The above photo shows pork chops (from the west-side Farmers Market) that have been sautéed and then finished in the oven and glazed with a white-wine reduction (Côtes de porc poêlées) and paired with Haricots vert au maître d'hôtel and Asparagus vinaigrette. All recipes are from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The only change I made to any of the recipes was to use Dijon mustard instead of dried mustard in the vinaigrette. I used to think that I hated mustard, but it turns out that Dijon in things is good. I still don't want to eat it just spread on a sandwich or sausages or something. That's too much for me. Also, yellow mustard is still yucky. I don't want to even smell it. So there.
Next, we have a Chicken, Mushroom, and Bacon pie from Nigella Express that I have altered. (I should have taken the photo the night before because the crusts didn't collapse on me. Oh, well.) I still haven't caved and bought garlic-infused oil, so I just use olive oil and then throw in garlic a little later. Also, the recipe calls for the pies to be topped with all-butter puff pastry. I don't know where to get anything but Pepperidge Farm in Wichita and that is made with partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. There isn't even any butter in it. So, I just made a 10-inch pâte brisée and got enough dough to top 4 pies. That's another thing. The recipe says it makes 2 individual-serving pies, but the filling is enough for four people (even enough for four Pauls!). Since there are only two of us, I have a really nifty (if I do say so myself) method for leftovers. Instead of baking the pies in ramekins, I put the filling in 2-cup Pyrex containers. It's great because the Pyrex can go in the oven and in the refrigerator or freezer. Plus, they have lids, so the extra two servings can just go into the refrigerator for next time and then I can get them out, replace the lids with pie dough and pop them in the oven. The first meal from the recipe isn't exactly express (even if you don't count making the pie crust yourself--Tyson doesn't do a very good job of cleaning up chicken thighs before they get to the customer) but the second meal is really easy.Evidently, research is currently being conducted on whether we should follow a diet similar to the traditional diets of the homelands of our ancestors. This would be terribly easy for pastry-fanatic me. Britons will put anything in a pie: apples, mincemeat, chicken, steak and kidneys, four-and-twenty blackbirds... It would definitely be more difficult to determine what Paul's ancestral diet ought to be. Spanish/German fusion cuisine, anyone?
According to Foodtimeline.org, sugar cookies originated in Arab cuisine and were introduced to Spain by the Moors. They were then introduced to the rest of Europe. Evidently what we think of as a sugar cookie is most closely related to the English "Jumble," appearing in print as early as 1615. I guess if we ate like our ancestors, both Paul and I would get to eat sugar cookies. Happy thought, indeed! The sugar cookie pictured below is from How to Be a Domestic Goddess and it is shaped like a fleur-de-lis because that is the only cookie cutter I have.
Unfortunately, in the making of the sugar cookies, I broke my bottle of vanilla extract. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, to be exact. Oh, the agony! Thankfully it was only the $10 bottle, not the $19 bottle, and it was in its box (yes, I kept it in its original box) when I dropped it, so glass didn't go everywhere. While it was hemorrhaging its life force on my tile, I was in absolute agony. "No No No NO NOOOO!!!" I wailed. These may be the last baked goods for a while, at least until Paul lifts his embargo on a new bottle and stops insisting I use the cheap stuff instead.
Among other tragedies, WGN is no longer showing Star Trek: The Next Generation on Tuesday nights (they've moved it to midnight and I am not staying up for it), so our TV watching has been diminished even further. We're now watching episodes of the original series on the internet in front of Paul's computer. We're canceling our cable because all we watch together is Castle and Lie to Me and I watch Masterpiece Theatre and Gossip Girl (don't judge me) by myself. Get this: everything we watch on TV we can watch for free on the internet. Plus, we have Netflix and the public library has a pretty respectable movie collection, so I don't think we'll even miss broadcast television, especially since we get our news from the BBC and The New York Times, anyway. Yippee for saving $12 per month!