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Spring Break = Kitchen Triumpfs and Disasters

March 31, 2011

I usually work 3 if not 4 jobs during an average week. I work at Pendl’s bakery, I wait tables a couple nights a week at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn and I substitute teach…on occasion I fill in for Mike at Alpine Wines. This week I am on a spring break of sorts. Nora’s has closed for the off season and the school where I sub is on spring break. Because of this I have been on a roll acting like Suzy Homemaker. Almost each morning I have been cooking breakfast for Jeff and sending him on his way to work, cleaning the house and whipping up some silly dinner.

So far this week I have had many successes and one big failure.

  • Monday Night Lentils: you can find my basic recipe here. I added sausage this time around.
  • Tuesday night: mushroom and caramelized onion risotto, spinach salad with roasted beets and a breaded and sauteed goat cheese medallion served with a light walnut vinaigrette. The risotto was ok…think I am kind of over it. I used to love cooking it. It was my comfort food…my mac and cheese. If you are interested, you can find my article on risotto, along with a great clip from one of my favorite films, Big Night, here. While making the risotto I decided that I would make my first attempt at Babi’s Pound Cake. For our wedding, my recipe editor and friend Eleanor gave me a basket of baking supplies along with a binder of recipes. One of them was for her mother’s pound cake. It must be made with the St. Denis cup that was provided in the basket.

    The St. Denis Cup along with tags from the other various baking supplies in the gift basket

As we have been in remodel mode for nearly a year, I had not yet taken the basket out of storage. But, at Eleanor’s behest, I got it out and made the cake. I think we need to recalibrate our oven.

  • Wednesday Night: I worked all day at the bakery and thus planned an easy dinner, grilled sirloin steak Cesar salads. I even planned enough ahead to make the dressing the night before. For this salad, I marinated the steak with a little olive oil and balsamic, seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it on a griddle pan on the stove. Then I took romaine hearts, cut them in half, drizzled them with olive oil and grilled them on the same grilled pan. I waited them down with a heavy pot lid while they cooked. Finally I drizzled my cesar dressing over them and eccola! Here you go.Of course I had more time on my hands than anticipated and after having just watched a rerun of Top Chef at the gym (oh how I love machines with a tv), I had a craving for tomato soup…so while I grilled my steaks, I whipped up a quick tomato bisque…the recipe comes from Tavern on Rush in Chicago. It is not exact, but it is as close as I have come. (And yes, that was me writing into the Chicago Tribune begging for the recipe). Of course, by the time Jeff got home I no longer wanted to eat tomato soup, so it is sitting in the fridge waiting for me to puree it and perhaps freeze for a future lunch.
  • Thursday…today. Well I have been spending most of the day on the computer writing. Teton Family Magazine is being delivered to the valley today. I have an article published on the last page of the mag. Of course I only had a small amount of space so I promised that I would post pictures and more recipes on my website. Alas, I spend the morning uploading pictures of my home cured guanciale adventure and my foray into homemade pasta with freshly ground flour. Alas, I should be off to computer by now, but I wanted to write something here as well. Tonight we are headed to our friends’ house for a birthday party. We need to bring something to drink and an app. I thought for a few minutes and then decided it is time to pull the deep frier that we got for the wedding out of storage and use up the leftover risotto making arancini. arancini are breaded and fried risotto balls. I have been wanting to try them for years but never got around to it. Wish me luck.

Mel’s Simple Cesar Dressing

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Few dashes Worcestershire

1-2 anchovie fillets or a squirt of anchovy paste

1 small egg, coddled

2-4 garlic cloves

salt and pepper

olive oil and canola or vegetable oil

I usually blend all of the ingredients except the oil in the mini prep food processor. Then slowly drizzle oil in as you whisk. I start with olive oil so I get some flavor and then switch to canola oil to thicken it up a bit.

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