quail breast with a truffle demi-glace, pheasant……

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.

i’m out

marry me risotto

Every once in a while I cook something that tastes so fabulous I think, wow, if a guy tasted this he would fall over and ask me to marry him. It’s that good. I have my marry me polenta and now, the marry me risotto. The only catch is, the guy has to like polenta or mushroom risotto.
Somehow I have gone my entire adult life without making my own risotto. I am not sure how this happened, it always seemed very labor intensive to make gooey rice. But today, I had two types of mushrooms that needed to be used and decided to make mushroom risotto. So good, first try. I had to force myself to stop eating it to save room for the last of the garden’s pole beans. I am already looking forward to eating it for breakfast. I don’t really care for most typical breakfast foods anyway.

For the record, the onion/white bean gratin dish from the other night had great flavor, but you cannot, repeat, cannot use gluten free bread as a substitute for stale crusty sourdough. The dish would be better without any bread, or just on the top layer. The bread desolved into the wine. So, less wine next time and no bread.

You have probably noticed that all of the above has nothing to do with knitting. Blogging is a conscious choice to not knit for a few minutes. Hard to do. I have 5 projects that I am working on before solstice. Ok, 6. But this is a food, garden and knitting blog, so once in a while I have to mention getting knitty with it.

Ah, sitting next to a nice fire in the wood stove, knitting and drinking some nice spicy red wine. What a life I have. Especially if you add in the marry me risotto. Snap crackle pop says the mulberry wood in the fire. Did I mention I used shallots and fresh herbs from the garden in the risotto???

i’m out

uh oh, somethings missing…..

It’s Friday night, time for a stiff cocktail and a blog whilest dinner is in the oven. My meat is rubbed and resting in prep for the grill.
I have been in cooking indecision mode, not sure what I want, so I will cook everything, faster than I or my friends can eat it. Mostly ethnic foods, experimenting with lots of Indian dishes, some Bangladeshi, lots of Thai and always
authentic Mexican and New Mexican.

But tonight, I reverted back to a long time fav, a sort of French style cassoulet/fondue cross, a white bean, onion gratin if you will. Maybe because it is snowy and cold out and I am not yet ready for heavy stews of potato and beef. I do have a yummy potato leek soup with weisswurst (a german/irish morph) planned for the weekend to utilize the 5 gallon bucket of leeks that I have stored in my basement. I harvested them from the community garden yesterday in the snow. It is a lot of leeks!!!! And I have more to harvest in the backyard garden, but those can stay put in the ground for a long time.

I began slicing the onions for the dish, the dish takes two onions, two cans of Northern White Beans, some leftover yummy bread (in lieu of this option, ie using old sourdough bread, I am attempting this dish for the first time ala gluten free and using Kinnickinick White Bread) Swiss cheese (almost a pound, grated) some Parmaesan cheese and yes, an entire bottle of dry white wine.

Onions are sliced so I start putting them in the casserole dish, sprinkling them with some freshly cracked pepper, salt and marjoram and thyme, a little parm, arranging the bread, layering the Swiss cheese on top and then again, onions, herbs, bread, cheese. I am about to pour the wine in and …… something is missing, what seems to be missing? This looks great, but….oh….. .. the beans. Forgot the key ingredient, white beans. I had to laugh, as it is funny. No point in getting upset. I briefly considered leaving the beans out, but nah, then it is just onion gratin.

Luckily for me, I have many, many bowls. I slowly began deconstructing my recently constructed casserole. Cheese in one bowl, bread in another and then one for the onion rings. Then, I start over, putting a can of rinsed beans in the bottom, onions, herbs, bread cheese and repeat. Ah, now that looks better, it almost doesn’t fit in the dish. Now, the finale, the entire bottle of sauvingnon blanc over the top. Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw)works great for this from Trader Joe’s (in MI it is 3 Buck Chuck…shipping). Now it is in the oven for a long time at a lower temp so that everything melts, softens, adsorbs and gets nice and gooey. It smells fabulous from here.

I am also grilling a couple of sirloin steaks in an Ancho chili/cumin rub for some quesadillas tomorrow. I just realized that someone gave me a Quesadilla maker 1.5 years ago and I had not even taken it out of the box until today – it might double as a panini press too. Sometimes it is good to clean the pantry out, great forgotten discoveries!

The garden is finished now with the exception of those veggies that like the cold, brussel sprouts (I am really hoping that I will get to eat my first one by November, they are growing so slowly) the rest of the leeks and swiss chard and collard greens. I harvested the rest of the peppers and beans the other day. The final eggplant was turned into a Thai curry last night.

Next year, just one garden. Need more time for knitting……stay tuned for a review of my new knitting projects.

Time to go, the wood stove is raging and it is a toasty 73 F in my living room, ok, the rest of the house is 62F, but it is nice and cosy in here. The oven timer is ringing…..smells like wine and swiss cheese…yummo

i’m out