10 November 2008

kitchen katastrophe: asparagus strawberry walnut salad, salsa chicken, buddha punch

this is a story of miscommunication.

a few months ago, i invited my friends, ryan and regina, over for dinner because ryan and i had been talking for weeks about getting together to make dinner. since it was at my house (and i'm the pickiest eater of the three of us), i picked the recipes for salsa chicken and asparagus strawberry walnut salad along with a fun alcoholic drink.

we met at my house and ryan and regina sat at my kitchen bar. i clapped my hands and said, "ok, let's get to work! ryan, you can do the chicken and regina you can start the salad. i'll make the drink first since its a surprise and then help you guys." i was very proud of myself for delegating. they looked at each other and kind of said, "ok..." then they went to wash their hands. i didn't hear what they were saying. they came back and kind of stood there. i thought they needed encouragement. "ryan, do you want to start cleaning the chicken?" so he gets out the knives and gets ready. "regina, i think we have to wash the spinach and asparagus." so she gets to work. i make the drink as seen here:
Buddha Punch
5 dash(es) Orange Bitters
4 oz. Triple Sec
2 cup(s) Gewurztraminer (Or Riesling)
1 bottle(s) Champagne (Or sparkling wine)
1 cup(s) Light Rum
1 cup(s) Orange Juice (Fresh)
1/2 oz. Cherry Brandy
1/2 cup(s) Lemon Juice (Fresh)
1/2 oz. Sugar Syrup
All the ingredients must be chilled. Stir everything (except champagne) into a punch bowl and stir. Just before serving, add the champagne and a large block of ice. Stir again and garnish with a few lime slices. This punch makes approximately 20 servings. [editor's note: just enough for 3 people!]

i was tickled pink because i found this drink that had a TON of alcohol in it (i needed to use up most of my bar). i thought if i told them what was in it they wouldn't drink it. we tasted it and it was scrumdidliumptious, but strong. when i finished i went over to help regina with the salad. the recipe was on the counter on the other side of the oven, so i read what to do next.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a heavy baking or broiler pan with foil. In a large bowl toss asparagus in olive oil and spread out in pan in a single layer.
So then i look at the recipe and see that it calls for
1/2 cup vegetable oil
regina had already spread the asparagus on the pan so we decided to just drizzle the oil over it instead of putting in a bowl to coat. she starts pouring the oil and after about 3 or 4 tablespoons she pointed out "this seems like a lot of oil." we all looked at it and agreed. we put it in the oven and figured we could add the rest of the oil later. i read the next part:
Meanwhile mix spinach, strawberries and walnuts in a large bowl; whisk together dressing ingredients.
regina gets everything together and i notice that ryan was asking me what to do next with the chicken. finally, i said, "well, here i'll tape the recipe up so it's easier for you to see." he and regina looked at each other then at me, "you told us not to look at the recipe." i was confused. then i realized what had happened - when i told them not to look at the recipe, i meant the DRINK recipe, but they thought i meant all three recipes. miscommunication #1 sorted - we all laugh.

we get back to work and check on the asparagus. it's so not getting crisp. this is about the same time that regina starts the dressing and when we realize that the amount of oil i had read her was for the DRESSING not to COAT the asparagus. we should've only used 1 tablespoon of oil. we take the asparagus out and pat it dry with paper towels and moved the asparagus to another baking sheet. miscommunication / error #2. some more laughter (a little bit louder because we've had a bit of buddha punch).

the dressing calls for the following ingredients:
  • Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
in my defense, if you look at the recipe on the website, you may notice that the word "dressing" is a bullet point and mixed right in with the rest of the ingredients - this is why i didn't notice it. we mixed the ingredients in my dressing flask and tasted it - mmmm. it was delicious. a bit thick, but very very good.

meanwhile, the chicken was moving along nicely. here is the recipe:
Kim's Special Salsa Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 16 oz jar salsa (mild, medium or hot)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub the chicken breasts with the taco seasoning mix. Pour some of the salsa into a 8x8" glass baking dish. Place the chicken in the dish. Cover the chicken with the rest of the salsa. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the salsa and chicken breasts. Cover dish loosely with foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.

when we sat down for dinner, we were talking and it came out that they thought they were coming over for dinner that * I * was going to make. no wonder they didn't seem too excited at first. i reminded ryan that we had talked about making dinner together and he didn't remember (although i have the IM conversation to prove it). miscommunication #3. we laughed and cried about that, as well (much more alcohol). we also talked about how it would be great if we had our own cable access show about...cooking food! which made us think back to wayne's world, the most famous cable access show. in case you missed the recent reunion, here it is:

anyway, the salad ended up being delicious when thrown together. here is the actual recipe formatted so that one does not screw up, which is very possible:
Asparagus & Strawberry-Walnut Salad
Salad Ingredients
1 lb fresh asparagus (tough ends snapped off), cut in 1-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 package (10 oz.) fresh spinach, torn in bite-size pieces
1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved or sliced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Dressing Ingredients
:1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a heavy baking or broiler pan with foil. In a large bowl toss asparagus in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and spread out in pan in a single layer. Roast until crisp-tender, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Meanwhile mix spinach, strawberries and walnuts in a large bowl; whisk together dressing ingredients. Add roasted asparagus and dressing to spinach mixture; toss to coat. Serve immediately.

we actually used pecans instead of walnuts and regina bought sugared pecans, so the salad was very refreshing and sweet. a few weeks later i made this recipe with my parents and it wasn't until i was shopping for the ingredients that i realized just why the salad dressing was so sweet and thick the first time i made it. we had not, in fact, bought raspberry vinegar (a watery-like substance), but raspberry vinagrette (a creamy, dressing-like substance). so basically, we bought salad dressing already made and then added oil and sugar and salt to it. it was double the oil necessary. when i got home from my parents, i noticed the leftover dressing in my fridge - it was a bottle of pink liquid at the bottom and yellow oil on top - the oil that we had added had separated. it was kind of gross. miscommunication (after the fact) #4.

we learned:
1) make sure it's clear who is cooking. if it's a group effort or a pot lock, it should be clear.
2) read the whole recipe a few times before beginning.
3) when writing / submitting a recipe online, make sure it's clear to everyone.
4) vinegar and vinaigrette are NOT the same thing.


  1. oh, what an adventure that was... but everything was pretty damned delicious!

  2. i think moral of the story #4 is my favourite.



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