Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Am Pissed.

Middle Hawthorne just called me. He'd gone back to his house in Greensboro, and it had been broken into. His wide screen TV is gone. I don't know what else. Probably everything. I told him to call the police and make a report. This totally sucks.

Rosie Treats Herself To Souffle.

I have been reading about Marilyn's (Of FoodiesUntie) ham dilemma ... what to do with the rest of a 15-pound ham. The poor woman has made ham salad, ham loaf, ham burger, ham sandwich, ham casserole, skillet ham and hash browns with cheese, ham and green beens. Did I miss anything, Mar? She finally diced and froze the rest of the ham and doesn't want to see ham again for a long, long time. Can't say that I blame her. I'm having the same problem, only on a much smaller scale. So, this morning, I'm checking out the interior of my fridge and I see a large ham lurking in the back, a container of leftover egg whites, and one sad lone egg. Immona fix me a souffle!
Most of my ingredients: egg whites egg cheddar cheese Swiss cheese heavy cream
I separated the little egg I had and poured all the whites into a measuring cup. Seems to be about 1 cup of whites.
Next I put in 2 large tablespoon glops of butter in my pan.
I melted the butter, then added about 1/4 cup of flour, (basically equal amounts butter and flour) whisking constantly over low heat.
What I have here is officially a roux, simply a combination of fat and flour which is used to thicken other sauces. A roux is used as the basis for three mother sauces in classical French cuisine. There's sauce bechamel, which is simply a milk sauce thickened by the roux. It was invented by Louis de Bechamel , of Louis XIV's court, in 1654, in an attempt to mask the flavor of the dried cod he had shipped from Newfoundland fisheries across the Atlantic to France. There's sauce veloute, which uses stock thickened by the roux instead of milk. The name means velvety in French. And there's sauce espagnole, which uses stock thickened with a brown roux and, most importantly, uses tomatoes. According to the story, the Spanish cooks of Louis XIII's bride, Anne, in preparing their wedding feast, wanted to improve upon the rich, thick French sauces by adding Spanish tomatoes, hence the name.
Next I slowly added in about 1 cup of heavy cream, constantly stirring.
Until I had a lovely smooth sauce bechamel.
I seasoned with salt, and freshly grated pepper and nutmeg. And this is the basis for my souffle.
I diced my Swiss cheese and ham and grated the Cheddar.
I beat my little egg yolk until it was light and lemon colored, then added in my bechamel sauce, whisking.
Next, I whupped my egg whites until stiff peaks formed, but not so much that they would dry out. Important note here: Whenever you're dealing with egg whites, be sure there is no yolk in the whites. Even the tiniest bit of yolk will ruin your egg whites. Also, be sure there is no water in the whites, say in the bowl or on the beaters. Again, as with yolk, the whites won't beat.
First I added in a big splat of the egg whites to the bechamel sauce and stirred it in, just to lighten the sauce.
Next I stirred in the Swiss and the ham.
Then I carefully folded in the rest of the whites, lifting and turning.
And here's my souffle mixture ready to go in the dish.
I sprinkled the cheddar on top. Once again, I had high hopes for this souffle, so I optimistically wrapped a buttered collar around my buttered souffle dish just in case my souffle rose to impossible heights. 350 degree oven for 60 minutes
Better safe than sorry.
Light, delicate, fluffy, and airy.
Just the way a souffle is supposed to be.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Resolutions.

Oh, crap. I just realized tomorrow is New Year's Eve. And since I'm here by myself, all by my lonesome, I'm thinking about New Year's Resolutions. Just more of the same. Luckily, I've been able to keep these each year: 1) Gain more weight. 2) Drink more. And then some. 3) Read less. 4) Spend less time with my family. 5) Take up a new hobby. (Maybe smoking this year.) 6) Procrastinate more. 7) Screw exercising. 8) Spend more time on TV and Internet. 9) Learn to text message. 10) Let the laundry do itself. Yup... I'm ready for 2009. Bring it on! Please, Dear Readers, share with all of us your own New Year's Resolutions.

