With Rishia and Baby Noah we're having a little brunch, an egg dish that bakes up browned and puffy, with cheddar and a few veggies. It's an easy, do-ahead dish, and it is delicious. A little fried pork in the form of Nueske's bacon and Johnsonville sausages (it's not brunch without fried pork!). And the above-mentioned blueberry muffins, I use frozen wild blueberries, they're smaller and tastier than the fresh you can buy right now and work well in baked goods. (I'll post recipes for the egg dish and muffins in comments, below.)
Oh, Baby Noah, he is so adorable, enormous blue eyes, long black eyelashes, and dimples. Happily ate lots of yummy things, explored, snuggled with his mommy, and is at this moment sound asleep in their car, I'm quite sure.
Stace with Nikko and Addison will arrive soon for some more cuteness, and then Nathan will get home from skiing around 5:30. I think I'm making exactly nothing for dinner, we'll go with leftover fish soup, egg bake, blueberry muffins, and whatever else anyone feels like digging up. I might make a salad, but that's not for sure.
They're here! How cute are they? I'm telling you, Cute Little Kid Day! Woo hoo!
Egg dish, excellent on the reheat, was dinner. Except for Nathan, who despises eggs, he had a corn dog. Nathan's asleep, little girls are tucked in with Stacey, I think it's time for John and me to go to bed as well. Such a fun day, full of happy little cuties.
I'm thinking a nice piece of fish for dinner tonight. I have to haul Siggy Roo over to the groomer anyhow, makes it pretty simple to bop into Coastal Seafoods and pick up something nutritious. Oh, I know, fish soup. That sounds delicious. Slightly involved, but I can do the broth portion ahead. It's a Gourmet Cookbook recipe and it rocks (I'll post it below, in comments)! A movie, and home for fish soup, that'll get me back on track. Little walk. Little bath. Oh yeah, I'll be good as new.
Oh my, I am tired this afternoon, whew. Getting through, however, got Sigs to the groomer, visited Coastal Seafoods and picked up some halibut and grouper, whipped through Byerly's to pick up a few staples, then made my way back here to start the soup. And to think through a little brunch for tomorrow - Rishia Zimmern and baby Noah are coming to visit us, yay!
So this soup, Fish Soup with Bread and Rouille. I've made it several times, and it is truly delicious, a big favorite in this household. From Gourmet Cookbook: This is one of the best fish soups we've ever had. It's not at all aggressive; rather, it's light and brothy, and it takes a faintly smoky turn from the grilled bread used to make its croutes. The secret to the croutes, by the way, is a simple one. After the bread is grilled (use a good sourdough), tear it into rough pieces, leaving them craggy, like a coastline. When you bake them, the edges get beautifully crisp, and they are absolutely delicious in the soup. The rusty red sauce called rouille, which is both stirred into the soup and served as a condiment, makes the soup come alive. This recipe is from Melissa Kelly, the chef-owner of Primo, in Rockland, Maine. There are basically three recipes within this one, none of them complicated - the broth, the croute, and the rouille. The broth and rouille can be made the day ahead to save some time. Nathan actually loves this soup, even though he's not a big fish eater, because the broth is so good, especially with the bread. Make this on a weekend day, active time is listed at 1.75 hours, start to finish 3.5 hours. It's definitely worth it.
I bowed out of the movie, so John's going without me. When he gets back we'll have the soup, and in the interim, once I have the broth finished, I may slide into the bedroom for a little nap. Or not. Now that I see what time it is, that would be pretty stupid. Guess I'll hold out for an early bedtime...
Soup = lovely. Bed = now.
Working on a major din tonight - woo hoo! With Stuart Williams (his wife Debbie has other plans, damn!) and Rudy Maxa and Ana Scofield. Possibly Fugaise, possibly something else depending on the timing we can pull off. I don't really care where it is because I know a good time will be had by all. And lots of good food and wine too, yeah baby, it's gonna be awesome. I hope. I shouldn't get so ahead of myself. Slow down, Stephanie.
So, even though I've already showered, I'd better hit the KBs for some sort of workout given that I probably have some serious calorie consumption ahead of me tonight, even if I employ my mindful eating/savoring/moderation type of concepts, ha. (That's me, oops, I mean Pavel, the KBs guru, hoisting a KB I'm quite sure I couldn't even pick up.) Folding laundry will not count as a workout today, right Pavel? Damn, or however you'd say it in Russian (Pavel is Russian; major Russian). I have to say, on a blustery, snowy day like today, the idea of a cozy night out is very appealing. Yay. And kinda Russian too. Dr. Zhivago-esque, I'll have to hunt for caviar on the menu. (I just worked my way from a KB workout to caviar, all in the same paragraph. Again, slow down, Stephanie.)
