Archive for the ‘Food and Wine’ Category
Okay – less than, what, three days after I said I wouldn’t post for a while, here I am, posting for a while. Talk about will power!
And I guess I can’t completely stay out of the kitchen either. Here are some pics I snapped at our weekly Saturday morning sojourn to the Crescent City Farmers Market. The dinner menu: grilled jumbo lump crab cakes, eggplant pancakes, a creole & heirloom tomato salad, plus a peach cobbler.
Once a blogger, always a blogger I guess.
It was a wonderful trip. Too much to write today (I have lots of laundry to do!) so I’ll just share with you a few photo highlights!
P.S. A special thanks to Tartanscot (of Adventures of Tartanscot Fame), Melissa (from Fancy and Folly) and Amy at Inspiration for Everyday Living. Your tips for getting out & about on my free day in San Francisco were spot on! Great suggestions – I had so much fun. More on this later!!!
So I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen now that we have the new stove. However I’m lately hamstrung by having my car in the shop for the past five weeks – without it to zip to the store for the occasional item, I’ve had to make comprehensive menu plans and do the week’s shopping in one complete pass. This is not easy for me. However, something arrived in my mailbox Saturday morning that made this week’s menu plan a breeze – a free sample edition of a cooking magazine I had never heard of – Cuisine at Home.
At first I almost threw this magazine away – the graphic design is completely unfortunate. It looks so similar to that awful Almost Homemade magazine by Sandra Lee that I just assumed it was filled with muffin recipes that begin with: “First, buy some muffins…”
But Richard flipped through and started enthusiastically calling out dishes (there are no ads in this magazine by the way – only recipes) which all sounded solid enough… But I didn’t realize how good these recipes were untill I started making them.
Sunday afternoon was quickly draining away from me and I needed an entire week’s menu ASAP. I picked out six dinners all from the magazine and have made two so far. Both were delicious – and more importantly taught me new things about cooking!
Monday night: New York Strips with Béarnaise and a side of creamy, parmesan spinach. This is a meal we’ve made a hundred times, but Cuisine at Home offered it with a new technique – borrowed straight ‘from the world’s best steakhouses’. Sear one side of the steaks (enlivened with crushed peppercorns), flip them and send them in your oven-proof skillet to finish off in the oven. Now your hands are free to focus on a side dish (or in my case a glass of nice wine). The steaks were perfect – and lived up to the ‘just like an expensive steakhouse’ claim. We will do this again and again.
Tuesday night’s meal sounded humbler in comparison – Salisbury steaks in a French Onion Sauce. I have to agree with the magazine’s assessment: this dish has gotten a terrible rap from the frozen food industry over the years (and I might add college cafeterias, as well!) But you must trust me on this – the editors have remade this dinner to be fresh and full of new flavors. A fast French Onion soup creates a wonderful simmering sauce that deepens the flavors of this dish. I followed the editors excellent suggestion to serve these wonderful pan steaks over (get this) cheese toast.
But what a cheese toast! Fresh french baguette, sliced diagonally, slathered in melted butter (with a good pinch of paprika and a minced garlic clove stirred in) and then topped with grated gruyere and a bit of parmesan. I thought I had dinner bread down pat – but this treatment pretty much smoked by best efforts from the past.
So, this little magazine whose cover looked a little too cutsie-pie almost got away from me. [Insert well worn aphorism here.] It’s cusine for sure – and I’m a happy new sucker… I mean subscriber!
But back to the food. Meat and Potatoes. Sounds a little too ‘Hungry Man’ for you? Not on your life. Check out this beautiful presentation:
I must say this recipe was not one of my 30 minute Food & Wine wonders, but it wasn’t difficult either. The active time is actually very short – mainly you wait during stages while the (ready made! yay!) pie crust pre-bakes, then the whole meat pie goes into the oven. So enjoy a glass of wine while you cook – the prep for this meal is non-stress.
Bonus, this meal is very inexpensive. Two pounds of chuck steak, two baking potatoes and a refrigerated pie pastry – that’s your whole shopping list. Everything else is in your pantry.
Lelite’s Culianria is understandably proprietary about their recipes, so I won’t go into too much detail about it. Basically you brown the cubed steak and some onions in butter. Butter is key here, because in a bit you will add a little flour which will combine with the butter and thicken into a gravy that is just plain heaven. This is thinned with beef broth and left to simmer, but next time, I’ll add a 1/2 cup (or more) of red wine to the beef broth before the simmer to make it taste more like boeuf bourguignon.
And speaking of tips – check out this fantastic post I found on SteamyKitchen.com Steak: How to Turn Cheap “Choice” Steak into Gucci “Prime” Steak. The secret in a nutshell is a dry marinade of good Kosher salt (Kosher salt is mandatory, I’m afraid) for one hour before cooking, then rinsed and dried thoroughly. This tip is a miracle. Next time I make the pie, I’ll tenderize the chuck steaks this way before cubing and cooking.
P.P.S. Now that dinner’s done I can get back to the rest of my house to-do list:
The recipe called for a Pork LOIN about 2-3 lbs as well as dried figs. Short of running out to the (difficult to park) Whole Foods Uptown, I substituted a (nearly) 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin and a bag of Sun Maid ‘Calimyrna Figs’ that were preserved in a fresh seal type bag at my standard neighborhood grocery store.
I did soak the figs (even though they were fresh and not dried) to make the sweet basting liquid, I just didn’t soak them for long. Only until they were just warmed through.
I knew since I was using the smaller Pork Tenderloin, I would have to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat (not the figs!) and pull it out of the oven earlier than the recipe called for. However, after a 5 1/2 hour traumatic day at the Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles getting my drivers license renewed, I napped off for thirty minutes and didn’t do my 15 minute check that I had planned. So, it probably could’ve come out a little sooner, but no bother, it was still delicious.
Richard was supposed to make the wine reduction sauce from the pan drippings, but he ran off for a minute to check email and it reduced too much… Again, no bother, it was great without it!
Buttery parsley potatoes and fresh lima beans rounded out the meal, along with a French Pinot Noir. This one is a keeper.
P.S. I’ll take a picture next time! Mine was a much prettier presentation, the photo on NYTimes.com doesn’t do it justice at all.
Red Beans and Ricely Yours,