Monday, September 5, 2011

Confessions of a Kitchen Bitch

The She-cave.
 I have a small kitchen.  It's nothing that I'm ashamed of, and in fact, it serves as the perfect she-cave.  There's enough space for me, and for the occasional invitee, room for them as well.  The problem is when I have a house full of people.  Then my perfect-but-small kitchen becomes cramped. Take a few "helpers," and one or two people who "just want to keep me company," as well as the itinerant soul who just flits in and out to see how dinner is coming along, and the scene quickly becomes chaotic.  I have neither the patience nor tolerance to handle the situation gracefully.  I'm ashamed to admit it, but I get surly.  I need my space.  I knew I had a problem when one poor guest went to wash her hands at the sink, you know, so she could "help."  Unfortunately, it was at exactly the same time my pasta was a perfect al dente.  She was getting soap in the colander and my pasta was getting soggy, and although I never seriously considered pouring the scalding water over her hands, it would have gotten her out of my freaking kitchen. 

Did I just say that???

I also like to do things my way.  If you nuke the butter to make it soft, you better damn well know that butter softens in 11 seconds.  If you hit it with 30 seconds, and it becomes a soupy puddle, be prepared to field either a snarky comment or a dirty look.  I'm not proud of this part of me. 

Bread knife good (top); paring knife bad (bottom)
I knew that I had issues when my niece--one of my favorite people in the world--recently offered to help me make garlic bread.  As I assured her that she and she alone was welcome in "the zone," I watched in horror as she proceeded to stab a beautiful Italian loaf with a paring knife like she was cutting out the heart of a vampire.  And OMG she was doing it WITHOUT A CUTTING BOARD.  Deep breaths, deep breaths.  I smiled as sweetly as my bitchy heart allowed, and showed her what a bread knive is, and explained that it won't gouge and tear the bread (leaving unsaid "like you just did"), and that a good bread knife will cut a loaf into nice, clean slices, so that you can evenly distribute the garlic butter over each surface of the sliced bread.  She looked at me like I was a  crazy obsessive-compulsive freak.  Well yeah--because I AM.  But that's not the point. I mean, this was garlic bread.  Suffice it to say that things didn't get any better when she said "Well, you know, I just usually buy it pre-made." 

She does WHAT?  Buy garlic bread already made?  An item to which you simply add garlic butter, and she's got to buy it to make sure it has mylic acid and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose?  Really?  OK.  I may be a kitchen bitch, but I can damn well make garlic bread without resorting to Pepperidge Farm.

Garlic Bread

1.  Go to any ubiquitous grocery store and buy some bakery bread.  Hell, even 7-11 sells a halfway decent French baguette or Italian loaf.

2.  Soften 1 stick of butter.  The EASIEST way to soften butter is to remember in the morning that you plan to make garlic bread later in the day, and to take the stick out of the refrigerator to let it soften for a few hours.  If you forget, microwave a cold stick of butter in 5 second increments until you know your microwave and know how long it takes to get butter soft. You won't ever turn your butter into a soupy mess this way.

3.  Mince one LARGE clove of garlic (OK, 2 cloves of garlic) into the softened butter.  For this step, you will need a garlic press.  It's a small contraption that pulverizes garlic.  On those rare occasions (like when I'm at my Irish mother-in-law's house) when you don't have access to a garlic press, you can continually chop, chop, chop the garlic into a very small dice or try to smash it with the blunt end of a knife.  But it never works quite as well as a garlic press.  Blend the garlic into the butter.

4.  Slice your loaf or baguette with a bread knife, 3/4 inch slices, a bit on the diagonal. 

5.  Place the cut bread on a large sheet of aluminum foil--shiny side on the outside.  My lovely niece had the gumption (even after the paring knife debacle) to ask me why the shiny side had to be on the outside.  Two reasons:  (1) it's prettier; and (2) it better distributes the heat.   Deep breaths, deep breaths.

6.  Spread the garlic butter on both sides of each slice of bread.  If, however, your "helpful guest" nuked the butter for 30 seconds, just go ahead and sigh a big sigh and drizzle the garlic butter over each slice with a spoon.  It works well enough.

7.  Wrap the bread in the aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

8.  Admit your bitchiness; say your penance, and then revel in the flavor that is so delightfully unadulterated with chemicals and preservatives. 

1 comment:

  1. First, your kitchen is the perfect size and I covet your kitchen, which I think is not prohibited, right?

    Second, you deserve significant credit for not disemboweling your niece, favored or not, for her unreasonable knife related acts; I would not have shown your restraint, but then again I am no wheres near as nice as your are!

    Nor am I as cute as you either!

    The Pie Guy