We are on for Fugaise - yes! - and Debbie can now join us - double yes! I'm hoping duck ravioli is on the menu, we'll see soon enough. Ah, a quick glance at their online menu reveals no duck ravioli, but an interesting rabbit chou farci (stuffed cabbage) that I'll be happy to sample instead. Fuck the duck (oh, you know I couldn't resist that obvious rhyme!), I'm going for the bunny. I'll leave my main course undecided until I arrive. See what we're drinking. See if they've tweaked the menu. An adventure...
Try again! No bunny, instead I (and Stu) opted for trois veal (as he named it, v3) - veal sweetbreads with lentils, apples, and whole grain mustard for a first course (below right); and veal scallopine with winter root ragout, rosemary, and lemon pan sauce garnished with a quick saute of yes, more veal sweetbreads (below left). I apologize to those of you 1 ) opposed to consuming veal, and 2) revolted by sweetbreads. I do. And then comes the (expected) BUT... because it was fucking sublime, the whole thing, it was. With our first course we sipped a 2001 Puligny-Montrachet from LeTrezin vineyard by Marc Colin, plus a Volnay Brouillard Premier Cru by Georges Glantenay et Fils. With our main course we moved on to two more amazing reds, one brought by Stu, a 1996 Sine Qua Non Against the Wall California Red by Elaine & Manfred Frankl, tag line "we made just enough to be dangerous." Rudy brought the other in a Stump-the-Stu wrap concealing the bottle. It turned out to be from New York's Finger Lakes region, a 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Chateau Lafayette Reneau. I hadn't a prayer of figuring it out, of course, but Stu made some fun guesses. Chef Don Saunders sent out a lovely slice of sheeps milk cheese with cherries and port reduction (mmm...), with which we sampled an unusual yet delicious Chateau d'Orignac Pineau Des Charentes. What can I say? I ate too much, drank too much, it wasn't moderate, and I'm very happy anyhow. We had a blast seeing Ana and Rudy (above), Debbie and Stu (left) and I hope we get together with them all again soon. Not a bad way to launch into the weekend... Thank you Fugaise, Chef Saunders, the terrific waitstaff, Stu and Debbie, Rudy and Ana. And John, of course. My kind of night...
Snap back to reality here, my short stint as Picture Person went well this morning. Fourth grade is such a terrific age - they're sharp and funny but still basically polite and interested. Good combination. Despite the ability to serve drinks dressed as a French maid and smoothly pour upside down shots into the mouths of rowdy, drunk frat guys, I'd be as intimidated as hell talking art in front of a group of jaded 8th graders, eek. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there. I'm sure when I was screaming at the KK with Cami, Michelle, Polly, and my other Gamma Phi Beta sorority sisters, I didn't think I could talk art to a group of 4th graders. As if that was even anywhere on my radar - ha! I never guessed I'd be so adaptable. Bring it on!
Speaking of adaptable, I've gotten pretty good at squeezing some variety out of the VERY few ingredients that appeal to all members of this family. Here's the list:
chicken (but only roasted)
I've already outlined the whole roasted chicken/rice thing. Tonight I'm using steak and pasta, by making optional stroganoff. As in, for those who will eat stroganoff, there will be sauce, and for those who don't, plain steak and plain pasta. It works. You'll see on other Wednesdays my attempts to mix those ingredients up. Optional cobb salad, chicken noodle soup, optional steak tacos, etc. So stay tuned... (I'll post recipe for optional stroganoff in comments, below.)
Oh, and if you're interested in the life and times of a current (and adorable and fun, we would happily have been friends with this girl!) Badger, KK bartender, and Gamma Phi Beta sorority sister, check out this photo blog I stumbled on looking for a link to the KK. You really think you want your kids to go to college? Think again... Gulp. Just 'cuz I lived it and loved it doesn't mean I want Nathan to! At least not when I see it in pictures. Go Badgers. Eeek.
Nathan's home now and I'm doing one of my favorite things - making dinner while he does his homework in the kitchen. A would be here doing hers too, but she's got play practice until 6 pm, so she'll join us in a bit. It's actually still (sort of) light out at 5 pm, ah, another sign of impending spring in Minnesota. I may be a l..o..n..g way from my life in Madtown (thank god! When I look at these pictures, and as fun as it was, oh my, thank god...), but I still crave spring the way I did in college. A beer, on the terrace, in the sun? Oh! That sounds so fab. Then again a glass of champagne, in my kitchen, with my family, that's damn fab too. And so much more moderate, ha.
