For many college students, spring break is a time for travelling the world, tanning in South Beach in Miami or visiting family and friends back in the comforts of home. For a foodie and a homebody such as myself, relaxing and eating were number one and number two, respectively, on my spring break to-do list. During my culinary adventures on the very exotic Long Island, N.Y., I did not have to go any further than my own dining room for the best meals, courtesy of my personal chefs.
Before I begin describing my absolutely delicious dining room dinner, I should give a little bit of background information on my “personal chefs.” My sister, Amanda, and her friend, Denez, both graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She makes the desserts and he makes the main course, but they both help each other out with the preparation and the details. Basically, they’re the culinary power couple equivalent of Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
For my particular meal this evening, they wanted to recreate my mom’s favorite meal — roasted chicken — while keeping everything gluten-free. Dinner began with a spring salad that would put Sweetgreen to shame. The base was simple market greens, but it was topped with pecans, craisins, cucumbers, plum tomatoes and red onions. As for the dressing, it was a creamy honey balsamic that complemented the salad’s overall sweet and savory combination.
The main meal was roasted chicken, but unlike my mom’s basic salt, pepper and olive oil combination, rosemary was added to put a spin on an old favorite. They also used garlic paste — already crushed garlic in a tube — to accompany the rosemary. With such a flavorful protein, they still managed to balance the herby, garlicky chicken with cinnamon-orange glazed carrots. I normally hate cooked carrots, but the slight sweetness from the cinnamon-orange reduction made them absolutely delectable.
They also made steamed broccoli and grilled corn on the cob. The broccoli was cooked perfectly, not too mushy and not too tough with the perfect seasoning of just salt and pepper. As for the corn on the cob, they wrapped the shucked corn in aluminum foil and placed it in the oven. The outcome was somewhere in between grilled corn on the cob and roasted corn. The heat and slight char to the corn brought out its natural sweetness, making it completely unnecessary for butter or any seasonings.
Rounding it out were sauteed red bliss potatoes that can only be described as pure bliss. Whenever I think of potatoes, I always think of either boiled or baked potatoes; both are fine, but nothing too special. After eating these potatoes, however, my outlook has completely changed. Although these potatoes began as the usual boiled potatoes, they were then transferred into another pot and mixed in with Parmesan cheese and rosemary. The marriage of the rosemary roasted chicken and the rosemary in the potatoes was a match made in culinary heaven. Because rosemary is a lighter herb, it did not overpower the rest of the meal and the accompanying sides created a perfectly balanced home-cooked meal.
No meal is ever complete without dessert. On this particular evening, they chose to go back to our quasi-Italian roots and make a dark chocolate affogato. For those who are not in the know, an affogato is ice cream melted by hot coffee. Each person was able to make his or her own affogato with his or her own choice of ice cream flavor. I used my favorite dark chocolate Dove bar, poured hot coffee on top and swirled it around for a decadent dessert drink. This drink is a serious game changer for at home and at Leo’s. As a tip from the chefs, for the best affogato results, use ice cream that doesn’t have anything added into it.
It doesn’t take personal chefs to make a delicious home-cooked, gluten-free meal. I have been repeatedly assured by my chefs that this is something that I could even make, but I’m going to leave the cooking to the experts. However, if you see me at Leo’s running between the ice cream and coffee downstairs, I’m probably just perfecting my affogato.
Christina Wing is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business. GLUTEN FREEDOM appears every other Friday in the guide.