Those who've been reading verbatim since the Old Days (read: before social media, when blogging was all there was) know that I generally have terrible experiences with appliances, large or small—I'm not sure whether there were more posts here about my washer/dryer tribulations or my toaster-of-the-month phase!
When we bought this house, we bought a Viking range, with 4 burners on top plus a grill between them, and a giant oven. It was love at first sight. It turned out that we used the grill only twice; it was a nightmare to clean, with really sharp metal slats that had to come out and go back in. It just wasn't worth it, so the grill section became kind of a big trivet. We also had a separate griddle that could sit across two burners. The exhaust hood was also a bear to keep clean (and trust me, I am not particularly fastidious). But man, that thing could cook. But twice the oven door hinges gave out, and they were very pricey to replace—and the second time, I was told that Viking no longer makes them anymore, so I'd be in trouble if it happened again. And then one year on the Monday before Thanksgiving (I was expecting 26 guests!), I decided to run the oven self-cleaner and blew the fuse. I called the place where I got it, and they said that they no longer sell Viking, so they no longer service them either. In a panic, I called Yale Appliance, and they told me that they would have to order a new thermostat, which would not be there in time. I think I might have burst into tears; the next thing I knew, the customer service guy guy had called all his repairmen and, sure enough, one of them happened to have the right thermostat on his truck. He came and installed it the next day. I think I might have hugged him. So recently, when the door hinges started feeling kind of shaky again, and then the oven started calibrating itself to whatever temperature it damn well felt like using that day, I decided that 17 years was the maximum age this particular Viking was going to reach.
I went straight to Yale since they had been so good to me, and they said they no longer even sell Viking anymore because it is so hard to get parts, and so expensive. So just before this past Thanksgiving, I got a Thermador, and I love it. I went for 6 burners and got a new exhaust hood, too. And there was a special deal where I got a free dishwasher too! Which was convenient because my old KitchenAid was on its last legs. Every time I used it I had to carefully replace the cracked rubber gasket in the track—and the dishes weren't getting all that clean, frankly. The new one is a Thermador but apparently made by Bosch. It is fine, and the dishes come out spotless, but I don't love it for three reasons: (1) The regular cycle takes 2½ hours! I know that's how all the new models are, but sheesh. (2) All the controls are hidden, so you know it's on because there's a blue light at the bottom, but there's no way to tell how much time is left and no way to tell if the contents are clean or dirty when it's closed (our KitchenAid had a "clean" indicator light when the cycle finished). (3) All the dividers and pegs are in the wrong positions for my plates, bowls, and cups! Nothing fits the way I'd like it. But it was free and it does its job. And the range! Is heaven. I highly recommend Yale to any of my local readers.
I feel like I have a bunch of recipes I've neglected to share with you, but I can't think of what they are, so I'll just share this one I made last night. It comes from Food52, and it turned out great. ("Pastalaya" is meant to signify jambalaya made with pasta instead of rice.)
1 tablespoon olive oil (You might need a little more if you use turkey sausage as I did.)
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds (I used Wellshire turkey andouille, which comes in a ¾-pound package.)
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces (I bumped this up to 1 pound to make up for the andouille.)
1 cup finely diced onion
¾ cups finely diced celery
¾ cups finely diced green red bell pepper (Anyone else hate green bell pepper?)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 to 1½ cup water (I used 2 cups; see below.)
10 ounces dried pasta (I used rigatoni.)
¾ pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
Thinly sliced scallion, for garnish
In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced sausage and sauté until it begins to render some of its fat. Add the chicken and sauté until the sausage and chicken begin to brown a bit. Stir in the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, paprika, and Italian seasoning and sauté until the vegetables soften. Add the crushed tomatoes, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add 1 cup water, bring to a low boil, and stir in the pasta. The pasta should take about 12 minutes to cook, so at the 7-minute mark, add the shrimp and continue to simmer until the pasta is al dente and the shrimp is just cooked through. If you need to loosen the dish up a bit, add ½ cup of water during the last few minutes. I added the shrimp after 7 minutes, but after another 5 minutes, the pasta was not nearly done. The pasta wasn't really submerged in the liquid and I had to keep stirring to keep it under—I wonder whether you're supposed to partially cover the pan during this part too? Anyhow, I added the ½ cup of water and cooked the pasta for a few minutes more, then fished out the shrimp, added yet another ½ cup of water, and continued to cook until the pasta was done. Then I stirred the shrimp back in. It turned out fine and was really delicious.
Serve in bowls, garnished with the scallion.