Tuesday, July 28, 2009

T.T.T.: Things Take Time

Sooooooooooooo . . . . . .
Today's post is a bonus, as I've only committed to one french meal a week. But this one, Carbonnade de Boeuf a la Provencale (or casserole of beef, onions and potatoes), was a breeze to make. Granted, I substituted beef for some of D's venison. Yes, that's right, the vegetarian's husband hunts. Anywho, although it is indeed a breeze to make, it is somewhat time consuming. But not in a painful sort of way. Just the inner immediate gratification junkie in me does not want to slowly saute the onions for 20 minutes on low heat, she wants to sizzle those suckers on high heat within a minute! I silence this crazy western woman, and take the time to enjoy the slowly heating of the onions. I enjoy the process of putting together an incredible and oh so beautiful one dish meal that I can be supremely proud of.
"Put up in a place where it's easy to see
The cryptic admonishment
When you begin to feel how depressingly slowly you climb
It's good to remember that
Things Take Time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I say: "Let them eat crepes!"

My kiddo's are home!!!!! To honor the event I spent the morning making Julia Childs Crepes Fourrees Et Flambees (Crepes stuffed with Orange Butter and Almonds). This was such a delight! I began yesterday with the orange butter, a tad bit tedious, but so worth it and good news, can be made ahead and froze! I love anything that can be put in the freezer for a later date. So there was the rubbing of the sugar on the orange peel, then the peeling the orange off the peel with a veggie peeler, then the fine chopping of the peels with the sugar . . . oh and let's not forget the freshly squeezed orange juice, half a pound of butter, more sugar and some orange liquor just in case this wasn't sinful enough!
This morning it's up early to make up the crepe batter early enough to let it sit in the fridge for two hours before cooking. Time enough to get some dishes done, read and re-read recipe a few times, and to get the filling ready. The filling consists of the orange butter with some almond extract and 1/2 C. "pulverized blanched almonds).
Once the batter is ready, we heat up the pan, and brush it with some canola oil(the vegetarian in me wants nothing to do with meat today so I firmly resist rubbing the pan with a piece of bacon). I ladle in the first of the batter and try to get it to spread over the pan. Once bubbles start forming on the top of the crepe batter, I take my flipper and ease away at the sides, then take the bull by the horns (or pan by the handle) and in a jerking motion manage to flip that crepe up into the air successfully on my first try!!!
My only real downfall with this recipe is that it is supposed to make 18 crepes, I only got 8 out of it. We also did not flambe, as I've been buying just tiny sample sized orange liquor. *Note to self - if I'm to persist in this french cooking idea must always have on stock red wine, white wine, orange liquor, and kirsch*
So that's our Sunday adventure in a nutshell.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm a madwoman on the lookout for kidney's!

