This week is officially Thomas Keller week. Six of the nine birthdays that Russ has had since we've been married I have had the pleasure of cooking a nice meal for him on his birthday. We try to do French themed stuff on special occasions, and so my favorite cookbook of all times, The French Laundry is my cookbook of choice for this dinner. I have done a couple of repeats, but I always try something new, and I look forward to this week every year because it's the closest to culinary school I will probably ever get. We have affectionately dubbed the dinner La Laverie. Which is French for "The Laundrymat."
The first time I did it, is was just us. I stayed up late the night before and then spent the next day prepping a little bit, and then the dinner took a long, long time with the assembly and everything. We had leftovers for about a week. There were a couple of disasters, because I had only really been cooking for about a year at that point. Also, I normally don't follow directions exactly. I have since learned that with Mr. Keller's cookbooks, the dish turns out fabulous if I follow the directions. I've also learned to distinguish a little better which things I can not follow the directions on. Each of the recipes has several components (we normally do 5 courses) and so these days I have to choose recipes where I can make several of the components days in advance. I start cooking early in the week, and then the day of and prior to are very heavy cooking days. So I'm going to try to keep up and blog a little each day, but I might have to finish up next week. Anyway, it was while planning this year's menu that I came across the beet ice cream recipe, which I'm sure was fabulous with the Chocolate Cake that Mr. Keller paired it with, was far better with the brownies than stand alone, but just really was not a hit. Except with Bennett and Graham, but we've already talked about that. Here is a picture of it, and we have plenty of leftovers if you're hankering to try something new:
Ok, so back to my adventures in cooking. Today, I cooked artichokes. Here is an artichoke:
In all my years cooking, I have never cooked a fresh artichoke. I know it's terrible. I try to stay away from all things canned personally, but artichokes are one thing I have always bought canned. Until today. First, I had to pull off the bottom leaves.
Then cut off of the top
Then cut off the stem
and then, scrape out the fuzz (which I guess, technically, is called the "choke")
That last picture is actually fuzz that I had to dig out of the trash, because artichokes discolor if you're not fast enough (there's always a learning curve, so I was a little slow on the first one) and by the time I got to the last one the babies had realized that I was actually accomplishing something, and rushed to the scene and were about to pull the whole trash can over. So I had to hurry, and then dig out the fuzz later. But you get the idea.
Anyway, this is going in a salad which will be our second course, I think. I'll have to consult the menu. I marinated them and cooked them for a while, and I'll make the other parts at a later date because they can't be made as far in advance.