Burgers On The Grill

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I know I don’t need to tell you that it’s Burger time.  I’m very pleased that, at last, I dusted off my grill and got back to what this blog was about. We sold beef burgers to our customers and I thought I should try out our burgers on the BBQ.  I’ve only ever tasted them in a hot pan.   So we got the grill going to see how our burgers held up.DSC_0891 Someone gave us a classic Weber Grill without legs.  The grill is in great condition.  I’m not sure what happened to the legs.  Sometimes what happened in ‘Nam, stays in ‘Nam.  Brent found some bricks with rounded tops that held it steady.  I think I shall call our new BBQ “Timmy.”

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I’m used to lighting the charcoal with a chimney deal.  A bit of paper in the bottom and charcoal on the top.  Things get hot and then action pours onto the scene.  Instead, we lit it with a fire starter and made a little pile.DSC_0873

That seemed to do the trick.DSC_0882

After the burgers were about ready, we popped the cheese on.  Yes, yes, “American Cheese.”  We like the irony of living in the land of cheese and using milk product spread in plastic.  We also enjoy Comte, so don’t you worry.DSC_0892

Buns toasted.DSC_0899

Potatoes baked.DSC_0905

And an experimental pepper with Cantal Jeune and duck fat melted inside.DSC_0901

Peppers were okay.  Still need a bit of work.

The burgers were great.  I loved the charcoal touch to the flavor.  Below is Kevin’s burger.  Plenty of sun and bun.  Not a fan of the bun, he did the best he could with the French “Maxi Bun ”  by filling in with lettuce and condiments.DSC_0904

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Pavlova

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It’s very hot right now and the fruit is abundant.  Time for Pavlova!  Pavlova is my FAVORITE dessert.  I’ll spare you how much I love this food.

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I use a recipe from a blogger friend of mine at The Kitchen’s Garden.  She shared with us Mama’s Pavlova.  This is a no fail Pavlova shell.  Though I’ve had variations on the outcome ( all my fault ), I’ve never had a disaster. 

You should read her recipe, but here’s what it looked like when I followed along.

I whipped my egg whites and friends until it could hold a spatula to attention.

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Chucked it into a parchment lined round tin.  Smoosh it around with the idea that you will eventually put cream and fruit on it.DSC_0822

Placed in a preheated oven which is then turned down.  It cooks and puffs.DSC_0824

After it cools, I put some whip cream on it and peaches.  Any seasonal fruit will do.  Kiwi fruit, strawberries, nectarines ….

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If you have friends in Australia, ask them to bring out some canned passion fruit syrup.  This acts as the area rug and pulls the pav together.  It is impossible to find in France, so I am very careful with each drop we use.  Hopefully you have better sources.DSC_0840

I added some grated milk chocolate.  It’s supposed to be crumbled Cadbury Flake, but we are in the land of Milka.  DSC_0842

I thought grated Flake was the tradition, but apparently after sample size n= 2 Australians, this is some fancy ass addition.

This Pav was a bit sloppy, but I was very pleased.DSC_0846

Mama’s Pavlova has never let me down!  Thanks Celi!

Duck Fat Toast and Shtuff

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We don’t eat a lot of bread, but when runny cheese is on offer, it’s time to make some toast.

We were given a day old baguette, perfect for toasting.  I loaded up the frypan with duck fat and chucked some rounds in.

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From there, you can add melty, runny cheese or other cheeses and paste ( pâté ) to top you off for the evening meal.  It’s hot again, you see, so evening meals tend to be light.

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The vacherin was nice, but a bit bitter.  Next runny cheese shall be my favorite … Chaource.  Matched perfectly with pink Champagne!

Not Fond Of Fondant? Make Your Own

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For me, using fondant for a fancy cake is a cheat.  I am WAY more impressed if you can make a beautiful cake with skill and fluff.  Lucy, my daughter, wanted to do a certain cupcake recipe that involved fondant.  She looked up the ingredients in fondant and was not impressed with all the extra crap included in this culinary play-dough.

So she watched a youtube video on how to make fondant and off she went.

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Making fondant is a very sticky process.  There was a moment there where she thought, ” well, I blew it.”  There was no way this sticky marshmallow mess would arrive at something you could roll out and carve.

But, she kept going.  eventually, a dough ball came around.

