Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Goat Cheese, Scallion and Turkey Bacon Quiche

Good morning you little goslings!

I hope you are reveling in the last few days of Summer, Autumn begins on Friday. Not, of course, that it feels like summer anymore, at least not in New York, but it’s a mental thing. Kyle’s sister is coming tomorrow and she will be here through Monday. Two Texans in one tiny apartment, gird your loins! It’ll be fun though. She will be going with Kyle to his rehearsal on Thursday night.

I guess I’ve never mentioned it, but he is a member of the Voices of Gotham, a group that, as they write, hopes “to develop a fresh new a capella offering for New York City”. They are fantastic, and you should check them out! I believe their next show is the winter show which is always nice and really puts you in the holiday spirit. So, buy tickets for Voices of Gotham’s Winter Show!

Tangent… Anyway, she will go with him to rehearsal on Thursday, they are seeing Anything Goes on Friday night and then we will all have time to hang out on Saturday and Sunday. I’m excited!

My sister was in town this past weekend, as I mentioned here, and she and her friend came over for brunch on Saturday. I made this quiche and I kid you not it made me want to stay in the house and eat for the remainder of the day. It’s good.

On to the recipe!

Goat Cheese, Scallion and Turkey Bacon Quiche:

(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook which I really can’t recommend enough. It is such a good cookbook, especially for young people (such a myself) as they set out from home and realize they will need to cook for themselves. The way it is organized and the clarity of the instructions make it a regular go-to when I want to make something new.)

Preheat oven to 350

2 9-inch frozen pie shells

1/3 a package of turkey bacon chopped into quarter-ish size pieces (I just made and served the rest as a side for the quiche)

1 bundle of scallions, chopped (I think mine had about 9 altogether)

5 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Small log of goat cheese (mine was 4 oz)

( I would suggest halving this all if you are less than 4 people)
Don’t these scallions look good?

This whole thing is very easy, fry the bacon as you usually would in a skillet. Once some fat melts out, throw the scallions right in with it.

Just the bacon...

now add your scallions!

Meanwhile, while the bacon and scallions are browning, you can whisk together your eggs, milk, cream, thyme, pepper and salt in a bowl.

Now, chop your goat cheese log into circles and put them on the bottom of the two pie crusts. Cover them with the scallions and bacon, like this:

Now put your pie shells on a cookie sheet and pour in the egg mixture until it is ¼ inch from the top. The egg will rise a little as it cooks. Just eyeball it to make sure you evenly distribute between the two shells.

Keep it on the oven for about 40 minutes until the middle is solid but still a little squishy.

The goat cheese disintegrates in a way, and the leeks and bacon float around a little and then get stuck in the egg as it cooks. We didn’t need to add any salt or pepper and the contrast between the creamy solidity of the goat cheese and the fluffy eggs was delicious. I would make this again in a heartbeat.

We had it with the rest of the turkey bacon, blueberries and strawberries and a lot of mimosas. Perfect Saturday morning meal.

Let me know if you try it, zum Wohl!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

back on tomorrow!

hi buttons,

I think that after typing up yesterday's post I had small tinges of carpal tunnel... so, do excuse the tardy entry. Look forward to a delicious goat cheese, scallion and turkey bacon quiche recipe as well as an "everything you have left in the fridge" soup that is perfect for leftover celery and carrot odds and ends.

In the meantime, I think this is beautiful.  Especially the storms(?) in the clouds at the 20 second mark

wishing you love and contentment

Monday, September 19, 2011

Boeuf à la Bourguignonne with Pictures!

Boeuf à la Bourguignonne- “Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man”.

From the French Chef herself!

Yup. This is easy, it has my photos*, it takes a long time, but it is so worth it! My one piece of advice, plan ahead. Measure, cut, pour, find, etc. in advance. When it’s time to add herbs it is so much easier if they are all measured and in a cup together than running around looking for your lost bottle of thyme.

