Five-star dining on a two-burner stove

The Casita’s stove has only two burners, but Georges is a master at making it operate like a full-service appliance. Here are his tips for how to enjoy fine dining from a minimalist kitchen.

First, start with the freshest ingredients.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ingredients. When selecting fish, for example, price is often the worst indicator of freshness. Check the eyes. If they’re protruding, the fish is fresh. If they’re recessed, not so much.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables try to go with what’s seasonal. There’s nothing better than fresh green peas in season. That’s when they have the most flavor; they positively pop in your mouth.

 

 

Second, get a good grill.

G will often place the rectangular grill across the front burner and then cook several things at once on it. Slices of bread to warm on the left and right ends, for example, while he sautées his meat in the middle. Or he might do three different items at the same time – grill the bread on one side, sauté the meat or fish in the middle, and grill sliced potatoes (already boiled, or microwaved if we’ve electricity) on the other side.

This leaves the back burner free to boil the potatoes, grill the vegetables, cook the pasta or create the sauce.

Third, have the right tools.

Tops on G’s priority list is sharp knives. He carries a sharpening stone with him wherever we go, literally. He loves to sharpen knives (“it’s a skill my grandfather taught me”) and he’s not shy about offering to sharpen yours if he thinks they’re insufficiently edged.

Other mandatory tools: A dark-colored easy-to-clean cutting board that doesn’t harm your knives (e.g. not a glass one); a strong, good-quality set of tongs; a soft, heat-resistant, one-piece silicone spatula (wooden handles rot); a large pan with a lid (ours is about 12 inches in diameter) so that you can cook more than one thing at a time in it.

Fourth, have key spices at hand.

We carry Les Epices de Georges, of course. He makes up a big batch once or twice a year; it’s the only time he measures anything. Also salt and pepper. A bit of tabasco or a good salsa always rounds out our supplies.

Fifth, think sauce.

This tip comes from the saucier. Being a chef wasn’t enough to get G his green card to work legally in the U.S. years ago, but his specialty was: composing sauces.

G is best known for his beurre blanc. It goes on just about anything – meat, fish chicken or vegetables – and transforms the ordinary into a rich, tart and flavorful culinary delight.

Here’s a rough outline of how G makes this sauce, keeping in mind that he measures nothing: Start with fresh lemon juice and white wine, simmer until it reduces to about half. Add some heavy cream. Boil. Then slice butter into it. Add salt and tabasco (or white pepper) to taste.

At the last, sprinkle your favorite fresh herb on top. (He usually goes with fresh basil or cilantro.)

Finally, light the candles.

Nothing tastes better than a leisurely dinner under the stars by flickering candlelight.

 

And don’t forget the wine.

15 thoughts on “Five-star dining on a two-burner stove

  1. Very helpful!!!! Thanks. Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cecilia Boone May 7, 2018 — 12:31 pm

    Oh my gosh, we miss you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! We miss you guys, too. But we’re drinking plenty of Kentucky bourbon to soothe the soul.

      Like

  3. Very useful. I’ll take every cooking tip from Georges that he has time to offer and am getting up from my chair now to sharpen my knives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds good. And don’t forget the salt!

      Like

  4. Ooooh, might have a job for Georges when he gets here – Charlie used to keep my knives sharp, since he, like Georges, loved cooking and knew how to do things right! Since that is not one of my strengths, I just end up buying new knives when someone complains lol!! Loved your post – everything looked so yummy❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Line ‘em up. When G is done with them, John will be able shave with them!

      Like

  5. 1) what kind of grill exactly? brand, etc. some I’ve seen are not heavy cast-iron. 2) you forgot to mention salt. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Any kind of grill capable of distributing heat evenly will work. A thin grill won’t work because things will burn on it. And yes “Salt! Salt!”

      Like

  6. Ka Cotter and LL Cotter April 24, 2018 — 1:26 pm

    amazing! What time is dinner? We are ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Anytime you arrive, we will make a special campsite dinner for you both…. 😍

      Like

  7. Is that a cast-iron grill in your picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a cast-iron grill. 😊

      Like

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