Thanks, Hairball!

I must thank Hairball, of HairballsOnTheCarpetOfLife for bringing this video to my attention. I'm by myself today. Middle Hawthorne and Beau left this morning. Daughter Hawthorne, Giada, and Youngest Hawthorne are back in Greenville, Mr. Hawthorne is bear hunting, and I'm not cooking. So I have nothing to blog about. But, then ... I went to Hairball's blog and found that video, which I thought was freakin' hilarious. Thanks, Hairball. I remember back in ... was it 1969-70? ... when I'd help my friend Raymond deliver the afternoon papers, and after his paper route, we'd go back to my house and would watch Star Trek every afternoon. It was awesome. Thanks, Hairball, for the memories.

Monday, December 29, 2008

It's Monday. My Day Of Rest.

After a wonderful visit, Maxine left this morning. Maxine is a firm believer in the old adage about visitors and fish and she insists on leaving the third day, although Maxine is more than welcome to stay longer. So, it's just Middle Hawthorne and Beau and Dixie and me left. I'm so happy that Christmas is over. I'm kind of tired and I am doing absolutely nothing today except catching up on my blogging and trying to relax.
Middle Hawthorne and Beau woke up rather early this morning (i.e., before noon), only to come upstairs and pass out on the couch. for a few more hours.
"Are YOU lookin' at me?" Beau is such a handsome puppy.
Heh. I got him blinking.
Beau decided to move over to the chair instead of the sofa. Now that's a cute puppy dog.
Not to be outdone by Marilyn of FoodiesUntie blogdom, I must show you some of my favorite gifts. XmasKatie gave me the lovely purple and green candle holder at top left. Sistah Hawthorne gave me the 10 bowls (Count 'em ... TEN!) at top right. And Mr. Hawthorne actually paid attention and bought me everything I asked for and then some. I got the set of measuring cups which included the 1/3 cup measure which my set didn't have. I got another set of measuring cups and spoons. I got the flexible, multi-colored cutting boards. I got the digital scale. I got two bamboo cutting boards. And ... I got an immersion blender, which I didn't even ask for, but I'm sure Mr. Hawthorne couldn't help himself when he saw it when he was at the Gourmet Kitchen store.
Here's Dixie, keeping a close eye on BoBo, guarding her food bowl and pretending to eat. And BoBo is respecting Dixie's space.

Rosie Makes Sushi And Shrimp Rolls.

Daughter Hawthorne and Giada headed back to Greenville Saturday afternoon after a nice visit with Maxine. Youngest Hawthorne headed back Sunday morning. And Mr. Hawthorne left early Sunday morning to go bear hunting in Northern Virginia. Middle Hawthorne, Beau, and Maxine remain at Casa Hawthorne. Maxine treated Middle Hawthorne and me to lunch at one of the local restaurants, and remind me never to go to a restaurant that has like 20 TVs scattered all over the walls on a Sunday afternoon during football season. Service was slow, and the place was LOUD, people were OBNOXIOUS, and there were several different football games going on all at the same time, and it just was not our cup of tea, so to speak, or our bottle of beer either. In fact, the beer was flowing quite freely, most of the patients were feeling no pain, and one man in the group at the table across from us kept turning around and leering at my son, which made me just a tad uncomfortable. Thanks again for lunch, Maxine! When we got home, after a quick detour to Harris Teeter, I decided to start on supper for Maxine and me, which will be leftover Lobster and Shrimp Bisque, sushi, and spring rolls. Hey, if Mr. Hawthorne can do it, certainly Rosie can.
My ingredients: shrimp sticky rice lettuce from the garden jullienned carrots, sliced avocados sliced cucumbers sliced assorted peppers sliced radishes from the garden
According to directions, I lightly seared the shiny side of the nori over a flame. And yes, that's the dull side on top.
I spread out some sticky sushi rice on the seaweed sheet, spread some wasabi sauce down the center, and added cucumber slices.
Next, I added some sliced peppers and radishes.
This one has some pickled ginger slices in it.
WHOOT! I can roll sushi.
Now, I'm working on the spring rolls. Rice, wasabi, and ginger.
Lettuce, radishes, peppers, carrots, and avocado. And just what is it about buying avocados? That's why we went to Harris Teeter, because I wanted an avocado for my spring rolls. (Even though I am gastronomically sensitive to avocados beginning during my pregnancy with Daughter Hawthorne and can only have a few bites, I still love 'em.) But back to avocados in super markets ... They're either hard as a baseball or super soft to the point of brown mush, which this one was fast approaching. Why can't you ever buy one that's actually ripe? When I want an avocado, I want it now. Not 3 days from now.
I topped the rolls with sliced shrimp. The spring rolls on the green plate have the avocado in them. The ones on the coral plate don't, so I'll know which are which and not accidentally eat too much avocado.
And here are my sushi and my spring rolls.
Not bad for my first attempt if I do say so myself, but, like everything, this is going to take some practice.
Pretty little shrimp spring roll.
And pretty little sushi roll.
I served them with my assortment of dipping sauces and they were darn good.