Julia Child wrote the definitive recipe for this- I tried to follow along closely. If you want to see the original- I won’t republish it, but I am sure it is online somewhere, and if not, you really should own this book anyway. Or just go to the library, I know my branch of the New York Public Library carries it, and make a photocopy of the recipe. What follows is my version, following as closely as I could to her original standards, but making minor changes too (sacrilege, I know). I won’t include what I left out/ changed, just compare my version to her original if you are that interested. I will say, my changes are very minor and are due more to my lack of ingredients rather than any sense of taste or personal preference.

Something to note (though not to let intimidate you), if you make boeuf à la Bourguignonne, which Julia describes as “beef stew in red wine, with bacon, onions and mushrooms” is that the “onions and mushrooms” portion is another two recipes. They are “Oignons Glacés À Brun” and “champignons sautés au beurre”. You could make the onions or mushrooms as a side dish for another meal, but you make them specifically to add them to the stew for boeuf à la Bourguignonne. (they are very easy though, so do it, it adds so much!)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, take a deep breath, and embark on this food odyssey.

6 ounces of bacon (I used about 1/3 of a 16oz package- close enough) cut into inch long sticks.
1 Tb vegetable oil
3lbs of stew beef cut into 2 inch cubes (ish, for me) and dried with a paper towel (yes, pain in the ass, but do it while you watch TV like I did, it made it more tolerable)
1 sliced onion
1 sliced carrot
In a cup, mix together 1tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and 2 Tb flour
In a large pitcher, combine 3 cups red wine (I used cheap chianti, we drank the rest with the meal) with 2 cups of beef broth
In a cup, mix together 2 cloves of roughly minced garlic, ¼ tsp dried thyme and 1 crumbled up bay leaf

dry ingredients, bacon, carrot/onion and stew meat

Pour the olive oil into what Julia calls a casserole, what I refer to as a dutch oven, and cook your bacon in it over medium heat(this is the same dish that it will all be cooked in eventually, so you want it deep enough to hold the eventual liquid, see my photo). Once it is crisped, remove the bacon and set aside in a large bowl. I used tongs, a slotted spoon would work, you want to leave the fat in so that you can…

Brown the beef in it! There are no photos of this as it was a very whirlwind and mildly horrifying few minutes. Remember to have your heat at medium, the bacon fat will be almost smoking ( a few minutes by itself) when it is ready. Using tongs, put beef into the dutch oven and brown the sides. The bacon fat will spit and snap and it will make a loud frying sound. Just stay with it, turn the meat over until all sides are browned and then put them in the bowl with the bacon. I did all of my meat in about 4 rounds. There should still be some fat left, use it to brown your carrots and onions (I dumped them in all together).

Browned Beef

Browning the Carrot and Onion

Once the veggies are browned, turn off the burner and pour the bacon and meat bowl back into the dutch oven on top of the carrot and onion. Now you slowly sprinkle the contents of your dry ingredient cup over the meat, I did a shake, stirred it all up, and repeated about 3 times until there was nothing left to shake in. At this point the dry ingredients should be mixed all over the veggies and meat evenly.

Combined Beef and Veggies

Adding the dry ingredients…

Now, your oven should have reached 450, and you put the dutch oven in uncovered for 4 minutes. Remove, stir, and put back in for another 4 minutes. Julia says this “browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust”. I believe her. Even if it is not true, it is nice to have 4 minutes to catch your breath after the whirlwind browning and mixing session.

After browning in the oven for 2 rounds of 4 minutes each

After the second 4 minute breather, turn the oven down to 325 and put the dutch oven back on the stove. Pour your garlic/bay/thyme cup in on top. Now, pour in your wine-broth until it just covers all of the meat/veggie mixture (retain any left over to use with the pearl onions later). Now bring it to a simmer, uncovered, on the stove. Once it is simmering, put the top on and put it right back in the oven.

add the garlic, thyme and bay

add the wine-broth

until it just covers everything

Now breathe again. The dutch oven will sit, untouched, in the oven for another 2.5 to 3 hours, slowly bubbling away. This is when I had some of that chianti.