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After her cupcakes were cooled, she managed to complete her recipe.

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Homemade fondant requires

  • marshmallow
  • water
  • powdered sugar

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She used this recipe on Youtube … uh … which is in French, but you might be able to follow along or find an equivalent.

For me, I am excited to share that you can make this stuff!! And as I don’t like fondant, her fondant was wonderful.

Friends With Ruminants

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We went to see a guy about a lamb.  He has a few on his property and one was sent off for our family.  Lunch today: lamb chops, sweet pots and mushies ‘n’ onions.

Chops: fried in duck fat and a bit of tallow, then salted an pepped

Sweet Potatoes: oven baked with the oven fan on … in duck fat.  The fan cooks them quickly and give a crunchy outer and sweet mooshy inner.  lovely.

Mushies ‘n’ onions: bubbled away slowly in butter until they shimmer and shine.  a little salt and pep.

I had a feline friend join me for lunch.  He’s a big fan of lamb.  Reminds him of the time he spent in Siam.

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Then some cheese with walnut pieces.  Counter-clockwise:

Cantal entre deux, Saint-Nectaire, Roquefort.

Though this Roquefort is welfare Roquefort.  Similar to Champagne, Roquefort can only be called Roquefort if it is actually from Roquefort.  That means the generics are lovely and half the price.  Though a non-mass-produced Roquefort will be worth the money.  Don’t tell Société or Papillon that.

Walnut pieces were local and in pieces because my son deconstructed the nutcracker.

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We use a meat tenderiser to access the nut meat.

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Cat finished his lamb fat.  After a kitty Purell, he snugged in for an afternoon snooze by the fire.  Today was the magic day the metal box of warm went on.

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The dogs got their bone.  Not cold enough to sit by the fire, they retired outside to finish their treat.

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Chicken Fried Steak

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Chicken Fried Steak, a dish so American, you’d think it came from Germany.

With a milky gravy.

Here’s something to do with those steaks you have no idea what to do with.  With the “Gite a la noix” cut, which translated by google is “Cottage has nuts” … now my new favorite nickname for the Gite / Noix cut … you can do one of two things:

1) warm, fry and rest.  The flavor is there, but a bit chewy.  Perhaps with a nice sauce.

2) Pound the crap out of it – a la Chicken Fried Steak.

At a glance:

–  pound flour into beef with salt and pepper

– start some rice

–  chop onion

–  fry beef in hot duck fat

– while beef rests, gently cook onions

–  add flour for gravy

– add milk, make magic gravy

–  grab wine and serve

 

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Behold the Cottage Nuts cut:

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Pound in the flour.

I’ve pounded then floured many times.  This is the first time I’ve pounded the flour in.  I highly recommend this method.  It serves you well when you fry.

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My Ikea countertops can’t handle a pounding, so I use a step stool and a sturdy chopping board.

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Pound the flour into the meat.

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Salt and pepper after.

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Prepare the onions for the milky gravy.

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Take a moment to snap a photo of a cute three-year-old.

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Fry those babies hot hot.  Get the pan hot before the steak goes in.  Otherwise, it will get all melty man.

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After the steak has been fried, dump out most of the fat.  Add a lump of butter and add the onions.

When the onions go all soft, add some flour to make a roux.  Then add a cup and a bit of milk.

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Stir and thicken.

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Serve in strips or cubes or whole. Just don’t forget the gravy!

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Stir Fried Rice

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I try hard to get the buffet look with my stir fried rice. In this guy, we have in this order

ground beef browned and set aside

load of duck fat with butter nub in the pan
onions

when the onions are looking sexy

garlic
carrots
celery

then the pre-cooked rice, Uncle Ben’s style yo.
then the ground beef back in

fish sauce
soy sauce
salt
pep

after it’s all cooky cooky, push it to the side

scramble two eggs in the gap

add the eggs to the rest

yell, ” dinner is ready!!”

heat some more and serve

oh merde! don’t forget to add some frozen peas!

My First Beef Sausage!

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I made some beef sausage last night.  I should have asked or read or followed somebody.  I had beef.  I had casings.  I had the drive.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the casings.  Brent passed by on his way to pick up Lucy, “Brent,” I say, “what do I do with this shit?”  “You soak them,” he says, like he has made sausage.  I actually don’t know.  Maybe he has made sausage.  Hopefully this won’t come up when we’re on The Newlywed Game ( T.V. game show ).

