Confessions of Chefzilla, next time will be different: 10 promises I made myself..


My dear fiesta friday friends (FFF):  you ever find yourself in the kitchen planning the main course and while chopping think ” oh, this would be SO much more lovely if I served fresh home-made bread with it ? Do you run to the cupboard,  grab the bread-maker and make a batch – I use the maker to knead the dough for two reasons 1) if I do it I get flour and stuff all over the kitchen….2I) the heating function that cuddles and coddles the dough to make it rise, reminds me of the cell incubators at the National Cancer institute where I spent some happy years playing in the lab with miscellaneous cool ingredients.

Do you start out in the kitchen and then add courses as you go? Are you hopelessly, helplessly optimistic on timing – I always manage but the whole cooking situation is more like a frantic sprint round the kitchen than a relaxed cooking affair.  So this brings me to my promises –  whenever I have guests I find that I become a manic kitchen monster – I become chefzilla, I run around whipping up bread, and then biscuits for coffee with gold sugar sprinkles, because they look cute, and then decide on a batch of hummus to go with the fresh bread and oh while we are at it why not serve some rucola pesto as a tiny little course somewhere in there?

The last batch of guests were so overfed by the time they got to the boeuf that they couldn’t eat any…but I have to say they were VERY game 🙂 so this brings me to my promises after I last had lovely guests over on of all days May the 1st, the day of workers, where everyone gets a day off to relax.

After that experience I vow that

    1. I  will NOT plan a 4 course meal on the morning of the event
    2. I  will NOT plan a 4 course meal and then cook it in 2 and  half hours,  adding courses as I  go just because when I got to the shops I found a cool ingredient  that I can showcase
    3. If I invite guests to stay over I will not suddenly realize I need to tidy the guest room and throw stuff into spare cupboards to make it look tidy 2 hours before they arrive
    4. If I invite someone on a national holiday, I will NOT wait until the morning of that day to plan the menu and then send someone who is not cooking shopping ( in Switzerland this is a real problem as on those days the shops are mostly closed and all that you can find will be the nearest gas station shop, frozen bread and pre-packaged cake mix anyone?)
    5. I will be kind to my guests and not overfeed them
    6. I will continue to have lots of great quality champagne at hand
    7. I will unpack presents when presented (I love presents when they are wrapped, I hate unwrapping them) I love to keep them in their paper for as long as possible -there is so much more promise that way. My lovely guests brought me a beautiful glass vase with a candle inside, I refused to open it as it was so beautifully wrapped, despite their polite beseeching…….I opened it at breakfast and thought – OH what a shame, it would have looked lovely on the table last night
    8. I will not think that making 10 antipasti from scratch is a brilliant idea and won’t take any time at all
    9. I will not at 20 minutes to the hour when they are about to arrive discover I forgot to put aside the gourmet magazine from 2006 with my favourite butter-cake recipe in it and then decide to make chocolate cake, but not find any chocolate on hand ( I have stopped hoarding 80% cocoa chocolate just in case I want to make a cake thinking, not unreasonably that I could always plan ahead……apparently my hoarding self knows my scattered self better than my rational self does… and I will try not to call my guests at 10 to the hour they are meant to arrive at and say nonchalantly – you know if you guys come a bit late that is fine….(they stopped in a nearby town and had a coffee for an hour ….)
    10. However, I will make the cake (Nigella Lawsons Gateau Breton, which she adapted, like so many of her recipes, from books written by others, and she always gives credit too, which is great. Rather like us blogger but more lovely and more famous  :))pictured above, and below,  again BECAUSE it takes about 10 minutes to put together, you only need about 4 ingredients, when you serve it your guests will demand the recipe and then eat the whole thing at once. It goes beautifully with strawberries and a nice glass of slightly sweet dessert wine if you have a bottle handy….

*I know I may as well not bother to make the promises above as like new years resolutions I have made then all before….

