Strawberry Smoothie

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My sister Laura taught me this one ( as I write about food, I’m noticing that my sister Laura has had a bit of influence with my culinary techniques ). Very quick, very yummy, very easy:

– a cuppa milk
– frozen strawberries
– some sugah

Stick this baby in a blender until smooth and Smoothie-like. Add milk or strawberries as needed.

To this simplicity, I’ve added ( due to husband research )

– one egg
– a big scoop of whey
– some branched-chain amino acids

What you get is yum. A belly filling yum. A moreish yum that keeps on keeping on.

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I’m Salivating

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and just like a dog owned by Pavlov, I see steak == my mouth waters with anticipation. On this American holiday, we are having steak-frites.

Tomorrow will be spent running around town collecting random turkey parts to assemble for our Thanksgiving Day-after-after dinner. But more on that later …

Shush, Don’t Tell Vivace

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Vivace is a coffee uber go-to place in Seattle that delivers caffeinated orgasm in each cup. It was my favorite beanage when I had one of them fancy pants espresso makers. Oh they can cut-a-rug when it comes to absolute coffee nirvana line dancing.

We’ve had a few offerings from Seattle visitors as they stay with us and work or enjoy the farm. I relieved myself of a mighty fine grinder and sold the super-smack-fabulous espresso machine as part of some yuppie, simplification nonsense before our move to France. Do I regret it? He’ll yeshiva ( okay that was an iPhone word suggestion. “hell yeah” was what I was trying to say. Yet somehow “he’ll yeshiva” slipped in like buttah ). Orthodox Jewish school aside, ( how exactly did I get here? ), what we are left with is

– amazing coffee beans
– no grinder
– no panty-dropping espresso machine

So I turn to The Modernist Cuisine to help find an answer.

Let me tell you what I do have

– a French coffee press
– a mortar and pestle

From this, I do this:
– grind them beans. Grind them like a Prince song in the eighties.
– scoop a few scoops in the press
– add hot, bubbly water
– swell the beans for a minute
– gently stir
– let it brew for four minutes
– then depress the plunger

A lovely coffee that offends no one. It’s perfect. It’s not the perfection the Vivace gurus were searching for, but not unlike a profitable side effect of a treatment for hypertension, you have yourself here a lovely cup of Joe ( or Dirk as the case may be ).

‘N’ Sauce

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If need be, I will ‘n’ sauce damn near anything. Today’s ‘n’ sauce was brought upon by a pork roast that came out a little dryer than expected due to a dodgy meat thermometer ( ” 179, Lo, 139, ‘f’ if I know, 152, the temperature of your meat is idiopathetic, good luck to you! “… my meat thermometer said to me directly ). So I let the roast chillax over night hoping tomorrow would bring brighter ideas.

I then ‘n’ sauced it. Pork ‘n’ sauce came out very nice with all ingredients behaving like a tender, tasty, palatable meal.

You can ‘n’ sauce in minutes like this:

– sweat some onions in butter
– add some pizazz ( thyme or pan juices or bay )
– add a tablespoon or so of flour
– stir a bit to warm and de-flour-taste the flour ( einkorn works! )
– add a splash of wine to deglaze
– add some stock ( cube okay )
– stir, salt, pepper until thickened a bit
– add your load and let simmer on the stove or stick it in an oven.

Check it out, you’ll know when it’s ready. It’ll start to look like something you’ve ordered at Denny’s on a dark and drunkened night … but it will taste sooo fine

Eggs of Some Description

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Most mornings we have eggs for breakfast. Usually served with rye bread fried in lard or duck fat. Omelets, fried, soft, hard, we keep running through the many ways eggs can be served at breakfast.

These are “quiche” eggs. Take some eggs, whip them up, add creme fraiche ( or sour cream might work if you’re in America ) and some salt and pepper. In a gentle, butter filled pan, slowly warm the eggs until they are nice and fluffy. If you start with bacon bits ( lardons ), then add the egg mixture you will have yourself some Quiche Lorraine eggs. Oh and the crowd will go wild. “What an amazing cook you are!” they’ll exclaim. Then you will all break into song.
Quiche Lorraine, darling, Quiche Lorraine. Thank you for [beat] all the joy and pain.

Wayne Newton – K.D.Lang, separated at birth. True fact.

Tuna Casserole for Lunch

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And in the foreground, the beginnings of cream cheese brownies.

