Oh man. It is so gorgeous here I cannot even tell you. Weather in the 50s. Sunny errr day. It’s really hard to sit down and write ANYTHING, let alone DEAR MF DIARY stuffs. But if I don’t capture this, it will be gone. I feel a little more (self) pressure because apparently the post-holiday tech contract lull has ended and I am back behind a desk on Monday for a very short three week stint. I am replacing a replacement person basically. I like the short term stuff. My headhunter is urging me to turn my new resume back around to her immediately as soon as I know what my job duties are because stuff is cooking. This may slow down my career change, but will not kill it. I still have nights and weekends to work on my stuff. I’m in a tech math class and I have to be done by July, which I will be.
Let us rewind 3 weeks or so backwards to Valentine’s Day. I was interested in going out and doing an early prix fixe thing with the girls and all, but a place I thought was okay for that (dedicated gluten-free menu, extensive discussion with the server) made me ill recently, so I kind of gave up on the notion of returning anytime soon.
Naturally I decided to make an eight-course meal at home.
I wrote the menu on our chalk board both to pretend I was a little pop up bistro, but also because I knew my family would be asking me about the menu ALL. DAY. LONG. Especially La Dwarf, who is going through another accelerated phase of “mouth works faster than brain.” It is my very informal observation that kids get really rough sometimes after their half year and tend to improve after their birthdays (she is turning ten this month, WHEW).
It was fun, but tiring. I always say after my Victorian year, nothing seems too challenging at this point. I estimated it would take me about 4 hours to prepare and assemble everything, but that was dumb. In the past I would have purchased things like creme fraiche–but now I make things like that. I cooked for about eight hours. I’ve been exercising so much that I wasn’t that tired or sore really. I am sad I am going back to a desk. The company where I am working seems to have a trick of deferring contractor requests for standing desks until your contract expires. They don’t actually say no, they just delay it. This is a short one, though.
ANYWAY, food. I will try to be brief. First course was an amuse bouche.
“Caviar”, smoked salmon, potato cakes, dill, lemon zest, and vegan sour cream.
Franny was late due to shenanigans involving not catching the bus on time. She was out with her boyfriend. I told her SIX SHARP! No soup for you! Actually I think she arrived during the soup.
I made little mashed potato cakes and then stamped them with my heart cutter set. It’s hard to see them on the spoons above but they are nestled as a base under the seafood.
This is as smooth as I could get my “sour cream.”
Vegan subs are weird. You know you’re not eating dairy, but it’s…close enough? Kind of acts as a place holder. I couldn’t see doing an amuse like this without dairylike product.
Course two was steak tartare with homemade potato chips.
This was probably the most popular course. I am accustomed to eating it with toast, but I actually preferred this. Weirdly, doing it this way reminded me of getting burgers and fries, in a really good way. Yes, the meat is molded into a heart shape. I used a nice half-pound tenderloin.
Course three was a pink cauliflower soup.
I am just getting into cauliflower. I never liked it when I was a kid, I think because it came out of a bag in frozen florets and was boiled into moosh. Now I am all about roasting it, which, duh.
This was a vegan recipe I will not link, because frankly it was not that flavorful. I will use the excuse that I am still a little new at this veggie to make up for my poor choice of recipe. I had homemade chicken/random animal bits that made it into my freezer broth in the fridge already so I used that instead of veg broth, of course.
This may be a funny place to say this, in the middle of describing a very frivolous and indulgent meal, but since I’ve been out of work I’ve made using up every leftover I can into an avocation. I tease P. about being “Depression Era Dan” with his string- and twist tie-hoarding ways but I was really going for it. Going for it like, giving him shit about throwing out an orphaned tablespoon of lamb or something. So when I realized I had leftover whole roasted beets in the fridge, I knew they would be great for this meal.
I sent one of my cutters right down the middle of each beet and linked some of the courses together with beet heart coins. I also used one to dye the soup. The soup called for purple cauliflower, but it was expensive and looked pretty sad/brown in the store when I was shopping for everything. Far better to buy a nice-looking white one.
Each serving got dill arrow, negative beet heart cut outs, and a “sour cream” heart. It was edible. I will say now that this is the only leftover that didn’t get completely finished.
Courses four and five were a shaved fennel, blood orange, and golden and red beet salad, and a heart-shaped tomato aspic.
I’d had an individual serving of tomato aspic, I think from Mastering the Art of French Cooking at a Julie and Julia dinner party? Doesn’t that sound so 2009? I liked it a lot. Mostly that course was for me, so I bought it out with the salad.
I sort of made it up. It was some of my broth, plus spices and herbs, plus pureed tomatoes. And a buttload of gelatin. DONE. We just kind of sliced into it.
Course six was some gluten-free gnocchi. It was pretty good. It called for mochiko, which opened me up to the world of mochi style desserts (so easy). You can maybe tell from the picture they were a wee bit sticky or something but edible.
They did not want to hold their cute little fork dents per usual. I made a bog standard pesto, but with nooch instead of cheese. I vowed to serve small servings of everything, but this is where we tripped up. Course seven was taking longer than anticipated and we had a moment of weakness–Franny, Strudel, and I had seconds. Then the PAIN started. We were getting full! Crap!
Course seven is not pictured here. I made glazed five spice lamb chops and baby bok choi with forbidden (black) rice on the side. In my impending food coma I forgot to snap it. Let’s pretend it looked like this since it was based off that. Lollipops are like 4 million dollars right now so I bought loin chops. YUMM.
Finally I made a lava cake with raspberry sauce. I wish I had a picture of it “erupting” but I flinched and overcooked it (this was my first time doing a gluten free/vegan one).
It was good, though, and tasted like “flourless” chocolate cake. And that was the end and we were bursting at the seams. We spontaneously decided to teetotal that night, since it was Saturday and we wanted to not have a food AND champagne hangover on Sunday. This was a wise decision.
Here is the part like in the 80s movie when they do “Where are they now?” Everything got used up! (Except the boring soup.) On Sunday morning I woke up and gently panfried/scrambled the tartare and then cooked it into scrambled eggs. Wow that was fucking amazing and I recommend it. I don’t worry about saving raw meat/raw eggs combo if I’m going to cook it into something else in ~12 hours. Everything else just kind of got eaten.
Next up: Christmas pics from 2013. KIDDING. Hopefully next up is some beehive woodworky pics this weekend!!