I hope the Bunny the was good to you and there was lots of family time!
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There’s something soothing about making a cup of tea. Filling the kettle, selecting a mug, choosing a tea from my over stocked tea shelf and putting the elements together. I’m more of a one cup at a time instead of a whole pot kind of girl. If I go for a second cup, I’ll switch to another tea. I’m fickle like that and vari-ah-tea is the spice of life!
My first choice lately is Earl Grey Cream, a gift from my friend Banquette, it came with the mug pictured as well. The silicone tea infuser/stirrer was a present from Exec Chef and it is handy-dandy and aquamarine, two very good traits to have.
I think what I like most about a cup of tea is that you have to pause the chaos of your day, sit down, inhale the aroma and take the time to sip. At work, fixing a cup of tea is an island of sanity in a sea of crazy. In the summertime, I make glass after glass of iced tea. The convenience of a hot water selection on the coffee maker and a freezer full of fresh ice cubes makes it a snap. But, takes long enough for me to catch my breath and recharge my batteries.
Here’s to the restorative powers of a nice cuppa! Lord knows I’ll need more than a few to get me through this year.
My darling Executive Chef husband was showing off some of the photos above to his restaurant team to taunt them with his weekend brunches at home. There is nothing like being woken up by the blissful smell of bacon goodness and heavenly hash browns, or so I’ve been told. I’m the one making the aromas come to life, cartoons blaring in the background.
Not to be immodest (since my modesty is one of my best qualities), but I make a pretty damn fine brunch. The last time I had a good brunch at a restaurant, I told the cook responsible that his hash browns were almost as good as mine. As he tried to compute the comment, Exec Chef helped him along by acknowledging that this was highly complimentary.
While my brunch menu always has bacon and hash browns on it, the third partner is a rotating one. Waffles, pancakes and French Toast take their turns on the dance floor. When I had my sourdough starter, pancakes had priority on the rotation. But, lately the boys are asking for the French Toast. Can I blame them? No, I can’t. It’s pretty darn good.
The key is the bread. I will only use sourdough. I usually pick up a loaf from Save-On-Foods since I have yet to find a decent bakery nearby. I usually only use half a loaf for Frenchies, so I use the rest for croutons or freeze the remaining slices to use on another Sunday morning. My deep freeze is like a treasure chest, just colder and with less dubloons.
My preferred topping is the darkest maple syrup I can find. Once, I had a bottle of this amazing maple syrup that is aged in a former bourbon barrel. I tried to make it last, but it was too good to resist. Exec Chef, on the other hand has only salt and pepper on his, albeit only kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Junior Chef has been known to create a snowscape with powdered sugar and then ask for maple syrup on top!
Do you love garlic? Because I do. It’s pretty dang amazing. I send my regrets to anyone who has an allergy to garlic. My condolences. I don’t know what I would do, besides pout a lot. I grew up with my mother worshiping garlic on a daily basis, it could cure anything and often did. Her theory was that if the whole family ate garlic then garlic breath wouldn’t be a problem. She did tend to overdo it with the raw garlic sometimes. But, man, if you complained that you had a cold coming on, she’d dose you up good and the sniffles would disappear. She would actually eat multiple cloves of raw garlic on toast with a bit of olive oil. Yeah, I’d just blow her a goodnight kiss from across the room to be safe.
Roasted garlic is a thing of beauty, and a sweet mellow way to enjoy Allium Sativum (that’s MR. Garlic to you). But today, I want to introduce you to TOASTED garlic. It’s half way between the spark of raw and the lush sugar of roasted. It’s a quick and easy way to take the bite out of the beast.
Separate the cloves, but leave the skin on, toss them in a hot dry pan and shake them around until there are touches of black on every side. Let them cool down a bit, then skin and dice the cloves. This can be used as a substitute for raw garlic in any recipe where you want to tone down the garlickiness or a sub for roasted garlic if you don’t have an extra 45 minutes.
One of the fastest ways to enjoy the toasty loveliness is to mix it up with some softened unsalted butter, freshly grated parmesan cheese and salt to taste. Slather it on the crustiest bread you can find, give it a fresh grind of black pepper and slide it under the broiler for about 10 minutes until it is golden and bubbly.
The best dance partner for this crusty loaf is a saucy tomato of a dish like spaghetti and meatballs, or chicken with a tomato pesto sauce on polenta. Dang, shouldn’t write this on an empty stomach. Good thing I’m making some tomorrow to go with lasagna!
The most common reaction, when I tell someone (who isn’t in the restaurant biz) that my husband is a chef, is a loud intake of breath, then an exclamation of “Aren’t you lucky!”, or some similar sentiment. I see the glint in their eyes as they picture me arriving home to a spotless kitchen filled with bubbling pots, a table set with fine china and my husband putting the finishing touches on an artistically arranged salad. I have to resist the urge to yell in their face, in my best Borat voice, “NOT!”
People, please. Stop for a moment and let reality sink in, like teeth sinking into a thick slab of warm fresh brioche. He works nights, minimum five, maximum seven. So, the most meals we will have together in a week is four (his metabolism can only handle two meals a day, plus snacks). Given that he slaves over a hot stove/cold cutting board for at least twelve, but maybe more like sixteen, hours a day how many times do you think he’s woken up early and jumped out of bed just to create a multi-course rose-in-the-vase breakfast-in-bed for his loving wife? Approximately, no wait , PRECISELY, zero.
I’m not saying he NEVER cooks at home, I would classify it more as hardly ever. I’m not bitter about it. I accepted it a long time ago. Besides, I like cooking on the weekends, and of course we like to support our local restaurants. The upside is now that he’s added the owner slash to his “chef” title if I want to be fed by him I can mosey down and belly up. Of course, I still have to pay, no free rides, baby. But, when I play my cards right and bat my eyelashes fast enough I might get an extra course or a sample of a new dish.
The point is, when he does fire up the tongs at home I try to kick back, relax and enjoy every moment. The smartest move I made this year was the charcoal grill I got him for his birthday, which led to a lovely summer of BBQ’ed deliciousness (I just had to supply the potato salad and the limeade). So, when he brought home a paper bag filled with Sun Gold tomatoes from Stoney Paradise Farms, I had visions of sweet tomato-y recipes dancing in my head. Sometimes when you have such a lovely ingredient to work with, especially at the tail end of the season, it is hard to commit to just one dish.
My dilemma was solved when the Executive Chef of the house took dinner by the reins and put his Junior Chef to work. I was demoted to photographer and documentarian. Since our boy-named-sous(chef) is a carboholic (he’s addicted to carbohol!), pasta was an easy choice. While I have a shelf with a varied selection of dried pastas, the boys decided to make some from scratch.
Now, there are not many things I enjoy watching more than an expert practice his craft, but I can say that watching said expert share his knowledge with the next generation definitely tops it. The big rough hands marked with scars and burns wearing a battered wedding band, guiding the cute little hands in kneading the pasta dough is on the top of my list for things that make me go *sigh*.
While Exec Chef demonstrated his wicked knife skills on the folded pasta dough, Jr. Chef ran out to our basil plant in the backyard for a fresh herbaceous touch for the dish. The sauce was just the tomatoes with olive oil, butter, basil and some Parmigiano-Reggiano.
It’s the simple dishes that make the best use of extraordinary ingredients and it’s sharing the simple pleasures that make the best memories.