/2 c. (120 mL) dry sherry
1-1/2 tsp. (7 mL) coarsely chopped flat parsley, stems removed

Assemble and prepare all ingredients before starting. In heavy skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper, stirring frequently until mushrooms absorb all or most of their liquid, about 40 min. Mushrooms should be greatly reduced and almost dry. 

Cook Duxelles slowly, until liquid is absorbed.

Add thyme sprigs and sherry, cooking slowly and stirring frequently a further 10-to-15 min. or until mushrooms are dry. You’ll have about 1-3/4 c. when you’re done. If a little butter remains, leave it; if it’s excessive, strain most of it off. Cool to room temperature; remove thyme sprigs. Add parsley, stirring to disperse here and there throughout Duxelles. Refrigerate in airtight container up to 48 hr. until needed.

To Prepare the Beef Filets:

Four 4-oz. (113 g) filets (filets mignon)
Coarsely ground sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste 
2 tbsp. (30 mL) canola oil (as you go along, add a further 1 tbsp. oil if needed)
3 tbsp. (45 mL) Dijon-style mustard, divided

Assemble and prepare all ingredients before starting. Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Combine salt and pepper in small bowl. Gently dip filets into bowl, lightly pressing salt and pepper into all sides of meat.

In heavy skillet over high heat (see Skillet Note), bring oil to sizzling point. Working quickly with one filet at a time, use small tongs to sear all surfaces of meat; do not cook through. 

Sear meat in sizzling oil, working fast.

Cool filets on wire rack. Spread top of each filet with just under 1 tbsp. mustard. Briefly set aside until needed.

Slather the top of each filet with Dijon-style mustard.

Skillet Note: Cast-iron is ideal, though any other heavy skillet will do. I am not a fan of non-stick skillets used on high heat.

To Prepare the Puff Pastry:

One 14-oz. (397-g) pkg Puff Pastry dough, thawed and divided (see Puff Pastry Note)
Flour, as needed

Following the marked divisions on the block of pastry dough, divide the block in half. Refreeze or reserve the remaining well-wrapped half for another use or another day. You are now working with about 7 oz. (about 200 g) of pastry. Slice this small block’s marked division, vertically dividing the pastry dough into two half-blocks that each measure 4 x 4 x 1 in. (10 x 10 x 2.5 cm). Using a sharp knife, cut each block horizontally to produce four small squares of pastry 1/2 in. (1.3 cm) high. 

On a lightly floured work surface, flour each pastry square, top and bottom. Working with one square at a time, roll out thinly. Give pastry a quarter-turn as you work, adding more flour as needed. Depending on the size and thickness of your filets, you’ll want a pastry rectangle of about 10-1/2 x 8 in. (27 x 20 cm). 

Roll pastry thin, assuring enough to wrap the meat. 

Puff Pastry Note: I buy the Tenderflake brand of Puff Pastry. This brand’s marked divisions make it easy to divide the block as required. Do not substitute pie shells, tart shells, or patty shells for the block of Puff Pastry in this recipe.

To Prepare the Recipe to Completion: 

Duxelles made as recipe previously directs
Beef Filets made as recipe previously directs
Puff Pastry made as recipe previously directs
Cello wrap 
1 whole egg
1 skewer

How carefully you do the following steps will greatly affect the presentation of this dish: Divide Duxelles into eight portions, compressing one portion tightly in your hand. Place this portion in center of pastry rectangle, ensuring that not even one sliver wanders beyond pastry center. 

Place one beef filet atop compressed Duxelles, lightly pressing edges of meat to flatten Duxelles underneath. Compress  another of divided portion of Duxelles in your hand, pressing it carefully onto mustard-topped meat.

Gather up every last stray bit of Duxelles under the meat. 

Bring sides of pastry up and over meat, squeezing together until meat is completely wrapped with pastry. Turn meat over; mustard side with pastry seams will now be on bottom rather than top. With cupped hands, gently press all sides of wrapped meat until pastry assumes a “baseball” shape.  

Top side of pastry should be smooth and elastic. 

Transfer pastry-wrapped meat onto sheet of cello wrap that overhangs each side of pastry-wrapped meat by at least 8 in. (20 cm) Leaving ends of cello free, wrap top of pastry securely. Lifting meat by each end of cello, flip and roll in air several times, wrapping meat securely (The video above displays this technique well). Once again press meat-wrapped pastry with cupped hands, forming a tight, smooth “baseball.”

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate up to 3 hr. Repeat with remaining filets (So I wont forget anything, I cover a small bowl of egg wash, putting it and the skewer on the same baking sheet). 

Cello-wrapped meat? Check! Egg wash? Check! Skewer? Check!

If you plan to serve this dish for guests, the timing of the next step is critical (See Dinner Party Note).

Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Remove cello wrap from each bundle of pastry-wrapped meat. Brush pastry with egg wash - a whole egg mixed with a fork. Skewer single hole at center of pastry. For a medium-rare finish, bake 25 min. on parchment-lined sheet. Serve immediately. Yields 4.

So let’s see how this time-consuming recipe turned out! 

Ready for a peek inside?

Once more, with feeling: Tender and tasty! 

Ron took the photo above the first time I made this recipe. In my first attempt, I used bargain-priced meat wrapped in bacon. It was then I learned only to use the very best filets bought from a quality butcher. As my subsequent trials showed, this fabulous dish got better each time I prepared it. I can honestly say that this is the best main dish I’ve ever made! Would I freeze this uncooked dish in advance? No.

Dinner Party Note:

As I wrote at the top of today’s blog, I made this great dish for a Dinner Party, preceding it with a tossed salad. With the oven already preheated, the timing that works best for me is to excuse myself from the dinner table soon after the start of the salad course, at which point I remove the cello from the meat, wash the pastry with egg, skewer it, and slide it into the oven. 

Because the final preparation of the meat and its baking time are short, my guests are still eating their salads when I return to the table. This timing allows me to eat at a leisurely pace and participate in the conversation. 

The parchment-lined sheet, the egg, the skewer, and anything else needed (heated plates and sprigs of parsley to decorate them) are already at hand in the kitchen. When the meat’s done, ready to serve, each filet goes onto a heated plate, with the vegetables served separately.

My secret weapon in all of this is Ron, who usually prepares the vegetables and brings them to the table (as well as doing all the later clean-up). If you don’t have someone like Ron in your life, ask a friend to help you out.