Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steak (and eggs) Diane!



In a fit of inspiration, perhaps recalling late nights in college when a platter of steak and eggs seemed the only thing to do at 3 o'clock in the morning after a kegger, Baby and I recently made a classic Steak Diane preparation with a more assured sense of maturity--it was at least for lunch, but it was our own invention when we threw a fried egg on top of both steaks. Divine! But do clear your schedule: although this was so delicious, it was heavy and afterwards we slept for the entire day having hungrily consumed both of the steaks! In all fairness to us, we had both experienced a very busy, tiring week.

We sauteed the mushrooms in butter and bas Armagnac and then set it afire! Fantastic. The fairly simple recipe is found here. The Armagnac we used subbed for the suggested brandy, a package of chopped mushrooms resulted in easy work and of course, a few filet mignon steaks are essential. Make this anytime as the spirits move you and do enjoy!




Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dinner is Served!




When entertaining, I find that simple elegance is the backbone to any dinner. I love these cherry brandy roses! I composed this wonderful menu of dishes that I'd made before, including an appetizer, soup, and salad, but also I endeavored to prepare a new entree that I'd never made before; a classic Steak Diane. Dessert followed these courses, of course. Read on!

Dinner
ON THE COUCH
Mini pre-made Quiche Lorraine courtesy of FreshDirect.com but the proper recipe for Julia Child's whole quiche is shown in this video.
Serve with a bottle of fizzy Spanish cava. Other various mixed concoctions made with cava found here and here

TO THE TABLE
White Gazpacho
Caesar Salad
Steak Diane*
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

*We were too stuffed already to make the steak. Read about the ensuing morning here.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grasshopper Pie




Should you find yourself still in the spirit to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, or need some pampering in its aftermath, I would like to suggest the slightly boozy Grasshopper Mousse! Perhaps McDonald's is no longer serving its recently reclaimed Shamrock Shake! Whatever the sitch, this creamy, 70's-elegant dessert is a delight anytime. I had written about Grasshopper Mousse before, prepared for one of my Derby parties back in 2013, but I felt the recipe should stand on its own as well in this particular post. It really is fantastic and so easy to prepare.

A heartfelt thanks to Leah Tinari of the sorely lamented Fatta Cuckoo restaurant in Manhattan who supplied me with her mother's treasured cocktail party staple recipe. Do enjoy!

Grasshopper Mousse
Ingredients
2 large boxes of vanilla pudding mix
6 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups creme de menthe
1/2 cup creme de cacao
Package of Oreo cookies

Method
Whip pudding and heavy cream together and gradually add both liqueurs. Whip until mousse-like and desired consistency is reached. Give it a taste and add a tblsp or two more of liquor for a stronger flavor. Place in a container and chill. Crush Oreo cookies in food processor.

Assemble
Place some cookies crumbs in bottom of martini glass. Add grasshopper mousse, top with whipped cream and sprinkle on more cookie crumbs.




Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cassoulet 2015



It hardly seems like another year could have possibly passed in which I celebrate the anniversary of my blog, but it has! As usual, I found a different cassoulet recipe to make in proud honor of my first post. Epicurious.com was responsible for this one, employing a recipe from the March 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine. While it was tasty certainly, it wasn't exactly among my favorite instructions of the other more hearty, traditional French classic preparations that I've made over the years. I subbed pork loin for pork shoulder (it was just easier--and cheaper!) and as much as some readers may cringe, I used a couple of cans of white beans instead of taking the time to let dried beans soak overnight. Instead of the suggested pork sausage, I rounded up some D'Artagnan wild boar sausage as well as a rabbit-pork-ginger blend to great effect. A delight! However you personalize your cassoulet , I do find it absolutely essential to let the dish rest, refrigerated for a day or two, before slowly reheating and serving to your guests. Make the crumb topping (a great touch) just before this step and do enjoy!

Thanks to folks for reading eveningswithpeter.com!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tip O' the Mornin' to Ya--Corn Bread



I tried making a Jiffy yellow cake mix something or other for one of my parent's or sibling's birthdays, I seem to recall, when I was about five years old. It was a ghastly affair. When pulled out of the oven and sliced open, I heard  the food angels cry as the innards revealed a loose, fibrous stretchy seaweed of sorts. I have no earthly idea what I did--but needless, I suppose to say, it was revolting, even to my ill-equipped five year old palate.

I've come a long way since then (more than a short trip, I assure you) but I still have a fond appreciation for the Jiffy mixes and the simple recipes found on the back of the boxes. Recently, on a whim, I picked up a Jiffy corn bread muffin mix at the grocery store and it all came out just fine--no, more than fine, good!

Now, the tip? Add a can of creamed corn to the mix! Isn't that absolutely rich? Also, blend a tablespoon or so of honey into softened butter and slather it with abandon onto your corn bread, newly arrived, fresh and hot out of the oven.