Now we are most definitely a pasta-free zone. Due to an amazingly flavorful beef cheek dish, I needed a quick out to enjoy the flavor while simultaneously toning down the cheekage. Standby macaroni ( or in French “coquillettes” ). If I must use noodles, I make them with Einkorn and loads of eggs. Long-story-short, there are coquillettes in this dish. I feel a bit like a slacker, but sometimes you need to react with the raw ingredients you’ve been handed. While you wait for your meat to defrost, you look around and see butter, cream, milk, dash of einkorn, canned tuna and macaroni which all add up to tuna casserole.

– make a cream sauce and make it taste yummy
– add tuna, double taste the flavor
– add pasta
– stick in the oven for twenty minutes until it settles in and makes friends

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Should you use fresh, farm eggs for your cream cheese brownies, you must quickly crack into its own cup to check things out. Because Kevin the Cockerel keeps his girls topped up, should they sit a bit too long on their daily gem, things could move along more quickly than you ‘d want in your brownies.

I love brownies because they use lots of eggs, minimal flour and deep dark chocolate. I’m hoping the cream cheese version will entice my husband who holds brownies in contempt along with flour-less chocolate cake.

Quick! They’re Hungry!

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I have tried a few times to get a plated version of “chicken curry,” by the time we get organized and I get my camera and things are less noisy, it looks like this. “More of everything, please,” they say. Then it is gone.

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This is actually not chicken curry, but rather Butter Chicken of some description. Madame Jaffrey calls it “Chicken with tomato sauce and butter.”. I’m guessing there is some shorter, hip cool Bollywood slang for this, but mo matter, it tastes very good.

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The heart and soul if this dish is quickly made in the blender using the Indian Food Trifecta: onion, garlic and ginger with a splash of familiar friends cinnamon, cardamom and clove.
The whole thing can be easily done while you work on your cassoulet, play with your kids and have a sip or two of wine. There is nothing hard about this dish. I added a few splashes of cream to give it that Indian Take-Out look we used to enjoy when we lived in a city that had take-out places.

I’m sure there is a Patak equivalent of this dish, but there is no comparison. Donchoo even think of opening a jar when you can spend the same effort on a Madhur Jaffrey recipe and come out miles and miles ahead.

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Cassoulet Day Two, One Hour In

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With three more hours of cooking to go, we couldn’t wait. Lunch was approaching fast and I had no alternate plans other than rye bread with “brique” ( I suppose it could have been worse. The Brique de Vache is quite tasty and incredibly filling ).

When I first experienced cassoulet, it was rolled on its very own rolling cart and served to my husband. He ate as much as he could ( cassoulet is a bit moreish ), but still there was plenty leftover. There’s not a bean dish I know that makes an entrance with such pizazz.

It’s not like I’ve been slaving over this dish in the kitchen. It takes care of itself. All cassoulet needs is time. The “hour in” tasting was good, but 1) a little fatty 2) needs more time to become friends ( I’d say the participants are still in the drinks phase )

That fat was scooped out a bit and the temperature lowered for the remaining two or three hours.

It’s not a lot of work, but might seem a bit overkill for French Beans-N-Weenies. But the absolute warm you feel when you eat it is no match, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same f-in sport as anything produced by Heinz.

Cassoulet Cassoulate

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I literally said this to my sister Laura ( the one who taught me the cream sauce ):
” Hey, yeah, I’ll be over soon, I’m just going to wax my car real quick.”

She hung up the phone and probably arranged and set off on a trip to the Oregon Coast, bought some saltwater taffy, ate a bowl of chowder and then returned with enough time to watch the evening news because she knew that I’d be a while.

This is Cassoulet. You think that with all the prebrowning, the pre-confit-ing and skipping the dried beans step by using canned that you could start at four and serve at six-thirty, but sadly for you, you are wrong. Even with your shortcuts, the dish needs an overnight stay in the cool fridge of love that makes flavor happen. You need time ( and a dash of thyme as it so happens ).

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When you live in Southwest France, duck is plentiful and pork is cheap. This sets the stage for Cassoulet.

Don’t worry, in the meantime we fed the troops a Butter Chicken I’ve done in the past and quickly pulled together. And it is a small coincidence that Butter Chicken and Cassoulet are but a nub of ginger away from being equally belly warming. Both require this onion-garlic paste dealio.

Oh gooby, googie sausage, how I love thee especially when you are layered with your beany ducky friends.

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After your layers of yum, cover with beans and let it gurgle and bubble for an hour.

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Then another hour or so at a lower heat. Then, overnight in the fridge. Then cook the next day for an hour. And THEN … Taste and see if it’s ready. Cassoulet is so worth the time and effort. Don’t be fooled by the tin. Live a little, Make it from scratch.