A kitchen without knives is like … the kitchen I am in. OR: HELP ME MAKE A MEAL FROM NOTHING, WITH NOTHING

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This week finds me playing naked chef (actually, I am the only entirely-clothed member of my residence, though that is a story for another blog) in Berkeley, California. I have been asked to prepare dinner nightly, for three gay food-timid non-cooking Montrealers who consume only extremely high-end French classical cuisine. They also eat McDonalds, but only if they’re high and it’s after midnight and they can all find their pants.

I am not making this up, unfortunately.

I have been given $20/meal, and told that each meal must feed four, feature meat (no pork, nothing ‘weird or mexican or tacky’) …. and that there shouldn’t be much cleanup (‘cuz we’ll do it … but cleanup is such an omigod pain in the balls’)

The kitchen is ill-equipped non-equipped. There is a 6″ square cutting board, a pair of dull and bendy ikea paring knives, two stainless steel saucepans, a single mixing bowl. I found a spatula, a juice squeezer, and a can-opener in a box upstairs.

My own kitchen, including knives, is in a storage locker somewhere in Southern California. I am in Northern.

As it stands , I have to provide three more meals. There is no pantry. I must, literally, buy every ingredient I need. Prep is difficult because the knives are treacherously dull. Unusable, really. Yesterday I failed to cut an onion, because the knife was too short and dull to clear the hemisphere of the bulb. I mashed garlic underneath a plate and tore bacon with a swiss-army blade. I used McDonalds salt and pepper packets to correct flavor.

And I need help. I need to provide filling, cheap, attractive, and simple-seeming meals to ostensible food-snobs who know not the first things about a kitchen. The last two meals I made were:

Pozole (used canned sweet corn, ground beef, bouillon broth — ick –, three strips of slab bacon, couple of bell peppers, cilantro, jabañero, butter beans, sour cream, corn tortillas: hominy looked too scary for the Montrealites)

Spiced lamb and dried-plum kofte with bergamot-saffron rice pilaf.

I need to make three similar meals with next-to-no ingredients and very little in the way of cutting. Please, please, please offer suggestions.

In the meantime, I’m going to go hide the key to my chastity belt.

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3 Responses to “A kitchen without knives is like … the kitchen I am in. OR: HELP ME MAKE A MEAL FROM NOTHING, WITH NOTHING”

  1. Jaq Says:

    Oh geez! Is quiche tacky? You can make a relatively elegant crustless version if you have a ceramic soup plate, or an oven safe skillet (line with prosciutto). Or, if you’ve got a deeper ceramic dish (or possibly the mixing bowl if it’s oven safe), make a sturdy smoked salmon (is that meat?) and cheese souffle. Or, a tagine from beef or lamb stew meat (or ground meat), served with cous-cous or injera.

  2. William Says:

    Wow, this is mind boggling. Updates please, I’d love to know what the other three meals wind up being. Re: knives, is there a smooth brick or rock anywhere that you can sharpen the paring knives with? (Hone/smooth against the backside of a leather belt…?)

  3. boxofbirds Says:

    Eeek! I don’t envy your position… One things that come to my head that doesn’t require a lot of chopping, good canned tomatoes add a lot of body to make sauce or a stew. And if you do make something that you need to chop maybe it would be easier with the dull knives to make a rough chop and present it as “rustic.”

    And if all else fails, do you have any obsidian nearby that you could chip into a blade? 😉

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