Here's the Nordic Ware Citrus Blossom Williams-Sonoma loaf pan I used for the corn bread. How handsome!


Do enjoy!



Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Recipe for Disaster



As Julia Child once stated so eloquently (if I may paraphrase here), cooking is one disaster after another. The other night, I made Doro Wat, the classic Ethiopian chicken stew made with bone-in chicken (such as wings or thighs). Suffice to say, sometimes when experimenting with something new, it may be prudent to try it for yourself first. Luckily, I did just that. Some recipes are fixable when under the radar of guests; some are further outfitted to personal taste; others are merely poorly conceived and despite your instincts, you wish you could just throw the end result on the floor if only you didn't have to clean it up! This recipe was of the poorly conceived category. The sauce was comprised of chicken stock, garlic, olive oil, red onions, ginger, lime juice, fragrant berbere spice (shown, a blend of paprika, onion, fenugreek, fenugreek leaf, salt, chiles, shallots, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, allspice, and cloves) and half-sharp Hungarian paprika. As good as that sounds, the sauce never thickened, despite the fact that I added a few teaspoons of flour into the mix, in my vilely thwarted attempts. I think I would just add cooked rice or pureed white beans into the sauce to thicken it up.

After scouring the web, I decided on a recipe for injera flat bread (a thin, spongy bread, near to crepes but without eggs), which is meant as a substitute for utensils for this stew or any number of Ethiopian dishes, but may be used just for dipping into the sauces as well. I went through about six pieces of ruined dough until the heat of the pan, the batter and I agreed. That, at least, was quite good when all was said and done. The recipe I used says the bread is "cooked through when bubbles appear all over the top." I found that to be a little vague. As I persevered, I discovered the injera needs to curl up at the edges and is done when after shaking the non-stick pan (I went through two non-stick pans before finding the correct one) slightly, the bread slips out. It may surprise you that I found the whole thing to be hilarious in the midst of my disastrous solitude.

I would use the spices again in other poultry or fish dishes and I will make this particular recipe again in the hope of making it better, unsatisfied as I am in my restless, culinary heart.

Whatever kitchen predicament you may sometimes find yourself intimately involved in, to further paraphrase Julia Child, whether the lettuce has frozen or the cat has fallen into the stew, your guests need never be informed. Remember the power of suggestion! Now, set forth and do enjoy!

Thanks to daringgourmet.com for the photo.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Saucy Chicken with Pumpkin Mole Sauce



I do keep a loose flurry of recipes that I have amassed over the years. This one, in my old binder, was apparently printed in 2004 and lay there, in wait. I'm so glad I riffled through the binder and found this old chestnut for chicken with pumpkin mole sauce! I love chicken mole as you might know and was delighted with this new version. As often happens, I find there are delicious recipes to be discovered, waiting to be tailored to one's personal taste and even dietary restrictions. I, for example, am someone who does not like it spicy hot and I have an aversion to tomatoes (or rather they do to me). I substituted white cannellini beans for substance and the squeezes of fresh lime wedges made up for the acidity. My version was a smaller set-up designed for two and was all quite wonderful. The recipe is below with personal reflections and time-saving suggestions in italics. The link is here and thanks to Bon Appetit, epicurious.com and chef Rick Bayless for the recipe!

Chicken with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce
Serves 2
Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3-inch-diameter slice white onion (1/2 inch thick), separated into rings
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I used a garlic ginger paste that I had on hand, to great effect! About 2 teaspoons)
1 5x3x1/2-inch-thick slice country white bread, crust trimmed (I used a single onion brioche roll, not trimmed, just easier)
3/4 cup drained canned diced tomatoes (insert cannellini beans here)
3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 canned chipotle chiles (2! Only 2!)
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1/3 cup whipping cream (I used fat-free sour cream, thank you)
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
8 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (I used 1 huge chicken breast, bone-in)
Fresh cilantro sprigs (nope)
Lime wedges (yes!)
Method 
(Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees)
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and (garlic and ginger paste). Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor, leaving oil in pot. Add bread to processor (reserve pot). Add tomatoes (or beans) to processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Transfer tomato puree (or beans) to small bowl (do not clean processor).
Place chipotle in processor. Add 1/2 cup broth and (1 ) chipotle chile. Puree until smooth.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to reserved pot. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chile puree; cook until puree thickens and darkens, stirring often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add tomato (or bean) puree. Simmer until thick, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin and 3 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until mole thickens and reduces to 3 1/3 cups, about 30 minutes. Put chicken in oven for 25 minutes. Whisk in (sour cream) and sugar. Season to taste with salt.
Puree 2 tablespoons oil and (1 ) chipotle chile in small processor.
Cook chicken for 20 minutes more, adding sauce and covering. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, cover slipped to the side to cool, before serving. Spritz with lime. Dress with chicken-flavored rice!
The link to the actual recipe is here. Thank you epicurious.com for the recipe!