I did it! Here’s the video, in full: Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Kale
It is kind of long, 26 minutes – but we were cooking in real time! The recipe says 22 minutes, but I don’t think that accounts for chopping the veggies. It’s probably closer to 45 minutes from start to finish, depending on your knife skills.
Visiting the Time, Inc. test kitchens was so much fun! I wish I could spend all day playing in them and testing out new recipes – they have such a cool job! The kitchens are enormous and I could probably fit my whole studio apartment inside.
I actually did most of the food prep, washed and chopped the veggies, and one of the other editors did all the opening of the cans and measured the liquids out into bowls for me. We wheeled them on a trolley into the studio – we did film it in a TV studio, where the counter had a working stove, but I’m pretty sure the stove behind me was just for show.
In some ways, the live shoot was not at all what I expected. Everyone was very nice and welcoming to my mom and me, and Ann Pittman, the executive editor at Cooking Light, introduced herself while I was prepping. She was all ready to just introduce me on the video and then let me take the lead, but since this is kiiiinda my first rodeo, I asked her if she could ask me questions and lead the conversation so I could chime in while cooking, but not lose the rhythm. Luckily, she was happy to do so, because she’s done a lot more of these videos than I have!
Of course, there were some technical difficulties we had to roll with when going live, too:
- I didn’t do the mise en place myself, and didn’t think to look at what was placed where beforehand. That’s how I ended up putting the white wine in the pan instead of the oil! The oil was all the way across the counter, in front of Ann.
- Then the pan was actually too small (again, it was what was set out for us) so looking back, maybe we should’ve only tried 3 of the chicken breasts. But the recipe called for 4, so I did them. Crowding the pan means that the chicken breasts don’t get to brown as nicely, though, and when you’re using something as lean as a boneless skinless chicken breast (it is “Cooking LIGHT,” after all), you want to brown it well to keep in those juices – that’s where the flavor comes from.
- Then I had the pan temperature up pretty high – which you definitely should do when browning! – but the oil spit at me and burned my hand! The tongs weren’t cooperating, either, and the chicken breasts kept sliding out of reach.
- I know they say to never read the comments, but I did notice one person make fun of me for my knife skills! Rude! I was actually trying to be cognizant of how loud the chopping of the carrots would be on the wooden cutting board because they placed a lapel mic right inside my apron. (Leave it to me, who worked in TV, to think of the production values over the chopping technique…) I was purposely moving slowly and quietly so you wouldn’t hear a CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP noise overtake our conversation. I thought it worked okay, but can’t please everyone!
When we went live, it was a little surreal – I’m not afraid of being on camera at all, but I was hyper-aware of coming off as too goofy or talking too much (or too little)! Overall, it definitely didn’t feel as long as it actually took. The CL editors and social media team were really pleased with how it turned out – no major complaints from viewers, and I did appear comfortable and not too awkward on camera, which I guess is the best you can ask for!
After the broadcast, the managing editor, Cindy Hatch, took us around the rest of the test kitchens, studios, and offices for a longer tour. We saw some Coastal Living and Real Simple magazine recipes tested out, and a print ad being photographed using FAKE ice cream! It was real fondant, like bakers use on wedding cakes, but it was fun to see the food stylist grab it with the ice cream scoop and shape it into the perfect-looking mound of ice cream – so perfect that it’ll never melt! There are so many projects going on at once. We got to see the layout of next month’s issue – all about breakfast, which I look forward to picking up, and met the EIC and some more of the writing staff. I should be getting a little swag package soon of Cooking Light cookbooks and an apron, so I’ll have more new recipes to test out – maybe I’ll even film them in my kitchen!
My mom and I had an awesome trip to Birmingham. It was a pretty quick turnaround – arrived Sunday evening and left Tuesday afternoon – but it was so nice to just get to hang out with my mom! Usually, the most one-on-one time we get together is to hop in the car with her to run an errand, if I’m home for a whole weekend.
We ate at some fantastic restaurants and had lots of wine – and a couple of extra drinks, because we weren’t driving! It’s vacation! I was really lucky to get to take my mom with me. She taught me all of my foundational knowledge in the kitchen and my love for cooking definitely comes from her. She takes care of everyone in the whole family, too, and doesn’t get enough time for herself, so it was really special just to take a girls’ trip and hang out. Playing slot machines while drinking Bloody Marys in the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas and eating ice cream in our hotel room while watching the Golden Globes was just the restorative time I think we both needed. Love you, mom!