**If you are now wondering what I cooked: 1) homemade foccaccia (is it homemade if the dough was kneaded by the dough maker? I don’t know we could vote…) 2) red and yellow peppers grilled cut into slices with pickled onions as an antipasti 3) various vegetable antipasti 4) salad 5) rucola pesto – my own recipe this: olive oil, rucola, toasted almonds, grana padana and the secret amazing ingredient – grated lemon rind, it is amazing trust me with pasta of course 5) boeuf bourguignon + potato gratin 6) gateau breton. Accompanied by Taittinger, a greco di tufo at some point and a lovely spanish red later on…..

*** as I cannot find Nigella’s recipe published by herself on line – I will not publish for copyright reasons, but google will help you, or else buy the book “the domestic goddess” its worth it just for the title

**** fiesta friday – a happening party over at Angies, it is great because it is virtual, no cleaning no washing, no frantic putting burned hands under the tap while trying to chop more stuff….


75 thoughts on “Confessions of Chefzilla, next time will be different: 10 promises I made myself..

  1. Did you have to wash the dough kneader maker thing? Then you made the foccassia. That is my story and I will stick to it! You sound just about as OCD as I am……in the same frenzied state I will also use the crystal and vintage glass and porcelain that I love, none of which can go into the dishwasher. Usually looks like a bus fell over in the kitchen which I then need to clean from top to bottom before the guests are there. I exhaust myself I tell ye. Lovely post. I identify every step of the way!

    • 🙂 whatever your story – OCD – is that what it is? Hm, the need for things to be perfect, the desire to control every last detail so that nothing will spoil the big and beautiful vision you are aspiring to? Oh the vintage porcelain and crystal nothing is more beautiful, my mother has some limoges, I think it is, simple white china with a gold plated edge with minor pattern in it and a small red band around the inside of the gold, I love them, have loved them since i was a child. Still remember when my brother dropped a bowl over a chair bannister decades ago and how angry I was! I love these things too. I can really relate to your comment – like a bus fell over – my kitchen looks exactly like that – despite the OCD I cannot tidy up while I go as too much is happening 🙂

    • Hell Jenn – thanks very much for popping by – and loving the pics – which unlike on most blogging posts are taken as is without elaborate lighting and fiddling. Too much going on for that to happen too! Thanks for stopping by Poli

  2. Fab post Polianthus – I couldn’t stop laughing… it all sounds soooo very familiar! 🙂 I have Nigella’s book on the shelf, so will be making this Gateau Breton over the weekend – thanks!

    • THANKS gather and graze – I do love blogging makes me realize the world is full of mad women in the kitchen – aspiring to make professional stuff in a domestic kitchen set-up……thanks for coming out as well!

    • PS the gateau really is fantastic, it sounds so simple but the density of the end result has even disciplined eaters inhaling it. The only reason I made it was that it looked simple and I had no time at all left over but was not going to not serve a homemade dessert. since then I have made it again and again. would love to hear your thoughts!

      • We loved this gateau Polianthus! Thanks so much for the tip off on how wonderful it is! I can’t tell you how quickly it disappeared over the weekend – always the sign of a winning dish! 🙂

      • Hi Gather and Graze – so glad you gave it a try – it really is deceptively simple isnt it and you wouldnt believe how great it is,but you are right I also watched it vanish off the plate my 2 guests just ate the whole think in one sitting 🙂 thanks so much for the feedback!

  3. When I have guests coming for lunch, I always always plan what to cook and manage my time when to cook it. There was a time that friends are coming for brunch (around 11am) and I was definite that they will stay until night, so I have to cook for brunch, lunch, snack and early dinner. I bought everything I need the day before, but can you believe that I started cooking around 4am? Why? Because I insisted that I can manage eveything, that I didn’t need help. So I did all the slicing stuff and all the preparations – everything, and that includes cleaning up! I don’t want to look a kitchen mess when they arrive so I have to finish cooking everything. I cooked 3 main dish, a cake and another dessert. Phew! After that I also made promises to myself. 😀

    But most importantly, these look really good! I bet you were exhausted after running around in the kitchen! Thanks for brining these today!

