Saturday, April 2, 2011

Murphy's Law

New cooking terminology needs to be invented to cover the number of ways I screwed up today.

It began with what could have been a disaster, but still turned out nicely: I missed the butter in the peanut butter cookies. (The butter, not the peanut butter. I'm not that incompetent.) I wondered why the mixed dough was almost dry, but didn't notice the omitted ingredient. I'm sure this altered all number of small oddities that I noticed throughout, such as the fact that the peanuts didn't really stick to the top ... would that be the fault of the butter? Anyhow.

Final verdict (cookies):
Even without the butter, however, I can say with confidence this is a very flavorful, chewy cookie - and would probably be even more so when properly performed. Perhaps the butter might tone down the peanut butter flavor a smidge just from ratios, but that would still fall within the much-coveted zone of balance.

The skew of my day continued: I put the plantains into the oven and decided to walk the dog, only to get rained on ... with the sun still out. We came back in. After cooking the plantains about forty-five minutes, I decided they had to be done - I was worried about overbaking them - and removed them.

I think this is the cause of the cascade of craziness that ensued, at least on the empanada side. When they had finally cooled, I checked them and realized they hadn't baked through. The oven was prepped for the chicken and I didn't want to mess with it, so I microwaved them. Then I put the pieces in the food processor and ... it wouldn't start. Between drizzling the butter (the butter I remembered! It's better with butter) for the cordon blue crumb coating and my next assembly of the food processor pieces, it decided not to run.

I improvised, blended the plantains in the Oscar, then mixed the flour in by hand. And immediately could see that what I had were crumbs, not dough-moldable by any stretch of the imagination. I melted the remaining two tablespoons of butter (butter!) and added, and at least got something I could form into balls. I didn't want to add more, concerned I'd change the taste.

However, it wasn't enough. I couldn't smash the dough into rounds sufficiently pliable to fold around the cheese. I ended up halving each ball and sort of smashing the cheese inside. Definitely not your mama's empanadas. I'm not even sure what they were called. However, the plantain dough was good ... very good ... I kept eating it as I went.

At this point, let me back up and observe that recipe provider for the Cook's Country chicken cordon bleu must have had either different-shaped chicken breasts, smaller-but-thicker ham slices, better rolling skills or all three, because the ham-with-swiss did not simply slot in there like peas in a pod. (Pardon my metaphor.) I was convinced the whole thing would never work, so I was quite upset when I stuck it in the fridge.

To add insult to injury, when I went to make the liquid part of the three-step dredging process, I could not get the mustard jar open for anything. I finally tore into my fridge and luckily found an older jar I could use, because the one I had set aside would not open for anything. By this time, I was tired enough that I seriously considered smashing the jar and salvaging as much mustard as I could.

This has easily been my worst cooking day all year. Oof.

Final verdict (chicken cordon bleu):
For all my complaints above ... it does work, and very well. Chicken came out tender, the ratio of ham was good, and while perhaps more of the swiss melted out than I would have liked, it's quite pleasantly cheesy. Somewhat like I am when making bad jokes.

Final verdict (plantain turnovers):
No final verdict possible. I went so far off the map I can guarantee I didn't end up with the intended product. Need to try again and discern if the dough has enough moisture if the plantains oven-cook longer, without a microwave stint.

I need a vacation from my dinner!

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