Culinary curve balls can be challenging and I would never wish for situations that would add stress to a client’s event, but I sometimes…secretly enjoy the challenges associated with inevitable and unanticipated circumstances. These situations force me to find creative solutions and tests my skills under pressure.
A few weeks ago, on a Friday night, at about six o’clock, I received a request by e-mail asking if I could lead a cooking class for children, the next day. After a brief e-mail exchange with the client, I accepted the assignment. I looked forward to cooking and welcomed the opportunity to spend time with kids. Because the class was hosted at a gym, my meal had to be healthy, kid friendly and prepared and served in an hour. I shopped for the ingredients and printed the menus. The next morning, at 9 o’clock, I answered an e-mail sent from the women who enlisted my services. In my response, I asked if she had standard kitchen equipment and utensils or should I plan to bring my own? Her response was that there wasn’t a stove or an oven, just a sink and microwave. She added that most people bring hot plates or create recipes that can be prepared in a microwave or offer dished that can be served at room temperature. Clearly I will inventory equipment in advance, next time. Meanwhile, I had two hours to alter the menu for to fit the situation. I was not comfortable cooking my original menu of quiche and crepes in a microwave.
Happy to have time on the subway ride to come up with a contingency plan, I kept referring to it as my quickfire challenge, in the spirit of Top Chef. Stumped, I rolled my suitcase of ingredients and extra bag of groceries to the destination (the Midtown gym offers creative activities for children while their moms’ exercise.) I stopped in the closest deli and walked around for a good seven minutes waiting for inspiration to strike… and finally it did. I bought whole wheat wraps, Nila Wafers, thin gingersnap cookies, cream cheese and salsa. Instead of quiche, I made quiche wraps, which were basically scrambled eggs with cheese wrapped in a tortilla with salsa. As a substitute for crepes, we had miniature fruit pizzas. Cookie crusts, were covered with sweetened cream cheese, topped with an assortment of fresh berries. My revised menu turned out to be more kid friendly, offered a better hands on experience and was very well received by my young culinary stars. I didn’t realize the word pizza ignites such an enthusiastic response from children. When the quietest girl led the pack in making a smiley face of fruit on her hand held dessert, I knew I had succeeded in teaching them to cook something they’d want to try again at home.
Photo- by my iPhone