Friday, June 08, 2007

The Barefoot Blobtessa

My new office (can I still say 'new' if I've been there for over 3 mos?) has a full-on kitchen. None of this kitchenette shit - but a place with a six burner Viking stove and oven, two dishwashers, a microwave, convection oven, calphalon everything. Oh - and the two sub-zeros. Not too shabby. Only Chef Bob has a nicer kitchen.

The downside to this set-up is that everyone has one week of kitchen duty. Since there are about 50-60 folks in the home office, it is not horrible - I mean, you only have it once a year or so. My week was this last week. Technically it is next week, but I'm traveling so I swapped weeks. I didn't want to be a bad 'new' employee and shirk my duties.

The duties really are to load and start the dishwashers before you leave for the evening and to unload in the morning. Most folks are pretty good about putting their own stuff away in the dishwashers, but clearly some expect and know that others will clean up after them. They are like children.

The other requirement is that on at least one day you have to feed the troops. One normally takes the easy route: bring in bagels, cookies, apples.

But the stakes got raised last week when one of the guys from data analytics made a tomato basil soup from scratch. I would have felt the fool bringing in a 10lb tub of animal crackers. I considered it, since a few others had done the same thing. But I was bigger than this. I was better. I.....I......was going to be a show off.

I had seen a number of recipes on Food TV I thought I could swing. Naturally, all these things 'serves 6', so I had to go about finding one that would easily be quintupled to feed the masses. I wanted to impress, but not get in over my head.

But I remembered something I had seen Ina Garten make that I thought I could pull off. And I succeeded. Crunchy Noodle Salad......though my administrative assistant insisted on calling it 'Crusty Noodle Salad'....which doesn't sound nearly as appetizing.

But it looks ok, no? (click on image to make larger.) I didn't have anything great to put it out into that would have looked cool to serve from. And as we all know - presentation is everything!

The beauty here is you can really make the entire thing a few days ahead of time as long as you don't mix the sauce with noodles days in advance. The liquid will break down the noodles. But at least on the night before I could cut the veggies and make the sauce. Denton helped of course, because, blanching and shocking six pounds of sugar snap peas is a full-time job.

The following day at the office I just boiled the pasta and mixed everything together. The warmth of the noodles really made it taste great - and Jon will remember the warm sesame noodles at Hunan Lion. This was SO like that, though the sauce wasn't quite as thick.

Except for a nasty steam burn (those really hurt!) I got from the 8qt pot, everything went flawlessly. Denton text messaged me to bring home leftovers so he could try it. I made two batches and the folks cleared me out. There was nothing left. I thought that was a success.

David, my boss, noted that a number of people asked me for 'my' recipe...and he said that was the sign of success. I did cop to him that it wasn't mine, but Ina's....and then we got on a discussion about the Barefoot Contessa, her home, her kitchen, her life. Yes, we are gay!

Technically, I changed up a few things in the recipe, so maybe I can call it mine. It is something I would make again - and am sure I will. Try it - your friends will be impressed.


Bigg said...

That looks pretty appetizing - you should post the recipe!

rebecca said...

Hey, I was expecting something with those chow-mein noodles! I think my sister-in-law used to have a dish where you used those -- the ones that come in a brick, for soup? -- and you soaked it in a vinegary sauce.

But this looks good too. Maybe I'll try it for the Montessori pot luck!

RJ March said...

What are those wormy-looking things?

I love Ina and her forced, nervous-sounding laugh. I ussed her cookbook religiously when I was cooking for a living.

Congrats, though, on stepping up to the food challenge. Looks like you hit a home-run.