Stroganoff was a hit, both with sauce and without (I guess it's not really stroganoff without sauce, but you know what I mean). I like a simple stroganoff, no bells and whistles, basically the beef, onion, stock, salt and pepper, and sour cream. Delicious. The beef is sliced, salted, and allowed to rest for bit. Then quickly browned and removed to a plate, leaving behind flavorful, crispy drippings in the pan, the key to the yummy sauce. The whole things comes together in about 30 minutes, definitely doable on a weeknight. It's a classic.
And tonight is Nathan's last basketball game of the season, too bad, it's been really fun for him. Several of the boys from baseball are on the team. Nice families, I'm glad for that. The games are at 6 p.m., so the dilemma is always, do we eat early or very late, after the game? Hmmm... I often choose early and make something pretty simple. Tonight, Quick Chicken Gumbo, a recipe I made up about a month ago and really enjoyed. It's another one that uses deli rotisserie chicken, love those crispy, juicy little birds (recipe posted in comments, below).
Last night's beer-fueled McDonald's indulgence kept me from eating breakfast today, which rarely happens - I woke up FULL, ewwwww! Full of McDonald's! Oh well. I have to say, I did enjoy it. Salt city, my kind of food. I'll repent by having some good veggies for lunch. Yay for veggies! And lots of water, I am on the puffy side today. Lovely.
Opted for a quick bath (Neutrogena Rainbath) in lieu of a shower today and ended up taking a quick nap in said bath. Oops! Now I'm rushing to make photocopies of a Navajo rug pattern for the Picture Person art project, and to get Nathan from school. Let out McCoy, rush home so Nathan can do some homework (and I can make the Quick Chicken Gumbo), then back out the door to the game, back here to finish homework and start the painful process of encouraging a 9-year old boy to get ready for bed. Ah, the life of a suburban mommy. Lots of running (and I only have one!). Thank goodness I love it. I really do. Love my boy and seeing him do his thing, hang with his friends, figure out who he is, learn all he's learning. Unbelievably cool.
Whew, we're back. Basketball game was a success, nice end to the season. Stacey came to the game, always great to see her. I got to feel Baby Boom Boom moving around, he is a busy little boy. I pushed on her tummy and he pushed back! So cute! And the gumbo is delicious, a hit with even Nathan (I already knew John liked it from my first go-round a while back). Nathan actually requested it for his lunch tomorrow! Happy to oblige. Not often I can get my boy to polish off green peppers, yay. I still have some reviewing of Native American art to do, better get to it so I don't make a complete ass out of myself in front of a group of 4th graders tomorrow.
Left to right: college roomie Cami, friend Shane, cousin Blake, college boyfriend Tony, my dad, my stepmom's niece Farley
Hilarious, seeing all those faces together. Love it.
Tonight is my monthly Baseball Mom's night out. Nathan has played baseball, coached by his dad Carter, for years now. It is so much fun, seeing everyone at the games, that the moms decided to just carry on post-season and get together at McCoy's to chat and drink beer. Good timing, because our fridge is so packed with tasty leftovers - beef short ribs, tomato gratin, crab cakes, braised kale - that John will have no problem putting together a mini-feast for dinner tonight. (No leftover potatoes, we knocked those last night. Darn.)
Good antioxidant consumption today. I make the effort, I really do, to eat lots of fruit and veggies. I do better some days than others (as in all things, ha). Had lots of wild blueberries in my cereal for breakfast; tomatoes, kale, and a few almonds for lunch. Some tea for a mid-afternoon snack. Good start, we'll see how I carry through for dinner - pizza and beer, most likely? Hey, pizza and beer can't be all bad, it ushered me - and everyone I know! - through college in pretty good shape. My god, does anything taste better than after-bar pizza? Mmmm... Good thing McCoy's has tasty pizza, I think I can tell where my appetite is headed tonight, ha.
Get this – no pizza at McCoy’s with the Baseball Moms! Hey, I did my best to suggest that perhaps we should eat something but noooo – too much talking and beer-drinking to be done, no food required. For me that means it was mighty fine company – there are very few things that keep me from eating dinner. So woo hoo for the Baseball Moms: (me), Jennifer, Bobbi, Beth, and Sonja (and several others that couldn’t make it tonight)!
PS John was only just on his way home when I got here, after 9:00 p.m., so I called him on his cell and asked him to stop at McDonald's to pick up a burger and fries for me. Oh no! NOT moderate! But, oh, did it taste good. Wow. Fuck McDonald's for tasting so good. Sigh. 'Night.
