Mise en place: A term thrown around kitchens, cooking shows, and cooking literature that refers to the practice of organizing ingredients, tools, and space prior to preparing a dish.
Anthony Bourdain introduced me to this term in Kitchen Confidential…
(Have you read this? If not, you must! You will never eat out again…but that’s ok, you can come over and I will cook for you.)
…and I think it’s only appropriate to engage in a little mise en place here in the form of a few disclaimers:
1. I cook by instinct.
I come from a mediumish line of instinctive cooks. Every year my mother pulls out my grandmother’s recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing. Written in her own hand, it calls for “two nice sized onions”. And every year, without fail, she who is made to follow the recipe mutters and sighs, “Two nice sized onions…” Because really, what makes an onion a “nice sized onion”? Could Grandma Alice not be bothered to measure out how much onion she needed to create her stuffing? In a word: No. And neither can I.
I read cookbooks like most people read novels: cover to cover. I like to pull different ideas, techniques, and tips and roll them over in my head until I have an idea of how I should approach a dish. Then, I follow my instincts to execute it.
I’m not a chef and I don’t claim to be. As you are reading through my posts, I will try my best to give exact quantities and instructions. But if a “nice sized” slips out here and there, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2. I hate recipes.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like being told what to do. Furthermore, I am a fierce editor. There are few things that bring me more joy than someone else’s work and a red pen. Put both of these traits together and you have a recipe-resistant renegade.
Even Anthony Bourdain is not safe:
3. I’m snobby.
I admit this. I think the best meals start with the best ingredients: fresh, natural, and whole.
(I will eat your Butterball turkey and boxed mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, but don’t think I’m not dying inside.)
With that being said, yes, there will be butter. There will be salt. There will be – gasp – bacon (uncured bacon, but bacon nonetheless)!
Until next time!