Thursday was pretty awesome. Many classes were out on field trips. I spent the end of the day Wednesday making a creamy sauce to serve over cheese ravioli so all I had to do was bake the pans of ravioli. The sauce was a riff on the clam sauce I made at home a couple weeks ago. I swapped vegetable stock for the clam juice. It was rich, creamy, and flavorful with just a small amount of added fat. Using the Robot Coupe I whizzed together a pile of minced garlic and dried herbs before mixing them into the sauce for extra flavor. The luxury of time and the reduced number of people to feed inspired me to grab a heap of veggies and roast them up as a side dish. The pasta was a hands down success and the veggies were not universally rejected. Works for me.
Thursday’s easy pace also gave us time to prep for a slightly more ambitious Friday morning snack. Bread Pudding. I had been collecting extra bread since the beginning of the week. The refrigerator incident further inspired me when I had to relocate a bunch of onesie twosie odds and ends that were hanging around. In the morning the kitchen assistant expertly cubed hotdog buns, blueberry cinnamon toast, hamburger buns, wheat bagels, and several other varieties of bread. We arranged them on sheet pans to dry a little more in the oven. Sidebar – learning to use a convection oven is wacky but it is pretty sweet for drying things. It dried the bread cubes in about 20 minutes.
Late in the afternoon I elected to slice up a bag of toasted english muffin halves. Listening to my tunes and alone in the kitchen I slipped fully into zen cooking mode. I stacked the muffin halves into little piles and let the serrated knife do the work. Slice, slice, slice went the knife through the bread making neat little strips. After a quick shift of the piles the knife went slice, slice, slice again turning the strips into cubes. I didn’t have many to cut. As I began to slice the last stack the efficient blade went right into my finger. Not optimal.
On impulse I left the kitchen and went to sit in the office. Maybe I was having a school days flashback but it seemed like the thing to do. I was lucky that the cut turned out to be mostly superficial. It was long but shallow so nothing that is supposed to be inside was suddenly outside and no trip to the urgent care center was required. A savvy co-worker helped me find the sterile superglue. After a quick spray of antiseptic, a layer of glue, and an awesome butterfly shaped bandaid I was patched up and good as new (nearly). Can I just say that working in the same building as my mother proved to be a real perk. It was nice to get immediate mommy brand sympathy while waiting for my wound to stop bleeding.
The bread pudding was finished before the end of the day. It was such a hodgepodge of ingredients I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. The liquid was made up of about 6 mashed bananas, a quart of applesauce, 2 quarts of low fat buttermilk, a dozen eggs, and a gallon and a quarter of skim milk. I also tossed in a cup of dried apple cubes, golden raisins, and dried cranberries. It was seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and about a cup of brown sugar. As a final flourish I squished some leftover canned pear slices and dusted a blend of cinnamon and sugar over the top.
The three large pans soaked overnight and I put them into the oven first thing in the morning. I think I set the oven to 425 but like I said the convection thing is really throwing me for a loop. Two of the puddings baked for an hour. Those were lovely and hot but more gooey than I wanted. However, they received rave reviews from both kids and adults. The third pan had the benefit of an additional hour in the oven and it came out perfectly. Moist, fruity, lightly sweet, and evenly spiced. I was so excited that it actually worked. The class that was served the second batch made a good dent in it but I was still able to bring some home. Mr. Second Helpings was very pleased to share the leftovers with me.
In the midst of all of the bread pudding excitement we also managed to send out a lunch of mini pizzas and pasta salad. The pizzas turned out to be the hit of the week. Whole wheat sandwich rolls topped with veggie or turkey pasta sauce then covered in shredded cheese. Three or four of the seven classrooms sent runners for more. We had sauce and cheese left so I grabbed some english muffins and threw together another full pan of pizzas. The pasta for the salad was left over whole wheat spiral noodles. My whiz-with-a-knife assistant went full Ginzu on the contents of our produce drawer. She diced a heap of cauliflower, broccoli, celery, and plum tomatoes to add to the noodles. While she was tossing the salad in a bottled Italian dressing she observed that feta would be a tasty addition. I completely agree. Her comment reminded me of a large jar of capers in the refrigerator. With the addition of the briny capers we had one top notch deli salad to accompany the pizzas.
Making the pizzas reminded me of my grandma. Family lore states that she used to make pizza with hamburger on top every Friday for my mom and her brothers. It was a double treat because they were allowed to eat it while watching Disney’s The Wonderful World of Color. I obviously never shared that specific experience but I do remember the pizza. It was a deliciously comforting treat.
After delivering a simple snack of cucumber and bell pepper slices with fish crackers, I ended the craziest week ever with a little extra cleaning of the kitchen.
There is something so cozy about that room. I also attended the center and ate many snacks and meals prepared there. At the time I was not allowed to hang out in the kitchen but it still manges to feel like a familiar space. I am more tired than I have been in a long time but I will admit I am actually looking forward to Monday morning. That’s when I get to put my apron back on and find out what in the world is going to happen next!