Another Weekend cooking fest
It's another weekend of cooking around here as I adjust to life with a 50+ hour work week.
What on earth am I doing you ask? Well, I accepted an offer that I just couldn't turn down. Renee and her business partner offered me the opportunity to come on board and run create a cook.
Me. The girl who was laid off 4 years ago from over a decade in IT in the financial sector decided to have a midlife career crisis and pursue her first love for feeding people went to culinary school and fell in love with teaching and now, now, I am running a cooking school. Life is a crazy ride people, take what it throws at you and run with it.
What started out as just a cooking school for kids is now rapidly expanding to offer adult classes and adult cooking parties, and soon we may just be building out a third kitchen. It's been a heck of a curve in the last month going from the calm life of planning recipes and teaching a few classes a week to full throttle since September 1st, but I am loving EVERY long CRAZY minute of it.
The hours mean it is a little tough to cook as much as I used to during the week so I have been making the most of the weekends to make life a little easier and get some Bento Box fodder for lunches during the week. On top of the usual roasting of some chicken breasts for husbands lunch, Saturday found us working on the following three dishes...all at once. One can never have too many Le Creuset pots is my mantra.
We made a trip to Captain Marden's to pick up halibut steak for a recipe from Molly Stevens All About Braising. Cut a bunch of leeks (quantity is irrelevant as some leeks have 2 inches of white and some have 6 or 8, in the end, we had about 3 cups of sliced leek) in half inch, half moons and saute quickly in some butter, coating them all over, add a bunch of chopped thyme and 4 - 5 cloves of minced garlic, stir a few times, add about 3/4 of white wine, bring it to a boil and then cover it with some parchment paper and a lid and toss it in a 300F oven. Stir after 20 minutes, back in the oven and then after an additional 20 minutes check that the leeks are nice and soft. Season well with salt and pepper. I held the dish at this point since I had to run to work from 6-7. In the end when I got back home I turned the oven back on, heated the leeks on the stove and then proceeded. Salt and pepper some halibut steak and lay it on top of the bed of leeks, pour in 1/2 a cup of cream and put the parchment back on, no lid this time and place the whole thing back in the oven for oh say, 20 more minutes or until the fish is nicely done and flakes off the bone. Put the fish steaks on a warmed plate, remove the skin and bone and tent to keep them warm. Place the pan with the leeks and cream on the stove and over medium heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and allow the sauce to thicken just a bit. Serve the fish on a bed of the creamy leeks and we had it with a side of fried potato slices that were fresh dug Red Pontiacs from our farmer in Maine at Mt. Nebo orchard.
The apple pie I made on Sunday with the apples from Mt. Nebo orchard. Last weekend Mom and SD picked tons of apples ( we like Macs and Cortland) and brought them when I went to meet her in New Hampshire for the closing of Maine for the winter items. Saturday I made my standard pie crust and it rested all day in the fridge. This morning I rolled it out and peeled and tossed the apple slices with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg with some lemon juice. I dumped it all in the pie case and tossed on some dots of unsalted butter and slapped a lid on it. Husband was just standing over my shoulder while I took the photo above saying.."Can I eat yet, Can I, Is it done, Please?"
I'm making him wait until after dinner. I'm mean like that.
Also on Saturday we went over to John Dewar in Wellesey and I picked up some flanken cut beef short ribs. A perusal of Molly Stevens All About Braising (have you bought this book yet? Shame on you if you haven't!) had me browning them all over to a nice mahogany colour and removing them to rest. In the same pan, brown some onions and carrots for aromatics. The pan was deglazed with a goodly amount of Porter and then some veal stock (homemade from my pals at Citrio) toss in a few sprigs of rosemary from the garden and a few bay leaves. On went a nice parchment lid and an inverted lid of foil and the Le Creuset lid and this hit the 300F oven for 3 hours. After the 3 hours were up, I let the ribs cool and tossed them in the fridge overnight. Braises taste so much better on day 2 and the rest lets you remove the boatloads of fat that will have solidified on the top of the pan. Tonight we'll warm them back up in the braising liquid and then toss them in a roasting pan. Then they get glazed with maple syrup that has had a rosemary infusion by heating the syrup and steeping a few sprigs of rosemary in it for an hour. This will have a fire under the broiler to make the glaze all sticky and bubbly. I don't know why I never thought of maple syrup and rosemary together before, the taste is amazing and woody and piney with the sweet maple on top. So good. I'll probably mash up some more of those Red Pontiacs tonight as a side.
While the ribs and the leeks were braising in the oven the neighborhood must have smelled pretty strange as I was also making a giant batch of Pho chicken stock for dinner one night next week. I skinned a whole chicken and cut it into pieces, put them in a pot covered it in water and added an onion and a huge chunk of ginger that I grilled until they were nice and brown. I tossed some smashed garlic, cloves and black peppercorns in a hot skillet and stirred them around until they were fragrant. These all went in a tea steeper and plunged in next to the chicken. 4 peeled shallots, 2 pieces of lemongrass smashed with the back of my knife, some fish sauce and rock sugar went in and the whole thing simmered for around 2 hours. The chicken was all pulled off the bone while the puppy sat directly ON MY FEET willing me to please drop some here. I drained the stock, discarded all the aromatics and put the chicken back in the stock. It's now hanging out in the fridge upstairs. Again, the fat will have risen and solidified so it can be discarded before we have Pho one night next week.
Right now we are photographing a ton of Fiesta pieces and putting them up on ebay for Mom, there might even be a fire later in the kitchen fireplace and a Manhattan before dinner. Life doesn't get much better than that.