Friday, September 7, 2012

Prime, Baby, Prime

So...  Hi!  How ya been?  Have you cooked anything good lately?  I did, and wanted to share.

Al, Mr. Husband and Taster, went to Costco recently and got a pack of beef tenderloins.  Anyone who has shopped at Costco knows they have great meat.  It's also USDA prime grade, or as it will forevermore be known in our house, "Prime, Baby, Prime!" Al could not go five minutes without saying "Prime, Baby, Prime!" The phrase has stuck in my head and I will never eat another filet without thinking "Prime, Baby, Prime!"  It's an affliction.  An affliction I have now shared with you, so that ear-worm-like, I may (hopefully) purge it from my own brain.

I cooked the tenderloins as per usual; which means that I seared them in a very hot cast iron skillet for 3 minutes per side, and then put them in a 450 degree oven for about 3-4 minutes until they were approximately 140 degrees, or medium-rarish in temperature.  They were delicious.

But I had one left over.  And I couldn't stop thinking about the best way to use that one tenderloin.  Should I put it in a salad, or with some sesame noodles, or just gnaw on it straight out of the fridge?

I had a brainstorm one night after work, which is commendable considering I typically drink whisky after work, but all the same.  I thought, wouldn't that tenderloin be really good with a poached egg?  Then the magic began.

I toasted 2 slices of white bread.  I lightly buttered them, and spread a layer of stone-ground mustard with horseradish over the butter.  I thinly sliced the refrigerated, cooked fillet, and gently heated it in a skillet.  Once the steak was warm, I added about a tablespoon of butter, and several shakes of Worcestershire sauce.  I kept that saucy steak warm while I poached 2 eggs.  Note: poach the eggs last, as their cooking time is just a couple minutes.  (I kept mine warm while the toast finished, and the yolks were not as runny as I would have liked, although still awesome.) Layer the tenderloin slices on the buttery, mustardy toast, and top with a poached egg. 

I didn't discuss the use of the last "Prime, Baby, Prime!" filet with Al before cooking, I just made it and surprised him.  He was pretty damn impressed, if I do say so myself.  Since that night, he's been talking to me about why I started this blog.  

When I began, the goal was simply to have a "place," a repository where I put all of my recipes, and thoughts about food.  I've been thinking about why I haven't wanted to blog lately, and I think I got too caught up trying to be cool; trying to take the best photos, have absolutely perfect grammar, or have the most witty things to say on the entire internet.  I started to analyze a hobby way too much, and now can't help but think that's a terrible waste of time and energy.  As I heard my rockin' boss say recently "When you find yourself thinking that you're so very cool, let your next thought be, who cares?"

So, in keeping with that spirit, here we go!  No pictures (today), no days of editing, and angst about every little detail.  Just me, and the "Prime, Baby, Prime!" story of really good leftovers, topped with a poached egg.  That's perfect, all by itself.

It's Prime, Baby, Prime.

Bean Out.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  Truly, I can't wait for a day with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and I can just sit around and eat until my pants don't fit.

Oh wait... days like that have been pretty easy to come by lately.  I have the pants to prove it.  There's nothing like sustained unemployment, an expanding waistline and chronic insomnia to put one in the holiday spirit.  But here comes that turkey anyway, ready or not!

Despite the awakening of my inner Grinch, which I will blame on the early onset of the shopping season, I am thankful for quite a lot this year.  I have a loving family who have listened, and cried, and laughed right along with me these last several months.  I don't know what I would do without those phone calls home to Mom, in particular.  There's just something about a woman who swears like a sailor that makes me smile.

I have a wonderful extended family of friends who are always looking out for me, making me laugh, and distracting me from my worries.  I appreciate them all, and am grateful  both for the times they made me leave the house to socialize, and for the times they let me off the hook because they knew getting off the couch was more than I could handle.  Equally important qualities in my opinion.

I have a really great husband.  It's hard to take someone for granted when you find yourself yipping and jumping like a dog when he walks in the door after work, because you're so starved for human companionship.  His patience and sense of humor have kept me together, even when it felt like I was falling apart.

Finally, apparently I still have some readers, at least according to the stats.  So for those of you who have continued to check in to this blog, or who have encouraged me to start posting again, thanks.  It's nice to know you're still out there. it time to talk about food now?  Ok?  Ok.

