Foodie Tuesday: Mixed Grill Girl

I’m married to a person whose fondness for vegetables is, shall we say, somewhat limited. Fruits, yes; starches, yes; seafoods and meats, yes and yes. Veg, not so much. He’ll eat some quite willingly, but he’d make a fairly poor version of a vegetarian. Me, I love many kinds of vegetables, along with all of the other foods, but I am a pescetarian and carnivore as well, so I don’t mind having the occasional festival of meat kind of meal.photo

We had a friend join us for dinner today, a person whose leanings are not far different from my spousal-person’s, so it seemed like a fine time to indulge in a freezer-freeing festival of the mainly meat sort. I had a small but solid hunk of grass-fed beef waiting to be enjoyed, a quartet of all-natural bratwurst all ready for a taste test, and the goofy woven square of bacon lying atop my cheesy potato-mash dish in the freezer drawer in quiescent quiet to prepare for use as well. Now I have a lot of space that I didn’t have in the freezer. Of course, I’ve got quite a bit less space in my innards at the moment than before. Yup.photo

So we had our mixed-grill meal together and had fun. Bratwurst, simmered for a long time in a bottle of Shiner Bock, until the beer was syrupy and the sausages fully cooked. The potato mash was quickly heated through and ready to go to table. The beef got cut up into small steaks and pan-seared in avocado oil, with just a little sea salt. Yes, we did in fact have a vegetable, too: peas. Tiny peas, steamed and served with lemon-mint butter, sweet salted butter mixed with minced fresh mint leaves and grated lemon zest.

All of this certainly sated the hunger for savories. That can, in turn, trigger the sweet tooth response. So there was dessert. Probably the richest version of a chocolate pudding I’ve concocted to date, dressed with honeyed peach slices.photo

Rich Chocolate Pudding & Peaches

Pudding: blend 3/4 to one cup each of whole milk yogurt and coconut milk, about 1/4 cup of raw honey, a pinch of salt, a splash each of orange liqueur (homemade months ago from mandarins, juice and zest both, with toasted coconut and brown sugar and vodka), vanilla and almond extracts, and three large eggs, and cook them gently until thickened. Add a bunch of yummy dark chocolate pieces and melt them down. I used 14 pieces of Dove dark chocolate, and just let the residual heat of the thickened custard melt them as I stirred. The coconut milk left the mixture just a tad less than perfectly smooth, so I used the stick blender to make it all silky. A stint in the fridge before dessert time finished the thickening and glossing and it was all ready to serve.

With topping. I took 2 cups of sliced frozen peaches and cooked them gently with a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons each of butter and honey, a teaspoon of almond extract, and spices to taste (I used allspice and cardamom). Spooned at room temperature over the chilled pudding, they gave just enough brightness and freshness to jazz up the rich pudding and fool me into thinking I wasn’t overindulging in dessert after overindulging in dinner. My style entirely, and I think you do know what I mean. Sorry? Not the teeniest whit.

Foodie Tuesday: The Journey of a Thousand Meals begins with a Single Spoonful

It is my intention to have a far, far happier thousandth day than that poor Anne Boleyn apparently did, and since my thousandth post occurs on this, a Tuesday, I will enhance my happiness by thinking and writing about food. It’s such a reliable way to fill myself with good cheer, filling myself with good food, that—well, you all know by now that I can’t resist thinking and writing about it here at least once a week as well.

Am I insatiable? Perhaps. I am certainly mad for good food and drink. I’m kind of crazy for messing about with cookery trickery myself, and most certainly that feeds (both literally and metaphorically) my cravings. And you know that I’m happy to indulge at every turn in talking and/or writing about food and drink, making photos and artworks about them, and dreaming up ever more new ways to get ever more treats into my hands, my glass, my spoon and my stomach. That’s how I operate.

Naturally, the right thing to do in celebration of a thousand-day-versary would be to make some party treats. I have company coming over shortly, so I thought I really ought to make those dinner and lunch engagements into occasions for those goodies. Any excuse will do. The excuse of friends’ visits? Irresistible.