We're not big Super Bowl party people in this house, but I think I will make one snack-y sort of thing, as a nod to the day. Popcorn with curry butter. Sounds a bit odd, but it is very addictive and delicious, and has a pretty color. Oh darn! I forgot to buy some beer, I do love an excuse to drink beer. And here in Minnesota, liquor stores are closed on Sundays, even Super Bowl Sunday. So I'll be beerless with my curry popcorn, maj oversight. A nice red will have to do! I know how to suffer...
I'm also planning another comfort-food dinner - beef short ribs, potatoes of some sort, and braised kale. I'll pretty much be the only one eating the kale, which is a shame - it is both delicious and nutritious. Unless Stace comes for dinner, she'll eat dark leafy greens with me. We have a nice amount of tomato gratin left from dinner last night which will be lovely with eggs for a lunch/brunch sort of thing. Woo hoo for yummy leftovers! To power me through the Christmas bough clean up. I'll post recipes after I nail down the menu more specifically. And oh! Speaking of posting recipes, I now have a listing of recipe links at right, nothing fancy, links take you to the comments section they were originally posted in.
As usual, a project I've put off for weeks took oh, about 30 minutes to complete. The table is pine-bough free, finally, whew. Now I have to tackle the nutcracker collection, that's still out too. That will take at least 10 minutes, how will I manage it? (In case you're worried, the tree has been gone for more than a month...)
Here is a blast of a recipe, simple and delicious, I just made it for myself for brunch. Poached scrambled eggs, I pulled it out of the New York Times magazine a few weeks back. The eggs emerge incredibly tender and puffy, but cooked through (nothing makes me gag faster than runny scrambled eggs, blech; I know, alot of people love runny scrambled eggs, it's just a thing with me). You finish them with a bit of olive oil or melted butter (yep, you guessed it, melted Hope Creamery butter, mmm...). Eat them in a bowl. If you're lucky, you have a side of leftover tomato gratin, and a glass of bubbly, to accompany. Clean up is a snap. (Recipe is in comments, below, and now also listed at right.)
Well, no popcorn, didn't get it done. Too busy going for another great walk (warmer today - I'm telling you, the sun actually throws off some heat, gives one a bit of hope that spring indeed will come...), taking another great bath, and heading right into cooking dinner. No Stacey tonight, darn, but I'm doin' the whole deal anyhow. Short ribs braised with sage, onion, and garlic. I decided to do the potatoes as a sort-of gratin (no cheese or breadcrumbs, but same technique), sliced thin, tossed with butter and garlic, and baked with a bit of chicken stock as the liquid. Since I know I'll have a lovely pan sauce from the braised short ribs, I didn't want cream or cheese in the potatoes. And I have yet to braise the kale, for just myself, I think I'll use a bit of bacon to add some smoke.
So John's watching the Super Bowl, I'm about to join him, and when dinner's out of the oven I'll snap a few pics if everything looks nice. Hope you're having a nice night too.
Mmmm...dinner turned out wonderfully. Fork-tender beef, lightly crisped before serving. Buttery golden potatoes, perfect with the garlicky pan sauce. And bacon-garlic braised kale, bright green, a little crisp, and a perfect complement to the rich beef and potatoes. Poured a Da Vinci 2004 Toscana Chianti, nice. (Recipes posted below and at right.)
Brrrr, it's cold again today! My bones had acclimated to our mid-winter thaw and were mighty surprised when I went for a long walk today (thus the earmuffs over the hat, tres chic, a la Minnesota). Ouch. It was a gorgeous day, however, even if cold. The sun had some heat, and the light was incredible. I snapped a quick pic with my phone, since I didn't have my camera with me. Definitely captured that wintery Minnesota mid-afternoon light, I think.
Chicken is a-roastin', tomato gratin is a-bakin', and rice is a-simmerin'. Dinner'll be on in minutes. (That's supposed to imply some sort of southern accent, if you're wonderin'...I don't know why, it's not a southern meal or anythin', I'm just dorkin' out.) The dinner I intended to make mid-week is on the menu tonight. A cut-up whole chicken, roasted at high heat with some oil and salt until crispy and tender. Rice. And a simple-but-delicious tomato gratin. A kid-friendly meal, but warm and tasty on a cold winter's night. Comfort food, definitely. (Recipes for chicken and tomato gratin, posted below in comments.)