Thankfully, Kyle is a savior, and was doing dishes as I used them. (He also ran to the liquor store when I freaked out that we didn’t have 3 full cups of wine like I thought we did. Thankfully, in Manhattan, there is a wine store around the corner no matter where you are, so he came back with 2 bottles of chianti in the same amount of time it took me to brown all the beef). If you don’t have a lifesaver in the house with you, now is a good time to clean your work station and catch up on dishes.

Now let’s begin on the onion and mushroom recipes!

The mushrooms take no more than 15 minutes, so just wait until you are almost ready and then do them quickly. The onions will take about 45 minutes. So, doing math, once the stew is in the oven, it will stay there for 2.5 to 3 hours. That means, 45 minutes before the stew will be done, start your onions, and 15 minutes before the stew and the onions will be done, start your mushrooms. I wrote my times on a sticky note above the stove.

Ingredients for Onions and Mushrooms:
Onions:24 (ish, per usual) pearl onions (were I to make this tomorrow, I would double the amount since I liked them so much)
In a cup, combine 1.5 Tb butter with 1.5 Tb olive oil
½ cup of wine-broth mixture left over in your pitcher (none left, use beef broth or wine by themselves, you must have SOMETHING left over)
Herb bouquet**- 4 parsley sprigs, a small bay leaf and ¼ tsp dried thyme tied up securely in a cheesecloth

Mushrooms:.5 lb mushrooms
In a cup, combine 2 Tb butter and 1 Tb olive oil

I like to do prep work in advance, and then use down time to relax. Accordingly, for the onions, I peeled them and put them in a bowl and then put my cup of butter oil and my herb bouquet next to them. I washed the mushrooms, quartered them all, and put them in a bowl next to their cup of butter oil. Put them on opposite sides of the counter if you think you will mix the cups up! Different amounts of butter oil for each vegetable.

Nice and Organized!

At your 5o minute mark, over medium heat in a skillet, pour in your butter oil cup. When the mix is bubbling, pour your bowl of peeled onions in. They will snapple and crack too, though not nearly as much as the meat did. Keep shaking the pan so the onions roll all around and get nice and browned on all sides. Some will be annoying and not roll properly so you may need to prod them with a spoon like I did.

Browning the Onions

Once they are browned, about 10 minutes, pour in the wine-broth and cover immediately. The liquid will steam/ roar in the hot butter oil and the lid will contain splatter. Once it calms down after a few seconds, salt and pepper, however much you normally use to season, and put the herb bouquet in amongst the onions. Now cover it up and let it simmer on very low heat. There really is not much liquid so it must be very very low. I accidently put my burner out trying to get it at the absolute lowest setting. This will sit and simmer for the remainder of the time, just give a shake every now and then or move stuff around with your spoon.

Onions are just about finished (and my herb bouquet is getting all ugly and used up)

At your 15 minute mark, melt the butter oil mixture over high heat in a skillet. The butter will foam, and then sort of diminish, once that happens, pour in your bowl of mushrooms. This part is fast, just keep tossing/ shaking the pan so the mushrooms are moving a lot (or use a spoon/spatula and move them all over). Once they seem browned on all sides, they are done. This really only takes about 5 minutes.

Mushrooms in with the butter and oil

Now, you are near the finish line! The house must smell amazing at this point, and you will want to eat it. But wait! One last step!

Prepare for this whenever you have a free moment: Put your largest colander/ strainer inside a large bowl. Put a small saucepan on reserve, ready to be used.

Remove the bubbley, brown, mouth watering stew from the oven (remember that guy? The one you worked on 3 hours ago?) and ever so carefully pour the entire thing into the colander over the bowl.

Carefully pour your stew in, you will get a beef broth/ wine steam facial

Put the dutch oven on the stove, shake the colander to remove as much liquid as possible and then pour the stew sans liquid back into the dutch oven. Pour your newly ready onions and mushrooms on top, there should be barely any liquid left in either skillet.

