Q: What is the most effort you’ve ever put into making dinner?
A: Once, when trying to impress a date, I attempted to make surf and turf with rice pilaf on an old electric stove that had only 3 functional burners. I went to three stores (and spent most of my grocery budget for the week) to get all the ingredients.
I’d never cooked lobster before, and didn’t think to follow a recipe. I also used a cut of filet minion suitable for a single serving (not two). And I started the rice pilaf 35 minutes before my date was supposed to arrive.
Now rice pilaf takes a long time to cook properly – you really need to mince the onion and use a hot pan — but not too hot — to get the rice consistency just so. You also have to keep an eye on things. If the stock boils too fast, things burn. Too slow, and you get soup. Ideally, I like about 45 minutes to do the dish properly.
So, with minimal counter space, I tried to balance the prep and cooking for three dishes with the goal of having everything finished at the same time.
I was not successful. The steak was fine, the lobster passable, but the pilaf turned into porridge.
Still, two out of three was enough to impress the young lady.