2012-12-26

Iron cheffing it

So while we're settling into the new home, there are some challenges of infrastructural nature. Case in point: cooking without a cooktop.

Our kitchen is mostly there, but the cooktop has not been installed yet, pending installation of the backsplash tile. However, all is not lost, as we have purchased a spiff convection steam oven for our kitchen; and so for the past seven days, I have been finding new and creative ways to cook things in it. I prepared chicken, fish, pork, even quinoa and brown & wild rice in there. Steam totally rules.

This evening, we've turned it up to eleven.

J. was working from home, and I drove into the office. On the way home, I called him, so that he could get a protein of his choice from the freezer to thaw while I drove. We have beef, pork, and chicken in the freezer, so you can imagine that I was surprised to find some ground beef happily thawing in a baggie on the counter.

What do you do with it in the oven? Meatloaf? Meatballs? Meh!

To the Googles!

I happened to have three summer squashes, yams, regular potatoes, onions, and chard waiting to be cooked. So I typed in "ground meat oven chard squash" into the googly search, and soon saw a recipe for acorn squash filled with white beans or some such. While I had neither, I was suddenly overcome with inspiration to stuff the summer squash with ground meat and finely chopped onions and chard. As a side dish, I baked some finely cubed taters, yams, and chard, with a dash of olive oil.

Here's what came out of the oven 40 minutes later:

The top rack has the side dish of baked potatoes, yams, and chard, and the bottom rack has the stuffed summer squash. The top dish went in 15 minutes earlier than the bottom and cooked for 40 mins. The bottom dish only cooked for the last 25 minutes.

It is rare that I surprise myself with good food, seeing how I am the cook and all. This was one of the nice surprises. I did not have very high hopes for the dinner, considering that I basically scrounged up what veggies I had and minced them, then mixed with either each other or the meat based on a recipe that I have not even read beyond what search results showed.

This was very good, if I say so myself. Total prep time was maybe 70 minutes, the last 25 being just me waiting for the food to bake. So I guess 45 minutes of work, and 25 minutes of enjoying a local Pinot Noir. Not bad for an iron chef-like challenge.