Owen: "This is one of the best dinners of my entire life!"
Owen: "Well, that you've cooked."
The other night we had an all-Ad Hoc At Home menu:
-sauteed chicken breasts with tarragon
-asparagus with tomato and bacon stew
-mint chocolate chip ice cream
Chicken breasts: Make a curry powder by grinding together 20 spices (17 if your pantry is lacking, which it will be) and use to season chicken. Let chicken rest in refrigerator for 2 hours. Or 1 hour if you failed to read the recipe carefully earlier in the day. Pound chicken until very skinny. Cook in oil in a hot skillet then keep warm in the oven while you make an incredible sauce with tarragon, butter, shallots and wine. Bathed in this sauce, the chicken breasts will be so richly flavored you'll forget you're eating chicken breasts.
Asparagus: Cook slab bacon chunks until they've rendered their fat, remove to a paper towel and occasionally pop one in your mouth while you use drippings as base for a tomato sauce. Keller calls for canned San Marzano tomatoes, but ordinary tomatoes will suffice when you can't find San Marzano tomatoes at the supermarket. Puree half of this sauce then add it back to the pan along with the few remaining bacon chunks. Cook the asparagus in a skillet with some stock, arrange on a platter, and pour the sauce on top. Watch in amazement as your children devour their vegetables.
Ice cream: Steep fresh mint leaves in milk and cream. Strain. Mix with ten (!) egg yolks and sugar and cook to make a custard. Chill. Freeze in ice cream machine and add finely minced chocolate towards the end of this process. Abandon all self-control and eat a pint of stupendous, satiny ice cream before you wash all the dishes.
And there were a lot of dishes. But it was one heckuva dinner.