Dinner first, with a couple of friends on Monday. Starter: an appetizer of crackers topped with a nice Dutch gouda or brie, or spread with some homemade brandied beef pate and a little bit of fig jam. Roast beef, a nice chuck shoulder roast cooked simply sous vide with butter, salt and pepper, as the centerpiece. Mashed potatoes sauced with a bit of beurre rouge and pan juices. Tiny peas with mint butter. Sweet corn with crispy bacon. Some quick beet pickles. Chocolate mousse with apricot coulis spiked with homemade orange liqueur and topped with chopped dark chocolate bits for dessert.photoLunch on Thursday with another couple. Mint-apple-honeydew cooler to drink. Shrimp toasts as a starter: butter-fried slices of chewy French bread with spicy lime avocado spread and tiny sweet shrimp on top. Pasta with smoked salmon and langoustines in lemon cream for the entrée. Carrots and celery in cooked in white wine with snippets of dill. Ginger coleslaw with Bosc pears and toasted sliced almonds. Fresh strawberries and cardamom shortbread with salted caramel icing for the big finish.

I always hope that everyone lunching or dining with me will enjoy everything I’m feeding them, but I have to admit that it’s kind of a big deal that I like it all, too! How else will I get fat and sassy in my old age? I may be ahead of the curve on the Sassy part, but I’m still hoping to be somewhat moderate or at least slow about the fattening-up part. Not that you could tell by my eating meals like this whenever I can get my gnashers on ’em. But here we are and I haven’t ballooned out of existence quite yet, so no doubt I shall continue my food adoration for at the very least another thousand days. Or whatever…come back and ask me later; I’m heading to the kitchen. Recipes will undoubtedly follow….photo

Foodie Tuesday: Fat & Sassy

In my unapologetically piggy way, I almost always manage to get a goodly amount of delicious fat into whatever food I’m fixing for any occasion. Yes, I do have the proverbial sweet tooth and oh boy do I crave my salt, and surely you’ve noticed that I rarely turn down practically any sort of food on offer at all. But there are some sneaky little biases that tend to recur so regularly that they might be considered trademarks of my taste no matter what dish or meal or bite is the treat of the moment, and tasty fat is one of those delights.

Doesn’t matter what’s the course of the meal or of the day, either one–fat is where it’s at.

Say, for a starter bite. Just putting some nice fatty dry salami together with pieces of dried apricots and chunks of dense, also fabulously fat, fried cheese makes an amazingly great treat that you might not even have to be as big an admirer of fat as I am to enjoy it all.photo

If that’s not fat enough for you (or if, like me, it’s simply not too much and therefore arguably not nearly enough), you can go about pumping up the main dish with some additional lipid-licious treasures. How about a sandwich with a nice thick slab of mozzarella or other mild, thick cheese and a whack of crispy bacon, glued together with a slathering of ginger jam and cradled between two slices of nut-butter based batter bread? All good, I assure you. Probably needed some good greasy chips to go with it, but the sandwich was perfectly serviceable on its own. Enough so that I’ll bet I could have enjoyed it with fruit or vegetables or some other ridiculously healthful and low-fat sides just the same.photo

That’d probably be an even better excuse to have a nice fat slice of sleekly fat dessert, no? Perhaps something like almond cream tart with chocolate sauce. Honestly, not a terrible way to alleviate the shortcomings of a meal that didn’t already have only strictly, gloriously fat ingredients beforehand. I like to keep my arteries well lubricated so my blood will flow nice and smoothly, you know.

Almond Cream Tart (an approximation of a recipe)

1/2 pound melted butter

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom

1-1/2 cups almond flour

Blend together thoroughly and divide the batter between two small, greased loaf pans and bake at 300 degrees until ‘sticky-finished’–very slightly underdone, or able to release a test toothpick fairly clean when it’s used to pierce the center of the loaf. Get the cakes out of the pans and let them cool enough to handle. While they’re cooling, line a Springform pan with plastic wrap.

Tear the cakes into large chunks. Distribute the cake pieces evenly in the Springform pan and press them down slightly. Moisten the cake with enough (1/4-1/2 cup of) heavy cream to help hold all of the pieces together. Smooth it out a little and sprinkle 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds over the top of it. Press the almonds down, pull the plastic wrap over the top, and seal the tart into the pan. Then, into the fridge with it for a few hours or overnight, and when it’s well chilled it’s ready to glaze and serve.

To serve, plate up pretty pie wedges of tart for each diner. Microwave some more heavy cream (1/2 cup or so) together with some pieces of nice dark chocolate (I used Dove Promises) until you can stir them together into a nice smooth chocolate sauce and drizzle it over the top of the slices and take them all out to the table. Everybody stick your forks in and start making silly slurpy sounds. And don’t forget to wipe the luscious fatty residue off of chins, y’all. I may be greasing the skids to perdition, but isn’t it a lovely slide to take?photo