I am sure I'm not alone in having a veritable kitchen gadget graveyard at home (read a very amusing article on the subject by one of the funniest food writers I know - I so see myself there, having almost all the gadets mentioned in the piece and, sadly, many more)... pasta machine, bread maker, juicer, kitchen-aid, deep fryer and friends all seemed like a good idea when I bought them, but haven't been taken out of what looks like their final resting place in a very long time. And that's just the big machines, don't even mention the melon baller, chocolate dipping fork, cherry pitter, lemon segment (!) squeezer, pineapple peeler/corer, corn cob forks and olive spoons!
There are many more gadgets that would come in handy every once in a while, but I have learnt from past mistakes and (with a lot of will-power very unlike myself) resisted buying a steamer, rice cooker, bain marie, Mohnquetsche,
meat grinder, spice mill, ... I am actually about to purchase one single apparatus that apparently will do all that and much more for me, but more on that later!
And then there are occasions where I take one of the skeletons out of the cupboard, use them to good effect and it all seems so obvious. Suddenly I remember why I bought them in the first place, but those occasions are rare to say the least!
At my last catering before Henrik's birth I had one such moment. In the course of an evening, the host AND various guests who ventured into the kitchen all blurted out: "Oh look at that. A Foreman Grill. I didn't think anybody actually bought these." (suppressing a: how stupid do you have to be to...) In my defense, it was an impulse buy, I was literally standing at the check-out at the supermarket, the guy in front had one on the conveyor belt and it seemed like such a great tool for quick weekday dinners. The "lean mean fat-grilling machine" would surely solve all my problems of resorting to take-away or ending up with no more than a piece of buttered toast after a long day at work. So I ran to the appliances aisle, grabbed one, hasted back to the check-out and, breathless, started packing my bags... and while I was doing so, I already hated myself for being so weak, but I was too embarrassed to admit it in front a long queue of other customers. Back home, I used the contraption that same night (in a sad and failed attempt to convince my husband that it was money well spent) and never touched it again - a fate the Foreman Grill shares with many other gadgets. There's nothing wrong with them, but once confined to the cupboard, they never find their way back out again.
But then I made these lovely and simple chicken, sage & prosciutto bites for said party and they turned out to be a keeper. They're easily assembled in advance, I can fry a decent batch of thirty-odd pieces at one time without having to pay much attention to them and they're a real crowd pleaser. I always find that party goers are thankful for any canapé that's served warm, maybe because it feels a bit more like proper food or maybe because they think it must be fresher than anything cold? Or does a hot bite give them the illusion of being able to handle their alcohol intake better? We'll never know.
So the Foreman* might not be something I can be bothered to take out to fry a piece of salmon on a weeknight, but it will get a good dusting every time I throw (or do the catering for) a cocktail party... the possibilities are endless!
* For those of you who, like me, are ignorant of most sporting legends if they don't feature in their Trivial Pursuit set, George Foreman is a former boxing world champion. He also embarrassed himself as a family man, by naming all his five sons George as "otherwise it gets really difficult to remember"... (other sources claim that he "wants them to know who their father is", hardly an improvement over his first statement!)
Prosciutto & sage chicken skewers with red pepper aioli
(yields 40 skewers)
1 red Romano pepper
150 g good quality mayonnaise
1 clove garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
4 chicken breasts
10 slices prosciutto crudo (Parma or serrano ham)
10 large sage leaves
6 slices ciabatta bread
First, prepare the aioli.
Place the pepper under a hot grill until the skin starts to burn and throw blisters. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Remove and immediately place in a large bowl, cover tightly with cling film. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Peel the skin off, remove the seeds and membranes and place the remaining flesh in a blender, together with the mayonnaise, lemon juice and crushed garlic. Blitz until you have a smooth purée, season to taste. Cool until ready to serve.
Clean the chicken breast fillets thoroughly, then cut into 10 bite-sized pieces each. Cut the sage leaves and prosciutto slices in quarters. Wrap each piece of chicken with a sage leaf and a piece of prosciutto, very tightly. Cut the ciabatta into bit-sized chunks.
When ready to serve, heat a double-faced electric grill (like this one) and fry the chicken bites for 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the prosciutto is crispy. Alternatively, you can grill them in your oven or fry them in a pan with a little oil, then drain on some paper towels.
Serve on skewers with a piece of ciabatta, present the aioli on the side for dipping.