Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mise en place

Mise en place is a French term, meaning "everything in place." It refers to having an organized kitchen before you begin cooking - tools set out and ingredients prepped.

I rarely practice this.

But I did today. Tonight is the first night of Rosh Hashanah, and we had guests over. Jeremy and I always prepare the same main dish but play around with our side dishes and desserts. It's always a medley of Italian and Jewish notes, like us. Here are my kitchen and dining room in pictures throughout this Sunday:

8:39 a.m. (depending on which clock you're looking at in my kitchen) Brisket is searing. Jeremy tells me I'm my most beautiful when I'm searing beef.

8:44 a.m. Spice mixture of freshly ground black pepper, allspice, cinnamon and cloves is ready to go into the brisket sauce.

9:32 a.m. Apple cake preparation is underway.

9:37 a.m. Jeremy takes both kids to Red Hen Bakery in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood to pick up a beautiful challah.

 10:06 a.m. Three cups of apples are chopped.

11:26 a.m. Roma tomatoes are ready for 2 hours of slowing roasting in the oven (recipe below).

11:55 a.m. Children and Daddy return home. Kids are hungry for lunch.

12:15 p.m. I successfully get the apple cake out of the bundt pan.

(We pause for an interlude where I put Jossie down for a nap, take a shower and dress, tidy the house and finish the laundry.)

4:02 p.m. Carrots are prepped. Chop and toss with olive oil and Italian herb seasoning. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Seriously easy and yummy.

4:46 p.m. Bubbles and champagne flutes are set out to celebrate the new year, alongside our challah.

4:57 p.m. Apple crumble (recipe below) is ready for the oven.

5:06 p.m. Jack awaits our guests.

5:45 p.m. Guests have arrived and are chatting. The brisket is plated, with a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley as garnish.

7:02 p.m. One happy husband.

9:14 p.m. Our guests have left. The kids are in bed. Everything in the kitchen is decidedly out of place. But I've hung up my apron for the night; the dishes can wait until the morning.  Good night!

Apple crumble and vanilla ice cream
Bon App├ętit, October 2003

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, each half cut into 6 slices
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

Vanilla ice cream

Mix oats, 1 cup brown sugar, and flour in bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until topping comes together in moist clumps. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Mix apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in bowl. Transfer to dish. Sprinkle topping over.

Bake crumble until apples are tender and topping is brown and crisp, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon warm crumble into bowls. Serve with ice cream.

Roasted tomato and arugula salad
Epicurious, November 2008
Yield: Serves 6 as a starter or accompaniment

1 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 large plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups (loosely packed) arugula

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

In large bowl, stir together olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dip tomato halves into oil, shake off excess, and arrange on baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast until skins are wrinkled and beginning to brown, about 2 hours. (Tomatoes can be roasted ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.)

In large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, vinegar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add arugula and tomatoes and toss to coat.

(I added to the recipe by adding some shaved pecorino to the top of the salad along with some chopped flat-leaf parsley as garnish.)

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