Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Devil Wears a White Apron

Yesterday I wanted nothing more than to put a period at the end of a long work week. In preparation for our Oscar party tomorrow, I thought watching The Departed with the boyfriend while drinking a bottle of wine would be the perfect way to spend the evening.

After picking up the DVD, and since I was in the neighborhood, I figured I would go to the library. I haven’t had a card for years, but now that our book club is a regular occurrence I figure I can save a few bucks and keep the pressure off a few shelves around here.

Wine and books are fine and all, but it also hit me we would want something to eat. The great thing about living in Mimico Village is that you can find anything you want in a variety of great little shops. We have a truly kick ass butcher.

As I made selections from their homemade sausages and burgers, my meat mongers and I got to talking. They are a lovely couple who always want to know how you’re cooking the meat, if you need recipe suggestions and offer ideas on what wine to serve with it. We started to say what our favorite cookbooks are and Ms. Monger mentioned French Laundry.

“I have that” I said. It is FANTASTIC, if a little fattening. She asked if I had ever made the steak and I said no. She was about half way through the recipe when I ordered the meat.

Mr. Monger went off to cut steaks for me. “Better make it two” I said after him. As he came back he asked how many people were coming for dinner. I explained that it was just the two of us. As he plopped a carcass before me, I asked if one could go in the freezer. I like a big piece of meat, but these were a pound and a half each and as thick my head.

Being a man who likes a fancy omelet and keeping regular, I had shallots and prunes already at home. A well stocked pantry had everything else I needed. So much for my low key night at home. Out came Alice (my special occasion china), the silver (thanks Mom and Auntie Karen – it gets put to good use) and a nice bottle of wine.

The steak, after searing, is basically poached in clarified butter. It is complimented by a bordelaise sauce and accompanied by pommes Anna. I think we consumed a stick of butter each.

I was also recently given the pie recipe to beat all pie recipes – I will share that with you now. If you need any more details on the steak just let me know and I will tell you too how to have a heart attack in 5 minutes or less.

The pie filing: 6 ripe abate pears (peeled, cored and thinly sliced), 1 tbsp lemon juice, ¾ c sugar, 1/3 c flour, ¼ c chopped crystallized ginger (if you can’t find it in the store, make it yourself. It is surprisingly easy), the zest of two lemons and 2 tbsp of butter.

Make your pastry as usual and prepare the bottom of the crust. Mix the pears and lemon juice. Mix everything else together (except the butter) and then fold in the pears. Pour it into the shell and dot with the butter. Add your top crust and brush with egg and a little water.

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes then reduce to 375 for another 40 minutes. YUMMY!!!

It may not have been healthy eating, but it was good…………

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Fella

This past weekend saw my brother turn 40! I know I am not far behind, but I am glad he went first. My sister is happier than a pig in shit the she is the youngest but my brother can still keep her in place with a well placed Charlie horse.

My brave sister-in-law opened her home to 60+ people (and a dog) for a surprise birthday party. She also undertook the task of feeding them all. I nearly fall apart with 12 people over for dinner and would surely develop carpal tunnel syndrome if I had to pipe salmon mousse into tartlet shells for 60. Oh my.

No one went hungry or was without libations of one sort or the other. There were lots of laughs and even a few tears. Amazingly there were none from our own resident waterworks department, my sister. Most of them flowed when my brother was given his ‘big’ gift. He is fascinated with WWII and the allied invasion of Europe. So this fall, my brother, father, nephew and uncle are taking a 10 day tour of England, Belgium and France.

I was disappointed not to be asked to join the merry troupe, but I guess space was limited. The other brother-in-law was asked (and he declined). I am not saying, I am just saying.

As I went to sign his card, I found I didn’t have enough space to say ‘thanks’ for all my brother had done for me in the 37 years I have known him. His name alone saved me from several butt kickins’ in high school. He occasionally let me beat him in a fight - those days are long gone. He had me in his wedding party – I still insist I did not cry, it was hot in the church and I was sweating. He (not alone of course) has given me the BEST niece and nephew ever. With the help of my sister, he shamed me into learning how to drive standard. He introduced me to the gym (much to the chagrin of my mother as I proceeded to consume any and all chicken, tuna or eggs that came into the house). Lending me Betty – may she rest in pieces. And as he is a master story teller, has given me more laughs and giggles than I can possibly remember.

From the bottom of my heart, “Thank you” Mark for being a great brother, person, role model and friend. I look forward to another 40 years of equally fond memories.