Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Cooking Lesson with Two Home Chefs.

In my recent article reviewing Home Chef, the main reason I gave this product a try was due to not always wanting to cook from scratch.  While that was my personal goal, it did not end up being that way. 

It came to pass that I found ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, on sale, at the local market.  This was a great opportunity to purchase a double quantity, and make two trays of lasagna.  One tray would provide dinner, and a multitude of lunches during the week.  The other tray was wrapped up in foil, placed in the freezer, and would be consumed sometime within the next six months.  It took me a good three hours to prep all the ingredients, that includes homemade meat sauce, build up the trays, bake one, and freeze the other.

Lunch time comes around and Roy happens to say the last thing I want to hear, “Are you going to make those flautas you got from that food company?”  Count to ten, breathing in slowly, exhaling slowly, turn to face him and, “No hunny, you are!”  Oh, the look on his face…priceless.

However, I have to give the man credit, without flinching, he actually said, “Fine, but you have to watch me, and make sure I’m doing it right.”  Agreed!  So, while Roy became the home chef, I simply became supervisor, and, of course, demonstrator of technique if necessary.  My knife skills far exceed his, in the kitchen, and on the battle field.  I will leave that last sentence for you all to ponder over.

 

 

 

 

 

While the instruction card stated prep to cooking to dining time was 40 to 50 minutes, the company probably expects “home chefs” to be experienced and fast.  Not so with a beginner, and it took a good 1 and ½ hours before lunch was served.  Yes, Roy did follow the recipe card, but even the instructions, with photos, perplexed him a bit.  I did assist by showing, with half the tomato, how to slice and dice for salsa quality; large chopping for the spinach, and minimal slicing of the green onions.  Adding the seasonings, browning the chicken and making the finishing sauce he did on his own, and quite well.  Rolling the flautas was a challenge at first. He did not understand which end of the filled tortilla needed to be “folded over”.  I explained that, instead of making a burrito, pretend to make enchiladas, and the challenge was overcome!

 

She only had to show me, how to use the knife, once!



Browning the chicken.

"What the heck is this saying!?!"

 

 

Roll up the tortillas.

Place in skillet to brown.


 

Both sides browned.

Now, this recipe from Home Chef, is a fusion of Mexican and Italian tastes.  The pesto and mozzarella cheese are essentially Italian, and, well, we both did not see the point of the mixing of these two cuisines.  Oh, do not get me wrong, the meal was good, but nothing we would ever want to make again.  That is, using the ingredient list provided by Home Chef.  We discussed what flavor over or under whelmed the rest of the dish; what ingredients would have provided a better, tastier, meal.  So, we are keeping the recipe card, but will be playing and creating.

Overall, Roy said he enjoyed the experience, and now has a much better understanding of what I do, in the kitchen, and why I am an excellent home chef.  He will not be trading me in, for meal kits, any time soon.

 

Creamy Pesto Chicken Flautas

(Note: Recipe and directions are from the Home Chef recipe card received with Meal Kit.)

 

 Ingredients:

12 oz. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

6 Small Flour Tortillas

1 Roma Tomato

2 oz. Basil Pesto

2 oz. Baby Spinach

2 oz. Cream Cheese

1 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

2 Green Onions

¼ oz. Flour

½ tsp. Poultry Seasoning

Preparation:

Step 1: Prepare Ingredients and Make Salsa.

In medium sized bowl, coarsely chop spinach.  Separate green from white on green onions, and thinly slice green onions.

Core tomato and cut into 1/2" dice. (Note: the tomato in the kit was not ripe and bitter; sprinkling salt over it helped with taste).

Add white part of onions to spinach.   In another mixing bowl, combine tomato, green part of onions, half the pesto (reserve remaining for sauce), a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp. olive oil. Set aside.

Step 2: Prep and Cook Chicken

Pat chicken dry and top with 1 tsp. olive oil. Season both sides with poultry seasoning and a pinch of pepper.   On medium-high heat, brown chicken; remove to bowl and shred.

Mix shredded chicken spinach, white part of onions, shredded cheese, and a pinch of salt until spinach begins to wilt.   

Step 3: Assemble the Flautas

Place tortillas on a clean work surface. Place, in center of each tortilla, generous helping of chicken/spinach mixture.

Fold tortilla over filling, tucking long edge under. Roll tortilla and place seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas

Step 4: Cook the Flautas

Place a medium non-stick pan, over medium heat, and add 2 tsp. olive oil.

Working in batches of 3, place flautas in hot pan, seam-side down. Cook until browned on one side, 2-3 minutes. Replenish oil if necessary. Gently roll to opposite side and cook until browned, 2-3 minutes.

Remove to plate, repeat with second batch of 3.

Step 5: Make Sauce and Finish Dish

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine softened cream cheese, flour, remaining pesto, and 1/3 cup water.  Microwave, 15 seconds a time and stirring in between, until smooth and heated through, 45-60 seconds.  If too thick, add water, 1 tsp. at a time and up to 1 Tbsp., until desired consistency is reached.

Plate dish as pictured on front of card, halving flautas, if desired, and topping with sauce and salsa. Bon app├ętit!

Mary Cokenour