Those celebrity chefs make it look easy, right? Some of them are not even formally trained. And we think to ourselves, heck, I can do that this weekend, no problem. However, to continue, you will need the following to create your magical gourmet meal:

Kitchen appliances are a must: an all-purpose KitchenAid with multiple accessories and bowls; (You can’t make fluffy meringue or whipped cream with a fork.) Food processor (for homemade breadcrumbs, pesto sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and grated cheeses); Unlimited food budget: seafood, premium meats, French wines, imported cheeses, baking chocolate, Madagascar vanilla extract, organic fruits and vegetables, and premium olive oils are not cheap;

Bakeware: Spotless baking sheets, removable muffin trays and pans, muffin trays, brownie and bread trays, parchment paper, rolling pin, pastry cloth, marble slab, butcher block cutting board, plus shelves additional to save them all;

Kitchen linen: pans (3 sizes), saucepans, toaster, Dutch ovens, pasta kettle, bain-marie, assorted casseroles with lids;

Utensils: zester, beaters (three sizes), corkscrew (preferably automatic), sharp knives (at least five for different jobs), high-quality rubber spatulas (minimum two), wooden spoons, juice reamer, measuring cups, spoon for ice cream, garlic press, mixing bowls, all sizes;

Full spice rack and fresh herbs from your garden (or a small greenhouse window installed in your kitchen), sauces, mustards, mortar, coffee grinder, pepper mill;

Well that’s fine, you can skip the restaurant grade oven and stove top and just go for the regular one, but it won’t turn out the same. And give away the microwave. No self-respecting gourmet chef would even think of using it. (Have you ever spied one in the kitchens of Martha Stewart or Ina Garten?)

Okay, now you have the tools, but the real challenge is yet to come: the assembly.

That chicken dish seemed easy enough, and the chicken is a no-brainer. To the supermarket for thighs and breasts, artichoke hearts, organic bone broth, sea salt, Dijon mustard, Gruyère cheese, peppercorns, grated panko (no one will suspect they are not homemade), capers, unsalted butter, 2 lemons , fresh thyme, extra virgin olive oil and white wine. (Three bottles to be sure). Wow, that took a toll on the monthly food budget, but this is special.

The new food processor and Dutch oven are washed and ready to go. You have set up a whisk, juicer, wooden spoon, cutting board, measuring cups, strainer, knives, teaspoon, spoon, and meat fork. You prepare the chicken as directed, gently place the breaded parts in the Dutch oven covered in melted butter and olive oil, lightly sauté. Wow, this is very simple, why didn’t you do it years ago? Drain the artichoke hearts, squeeze the lemons, grate the Gruyère cheese in the food processor. Those chicken parts seem to brown a bit too fast, better turn the heat down on the burner. Then, deglaze the pan with some white wine (taste it first to make sure it’s good quality – chefs always say never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink). Add the rest of the ingredients (do you drain the capers?) Sprinkle cheese on top, cover and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. The chicken looks a little too brown, but the sauce will cover it. Maybe just a little more wine.

You make a simple green salad (thank goodness for the packaged lettuce and the bottled dressing, it will be your little secret). By now, her husband is home and sits at the kitchen table describing his day. You join him and open the second bottle of wine (the good thing is that you bought 3). It tells you it smells great and praises your ambition. And what a nice surprise. (This is usually rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and frozen peas.) Comment on the complexity of the food processor and ask if it will be difficult to wash. (He hopes he volunteers.) And all those utensils in the sink. You must have worked hard. The wine bottle is empty but you have a third. Plus a bottle of merlot in the pantry. (It doesn’t really go with chicken, but it always has a backup.)

When the timer goes off, turn off the oven and let the chicken rest (or as the chefs say, “rest”). It really smells good. You will leave the cleaning for later. It comes out of the dutch oven, the aroma is amazing, the chicken a little bit too brown, but you add a little flour to thicken the sauce (was that in the recipe?), Toss some store bought muffins in a basket, (they ‘it’s not hot but you no longer have a microwave) throw the salad and viola. Dinner is served.

Open the third bottle of wine (no crystal glasses, but juice glasses will be fine), and you pride yourself on your delicious and perfectly prepared gourmet dinner for two. Okay, so the chicken is a bit over the top, and you should have drained the capers, and maybe a little too much wine and lemon juice, but for a first try, pretty impressive.

Since you’re still a newbie, let’s stop setting the table and opt for TV trays. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

God, it sure was a lot of work and the cleanup was overwhelming. When all is said and done, maybe next weekend you’ll go out to dinner and let someone trained do the cooking. (It will be cheaper and you will not have to clean). Or, before that, pop some Lean Kitchens in the microwave (you couldn’t really part with them, you put them in a closet). Maybe you schedule a garage sale that will save neighbors from having to outfit their own gourmet kitchens. Come get it, friends: very cheap. But “some assembly is required.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *