Monday, June 23, 2008


First item. Set a lovely table. In this photo I am using a new tablecloth I received from my friend Christine V. She thought the large blue florals with green would go amazingly in my orange dining room. I humored her and said, "uh, yeah. I can see that..." all the while thinking it would go nice on my outdoor table with the carved tiki god lights. I was wrong. It is PERFECT in the dining room and I should never have doubted her impeccable taste.
In the background a view of Paris.

Then you want something light. Like a salad. This one has lettuce (I promise, it's under there), cucumbers (from the backyard garden), cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, pink Hawaiian sea salt (its a little sweet yet still salty) and then homemade pan fried croutons.
I promise it is only topped with a healthy olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Then Lyle begins his cooking shenanigans. He is taking a cooking course and has recently learned all about sauces. Tonight's sauce will be Bearnaise. He explains that it is basically a Hollandaise with herbs added. I loves me some Hollandaise.

We start with a pound of butter, melting in a saucepan.
Saute herbs and shallots.

The butter gets clarified (which means all the foam needs to come off the top and none of the white sediment on the bottom gets used).
Bearnaise Sauce:

1-1/2 Tbsp shallots minced
6 black peppercorns cracked
1-1/2 Tbsp dried tarragon (or 1/2 bunch fresh tarragon)
3 oz tarragon vinegar
1 oz white wine
2 oz water
5 egg yolks at room temperature
1 lb melted butter (clarified) warm
2 tsp chervil or parsley, chopped
Lemon juice
White pepper

Combine the shallots, peppercorns, tarragon, 1 Tbsp chervil, vinegar and wine, in a saucepan and reduce. Set aside.

In a bowl or the top of a double boiler, lightly beat the egg yolks until they form ribbons.

Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the clarified butter, a few drops at a time, and then in a thin stream as in making Hollandaise Sauce. Thin with lemon juice or cold water as needed.

Add reduction to the Hollandaise along with chervil (or parsley). Season to taste with the salt and white pepper. Garnish with chopped tarragon.

Note: Do not allow the sauce to become more than warm, or it is likely to separate. If that happens, add a couple of drops of cold water and whisk to bring it back together.

I know, I know, it all sounds so simple. But it took him some time to get it all going and a lot of pots and pans to create the stuff, not to mention (but obviously I will) more than just his own two hands. It makes a bit more than a pint of sauce. Then Lyle tells us, "It won't hold so eat as much as you can." And we smother our steaks with the artery clogging goodness.

Steak smothered in Bearnaise.
A light healthy salad contrasts.
Ignore the butter laden bread.

A few nights later I am in charge of the meal and I just wanted something a little lighter. Of course that means risotto. Asparagus risotto to be exact. Asparagus risotto topped with Parmesan cheese and lemon zest, a light salad of lettuce, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes, then a grilled chicken breast with just a dollop of homemade mayonnaise with chives and capers. (yes, Lyle made mayonnaise as well - it keeps in the fridge for exactly one week.)

It's been so hot so we choose to eat outside.

On the left you can see the carved tiki god light. In the center, on the power line, you can see a rat. Ah, the joys of city living.


Rachel said...

Could be a squirrel. The squirrels use our power lines out back a lot. It's the rodent highway.

Frontier Psychiatrist said...

I really like the tablecloth.

And the rat. It's like you're living in a John Waters movie.

Michael Guy said...

re: the rat: SO ROMANTIC! ala John Waters.

But the feast! Oy! Love the salads/love the sauces/love anything that requires a pound of butter to start!

nummy nums!

So, tiki is the theme, eh? You haven't lived until you've seen my fire dance.

TheHMC said...

I don't think I can read your blog anymore. Anytime I stop by, I leave hungry.

Anonymous said...

Cooking Shenanigans that phrase cracks me up.

I too get hungry when I visit your blog.

You simply must open a restaurant with Fire Dancers.

TJB said...

Bearnaise sauce...yum.

Homemade mayonnaise...double yum.