The beautiful tree…The presents…The special dinner…with wonderful champagne…The blood…The emergency room.
It all started well enough. Just a lovely, lazy day…until I went into the kitchen. Actually, that was going okay too.
The soup was finished...
I had made the custard for the floating islands the day before. I made the meringue that morning. The recipe is at the end of this post.
Then I started on the boning of a nice big chicken, which I was going to stuff with the spinach mixture, roll up and tie tightly, then roast it and serve in it slices.
Don’t read this next bit if you’re squeamish.
Unfortunately, I had a run-in with a pair of kitchen scissors. As I was cutting through one of the bones on the chicken, I actually snipped right through my finger – my pinkie on my left hand. I immediately thought, I am NOT going to pull a Jamie, so I took paper towels (lots of them) and stemmed the flow (a bit) and got two bandaids on REALLY tight. I used compression and held it above my heart and it seemed to stop.
I went on with things for a while. The incompletely-boned chicken I decided would become butterflied chicken. I got that into the oven and I simmered the beginnings of the spinach stuffing in cream and called it creamed spinach. I even began the risotto.
Then I realized that the bleeding really wasn’t stopping. I took off the bandaids and it REALLY wasn’t stopping, so I summoned H and said perhaps we needed to make a little trip to the hospital. Right before we left, the chicken came out of the oven and was wrapped tightly in foil.
At the hospital, I learned that there had been many “lacerations” that day, all from preparing Christmas dinner. Someone had stabbed herself drying her knife; someone had had a rather serious run-in with a mandolin; there WAS a person who had fallen off her horse, but that was incidental to Christmas. I was the only one who had done the deed with scissors, so I felt a bit special and happy that no one could criticize my knife skills.
FOUR stitches plus one tetanus shot later...we were on our way home.
(See? I wasn’t faking and we’re talking about a tiny pinkie.)
The kids had heated up what they were supposed to and put the chicken into a hot oven for 10 minutes. Actually, (somehow) it was perfectly cooked.
The best part? The champagne, lots of it, which didn’t seem to hit me as quickly as it usually does.
So, ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas and please don’t become a statistic of careless kitchen deeds, like I was.
Printable recipe here
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 250°F. Butter and sugar (very well) a large soufflé dish (about 8 cups).
Beat whites until frothy on medium speed. Add cream of tartar. Beat on high speed just until soft peaks form. Add the sugar by tablespoons, turning down the speed just as you add the sugar and then returning the mixer to high. Beat until very stiff and glossy.
Put into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Cool on counter. Meringue will fall…a lot. Cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It may be baked early in the day for that night.
3 cups milk (1% is fine)2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup plus 2 tbls. sugar (see note)
2 tsps. vanilla extract
Bring milk and cream just to the boil in a medium saucepan.
Beat yolks and sugar until pale yellow with mixer. SLOWLY, beat ½ cup hot milk and cream mixture into yolks. Keep beating. Slowly, pour in remaining hot milk and cream, whisking all the time. Rinse out saucepan and return mixture to it.
Cook over medium heat, stirring all the time, until custard measures 180°F on a candy thermometer. Strain mixture through sieve into clean bowl. Cool to room temperature and add vanilla extract. Chill for at least an hour. Overnight is fine too.
To serve, cut meringue into fat wedges and place each in shallow bowl. Pour custard around meringue. Serve immediately.
Note: One cup of sugar is a bit too sweet. ¾ cup isn’t quite sweet enough, so this is 2 tablespoons shy of a cup.