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My Process

Well, I've done it again. I've taken a basic idea and put my own spin on it. This may be what I do best. I got this idea from Sunny Anderson's recipe for Easy Salmon Pie. I want to do this entry a little differently, though, and show y'all my process for tailoring recipes. That's why tonight's entry is LIVE with play-by-play cooking madness. Prepare yourselves for rabbit trails and random thoughts. Here we go!

First I pour about two tablespoons of olive oil into a very large pan and let it get hot and shimmery. I pretty much always eyeball oil, and this is no exception. I also picked a really big pan because I know I want to wilt my spinach in there later. For now it’s meant for mushrooms.

Now that my oil is hot, I pour a whole package (8oz) of sliced, baby Portabellas into the pan and am going to let them get all brown and cooked up. Mmm, Portabellas, the steak of mushrooms...

While that’s going, I’ll to start grating some of my local smoked Gouda. Have I mentioned that smoked Gouda is my favorite? If I haven't, it is. My mushrooms are sizzling away pretty loudly, so I decide to take the heat down a bit. It is all the way on high, after all. While I’m grating here, the mushrooms are letting off the most heavenly aroma. I wonder if Mike is going to say something about that scent. He’s already asked if I’m trying to poison him. Okay, now my grating is done. I always worry when I get down to the end of whatever I’m grating because I usually end up hitting my fingernails against the grater and then I imagine what would happen if I or someone else found a fingernail shaving in their food. Yup, now I’ve made myself worried, so I check all my nails for grater nicks. Just part of my everyday neuroticism whimsical way I see the world differently.

Now comes the part where timing gets me. I have my puff pastry, but I don’t know if it’ll melt or something if I start working with it too soon, so I’ll just tuck it back into the freezer. Everything’s going to cook in the oven, so if the filling gets a little cool now, it won’t really hurt anything.

The mushrooms are done now, so it’s time for the spinach. I’ve just realized I meant to sauté up some onions with the mushrooms but totally forgot. I wonder if I can do them with the spinach, but it won’t be in long enough, so I’ll just use some dehydrated, minced onions. I cheat. Sue me.

Now for the garlic. I have recently come to know the pleasure of whacking garlic cloves into submission working with whole garlic cloves. I’ve usually always used the pre-minced garlic in a jar. Again, sue me. You do have to give them a good smack to get them out of their papery covering though, but I refuse to use a knife. I know I’ll cut some fingers off if I try hitting a knife simply to unwrap garlic. I use a wooden spatula instead.

Whap whap whap!!!
Me: "Oops, I broke it in half."
Mike: "Are you okay?
Me: "It's just garlic. No human or kitchenware casualties."

Mike is part of my process. He usually calls into the kitchen to check on me when things sound like they're starting to get out of hand. I have four cloves in all, two of which are really small, so it counts as one. That’s garlic-math for most of you that aren't acquainted with it. Two more tablespoons or so of olive oil into the pan and out comes the mincer. Some people hate these; I love it. I mentioned cutting myself whacking garlic earlier. Knives and I don’t do well together. Mike doesn’t even like me chopping stuff anymore. I usually end up losing a little blood. That’s why I mince instead of chop when I can.

Now the oil is hot, in goes garlic. Wait a moment or two to let it do its thing...stir it up a little…now the spinach.

A whole bag of baby spinach wilts down pretty fast into nothing, so I keep on flipping it around in the garlicky oil until it’s all wilted and sad looking. Have you noticed this trend? I tend to use odd adjectives for some of my food. Wilted spinach should look sad, pathetic, and darker.

See? Okay, now the puff pastry can come out. Crap. I just read the instructions and I’m supposed to let it thaw on the counter for 40 minutes. Dangit! For someone who likes to read as much as I do, I sure don’t do it a lot when I cook. Mike suggests we have dessert first right. I’m down with that, but we’re not going to eat until, like, 10:00 tonight. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.

***Dessert intermission.***

Okay, four minutes to go on the pastry, so the fish needs to come out.

It was in the freezer up until today, so it’s been running under for the last two hours. It’s cool, it was frozen and is wrapped in plastic under the water. We have mahi tonight!

I was away from my play-by-play for a while because it’s very hard to type and assemble at the same time. I took pictures, though! Now for a pictorial interlude.

Ahhhh, mushrooms. Sorry for the poor quality of these pictures. I took them all with my phone. Trust me, though, these baby Portabellas look amazing and make a great, little bed for my fish.

The Great Tower of Mahi! That's a beautiful site. I know this looks like a lot, but that puff pastry stretches really well. This one is mine because Mike requested no mushrooms.

This one is Mike's. Mine had cheese too, but he gets more since his is mushroom-less, which is a cryin' shame.

And here were my two pies all ready to go. These are really huge too. Definitely two servings in each one.

35 minutes later and out of the 375 degree oven. These look SO good.

See what I mean? How could you not want that? We had a really nice white Muscadine wine with it, which was perfect.

And we're back live with our puff pastry report! I know this stuff cannot be good for me with the amount of butter that's in it, but I really don't care. It is fabulous. Right here, right now, I submit that puff pastry makes everything better! You must try this. SO amazing and delicious. I couldn't have asked for this dish to be better. So that's the process. My mind goes to odd little places sometimes, but that's what makes it fun. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a dinner to finish. Thanks for hanging out with me.

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