    • HI there Jhuls – how funny – I know that too – I dont need any help, nope not me, I can do it all by myself I have a plan…..I love the fact you planned ahead and were sure your friends would stay for the whole day so you invited for 1 meal but cook 15 🙂 – this must be a cultural thing. Many of my non- Swiss friends make jokes about being invited to Swiss households for food, because when you get there you are served 1 dish with a portiion of food on it, and there may or may not be seconds. My iranian friends and italian friends and egyptian friends will overload the table with any amount of food possible just to make sure the guests have enough to eat. An Iranian friend told me ideally there should be so much food that you cannot tell the guests have eaten after they have eaten. In those cases one starts cooking 4 days before. But I too have cooked at 4am..

      • I already had an idea that they will stay until night at home. I am one of those people that prepares too much food that, yes, you will not notice that guests have eaten. Unless I join them eat, because I eat a lot (and I mean A LOT) when we are at the table chatting for hours. 😀

  4. I find I get carried away too, trying to do too much when I have guests. And then I’m a mess and exhausted by the time they come 😀 Great resolutions for me to keep in mind, and your gateau looks amazing — I’m sure your guests were stuffed and happy!

    • Hello seasoned traveller, yes I am also a mess and exhausted when they come, and NOT in the mood to entertain either, I find I can relax into it but its definitely not the best way to approach these things! the gateau was amazing, truly simple but a revelation to the senses, you know when you discover something new its great? its like that for me at least

  5. I love how you shared your resolutions with us (for the kitchen!). I especially like how #6 states that you won’t think it will take little time, not that you won’t be making 10 antipasti from scratch again. And, from a virtual world perspective, feel free to overfeed us as much as you’d like (without overexerting yourself)! Have a wonderful (and relaxing) weekend!! 🙂

    • Hello Kaila – thanks so much for stopping by and reading – do you have any kitchen resolutions?
      I note with horror that you are right, I didn’t say I wouldn’t make 10 antipasti again only that I wouldn’t expect it to be fast…you can see why I am so bad at resolutions 🙂 happy that you are open to being virtually overfed 🙂 happy weekend to you Kaila Poli

      • Hmmm, well I’m a new cook, but if I were to make a kitchen resolution, it would be that I spend more time preparing each meal (rather than rushing half my meal preparations and spending too much time on the other half). I’m currently working on figuring out how my time is best allocated out in the kitchen!

  6. Wonderful post, thank you for bringing to the party! Your post made me laugh so hard and the answer to most of your questions is yes! It can be real chaos at times in the kitchen, but look what came out of yours! It’s gorgeous and looks delicious. I wish I actually had some to eat!

    • HI Birgerbird – thanks very much for coming to visit me and for reading my humble post, I am so glad I made you laugh, it is wonderful to know that somewhere out there someone laughed while reading something I wrote .) you are right I guess – out of chaos comes creation and sometimes good things 🙂 – it was delicious you should try it sometime but make sure you have someone around to feed it to!

  7. Chefzilla…I love it! I’m sure I look exactly the same way when I’m preparing to feed guests. Fantastic vows you’ve made, they gave me quite the chuckle as I can relate to your experiences. Beautiful photos, happy Fiesta Friday! 🙂

    • Hello there sinfully tempting – thanks so much for commenting, I am glad I am not alone, always imagine that everyone else is in a zen state preparing for guests 🙂 have a great FF too Poli

  8. LOL! You are the chefzilla!! I love this post, because now I realize that I am not alone when I entertain!! Maybe we should start a chefzilla club! Oh my, I am going to read your rules before I have friends over this weekend! Thanks for the great laugh 😀

    • HI CHEF Julianna – I am so happy I posted this, I always felt overzealous and manic in the kitchen as I sought to make those perfect dishes to make my guests feel honoured and loved, which often leaves me frazzled, as so often in life one thinks one is alone, but I have discovered through the many answers that there are loads of Chefzillas out there – a club might be good indeed 🙂 – I guess a Chefzilla blog will appear soon !

