So I took the leap. Well, a leap for me at any rate. I told my brother that I would babysit his babies (19 months and 5 months) while he and his wife went to a show in Chicago. I live about 3.5 hours from Chi Town, a reasonable drive. So, they appeared on Thursday and left on Friday morn for Chicago, leaving me with the most adorable little ones. My niece at 19 months already knows her cuteness appeal, which worries me. My little nephew smiles with almost no effort, which of course makes one feel special immediately. I haven’t ever spent any significant time with my nephew and not with my niece since March, so my brother and sis in law must be very trusting. Truth be known, they were great. Not at all like they are around their parents. It was fun and gave me the opportunity to get to know them much better and see my nephew’s personality develop.
As a thank you gift, my brother brought me many delicious items that he knew I would love. Bribing really as he gave them to me on Thursday night. Porcini powder, truffles, dried mushrooms, saffron and fleur de sal – he knows me better than I thought. He is now raising pheasants, quail and chicken on our family “fruit” farm, changing the nature of the farm in a positive, sustainable way. In addition to the fowl, he wants to market items that will compliment his products, things like dried wild mushrooms, herbs, truffles and wants to start canning broth and demi glace (he bought 30 pounds of veal bones in Chicago to make demi glace, I think he’s nuts) and is researching all the proper methods and laws to do it.
My brother prefers French style cooking and is learning all the classic sauces. It likely helps that his wife(who I think is fabulous)has attended culinary school. We have all worked in many restaurants and love cooking. I seem to go for all the ethnic cooking and my brother goes for the classics.
He brought with him, three quail and a pheasant. So, we decided to cook dinner, on Saturday night. I think we had 5 courses. My brother cooked up the apps (2), this took 2 hours. My brother and sis in law don’t drink, so keep in mind, I was sober the whole weekend. I want to respect and support their choices, but wow, a glass of wine would have been great with these apps.
He cooked quail breasts and topped them with a quail truffle demi glace (using the not so dry riesling I had in the fridge, very disappointed that I used the rest of the sauvingon blanc in my dish – they cook with wine, they just don’t drink it anymore) and then we had pheasant breast stuffed with quail force meat (for those of you who think this sounds strange, essentially it is making a sausage out of quail) adding roasted chestnuts and truffles and the recently purchased GF bread crumbs I had (he is still adapting to cooking gluten free when I am around) and a pheasant demi-glace that he made from the rest of the pheasant. Wow, both were so delish, yummo. But, did I mention that it took two hours (that included cooking the demi glace and deboning the birds). It was really special, all the more so as he had raised and butchered the birds himself.
Then we had a boring salad, nothing special, but I did make some ceasar dressing from scratch. Next, grilled pork loin with a mustard cumin rub and a mustard green peppercorn cream sauce. I made that as well as potatoes au gratin. We were raised on a fruit and potato farm, so we must have our potatoes. The au gratin had herb de provence, sauvingnon blanc, swiss cheese and cream, so of course it was melt in your mouth. The potatoes were a Michigan Purple variety, developed by a friend of mine who does potato research at MSU (our in house potato sex guy), our local land grant college. Very similar to red skin potatoes, just purple. And then, an apple pie. We used a rice crust and well, I need to experiment with this a bit, but the pie turned out really well, with the exception of thinking the apples were not cooked yet, and I kept it in the oven a bit to long(so the crust was really dark brown around the edges). My brother had two pieces and is not an apple pie eater (had I realized this, I would have made a blackberry pie, but we did have lots of fresh honey crisps from my dad to eat). He ate a piece for breakfast the next day. It did work pretty well with vanilla ice cream.
They left the next day and leave me wanting more pheasant, quail, and quality time with family.
Tonight, it is Moroccan chicken and a quinoa pilaf (in place of cous cous) with apricots, quinoa, scallions, mint and toasted almonds. I have had a fire raging in the wood stove all day and it is toasty inside and cold outside.
Life is grand…after dinner, knitting and a movie.