Tuesday, April 7, 2009

As I flit from shop window to window/I'm trying to pick up a friendly bargin

My world has remained rather narrow lately and I'm perfectly happy with that. It's been all about working, drawing and painting, the computer and all that entails, tv time with Steve, and a fair amount of cooking.

On Saturday morning I happened across a mention online of a croque monsieur and I was immediately obsessed. Dinner would be croque monsieur sandwiches, frites and an apple tartin. The sandwich is simple and is a delicious sum of its parts - ham and cheese on toasted bread kissed with Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, topped with a slightly cheesy bechamel sauce redolent with nutmeg and another bit of cheese. The whole thing is run under the broiler until the cheese and sauce on top is bubbling and golden. The combination of the melted cheese, crunchy bread and velvety smooth sauce is intoxicating. And it was a mini explosion of taste as the mustard and the nutmeg blended in my mouth. Oh, to live in France and have these available at every corner bistro. To go alongside, I cut very thin sticks of potatoes and deep fried them till golden. There really is nothing like a home made frite. A simple salad alongside cut the richness.

My apple tartin was not authentic, but was an amalgram of several recipes I looked over. Sliced apples were cooked in butter and a caramelized sugar syrup, then baked until the apples just started to caramelize, then removed from the oven to top with a circle of puff pastry cut to fit the pan and returned to bake until golden brown and puffy. After cooling for just a bit, I inverted it onto a platter. It didn't end up looking as pretty as I would have hoped, but it tasted great.

Sunday night dinner was a fat, juicy roasted chicken seasoned with lemon juice and garlic. To accompany I roasted brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and prepared rice with sweet corn and achiote. A very satisfying dinner for the end of the weekend.

Today I stopped in at Jay's to pick up a supply of international ingredients, leaving me with a pile of exciting possibilities for the week ahead. Look at all this good stuff!

Empanada wrappers! Coconut milk (tofu curry here I come)! Bleu cheese! Feta cheese! Spanish chorizo! Whole wheat lavosh! Oh the possibilities to come. Tonight a brisket of beef is slow roasting in the oven. I believe I will serve it with bleu cheese sprinkled on the slices and a bleu cheese speckled potato salad. All I could think of today was that luscious beef and bleu cheese combo.

Tomorrow it is back to work after being off for several days. Believe it or not, I can't wait.

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