Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Never say "no drama" - the Kitchen Kalamity

Something on Sunday, I don't know exactly what, made me look up the Georgian recipe section on Nami-Nami, an Estonian (English language) food blog I follow on Google Reader. The recipes that Pille posts on her blog are either things I completely love or things I will never in a million years make. I like that she highlights cuisines that I don't find mentioned much elsewhere, at least not in English, such as Georgian, Finnish, and Estonian.

I could go on and on about how ever since I read somewhere (I can't even remember where) when I was in high school, how complex and interesting and amazing Georgian food is, I've wanted to try it. There was a Georgian restaurant in Warwick, NY, which was in another state but actually not far from where I lived. But every time I tried to call them to find out when they were open or to make a reservation (because you don't want to leave the state only to find a "CLOSED" sign) I would get nothing but ringing, and then a disconnected number, and then I concluded that the restaurant must have closed.

So I would make my own Georgian food, and whenever I found a Georgian recipe, just one in a large cookbook or one every now and then on the Internet, I'd file it away, but it was always something very complicated that I'd have to really think about making. Georgian food seems to involve ingredients I might readily have combined in ways I'm not used to (for example, it's not unusual that I'd have cilantro and tarragon, but I don't usually put them together. The same goes for pomegranate and walnuts, which seems to be a common theme in Georgian recipes.) All of the recipes I've found don't seem to be a regular Georgian person's weeknight recipe, but rather a very complicated, time-intensive meal fit for special occasions.

Between Pille and the book Please to the Table and moving to a city with a large population of former-USSR-immigrants, this has changed slightly.

So, somehow I ended up with a pound of suluguni, a mozzarella-ish cheese that Pille insists is worth finding to make khachapuri, a Georgian cheese bread. And somehow, this Sunday seemed like the day to use that suluguni. And while I was at it, why not make the chicken recipe that was recommended to serve with khachapuri? Of course! Why not make chakhohbili, something I don't even know how to pronounce?

Trying to make too many things at once turned into some kitchen near-disasters that aren't interesting enough to write about. This is why, on Monday night, when I invited my boyfriend to dinner, I had to add a text message reassurance that, since I was just reheating chicken stew I'd made the night before (in the same pot it was refrigerated in and going to be served in) and just going to bake bread that was already made, layered with suluguni cheese, and on a parchment-lined pan, "Dinner is already made so there will be no dishes and no drama."

Famous last words.

The time that the oven was preheating to bake the khachapuri seemed like an appropriate time to use the oven's heat to reheat the chakhohbili. It had been made in a large, red, enameled cast iron Lodge Logic Dutch oven. Laden with chicken and tomato-wine sauce and rice, it was quite heavy. I pulled it out of the fridge without incident and placed it on the oven rack, which I had slid out of the oven and toward me only about an inch. That inch was enough. Without the full support of the oven's walls, the rack could not support the heavy, chicken-laden Dutch oven for long. When I turned around to attend to something else, probably to change the song on my music player, I heard a CRASH!!!!!!

When I turned back to the oven, the following sight greeted me.

And that is where I have to leave you, because my stupid Internet is now being too slow for me to upload pictures to Blogger! Until tomorrow!

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