Maxine Visits And We Prepare Saturday Night Dinner.

My dear friend, Maxine, came for her semi-annual visit this weekend and you can believe that lots of delicious food was consumed. Our menu for Saturday night dinner: Rib roast with a brandy and peppercorn sauce Smashed herbed potatoes Mashed turnips Green pea/mushroom/onion/wilted lettuce
Here's the mise en place for the brandy peppercorn sauce, a Tyler Florence recipe. olive oil shallots
garlic fresh thyme brandy beef stock cream coarse grain mustard green and pink peppercorns in brine
I sliced the shallot, minced the garlic, and used my handy-dandy herb strippers to strip the thyme leaves off the stems.
I sauteed the shallots, garlic, and thyme in the olive oil for a few minutes.
Brandy gets added to the pan. I wish I'd remember to keep my camera horizontal when shooting videos, but I always forget. I guess I get too excited what with flames shooting in the air. More flames.
After the flames died down, I added the beef stock and reduced by half.
Maxine helps out in the kitchen.
Cream went in next.
Then the mustard.
Reduce again by half.
And finally add in the peppercorns. I'll be making this sauce again as it is quite good. As a matter of fact, I'm eating a roast beef sandwich on whole wheat toast with Gray Poupon mustard and horseradish for lunch right now and I'm dipping it into the Brandy/Peppercorn sauce. And it is goooooood.
Next, Amy Finley's cracked potatoes. Except I used sage and rosemary instead of thyme, so I guess that makes them Rosie Hawthorne's potatoes.
Since Maxine had never had turnips except for raw ones, Mr. Hawthorne made mashed turnips. Just simmer turnip slices until tender, mash with butter, and add salt and pepper. It's a very nice change from mashed potatoes, and makes you go, "Hmmm, what's that flavor?" Except NOT.
I really like my pea/mushroom/onion/wilted lettuce dish. Just saute mushrooms in butter. (Don't add salt until after mushrooms are browned, else the salt draws out the moisture in the shrooms and they'll steam instead of saute.) Add in FROZEN PEAS - NOT CANNED, because if you use canned, yes, I will hunt you down and cause physical harm.
Add in onion chunks and lettuce and just heat until lettuce is wilted. Salt and pepper. And you have a delicious side dish. Next, a 7-pound, bone-in rib roast.
Mr. Hawthorne trimmed off some of the fat, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
Mr. Hawthorne put the roast in a preheated 500 degree oven for 12 minutes, then cut the oven off, opened the door, and got the temperature down to 225. This is where a digital thermometer is crucial. When the internal temperature reached 122 degrees, he took the roast out of the oven and let it continue to cook, covered, until the temperature reached 135 degrees.
And here's a wonderfully tender, rare roast.
Here's our meal: rare roast beef with brandy peppercorn sauce, mashed turnips, peas with onions, mushrooms, and wilted lettuce, and cracked potatoes with sage and rosemary. In case you were wondering, this was a delicious meal.