Mise en place is French for “putting in place” (thank you Wikipedia). It is a phrase used in the culinary world, typically referring to the preparation and organization of ingredients. When I am cooking, I always feel so much better when I take the time to prep – to mise en place – my ingredients.
Just this past week we celebrated both my baby girl Clare’s first birthday, which also happens to be her great-grandmother’s birthday. We were enormously blessed to have Grammie, as we are fondly calling Ben’s grandma, visit us and to be here for their birthdays. Typically for birthdays we let the birthday person pick the dinner. Since Clare is only 1, we decided Grammie might make a better dinner choice. She asked for something Italian, which is great for me and my cooking comfort zone. I’m not sure what I would have done if she had said, “You know, I’d love some Thai food.” I’d like to think I would have figured something out, but it probably would have kept me up all night wondering if I could pull it off.
Anyway, long story short, I decided to make stuffed shells. Basically, think lasagna but instead of layers like a cake, the ricotta cheese and sausage/ground beef mix is stuffed into a jumbo noodle shell and then baked in a marinara sauce and covered in more cheese – delicious! But, very time consuming if you don’t plan and mise en place well. Thank goodness for Grammie who is so helpful in the kitchen.