Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beef Carbonnade, Shirred Eggs, Knitting, Crocheting

This is Beef Carbonnade from Williams-Sonoma's Mastering Beef & Veal. The wine is a cabernet sauvignon and that strange green stuff is chard. The chard, the beef, and the dinner roll all came from Saturday's farmers' market. I spent a good chunk of time Sunday making Beef Carbonnade, which is in the Beouf Bourguignon chapter (not much success in the past with that, so I thought one of the variations would be better). Paul didn't want to spend the money for the KC Strips, so I had to make do with a "braising" cut which meant that I had to fix something that was meant more for cold weather than for tornado weather (I think we've been under a tornado watch all this week). Anyway, Beef Carbonnade is cooked in beef stock and beer (we used Guinness Extra Stout mostly because it was cheap) rather than cheap red wine like the Bourguignon.

Beef Carbonnade was dinner Sunday along with the chard I mentioned earlier. Yet another vegetable disaster to add to my list. I'd never had chard before and thought I'd be adventurous. Unfortunately, it tastes like beets. No wonder only 10% of Americans get the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables daily.

Dinner last night was 1/2 price burgers from Spangles (local burger chain, have to have burgers on Memorial Day) and Beef Carbonnade was on the menu again tonight (just without the icky chard).

Lunch today was a desperate attempt to avoid both salad and a trip to the grocery store, so I pulled off a miraculous feat and cooked what I could find: Shirred Eggs and Braised Celery.

Shirred Eggs
Oil those two ramekins and break an egg into each one. Said egg is then topped with 1 teaspoon butter, then salt and pepper, then, gloriously, 1 tablespoon heavy cream before being placed into a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes (I say 17). When my eggs come out of the oven, I top them with the green parts of scallions (also hanging around in my fridge). Today my Shirred Eggs were paired with Braised Celery.

Now, you might be thinking "ew" but braised celery (which is basically 1/2 c beef stock and 2t dry vermouth brought to a boil, then add 2 cut-up celery stalks, salt, pepper, and assorted dried herbs and boil until liquid is totally reduced) is not all that bad. I mean, it still tastes like celery but it also tastes like beef stock and vermouth. My version is a very quick rendition of the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Me looking for things to cook:

I finished the first glove last night while watching Legally Blonde with Paul who thought it was absolutely hilarious which, I, in turn, thought was absolutely hilarious since Paul's usual movie choices star Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger and occasionally Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, or Robert DeNiro.

I wonder how long it will be before I finish the second glove...

You may remember that I started a crocheted hat a while back. I tore it out several times and yesterday went back to the website to find that there was another pattern from another blog that I decided to try instead. I hope it works out this time!
Paul and I also went to get tickets for Pirates of Penzance today. It seems to me as though the Wichita Grand Opera is the red-headed step-child of the Wichita Performing Arts Center. More on that after the show Saturday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Farmers' Market, Steak Salad, and Strawberries and Cream

Yesterday was the long-awaited visit to the Old Town Farmers' Market. While they did have more than rhubarb, it was mostly old hippies selling ugly clothing, ugly crochet blankets, and nasty patchouli incense. I don't intend to be mean, but I was a little disappointed. On the bright side, there was one (and only one) vegetable stall selling very local produce and the next tent over was the Prayrie Ranch stall. They're from El Dorado (not the mythical golden city, unfortunately, but the quasi-suburb of Wichita) and sell free-range poultry and grass-fed beef. I couldn't believe how many stalls there were and we only bought things at three of them! Maybe it was the rain keeping the farmers away. So, here is the list of what we bought:
Eye of Round
Chicken Breasts

In other culinary news, I finally fixed the steak salad to use up some spinach and it's a good thing I didn't wait any longer because the spinach was starting to rot. That's probably not what you wanted to hear, but I'm into portraying my cooking as it really is, so be happy in knowing that the majority of the spinach was a-ok.

I basically just wilted the spinach in olive oil with some garlic and salt and topped it with blanched asparagus, lemon juice, the leftover steak, and some grated parmesan. It was ok. I think Paul liked it more than I did. He also hasn't been eating salad for lunch every day for the past week.

Dessert, on the other hand, was heavenly (and Wimbledonian). Strawberries and cream! This was just two cups of strawberries sliced, mixed with 1t sugar, and topped with 3T heavy cream. Sooo good!