My first sausage:

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It was a bit fatter than I was expecting.  Things got a little heated and I had to stop.  I was doing it wrong.  Brent came back in from picking up Lucy from school.  “Here’s my sausage!” I say, “I think I did it wrong.”  “Stop.  I know where you went wrong,” he says in an even tone.  Evidently, I needed to roll the intestinal condom on the hoob-a-joob completely, then let the sausage unfold into slinky sausage magic.

I got the hang of it.  A bit tough juggling the raw meat, toddler, casing, sausage spooge and glass of wine, but I managed.  No toddler was used in the making of this sausage.  She screamed and cheered and wondered what the heck I was doing.

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We cooked it up for a taste.

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It was a bit crumbly at the fat end.  I might need to add an egg or something.  The skinny end ( we have a nickname for this, but I’ll hold it in ) was not as crumbly.

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A little Dijon and it tasted not bad.  There is a lot of work ahead arriving at the perfect beef sausage, but this one was edible and almost enjoyable.

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Two out of four Curtis children approved.  Zélie loved it and wanted more.  Though, maybe she would do anything to avoid going to bed.  A sausage good enough to delay bedtime.

Lucy:

  • Lucy: Mom, I need to give you …. Dad? what’s the friendly word for criticism?
  • Brent: Feedback
  • Lucy: Mom, I need to give you feedback.  It needs sauce.

Otto detested it.  He’s sick, so perhaps another go.

Minty:

  • Minty: Mom, I don’t like this sausage.
  • Me: Okay, Mint Mint.  Don’t eat it.  No worries.
  • [ sigh ] [ pause ] [ sigh ]
  • Mom, what’s for dinner?
  • Me: [ inner growl ]

Beef Curry

DSC_1319 I made four kilos of beef curry.  It took most of the day to cook, but a little part of the day to prepare.  It warmed the kitchen while cozying you up inside with a fantastic aroma.  I used a recipe given to me by a friend and fellow beef eater.  It’s Peter Kuruvita’s Sri Lankan Beef Curry.  I’ve made it so many times that I have a few variations to reduce labor, pots, pans and availability of ingredients.

First, some beef.  I used the “beef bourguignon” cuts from our meat box.  I cut the chunks a bit smaller as I have young kids with cute, little teeth.  It’s easier for them this way.

DSC_1104 I marinate over night in all the spices and the ginger.  For a 1 kilo batch, the spices are:

  • Sri Lankan Curry powder, 5 tsp
  • ground cumin, 2 tsp
  • ground coriander, 2tsp
  • chili powder
  • cloves, 8
  • fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp
  • cardamom pods, 4
  • cinnamon sticks – crumbled, 2
  • tumeric powder, 1tsp

Everyone gets acquainted in the fridge.

DSC_1152 When I’m ready to cook, I chop a pile of onions and a load of garlic.  That goes in “Big Red,” our big pot that rules them all.  The onions and garlic bubble gently in butter waiting for the meat.

DSC_1150 In a butter-lard fat mix, the beef gets colored.

DSC_1154 I don’t brown it.  There will be enough flavor with everything else joining the beef curry party.

DSC_1158 The meat goes in Big Red with the onions and garlic.

DSC_1159Then the tomato paste, a little can ( not the little, little can. The tall, little can ).  Add some pepper.

DSC_1162 Then some water.  It looks watery, but don’t worry.  After some patience, it will turn all curry like.

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On this day, award winning food blogger Anneli Faiers from Delicieux was around picking up some beef and met Big Red.  She gave him a stir and a sniff.

DSC_1175 This is her “hungry face.”  I think the curry was progressing nicely.

DSC_1169 A few hours later, beef curry magic.  I cooled it down and stuck it in the fridge for further infusion.  Curry the next day always seems to taste better.

DSC_1199 Some chutney, some Substance P perhaps some creme fraiche … lovely.  I thought my four kilo beef blast would last and I could pull some out of the freezer when I felt like an easy “chuck it in the pot” day.  It went.  All of it.  I managed to freeze a bit for later, but later came so soon.  It’s beef day today, maybe I’ll pull out Big Red and do it all again.