Sunday, February 19, 2017

That's a wrap

I took some pictures and never uploaded them, so we'll just cut to the chase here.   The dinner went well!  There were a couple dishes I was nervous about,  but everything tasted so good. Thomas Keller is a genius.

For our first appetizer,  the only dish I've made before, were these little "shrimp with avocado salsa" bites.  They were a big bite,  but a bite nonetheless.

Next,  we had "warm fruitwood smoked salmon with potato gnocchi and balsamic glaze. "  This might have been my favorite dish.  There are leftovers of this that I cannot wait to eat. The only thing is,  it could have been prettier.  The salad greens were a little too big,  so they kind of covered the rest of it.  But it still tasted delightful.

For the 3rd course we had "pickled oysters with English cucumber "capellini" and dill." This was the dish I was most nervous about, and the most surprised by.  I don't like oysters.  Actually to my knowledge none of the people at the dinner were fans.  This was a trust moment between me and TK, and he did not disappoint.  It also featured caviar on top. I'm not sure if I've eaten caviar before,  but I've certainly never bought it.  I was supposed to use black caviar,  but it's about $100 an ounce more than the red stuff..... So we went with the red stuff. Thanks,  Dessa,  for delivering it all the way from Augusta.    Y'all,   this was so good we even chewed up the oysters! I have to admit that one of our guests was the brave soul to eat his first and thus pave the way for the rest of us.

For the main course we had "saddle of rabbit in Applewood smoked bacon with caramelized fennel and fennel oil." The bacon.  Need I say more. This dish did include a kidney,  which I was also slightly nervous about,  but tasted really good.  I think I'll start saving more of those instead of feeding them to my chickens.  There was no picture of this dish plated in the cookbook.  So we tried a couple different ways. Let me know what you think... choice #1:

Choice #2

Notice that we decided to use the oyster shells as table decorations for the rest of the dinner.  It was particularly exciting when we realized a couple barnacles were still alive.  Meet Barney.  

For the cheese course,  we had a good old "Grilled Farmhouse cheddar, tomato consomme,  and butter fried chips" TK's interpretation of tomato soup and grilled cheese.  The brioche.  It's also good with a fried egg on it for breakfast the next morning.  

Finally,  for dessert we had "chocolate cakes with red beet ice cream and toasted walnut sauce." Making this ice cream brought back some fond memories of a certain high schooler who thought I had made red velvet ice cream.  I can't remember now why I made only the ice cream for this dessert,  but it tastes exactly like beets, and so I have put off making this dessert for about 5 years because even though I knew it would taste good if I made the entire dessert,  I just didn't want to take the risk.  But after oysters and kidney,  a little beet was not going to scare me this year.  So it made the menu.  And the ice cream still tastes exactly like beets BUT, as I've said before TK is a genius and I just trusted in that and when you make the whole dessert, it's divine.  Right down to the salted beet chips.

There's more of this, too. 

Excuse me while I go eat the leftovers.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

T-minus 2 days

48 hours from now,  we will be wrapping up dinner. In the meantime,  I feel like I've been doing a lot of cooking and no photographing.  The only two pictures I managed to take today were these.  

This is the rabbit saddle wrapped in bacon (the two little roundish things next to it are kidneys). We eat a good bit of rabbit,  and it's tasty. I'm pretty sure,  though,  that if you wrapped anything in this much bacon it would taste good.  Tomorrow, I have to figure out how to French rabbit bones. I'm not super good in this department on a more substantial cut of meat,  so I am hoping it's presentable. Because lets be honest, there is no meat on those little ribs. So that part is pretty much only for presentation.  

The second photo is of the tomato consomme draining.  This will be part of the cheese course. 

One of my children was upset at my choice in towel for this draining,  because it was his favorite, and now it's potentially stained.  One can only hope that this concern for cleanliness will one day carry over to other areas of life,  such as personal hygiene.  For now,  I'll be content with the hope that this conversation left me with.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The brioche is rising!!

 In exactly one week,  it will be birthday dinner time again.  We still live in the boonies, with no internet.  However,  we have slightly more data than last year, so we'll see how this goes.

For I think the first time,  I actually made in advance everything I planned to make in advance.

There is gnocci in the freezer.

There is brioche rising on the stove.

And the rabbits have been dispatched.  

This particular one was a little on the small side, so I'll use him for sausage.  We only need 3, but I had 5 so just went ahead and got it all done at once. 

 One of the fun things about the birthday dinner is finding creative, not labor- intensive ways to use up the extras.  We had shrimp & gnocci for dinner last night, one loaf of brioche will be making the best-ever grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow night, and I'll use the legs and two extra rabbits to make some tasty sausage on the next week or two.  

Yum!! No more cooking until Wednesday.

Friday, April 1, 2016


So, it's been a while since I posted anything reflective on here, but as I sit outside in the middle of the day around my outside fire, I can't resist. Let's say the Spirit is moving me.

I would not call myself a campfire professional by any means, but I've built my share. Since moving here we've had at least 20. I have 5 kids who all like to throw stuff in the fire. So I'm careful. I check the wind. We don't build it big. I hose all the ground around the fire ring. No running inside the fire. Wear shoes. Wear gloves. You get the drill.

