Designer Dinners

There was a time when my family thoroughly enjoyed my feasts made from recipes of famous chefs. My feasts (aka DesignerDinners) are made from recipes of some of the best including none other than the likes of Eric Ripert, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Gordon Ramsey, Rick Tramonto, and my all-time favorite: the famed Thomas Keller.

Back in the day, when Tom would walk through the door after a long, hard day’s work, and asked me what was for dinner, his eyes would light up with delight when I would tell him what I was making. I guess I don’t blame him because “back in the day,” not only would I do all the cooking, but I would also do all the cleaning. Well, folks, the tides have changed. Yes, indeed. The tides have changed.

Now, our general unspoken rule of thumb is I cook, Tom cleans. I’m not sure how and why the tides changed, but I’m sure not going to argue it. I’m no dummy. You’re probably wondering “what’s the big deal about cleaning up?” Let me put it to you this way. There is a clear, stated difference between cleaning up after dinner and cleaning up after a DesignerDinner. With a DesignerDinner, there are usually five times as many ingredients + five times as many pots/pans = 10 times the mess.

My recent DesignerDinner was a work of art. No lie. I decided to make a classic recipe from the Escoffier era. Let me introduce you to Escoffier, if you’re already not familiar. Georges Auguste Escoffier was a French chef, restaurateur, and noted culinary author. He is a legendary figure among chefs and gourmands and one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine.

Well, my Escoffier-era dish was Filet of beef en croute with mushroom duxelle. In translation, this is beef tenderloin wrapped in sautéed mushrooms with cream, wrapped in spinach, wrapped in homemade crepes, wrapped in puff pastry and baked to a perfect golden brown.

I was completely in my element as I clarified my butter, made my duxelle, and danced around the kitchen like a mad woman throwing flour around with abandon. I was having a fantastic time until…

Tom walked through the door.

I heard the garage door open then followed by a weary “Hi, what’s for dinner?” I made one comment “DesignerDinner” and heard a soft, but noticeable groan coming from the mud room. I can only imagine what Tom thought when he walked around the corner to see what he saw. His eyes grew huge as he surveyed the kitchen, the mountain of pots and pans on the stove and the shrieks of laughter coming from the kids as they ran around like wild animals waiting to be hunted down.

Yes, the kitchen was a mess. There was flour everywhere – on the counter, on the floor, and even on the dog. (I’ll take responsibility for the counter and floor, but that’s about it. Have no idea what happened to the dog).

I methodically continued to slave over my dish, ignoring the cries of impatience and hunger coming from the two wild animals running around the room. As time ticked on and the impatience and cries grew (this time coming not only from the wild animals, but also from Tom), I sighed an exasperated sigh while muttering “No one appreciates art!” under my breath. Finally, my masterpiece was done and ready to go into the oven.

Let me tell you, the project was worth the wait. It was a gorgeous piece of modern art. I was so proud of it and we wolfed it down like the carnivores we truly are. I could tell by the look on Tom’s face that he was pretty satisfied with the dish and maybe the three hours I spent on it as well as the two hours of his impending cleanup is worth it.

Would I make this dish again? Absolutely! Maybe just not on a week night and maybe with just a little less flour next time.