Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cooking Like It's Apocalypse Now

It appears that according to some, the beginning of The End is upon us. I'm lucky that if indeed the Rapture occurs, if Left Behind, I'll be with Keith in our home. We are going to be cooking and I'm planning to have dinner ready promptly at 6 pm which is supposed to be the moment It begins. At present, Keith has finished mowing and is, and I quote, "groping some trees". Pruning is the correct term but he prefers groping, and well, The End is near, so grope away!

If indeed it is the End Of Times, it seems we ought to try to eat well for the last meal. That may fly in the face of conventional wisdom as many believe that I should be repenting to beat the band. I suppose I should but if it is The End and God is indeed the All-Knowing; I guess He will just judge me as He sees He is the only one with a right to, as far as I'm concerned. Otherwise, we are planning to celebrate this gift of life that we've been given.

I've busted out the two remaining filets that Lisa gifted us from Omaha Steaks. We are preparing them Au Poivre style, which is something I have been jonesing to try as that peppery flavor is one of my favorite steak preps. When I worked at (or on?) the beloved Becky Thatcher in Marietta, Ohio we featured an Au Poivre steak on our menu that I loved. Our Filet au Poivre recipe is coming from Ina Garten's Barefoot In Paris cookbook and you can find it here. We will be serving the steaks with an Herb Salad from the A New Way To Cook cookbook and Strawberry Dessert Pizza With Brandy Scented Goat Cheese and Mint from an Emeril recipe. While cooking, I played a little Joan Osborne in the background and sipped a wickedly scarlet brew....a sweet Belgian Frambois Lambic.

The salad, like the Marcella Hazan recipe during my last Cookbook Challenge, uses the simplest and freshest of ingredients and brings out their garden-grown goodness. The lettuces came from an acquaintance of Keith's named Kimberly, who also gifted us with some farm-fresh eggs. This recipe from Sally Schneider's A New Way To Cook has one rubbing the inside of the salad bowl with the cut side of a garlic half to kick off and then attaching two garlic clove halves to a fork that's then used as a whisk. It also includes various types of greens but we went with the lettuce we had. We did use fresh chives and basil (that Keith grew)but the sorrel K recently bought was not ready. The recipe as we made it will follow the post.

The dessert pizza is a typically complicated Emeril recipe that pays off with a big Bam of flavor in the end. The recipe, from Emeril's Kitchens cookbook calls for Grand Marnier but the cheapest bottle I could find was forty bucks and I'm not spending that for a half-cup needed....we went with a cheaper orange liqueur. The recipe also calls for Armagnac or brandy and since brandy is what we had on hand, that's what we went with. You can find the recipe here.

The steaks in the end were marvelous. We sopped up that savory sauce with everything we had. The salad was bright with lemony and garlicky flavors and made those garden-grown greens shine. The dessert pizza was incredible....and I want to use the goat cheese mixed with honey and brandy as a condiment alone. These count as Cookbook Challenge recipes #59, 60 and 61.

I sheepishly admit that this close to a possible Rapture, my thrill over the pizza dough raising properly nearly had me crying, "It Arose!" but I resisted. I'm getting a fair amount of possibly tacky mileage over the predicted end of the world and I don't mean to attack or mock anyone's beliefs. I dealt with impending doom the way I deal with anything challenging: as well as I can and preferably with humor. If indeed the end had come, I couldn't have asked for a better last scenario...

....we began the day early helping man a rest stop for the Liberty Bike Ride For MS. We enjoyed a juicy burger and delicious onion rings at classic Ray's Diner in Excelsior Springs where vintage Archie comics line the wall. Keith has often told me that he feels closest to God when he's in his garden, digging his fingers in the earth and he got to do that all afternoon. I felt pretty close to God myself, using fresh, fragrant herbs like spicy globe basil (a sweet, crazily aromatic basil), chives and mint from the garden to create something flavorful to eat. The weather turned spectacular during the day, with warm rays parting the clouds.

If these were our last moments, then God was smiling down on us in the end...6 pm passed without incident and as God was willing, it was a fantastic day.

Herb Salad (inspired by the recipe in A New Way To Cook, reworked cheaply but deliciously by Us)

Garlic Dressing

1 garlic clove, cut lengthwise in half
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot water

Fresh garden lettuces
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
5 chives, cut into 1/8 inch pieces
Freshly ground pepper

Rub the cut side of one of the cut garlic cloves over the inside of a large salad bowl. Add the lemon juice and salt. Spear both garlic halves on a dinner fork. Using this as a whisk, drizzle in the olive oil and then the hot water, whisking until you've reached the intensity of garlic that you like. Discard the garlic.

Add the greens and herbs and toss well. Grind some black pepper over the salad, toss again and serve.


Anonymous said...

That filet looks amazing!! And I am intrigued by the Herb Salad--can't wait to try them both. I love the garlic/whisk concept. See you soon, soon, soon.


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