I also have a serious need to bake. For some reason, I bought the special Sex and the City issue of Entertainment Weekly when I ran in to the Dillon's at 37th and Woodlawn to get organic Heinz for Paul's tater tots Friday night. I mean, I have seen every single episode of the show, but I have very mixed feelings about the movie. In the episode guide to season three, there is a little blurb about Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes, which were featured in one of the episodes. I have been fascinated for years by how they make the swirl in their icing. I have decided to attempt my own icing swirls and even bought an offset spatula yesterday. I found the Magnolia Bakery cupcake recipe at 52 Cupcakes and I'd like to know if they're worth the 20-minute wait.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More from Nigella Express

Ham Steaks with Parsley from Nigella Express and Mascarpone Peas

There were going to be two dinners with this post but what I was going to make didn't sound like what I wanted, so we went to Sonic for Grilled Cheese and Tater Tots instead. Writing that makes me wish I had cooked...

The ham steaks were tasty (they have a honey/pinot grigio vinegar sauce) although as Paul so delicately puts it, "It's hard to f--- up a ham steak." I was quite proud of the peas, though, because I made up the recipe from a Nigella suggestion. Here goes:

Mascarpone Peas
(serves 2)

1. Cover 1 cup frozen peas, 1/2 clove minced garlic and a sprinkling of kosher salt with water and bring to a boil.
2. After peas have come to a boil reduce the heat to keep peas warm until they are needed.
3. When ready to serve, drain the peas and mix 1 oz. of mascarpone, 1T parmigiano-reggiano, and freshly ground pepper with them.
4. Eat your vegetables!

I once again attempted Carottes Vichy, but they were burnt yet again. I only took my eyes off them for a minute! I blame Jacques...

In other food news, Paul and I had Knolla's Pizza for lunch (Knolla's East is just 3 miles from our apartment). Paul was craving NY-style pizza and I didn't want a salad for lunch (I've been having a balsamic vinaigrette salad for lunch this week) since we were supposed to have one for dinner. Knolla's hit the spot. Yet again, we are impressed by the quality and value of food in Wichita. We did carry-out because Paul insisted we couldn't miss today's episode of All My Children because he had to see who was going to get shot.

So, we were total couch potatoes and watched All My Children and then went to a 2 p.m. showing of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I think we're both too cheap to pay the $7.75 to see a nighttime showing). It was an enjoyable popcorn-watching summer movie (although we're too cheap for popcorn and I had to settle for 40-cent bottled water from the vending machines outside the Wal-Mart). It wasn't as good (of course) as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade but I would definitely say it was better than that second one (see I can't even remember the name of it oh yeah Temple of Doom which was only memorable for "Anything Goes" in Chinese). Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the only Indiana Jones I've actually seen in the theater and I saw it in the Imax screening room. That was pretty cool.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Paul and I have finally moved to Wichita and I have returned to cooking dinner (every night so far!). We're still getting to know the city and trying to find places to put all of our stuff. So far, we like it here but we miss everybody back in Norman and Oklahoma City. I have spoken to my parents and grandma and Erika on the telephone, though, which has made me very happy.

Everything is pretty cheap here. I think the food at the organic market was cheaper than the SuperTarget in Norman. I'm looking forward to the big farmers' market Saturday because they supposedly not only have produce but beef and poultry as well. We tried going to the Tuesday farmers' market, but all they had was rhubarb.

I don't have a driver's license yet (the one place to get one in the entire city of Wichita is on the other side of town) but I do have a library card. (You can tell what I think is important!) Tuesday I checked out Nigella Express which I've really been wanting to check out since I've become addicted to the show which I have to watch on YouTube because we have no cable and since I absolutely adore How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I really like reading the blurbs that come before the recipes. Oh and I happen to have Nigella Lawson's Living Kitchen measuring cups and spoons. I get a kick every time I watch her show because "I have those measuring cups!"

I also really like Giada de Laurentiis (Paul- I don't care if she has too many teeth)and the pasta below happens to be covered in her Salsa All'Amatriciana (from Everyday Italian) with some asparagus roasted in olive oil and then topped with kosher salt and lemon juice.

Below is the first recipe I've tried from Nigella Express: Steak Slice with Lemon and Thyme. The side dish for this was blanched asparagus rolled around in the sauce made with the steak. We were also supposed to have Carottes Vichy from Jacques Pepin's Simple and Healthy Cooking, but they did not turn out so well (think horribly burnt matchstick carrots). At least the steak and asparagus turned out really well and we have half of it left over for steak salads.

For dessert, I chopped up some strawberries and then drizzled them with lemon juice and let them sit and then topped them with homemade whipped cream (1/2 c heavy cream, 2t sugar, vanilla). This was so wonderfully yummy, especially since I've been wanting strawberries for weeks. I'm even planning on embroidering a Strawberries and Cream apron.

Back to the subject of Nigella. I just find her wonderfully charming and amusing. Here's a clip from the Nigella Express TV show. She's making Caramel Croissant Pudding, which I can't make because croissants are never allowed to go stale at our house.

That's all for now. I am planning on getting back to my gloves. I only have to finish the pinkie on the first one and I will be finished. Then I have to start the second glove...