So today was no exception. Smallish fire. Pretty still. So when I threw the very last log on, and simultaneously a small gust of wind blew right in my face, I was a little surprised. Then I smelled burnt hair. I was in no pain, so I audibly said "please let that only be my eyebrows. Please not the eyelashes." I guess I was talking to the Lord but He had already made His decision at that point so I ran in the house to see what it was.  I'll relieve any suspense and tell you right now, it wasn't just the eyebrows.


So, life happens and I got halfway through my story and it's been two weeks. The eyelashes have started to grow back, and now I have poison ivy. On. My. Face. One of my boys is a little more concerned about my looks than even I am, and he asked me if my face was going to look like that "forever."  So, I'm having the same reflection that I had over the eyelashes.  That reflection is glorify God in all things. My eyelids and face weren't burned. Praise God. I would rather have poison ivy than head lice any day of the week. Praise God. I'm almost 40, my looks are not what is important. Praise God.  Sometimes you just need a few plagues to remind you.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


We get an F on photography this year. Dinner was delicious, but we were so into the moment that we didn't even realize we had not taken one. single. photo. Until after three courses in. Oops. Here is the menu, though. 

The appetizer was the little cone things that I burned my fingers on, filled with marinated sushi tuna, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, and a sriracha mayo.  No picture, but tasty.

The second thing we ate was a single mussel on a spoon with a small amount of sauce that had a whole bunch of stuff in it, pickles, capers, shallots, hard-boiled eggs, other stuff.  One bite and you're done.

The third item, blini, are little quarter size potato pancakes that are smooth and delicate with reduced eggplant and roasted peppers to accompany. These were delightful. No picture.

It was at this point that we realized we hadn't taken any pictures. So Russ got out the phone and took a picture of this one, half assembled.  It had basil oil, tomato coulis, a crouton, cherry tomatoes, and is missing the tomato sorbet and the garlic tuille that tops the whole thing off. But you can sort of get the idea.

For the main course the only picture we got was of me cutting up the sea bass. I look so focused here. Not angry. Focused.

This was served with crispy skin, that I ate and liked, on top of a spinach ball the size of a bouncy ball, parsnip and cream puree, and a sauce that sounded like it should have been weird, but was really good. It was mussel stock reduced with a vanilla bean and saffron and then butter and cream added back into it. I think it was the vanilla-mussel combination that I was nervous about.

We forgot to take a picture of the cheese course. But it was a 2" round of brioche with a 1" hole cut out of it, and a quail egg cooked in the middle, salad with a Dijon vinaigrette, and wedges of manchego. Manchego *might* be my favorite cheese. At any rate it is the the cheese that sold me on sheeps milk and started my several year long journey to acquire sheep so that I can have my very own sheeps milk cheese. So much so that I kept cooking lamb and trying to find ways to make us like it so that I could justify owning an animal for cheese that I will get little to no milk out of for only 4 months of the year. But that's another story.

We finally got our act together by dessert, and took more pictures of that than the entire meal. I'm only putting two of them on here though. This shows the souffles that have been baked on a cinnamon cookie, straight out of the oven, along side the cinnamon ice cream that had been cut into discs waiting to be plated.

The tricky thing with this is that the chocolate sauce under the ice cream is warm. The souffle on top of the ice cream is hot. So you have about 5 second to get this to the table before the ice cream in the middle is melting. It still tastes fantastic though. So here is a picture, but it looks lopsided because the ice cream has already started to melt, and we were in a hurry to get this to the table. And eat it. And lick the plate.

By the end, I could not have eaten another thing. In fact, I think I'm still full. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Day Before

So, I cooked a lot today. I made mussel stock, and mussels. Reduced tomatoes and pureed them with other ingredients to make a tomato sorbet. Blanched basil to infuse it in olive oil so it would be a vibrant green color. Made these little garlic cracker thingies.

Yet the only photo I took was of the "cornets" that the tuna tartare will go in. I've made these before, they're like little sushi ice cream cones. So tasty. I forgot two things, though. The first thing, was how much batter to use. I did three batches. The first was too thick, the second too thin, the third just right. We will eat all of them. The second thing I forgot, unfortunately, was that in order to make them you have to burn off the first layer of skin on your thumbs and pointer fingers. So that by the time I got to the third and perfect thickness batch I could no longer roll them up without shouting, so that the kids were all running into the kitchen asking what was wrong with me. So here are the pictures. My fingers have finally recovered, you'll be happy to know.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Boonies

Well, we moved. We seemingly live in the middle of nowhere (although we are only 20 minutes away from a decent city, and I have an enormous grocery 10 minutes from my house). Yet, we have no internet. I do have a smartphone, finally, so we aren't totally off the grid. But we don't have much data, so I won't be blogging much.

However, Russ still has a birthday in the boonies and so I'm going to try to upload some pictures without totally blowing our phone plan.

This year, there are 4 new courses. However, one of them I haven't made since the very first ever birthday dinner when it was just the two of us in my apartment and I didn't know how to cook yet, really. So I'm interested to see if it turns out better now that I have a little more experience in the kitchen.

So far, I've put a bunch of stuff in the freezer. Brioche, chocolate souffles that will be little molten cakes (hopefully), cinnamon ice cream.

Yes, that's white sugar in my ice cream. And 10 egg yolks. We throw caution to the wind for the birthday dinner. 

These cinnamon cookies were delicious. I especially love how you cook them for a few minutes, and then cut them out, so that you are forced to eat all the little scraps on the pan.

There were a few other make ahead things, eggplant "caviar", chocolate sauce, stock. But tomorrow the cooking will ramp up. Now that dessert is made. First things first.