Add your delicious pearl onions and mushrooms to the beef sans liquid

Throw away your brown/ black unrecognizable herb bouquet. Now, pour all the hot juice from the big bowl into the small saucepan and put it on the stove over low heat. Let it simmer and skim fat off the top, it is shiny and bubbly looking, like little cells. I just used a measuring spoon from earlier to do this, no need to dirty another dish. I did this for a few minutes, I was certainly not anal about it and just said good enough after a while.

The sauce is ready when a spoon plunged into it comes back out with a light coating. Then, still simmering, pour it over your waiting beef, bacon, onions, carrot, mushroom dutch oven of sweet succulence. Stir it all up and kick your heels up in the air for you have just created boeuf à la Bourguignonne. And you will melt once you taste it. The richness of the flavor is incomparable. Kyle said, this is what pot roast and beef stew try to do but don’t.

Julia suggested serving it over buttered noodles or rice, we had it over quinoa with a green salad and it was perfect! (Quinoa is a topic for another day).

Boeuf à la Bourguignonne over fresh quinoa, yum yum!

Really, typing this whole damned thing up feels like more work than making the stew did. So make it!

*- Kyle acted as my personal Paul Child and helpfully leapt off the couch everytime I shrieked for a photo so that this experience could be visually documented. It was not exactly the lazy Sunday he predicted. But he gallantly did as asked and took them all, with his iPhone, so thanks Kyle!

**-So, I bought cheesecloth especially for this recipe, and have always wanted to make an herb bouquet. That being said, if you are not as strange as me, or don’t want to buy cheesecloth (though I only paid $2 for what seems like many square feet of the stuff) I was thinking one could probably use a tea strainer. Those kind you fill with loose leaf tea and pour the water over if it was very flat.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Radical Self Love Manifesto

happy morning chickens!

not much for today, just wanted to share this inspiring manifesto from

I may print it out and put it next to my desk.

Lots of love to you today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

friday morning thoughts

Good morning sugar buns!

Well, the weatherman didn’t lie, it is MUCH cooler than it was yesterday. It was 51 when Kyle and I went to the gym this morning (5:25 AM, I don’t want to talk about it). Brrr! Can’t say I am sad to see the sticky humidity leave, though. I got my fill of warm summer days this year. It’s also nice to not need the AC when we sleep, having the windows open and feeling the cool breeze is lovely.

Weather, how fascinating.

MOVING ON! Tonight we are going to see Jeffery Self’s new show, Self Indulgence, with our friend Susan. I am so excited! Jeffery is a talented performer and is a very sort of live in the moment, experience your surroundings, be PRESENT type of person. I say, as though I know him. I don’t. But I read his blog. Which is also where I stumbled upon the word nascent, and love it. It’s a great way to describe a burgeoning passion, like my thoughts on cooking. And a person as a whole as they go through a metamorphosis. Shedding who they were to come into existence as who’ll they’ll be. (thoughts, deep thoughts). Kyle and I saw Jeffery when he did “People I Slept with Who Never Called Me Back” a few years ago and I’ve followed him since. I just admire that he follows his dreams and takes risks to do it. Plus, he has a boyfriend now and they are so obnoxiously (adorably) in love that it makes my heart squee with glee. Yes, squee with glee.

Anyway, is that creepy stalker-ish enough for now? I think so.

My sister is coming tomorrow morning to spend the weekend and run the Susan G. Komen 5K in Central Park on Sunday. Of course this means a Saturday morning brunch, so starting this weekend, I will finally have some food posts again! We go grocery shopping on Sunday nights, and this week I just happened to make meals without a camera, so I have nothing to show for it. Next week will be better!

So, that’s enough random word babble for the day. Have a happy Friday, check out Jeffery Self, go cheer on some runners this Sunday if you are near Central Park, or just make something delicious and send me the recipe.

à la prochaine!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dinner at L'Ecole!

Good afternoon my little ducklings!
I am still full.

No really.

We ate SO MUCH FOOD last night. So let’s review, shall we?

