First things first: exciting news! Heeding the advice of blog commenters and a couple of friends, I successfully sliced an avocado. It wasn’t entirely mess-free, but a huge improvement over my first attempt.
Then came last night’s dinner. I purchased some Gorgonzola, another cheese I’d never tasted, and thought I’d try my hand at some Gorgonzola chicken roll-ups. Following my first chicken-flattening endeavor, I bought a meat tenderizer mallet so I didn’t hurt myself trying to flatten meat with a pot. I read that to use a meat tenderizer, you first use the side with the teeth to break up the meat fibers, and the smooth side is used to do the flattening.
I began by laying a chicken breast on the cutting board and covering it with plastic wrap. I held up the mallet, tooth-side down, and took a big whack at the chicken in front of me. Now…I remember how hard it was to flatten the chicken using a really heavy pot. So I could only imagine that the meat tenderizer, which feels no heavier than my pizza cutter, would need some serious force in order to do its job. I hit the toothed side of the mallet to the chicken as hard as I could, over and over, before realizing that I had turned that side of the chicken breast into a pink, pulpy mess. The chicken breast looked as if it had been drenched in applesauce. Though the slab of chicken no longer belonged to a living creature, I felt like a slaughterer. It was that disgusting.
I had three chicken breasts and three people to feed, so I made the best of my pulverized meat. I breaded it and sprinkled it with Gorgonzola before rolling it up and securing it with toothpicks. (Quick note: if you have a box of 1,000 toothpicks and you need just two of them, remove two toothpicks before your hands are coated in mushy, raw meat. Trust me, it’s good advice.) It wasn’t pretty, but I just hoped it would still be edible.
While the chicken baked, I worked on some pasta and homemade tomato topping for the side dish. I was working off of a recipe, which called for six tomatoes to be chopped and cooked on the stove with some onion and spinach. My fiance doesn’t like big pieces of tomato, so I threw the tomatoes and the spinach in the blender and thought I’d make it more edible for him. Unfortunately, my blender has 16 settings and I don’t know what the difference is between any of them. Not a one. What’s the difference between blend and puree? Between stir and beat? Between chop and mix? Hell if I know! (Methinks it’s time to get out the user manual.) I couldn’t even tell you what I pushed; several buttons later, I had a red-tinged watery substance to mix with my onions on the stove. I added some tomato sauce to try and thicken it, but it did nothing other than change the color to a deeper shade of red.
Also noteworthy is the mess all of this caused in my kitchen.
The results of the meal: I loved the chicken. Gorgonzola is officially my new favorite cheese. My fiance and his son, however, felt quite differently. Guess that means I don’t have to fight anyone over the leftover Gorgonzola in the fridge. And the pasta? Well, the sauce would have been better served with tortilla chips (i.e., it tasted exactly like salsa). It never did thicken enough and it just didn’t work as a pasta sauce.
This meal also brought about a new realization for me. As I embark on this journey to be a better cook, I have difficulty distinguishing between peoples’ personal tastes and my ability to cook something that tastes good. I thought the chicken and Gorgonzola tasted fabulous, but when the people I served claimed the cheese was odd and that they didn’t care for it, I had to wonder: is it really the cheese, or did I take a terribly wrong turn somewhere? To those of you who cook (well), can any of you share your thoughts?