I wanted to try something new for cranberries this Thanksgiving.  I was raised on the canned jelly, progressed to the whole-berry sauce, and am now ready to graduate to making them from scratch.  Cranberry sauce has never been my favorite part of the feast, but I always end up eating it anyway because the tartness cuts through the rest of the heavy flavors so well.  When I came upon the recipe for Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger in Mark Bittman's book it sounded perfect; fresh, bright, and no cooking required.

All you do is take your fresh cranberries, orange segments, zest and sugar and whiz it around in the food processor until chunky.  Just a few quick pulses did the job.

Then you stir in some freshly grated ginger, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to marry.  I like this recipe over a cooked cranberry sauce because you could whip it up on the fly on turkey day without taking up a burner on the stove.  Or you can make it the day before, and store in the fridge.

I think this is the best cranberry recipe I've ever tasted.  It's tart, slightly sweet, a bit spicy from the ginger, and the berries have the most amazing texture.  They have a really nice bite to them, as opposed to the mushiness you get with canned cranberries.  This relish would be the perfect condiment for a turkey sandwich or wrap as well.  Super yummy, simple and fresh.  I'm looking forward to serving this for Thanksgiving, provided I can stop eating it and save some for next week.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody! 

Cranberry Relish with Orange and Ginger
Source: Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything 

1 large orange
12 oz fresh cranberries (recipe calls for 16 oz, but my store only had 12 oz bags, and 12 did the job just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Use a microplane or zester to remove all zest from orange.  Remove pith and separate orange into segments.  Combine orange flesh, zest, sugar and cranberries in food processor.  Pulse a few times until relish is chunky.  Do not over-process or you'll end up with puree.  Stir in ginger, and more sugar if needed.  Let sit for 30 minutes for flavors to marry, or store for up to a few days in the fridge.

Thanksgiving Update:  I had frozen the relish after I made it for this post, so that it would still be good for Thanksgiving dinner.  When we ate it today, it was even better than it was fresh.  All of the flavors were perfect, and the texture of the cranberries had softened just a bit.  So if you were wondering if you could freeze this recipe, freeze on!

Monday, July 25, 2011

No Recipe

I've been away longer than I expected.  Life has gone all sorts of wrong.  I'd like to tell you that I have been a paragon of strength and resilience during "these challenging times," but that wouldn't be true.  I tried to write that post, and learned I'm a lousy liar.  I think the only option left is to set my wounded pride aside, and write about what's real.  
I had big plans for this summer.  After several years on the high-tech roller-coaster I had a stable job.  The people were nice, and the pay was decent.  I began to believe that after all the years being patient, and paying my dues, it was my turn.  After 13+ years of apartment life, the husband and I started looking at houses.  We were beyond excited, and felt sure we'd have a house and be training our first puppy by September.  It was so close.

I'd like to tell you that when I lost my job in May, I found comfort and solace in cooking.  I'd spin a yarn about the days I spent standing over the stove, certain of better times ahead.  I'd tell you about how I spent my mornings searching for jobs, and the afternoons creating new and delicious recipes.  I'd tell you how this blog makes me happy when skies are gray, because that's what bloggers are supposed to say.  Right?

But I can't stand to be in my kitchen.  Every time I see that room I think of the kitchen in the house we lost.  A poorly fried egg brought me to tears a couple weeks ago.  I can't think of anything I want to cook, or anything I want to eat.  I pass through just long enough to heat frozen pizzas.  I will have to climb a mountain of Red Baron boxes to get back to who I was. 

I haven't been resilient.  I took my pathetic scraps of dreams, and wove them into a rope sturdy enough to batten down the lid of the box where I keep what was once "me" contained.  The body moves through daily life on auto-pilot.  It wanders the aisles of the grocery store, not having remembered driving there, or what it needed to buy.  I am here, but not really.  I do not feel strong.

I have escaped into books, the weight of each finished volume a barrier between me and all I don't want to face: the job search, unpredictable bosses, yet another shiny new opportunity I am cynically certain will result in little more than future disappointment.  I read another book, stack it on top of the box, and am walled in.

I don't want for anything in this place I've made for myself.  I don't dream of vacations, or pets, or children, or of a little backyard to sit and pass the time in the evening.  It's nice in here, it's quiet.  At some point I know I will have to break the bonds I've made and lift the lid.  There will be other jobs, other houses, other kitchens.  I will feel like myself again.  I will want to cook.

Just not yet.