The Struggles of Cooking in a New York Kitchen

I want you to imagine cooking a meal inside a closet. With a cutting board size counter-top to prepare all your ingredients, a small stove crammed with multiple sauce pans, and an oven that doesn’t fit average sized baking pans. This is me every night preparing dinner.

I love to cook, my repertoire of recipes limited to what I find on Pinterest or other food blogs, but I love it nonetheless. Recently, Elijah bought me my first cookbook. “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Berthtolle and Simone Beck. I can’t explain the excitement I felt when I flipped through it’s pages and found recipes and illustrations that would turn me into “that friend” who cooks delicious meals for any company that comes over. I remember thinking that I’ve never even cooked a vegetable correctly! And I never knew there were so many ways to make artichokes… So needless to say, I got started picking out what I wanted to make for dinner. I decided to make Poulet au Porto. This recipe is just Chicken cooked in a port and mushroom cream sauce. yum. In a very generic nutshell, it’s roasting chicken in the oven, boiling mushrooms in water and butter, cooking the boiled mushrooms in cream and port red wine, and then adding the roasted chicken to that sauce to simmer. Fairly easy, and very impressive.

The one thing in my way was the kitchen. Most places I grew up had either an island or long counters to prepare food. Not here, where a shoe box might be more spacious. I gathered my ingredients and put them on the counter, ready to go. I wish I could say it felt like Julia Child was in my kitchen with me… but she wouldn’t fit.

The tricky part is, raw chicken cant really touch anything that wont be immediately washed or thrown away, you know, because of E. Coli and stuff. So I pretty much had to take the chicken right from the package onto the small roasting pan. I enlisted Elijah’s assistance most times, pretty much to hold the cookbook since I would either have to put it on the floor and look down between my legs squinting at the small letters with raw chicken in hand or place it on a chair on the other end of the kitchen and run back and forth. It was entertaining, i’m sure.

Butter is magic. I swear. I boiled sliced cremini mushrooms in water and butter and they were the most delicious mushrooms i’ve ever had in my life. Once they boiled for a few minutes, I placed them in a sauce pan and added heavy cream and spices.

Once that was done I added Cabernet Sauvignon that I got for $6 at a deli on the corner. The recipe called for a dry port, but “Two Family Deli” doesn’t exactly have a great wine selection. This was the only red wine in the joint, and it was in the fridge. I’m sure Julia Child is rolling in her grave at this point, but at least that hole in the ground offers more space than my kitchen does.

The cab made the sauce purple, which I don’t think is how it was supposed to look. Like a milky grape soda. But you do what you can with what you got. So I added the roasted chicken to the sauce and let it simmer in the creamy, grape fanta mushroom sauce.

As the food was almost ready, I realized I had nothing to pair it with. Rice would take too long, and I only had a few Zucchini left, slightly mushy. So, I cut off the squishy parts, cut them into thin slices, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled some dill on them, and popped them in the oven for about 6 minutes.

Voila! My teeny kitchen masterpiece was complete. I tried putting some fresh parsley on the chicken to make it look more appetizing and less… purple? But it made it look slightly worse.

Elijah and I then sat on the couch with our plates in our laps and dug in. Everything was delicious. Again, the mushrooms, were divine. Please, boil your mushrooms in butter.

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