Monday, December 29, 2014

A Clean out the Refrigerator Sunday

Sunday the 28th was mercifully without plans. I wanted to rest; I needed to rest. The mental logistics of bringing off a 7-course tasting menu for the entire restaurant on upcoming New Year's Eve were really sapping my energy. Physically too, I needed to rest for the upcoming marathon that is New Year's Eve dinner service.

Strange as it may seem, resting for me involves cooking. There is something restful and mindless about standing at the cutting board and plowing through mounds of mise-en-place. I know that most people see this as work and something to be minimized; for me, I find it very relaxing.

What makes it even more special is if Annie joins me and we can spend time in the kitchen together, which is what we did on Sunday after sitting around in the sun room having our morning coffee and watching the juncos and other birds on the feeders. She wanted to make a batch of white chili for dinner and after helping her prep that, I threw together a quick pasta for lunch.

Garganelli Mise en Place
I combed through the refrigerator and found all kinds of bits and pieces of things, some of which went into Ann's chili and some of which went into the lunch pasta.

Garganelli with Sage, Tomatoes, and Tapenade
For the pasta, I sweated a lot of slivered garlic with sage in butter and then tossed that with the garganelli, sliced tomatoes, and some leftover tapenade. I also added a half a cup or so of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce a touch and topped the pasta with grated pecorino.

Ann's White Chili
As for Ann's chili, while she sautéed chopped onions and ground chicken, and then rinsed the cannellini, I prepped the odds and ends that I found in the fridge and ground spices. A bit of cilantro stems, a mangy half poblano chile, a few shriveled green onions, some unwanted tomato sauce, and so forth: it's in there! After a few hours in the slow cooker, Ann added some pasta to make it chili-mac. And we thoroughly enjoyed it for dinner!

It's always good to plan a clean-out-the-refrigerator day once every couple of weeks and if I can do it with my beloved Annie, that's double joy for me!

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