It's 10pm July 22 2009, where am I? Trying to find a kidney that's where I am! That sounds awfully creepy right? Well rest assured, this is cow kidney I'm talking about here. And where do you suppose I should find this item at such and hour? Walmart of course!
I awoke the next morning (today) to "D" standing over me with a plate of french toast with maple, strawberries, and a nice big glass of OJ, I do so like him very much sometimes! As he was walking out the bedroom door I sat up and promptly inquired: "How brave are you?", to which he replied, "Not very, why?". A coy smile spread across my face as I announced, "I'm cooking tonight!". His only response to this revelation was an "Oh no", and he left for work.
It's 4:30 in the afternoon, "D" should be home around six, time to begin peeling potatoes for the Gratin de Pommes de Terre a la Dauphinoise (basically potatoes with cheese, or scalloped potatoes as "D" pointed out). I loathe peeling potatoes, they always trigger my eczema, why is this??? Now, the recipe tells me that I'm to thinly slice the potatoes, I'm awful at anything that requires me to handle a knife (or any sharp pointy object really, I don't see me sword fighting anytime soon). It, of course, has to be done, MUST be done, so , I do it. Guess that wasn't too bad and the good news is, that was the worse part! The oven is warm, I butter a dish, rub it with the cut side of a garlic clove, and add the "thinly sliced" potatoes with some half and half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, top with gruyere. I even manage to succeed in NOT over-cheesing (a very difficult task for this cheesehead)! In the oven for 40 minutes. And it was pretty darn good in the end. Definately doing that again!
On to the dish I've been both dreading and anticipating all day: Rognons de Veau en Casserole (sauted beef kidney's in a butter/mustard sauce). The slicing and dicing of the kidney's was very stressful for me. I've not had experience in this before, and it makes me very uneasy. But I'm committed. As I take it out of it's package I soon realize that in the center of the organ there's all this white matter with what looks to me like valves. I don't know why I wasn't, but I was certainly not prepared for THAT! I don't know how I'm supposed to cut around that, or if I am. I choose to do my best, who cares if I mangle it (as I'm sure I did), it's a $3 cut! Like the potatoes, the slicing was the worse part and I'm quite adept at going into auto-pilot for uncomfortable situations. I place half a stick of butter into my copper bottomed pan and let that melt. Too hot! Butter should not brown, well, it's brown folks! Carry on then. Add kidney's and let brown "till stiff but not hard" (I'm sure there's a dirty joke in there somewhere!). This takes about 8 minutes. Then remove from pan, and saute shallots in the butter/kidney juices and add lemon juice and vermouth. After the liquid has boiled off for a while remove from heat. Stir in the already prepared butter with mustard, add kidney's and toss. Voila! Dinner is served . . . and "D" is home.
The results? The potato dish, as already mentioned, was AWE~some! "D" very cautiously tried one piece of kidney, and then another, and then served himself a portion. He insisted I had a courtesy nibble of my own dish. All things considering, I was not repulsed! "D" thought is was, "OK, different, but tasted OK, kinda weird . . . ". Shortly after the table was cleared, I caught "D" making himself a PB sammy, my guess is that he was not entirely satisfied. LOL D'ah well!

And so it begins . . .

July 21 2009

I began last week with a sad lamentation over the lack in my life with no kids (they've been gone for summer break) and no school (I'm a full time student that does not do well without a paper to write). I went on an immediate hobby search, and settled on teaching myself guitar, this hurts and I can now honestly say that although I can akwardly pick out the notes to Ode to Joy, and that I really did "play until my fingers bled, in the summer of '009", it does not provide the immediate fulfillment that I was looking for. This is not to say that I've given up, I still make myself practice everyday. THEN, I was at the bookstore and spotted the book Julie and Julia. I snatched that up right away, and read it in two sittings. During this, I was inspired and hesitant. I love to cook, it needs to be done anyway, so what the hell! This is not to say that I will be going off on an insane Julia Child mission. However, one french meal a week is an open goal I feel I can do. It was time to begin, like RIGHT NOW!

I began that evening with Oeufs en Meurette (pictured above). These were my husbands favorite from the night. And I do admit that eggs with mushrooms on french bread and covered in a red wine sauce, is much, much scrummier (scrumptious + yummy) than even I expected. Not too hard or time consuming either which definately places this dish on the repeat list. The second or main course was made specifically for my husband, "D", because, as the title of this blog suggests, I am a vegetarian, but the rest of my household is not. This proves interesting at the best of times, and I have been gracious enough to adapt and not get squeamish about cookinig for them. Back to the food now! Pot au Feu. Basically, what we have here is beef stew, or to describe it as I overheard "D" describe to his father later that evening, "I think it took alot of time, but it was stew, the best stew I've ever had, but stew." D'ah well. The "best stew I've ever had" was followed by a simplified version of Bavarois a l'orange. This was DELISH! We did not even get a chance to take pictures of it, it was gone so fast. I did, however, manage to snap a picture of the empty bowl! (Perhaps one day I will share this, lol)
Tonight (July 23), I will be making Rognons De Veau En Casserole and Gratin de Pommes de Terre a la Dauphinoise. So stay tuned!