    • Hello my dear Fae – nope I just stuck to the simple ingredients, perfect butter, free range egg yolks and organic flour and sugar of course – I serve it with a spoon of sour cream and fresh strawberries on the side and find this to be perfection, a bit like a heavier version of a deconstructed shortcake! the fresh fruit goes perfectly with the buttery dough 🙂

    • Hello my dear Cynthia – it is tasty yum, and EASY and doesnt come out of a bag but easy, really easy to make, trust me try it, you will not look back. Just dont look down when you climb on your scales 🙂

  9. He he he! I’ve been guilty of many of the things you listed above, more than I like to admit! Like this one time, where guest had already arrived for a BBQ and we realised we had no coal at home!! I make promises to myself too and then forget all about them! The cake looks amazing though 🙂

    • Hi there – haha the guests arrive for a BBQ but you forgot the coal – hm so you sent your husband out the back door to go buy some? Borrowed some off the neighbour? This reminds me that on the day I had guests the shopping expedition didnt come back fast enough and i ended up begging flour, eggs and carrots off my lovely supportive and superorganised next door neighbour. When I got back home the expedition had arrived with provisions 🙂 –

  10. Front door and full disclosure, very good – congratulations in fact. Most honest. The neighbours, well thankfully they are wonderful people and sort of surrogate additional wise elders so we are fortunate!

  11. This has made me laugh – with you of course, as I too, have been guilty of taking on too much in too short a space of time. Your dinner party sounds lovely though even if your guests had to stop and have a coffee to afford you some extra time – genius!!

  12. Oh, how I would have loved to have been on that guest list!! Your list of vows made me laugh.. Welcome to Fiesta Friday… I’m so happy to see you, and love these promises. I think that we all should follow these wonderful words of wisdom! Thank you so much for sharing… Have a lovely week.. ❤

    • Hello there – if you have been here I likely would have added a couple of courses 🙂 thanks for welcoming me to FF it is fun there, glad the promises were useful. Do you have any you can share – any learnings from big dinner parties you have hosted (or small ones but where you went OTT? I am collecting some feedback from you all 🙂

    • Hi Mimi – well it wasnt funny while I was going through it but I AM so glad it made you laugh 🙂 – thanks for commenting? Anything you want to share on promises you make yourself? Or recommendations? Being a caterer if I remember well, I am sure this kinda thing never happens to you..

      • My mother was the kind to do so much work in the kitchen, mostly at the last minute, and sometimes during dinner still, that she would end up being mad at the rest of us sitting at the table and eating. Then she’d yell at us cause she was slaving away in the kitchen. It was really awful, so I vowed never to be like that. I’m a huge planner, which does come in handy for catering or having your own company. Plan plan plan. I want to have fun at my own party, so that’s my priority! The food’s still good, it’s just that I’ve made most of it ahead of time!

      • Oh very good – Im not like your mum, but I can relate to her being a little bit angry while everyone is having fun she was working away- thanks for that comment its a very good one to remind us that cooking is a labour of love for fun for friends if you end up being angry with your family or friends and resenting them for all the work thats not right!

  13. Hahahahaa! Poli, you sound just like me when I plan dinner parties!! Imagine we planned and cooked one together? The guests would have to eat 7 courses with at least 3 desserts, with lots of good champagne of course! On second thoughts, wouldn’t it be fun…..? 🙂

    • Actually I am sure it would be great fun – wed just need to make sure we had a nice big kitchen, with 2-3 ovens in there and enough space to work in and it would be fine, we could toast one another as we cook! 🙂 Happy Monday

    • oh we had so much food and it was a wonderful evening, and as the guests didnt have to leave we could just go on talking deep into the night 🙂 – overfeeding is loving indeed, I see it the same way…

    • HI Indu 🙂 – it sounds like we have a whole community of overachieving cooks who love to spoil people on our hands 🙂 – try it it really is delicious!

  14. Oh boy, thank you for a frenetic read filled with chuckles! I0 antipasti from scratch the day of? Oooh my! I get carried away when thinking of and planning a menu but I know my limits and always end up limiting my ambitions to what can realistically be accomplished so I have to say I’m in the category of underachieving cooks. Now I’m sad for being so lame when y’all are dynamo chefzillas!

    • Hi there – no you are a wise and clever woman who has learned to harness her ambition and channel it into many different venues, which no doubt makes you both a fabulous hostess on the food side BUT ALSO an unfrazzled welcoming warmhearted individual who doesnt shoo her guests past the messy kitchen when they arrive. I am hopefullly going to take my own advice from now on, but based on my track record I doubt it..

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