Today won't be a big cooking day, I think John and I will go out tonight. I'll sneak in my camera and see if I can photograph what I order. See if I can remember to photograph what I order is more like it. When I go out I sort of get lost in the chatting, sipping, tasting - senses on fire. There have been a couple of meals - French Laundry in CA and Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenee in Paris - that were so mind-blowing that I could not sleep afterward. Sensory overload. I don't expect to achieve that tonight, although I have had some delicious meals lately here in good ol' Minnesota. Carnitas at Masa, roasted squash at 112 Eatery (really, everything is good there, but just try to get in), duck ravioli at Fugaise, and of course the several interesting courses I wrote about previously at the St. Innocent wine event at Luci Ancora. I hope we'll hit something tasty for tonight - I'd better get on the phone!
Well, options are most certainly limited when you attempt a Friday-night reservation at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Oops. I've got a 5:15 p.m. at Fugaise, we'll see if John will go for it. (Hope so!)
Sigmund's back paws have sores on them from the ice/salt outside. Our friend Marty and I put socks on him today before Marty took him for a walk - didn't work so well, but it sure did look cute (this weekend we have to get Sigs some boots). He's lying here in the living room, in the sun (finally, some sun!), giving a pretty skeptical look to the socks. He didn't mind them a bit, though, so hopefully he'll be as flexible about the boots. When he was younger, John tried to put boots on him, but said they lasted about 5 minutes before Sigs had ripped them off. He's not nearly so perky now, I'd bet they'll work just fine.
Here's the deal. We didn't end up at Fugaise (however, I did politely cancel our reservation; they use the Open Table online reservation service, it's fantastic), we had dinner with our friends Jon and Amy Brown, at the jazz club Rossi's, and we had a blast. John and I were planning a movie first, but as married couples often do, we WAY miscommunicated on the timing of it, so John went without me. And I? I took a long, luxurious bath (Molton Brown Invigorating Suma Ginseng), which tops just about any movie, and it worked out better than fine. And then we met up with Jon and Amy. Laughed our asses off, which we always do with them. Amy is crazy-funny, with a slightly evil sense of humor that I love, and I die laughing every time we get together. And Jon is a riot too and this is very important - a Badger - woo hoo! We had a "good enough" dinner - Jon ordered a lobster bisque which Amy, Jon, and John all concluded had "something wrong with it." Hilarious! With that ringing endorsement, I opted not to try it, ha. We did, however, enjoy a couple of rounds of oysters on the half shell which were delicious. And I had fried shrimp, which seemed like the way to go in a supper club sort of place. Tasty, with some nice garlicky sauteed veggies on the side. Worked for me! So insted of a quiet sort of movie/dinner night, we ended up having a blast and a much more fun way to usher in the weekend. Now, it is officially time for bed...ahhhh...bed...
Tonight's dinner will be a moderation challenge, especially for John...CRAB CAKES. Woo hoo! Or, The Best Crab Cakes, which is either Andrew Zimmern's or Carol Mack's recipe, I'm not sure which. I got it from Andrew, but I think it's Carol's, I believe that's how it worked. Anyhow, they are fantastic (recipe posted in comments, below). I've found that it is very worth a trip to Coastal Seafoods for the lump crabmeat they sell - actually, in a can - for something like $25.00/lb. Quite expensive. But oh my, it makes them damn good. On - what else? - a simple arugula salad. Little corn saute on the side. Pour a nice cold white. Summer in February, that's what it is. We'll see how I do on the slow savor, it'll be my goal. I'll check back in later with photos, recipes, and a progress report. (And by the way, the crab cakes are excellent the next day. Cold, in a sandwich, ooh. Or reheated with another salad. All good.)
Had a lovely cup of tea with my friend Karen this afternoon. I even got a pretty blue sequin from her son Patrick, as a little gift, although I forgot it at their house (I'm sorry Patrick, it was only because I rushed getting out the door, gabbing as usual, to pick up Nathan). Hopefully, he can reclaim it and put it to good use. So CUTE!
Crab cakes = delish. Yep. Good move. Thursday nights John and I eat without the kids and there is no need to waste these (like I said, at $25.00/lb.; which, is a damn good deal, compared to eating out, think of it that way...) on those who do not truly love them. Nathan thinks they're "OK," A wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole. John and I ate heartily - and, by the way, I did remember to slow down and enjoy the one crab cake that I ate. With the arugula, the corn/asparagus saute, and a crisp glass of Pascal Jolibet 2003 Pouille Fume. John just went out for ice cream - he had to have it, his weakness - but I have to say, I can pass on that. At least this time... Moderation, woo hoo! I am soooo smug in my moderation (for a day... This attempt at looking smug ended up looking rather dramatic, I'll have to work on my smugness).