We had drinks before dinner at The Dove Parlour down on Thompson Street. We had olives and seasoned almonds for an appetizer and they were great. Very herby, salty, yummy. I had two cocktails, The French Lavender (lavender infused gin, orange liqueur and grapefruit juice) and The Ginger Snap (vodka, house-made ginger syrup, lime juice and soda) *. I am definitely going to try to recreate the French lavender at home, it was such a unique flavor.

L’Ecole for dinner! We were seated at 8:15 and started with 2 canapés (compliments of the chef) which were, I think**, a small circle of sweet potato with salmon and crème fraiche. They were unexpected, teeny and a fun way to start.

For my appetizer I had braised pork belly with a prune glaze served on bulgur wheat and surrounded by a little circle of tomatillo vinaigrette***. You may recall, we opted for the wine pairing, so each of the 4 courses was served with a small glass of wine. I had a red wine here, that’s all I remember****. The pork was good, it reminded me of the horrible red colored bbq pork in mall chinese food, but in a good way. The pork was braised, which means it was seared first (thrown in a hot pan so the outside cooks very fast but the inside is still raw) and then slow cooked with some sort of liquid. The outside was crispy and burny (again, in a good way) but the inside was fork tender and fall apart-y. SO GOOD!

Fish course was the lemongrass and kafir lime corvina with a paisley shaped smear of beet and apple puree and some small white sweet potatoes. A DELICIOUS beurre blanc was on the fish and the potatoes. The fish literally melted in my mouth, so moist, so fresh, delicious. And beurre blanc, I mean, it’s basically a lot of butter, white wine and shallots (though they may have their own recipe with herbs too) so how could it be bad. They were a dreamy combination, sweet, melty fish with warm buttery richness. Drool. Now, I love beets, and I love apples, and I loved the beet apple puree, I just don’t know that pairing it with white fish is something I would do. It was a very bold flavor, that I liked, but I found myself eating it once the fish was gone since I didn’t like the combination of the two flavors. Wine was white, of course, and I believe it was from Austria. It was sweet, tasted almost like a hard cider.

The meat course! This is what I was most excited for from the moment we made this reservation. I ordered the seared duck breast and braised duck thigh in red wine sauce with roasted apples and braised endive. I fell in love with duck in Paris (I know, just, push me off my obnoxiously high horse right now) and have been hoping to relive that confit de canard bliss ever since. The two preparations of duck are different, so I should have taken that into account when I put all of my eggs in this duck basket, but I didn’t. The endive was nice and crispy, almost charred and contrasted nicely with the sweet apples. The red wine sauce was good too. I just couldn’t fall in love with the duck. Duck is very fatty, this one just must have been the chubby kid in his class. The fat wasn’t melted off or crisped, it was just like a warm envelope around one side of the breast. Wine here… can’t remember. 2 cocktails and two glasses of wine and my mind seems to have become melty at this point… strange.

Dessert was heavenly, whoever was pâtissier last night should get a job stat. Preferably somewhere near my house. I had the chocolate-almond cake with lemon cream. The only thing I remembered to take a photo of! (which, I'll be honest, does NOT do it justice. It's dark and romantic in there and I was embarassed to use a flash.. so.. that's what I get)

They also had fresh raspberries (my weakness) surrounding it and a cute little flower iced on to the plate filled with some sort of raspberry gelee. Ohhhhhhh my heaven’s. It was just. Perfect. The chocolate hat sat on top of the light lemon cream, all supported by the actual cake. The cake was not very sweet, but the cream was, so a fork through all three layers was perfect. My wine this course was like a mix between port and sherry. It was nice and sweet without being cloying. I am so glad the meal ended on this note.

The staff, from the host, to the waiter, and everyone else who’s proper titles I am not fancy enough to know were fantastic. They were so, SO, aware of our needs and took care of them. My water glass was never empty (and I go through water like a camel) (do camels drink a lot? Is that just a myth? Don’t they drink a lot, store it in their hump and then go for days without water? If so, then I an NOT like a camel) and they took away our wine glasses and silverware between each course as soon as we were finished without making us feel rushed. It was nice.

