BY RICHARD MOOREY
THE world is definitely a super busy place these days and it never seems like there is enough time to accomplish the things we want to get done. After all there are only so many hours in a day, right?
There are a million jobs out there that people work crazy long hours at and trust me as a chef I can very readily sympathize with those of you putting in 80-plus hour weeks.
Maybe that’s part of the reason we eat so much on the fly. I’ve definitely got no issues making a few phone calls and ordering in some great eats when I’m crushed for time and let’s face it, as a chef in a circle of great local chefs, I have no trouble eating terrifically amazing local food on any given day.
There are so many great food joints in our region pushing our culinary notoriety to heights we’ve never experienced before.
That said, it is really great to decompress in the kitchen at home with some great tunes, a glass of dad-made cabernet sauvignon and family in the next room.
But when you aren’t on a day off and your average day is 12 or 14 hours, how do you pull off a meal that doesn’t come out of box or a can? Well as a chef I’ve learned to do a little cheating over the years when it comes to cooking on the home front.
By utilizing some of your local market, store or neighbourhood eatery contacts, you can create some serious tastitude in a half hour or less. Having a few upper echelon ingredients on hand like some gourmet mushrooms, cherry preserves, hand crafted sauces, pastas, coffee, some cheeses, fresh vegetables and even some great oils can make preparing something smashmouth pretty effortless and make you look like a home kitchen savant to your friends and family.
You could very easily take a local shelf sauce and add it to a little sautéed mushroom and caramelized onion and finish it with a touch of cream from the dairy.
A healthy shaving of some handpicked cheese from your artisan cheese supplier, add some fresh pasta and a crust of warmed local bakery bread, suddenly you have a meal that would rival Mario Batali’s dinner special.
Alternatively you could get to know the guy who owns and operates your favourite pizza place and charm him into selling you some of his hand crafted dough to take home so you can adulterate it with all kinds of tastiness.
A drizzle of high end oil and a splash of that flavoured balsamic vinegar you picked up last week, some fresh herbs, some pulled or sliced meat leftovers from last night’s dinner finished with some smoked local cheese and gourmet mini pizzas are keeping mouths everywhere happy inside a half hour.
Just remember the next time you’re feeling the pressure and are a little under the gun when it comes time to ring the dinner bell at your house, you don’t have to settle for mediocrity to make your dinner schedule balance with your life schedule. With a little imagination and a little cheating you can certainly enjoy the good life at home and keep the troops in awe of your culinary prowess.
CHEF HOUSE'S FLATBREAD ON THE FLY
1 small dough ball from your favourite pizza joint
1 sweet onion such as Vidalia, sliced
2 cups sliced and lightly sautéed gourmet mushrooms
2 cup fresh spinach or greens lightly wilted
2 tbsp. fresh basil, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. olive flavoured olive oil
1/2 tbsp. fine ground coffee
1/2 cup smoked gouda (optional)
1/2 cup of leftover meat (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 425 F
Flour surface and roll out your dough to a suitable size, thin or thick crust. Use a docking roller or a fork to put holes in the dough. Par bake the dough for six minutes and remove from oven. Brush crust with flavoured oil and top with onion, mushroom, wilted greens, coffee and the optional ingredients should you so choose.
Return the flatbread to the oven and bake for a further eight to 10 minutes or until crusted is golden and toppings are hot.
Remove from the oven and finish with salt and pepper and fresh basil.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to firstname.lastname@example.org, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.