Go to L’Ecole when you can! We had so much fun and though it was definitely a splurge for us (yay anniversary!) I would go back in a heartbeat. For now, we will let our stomachs sink back to their normal sizes (and maybe a little further if we cross our fingers..) and our credit cards get paid off in full while we recall from the comfort of our couch what a wonderful night we had.

Have a nice night chickens, and treat yourself to something delicious tonight!

* All of these specifics were pulled right off The Dove Parlour’s online menu, here.
** Note to self- to be a better blogger, write things down and take pictures! From here on out, I swear!
*** And again, just pulling these descriptions right off the menu online, YUM!
**** Yes, photos and notes!!

I think it hardly goes without saying, but just in case, Kyle and I went to L’Ecole of our own volition and on our own tabs. Though I would love to be invited somewhere to review their food, I think those days can only come if I get more than 2 readers. And then multiply that number by 1,000.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anniversary? Anniversary!

It’s hump day kittens!

It’s also Kyles and my 4 year anniversary. That sounds wrong but I think it’s correct? Not the years, I mean, the sentence structure. ANYWAY! Yes, love, romance and impromptu apartment dancing for four years. We are pretty lucky. Not to say it’s all peaches and cream (all I’m saying is, if you come home to a home cooked, multi-course meal, plop yourself on the couch and ask for a drink while you significant other is literally steaming sweat over all 4 lit burners, you should not be surprised when an orange is hurled at your head).

In order to not recreate THAT little scene, we opted to go somewhere this year where someone else prepares the 4 course meal for you and you can’t see any orange flinging that may or may not happen. We have reservations at 8:45 at L’Ecole and I am so excited! This is the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute (where my class will be and please note, as many people are confused, that I am taking one course, for amateurs, that gives me no credit or diploma. Students who attend full time actually graduate with something and are off to work in kitchens) and we opted for the student menu versus the professional menu. We’ll be splurging and doing the wine pairing as well. I. CAN’T. WAIT.

In strange news: Last night I was running along the East River, over the 103’rd street pedestrian bridge to Randall’s Island and then back. On my return route, just as I was passing 96th street (where there is an entrance to the FDR) a car took the corner and an iPad with a keyboard came flying either out of or off of the car and literally skidded to a stop at my feet. WEIRD! I felt like I was in a mob movie or something, like if I took it home I was going to end up being chased down the street and hiding. It would probably be a lot like Date Night, actually.

At an rate, I took it home. Kyle called Apple and gave them the ID number on the back, they called the lady who lost it, she was unaware it was missing, and now we are meeting tonight to return it to her. Why yes, you may call me G. Samaritan.

PHEW! What a long post. I’ll let you know how this drop off goes, but more importantly, how our dinner is tonight!

Adios amigos,

P.S. Happy Anniversary, Kyle. 4 years, 4 years! (sounds longer when you say it). You're still the bread to my butter, the cheese to my macaroni.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

And, suddenly it’s fall! Today and tomorrow are the last warm days, apparently. Ah well, I certainly can’t say we were cheated out of summer this year. It was HOT in this city. The fact that we went away every single weekend in July and August helped. Even I, summer addict that I am, have had enough.

In thrilling news! I enrolled in a cooking class! The Essentials of Fine Cooking Course at the French Culinary Institute starting on September 26th. I can’t stress enough how excited I am for this. In addition to 25 (25!) new recipes, they go over knife skills, marinades, stocks and sauces, compound butters, sautéing and a lot more. AH!

PLUS I get to wear a uniform (for which I sent in my measurements but haven’t seen yet) and get a tool kit (also haven’t seen but assume it has a few knives.. and not, like, a screwdriver and hammer?). Do stay tuned, photos are allowed only if you get permission from the Chef. I’ll try, but frankly I assume I will be so sucked in and active that I won’t have time to snap photos.

happy eating!