Sunday, February 28, 2010

Far Breton / Batter Pudding with Prunes

I'm only a few weeks behind in finishing up the Valentine's post. Much like the dinner of Cornish hens, dessert was okay, but not spectacular. Far Breton is similar to a clafoutis, but more substantial. It is designed to be cut up into wedges like a cake. I'm not wild about eggy desserts in general. Creme Brulée can be easily ruined if it tastes more like scrambled eggs, and I've never been a big fan of flan.

The general gist: pour a batter over prunes that have been soaked in boiling water and bake until it's set (about an hour and a half).

It's definitely something that can be done easily, as long as one has the necessary baking time. The far had to share the oven with the Cornish hens, so it was baked on the bottom of the oven. I'm sure that contributed partially to the final texture. I feel like I'm saying that a lot lately. Couldn't have anything to do with the new schedule, I'm sure... It felt like the edges got overdone before the middle was set. Even if the batter left something to be desired, the prunes were delicious. I feel a little sad that prunes have such a negative reputation. I shouldn't be so surprised that I liked them so much. I love plums and eat my fair share in season. There's not reason I wouldn't like the dried version, but they have, for as long as I can remember, been associated with old people. Silly, I know. I wanted to pick the prunes out of the bottom of the rest of the dish and just eat them. They were that good. I made plum jam last summer and think that I might see about drying some this year too.

Even if our Valentine's dinner left a little something to be desired, it still gave us a little extra time together. And in the end, that is the whole purpose of this project. We wanted to do something that made us set aside time for each other when life got a little hectic, and I feel like we've succeeded. It's not always easy, especially with homework deadlines on two sides pressing down, housework piling up, workouts calling and jobs to take care of, but it's worthwhile. If nothing else, a mediocre meal also gives us something to laugh a little about.

And as an update to the previous post about the Cornish hens, I tried the mustard/creme fraiche again on a roasting chicken. It's definitely going to rotate in with the usual thyme and lemon. I was quite happy with the results.

Four posts coming up soon if I can get around to them. We went a little crazy last Sunday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Petits Coquelets Dijonnaise / Cornish Hens in a Mustard Cream Sauce

It's been a while. School and workouts have officially taken over our household. Somehow, it's nearly March, and I'm not sure what happened to the end of January. There hasn't been a ton of exciting cooking going on in our house lately. Scott has classes three nights a week and music one night. I'm working on my correspondence courses in the evening and attempting to keep us caught up on housework. In our "spare time" outside of homework, housework and work, we've been going to the gym. Damned blood pressure anyway. We did get around to making two recipes out of the big book for Valentine's Day, but that ended up being scaled down from the three we had initially planned. What else has been going on? We threw a big birthday party for Scott up at his parents' house in McCall. It was a hit. We opened a 9 liter bottle of wine. Yep, 9 liters. I can't remember the end of the night bottle count, but it was huge. We appreciated all of our friends and family coming out to join us. I made two cakes out of The Gourmet Cookbook. They were delicious. And that's about the only other thing we've done outside of the normal lately.

Back to Valentine's Day. We'd already decided we didn't want to go out for dinner that night. It tends to get expensive, and it's incredibly crowded. We hit up one of our favorite restaurants for lunch earlier in the day. Not only does Bittercreek have fantastic food, but they also support local farmers (including my mom's business, Lazy Dog Gardens). We weren't smart enough to plan ahead on dinner, and finally got around to making a shopping list around 5:30 that evening. Go us. Scott has his heart set on the Cornish game hens, which turned into a bit of a run around to find. He'd thought that he'd seen them at the Co-Op, but they apparently don't have a source. We ended up with the frozen Tyson ones. Next time, we'll try to plan ahead a little better.

The recipe was pretty simple. Brush the birds with mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon creme fraiche or heavy cream over them. Roast until they're brown and delicious and turn the pan juices into a sauce with a little red wine and broth. There was an accompanying recipe for greens sautéed in a little bacon fat with garlic and splashed with red wine vinegar. We followed dinner up with a Breton pudding that I'll put in another post.

Needless to say, we ended up eating a little bit late that evening, and we didn't get our usual in progress pictures. We were just happy to be getting back to cooking a little. The end results were a little average. I know part of it had to do with the meat we ended up using. The texture was a little mushy. I do want to try the treatment again with one of the local chickens from Market this spring. I think it'll be amazing. Surprisingly, the greens ended up being our favorite part of the meal. Scott's always been a little wary of cooked greens, but these were delicious. He's actually looking forward to the Swiss chard my mom always plants. The red wine vinegar brightened the whole dish and played incredibly well with the garlic and bacon. We wished we'd made more greens.

We served dinner with a 2006 Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Not my favorite in style. While she wasn't a slutty wine, she was definitely a bit promiscuous. The wine was a bit over the top and ripe, but that's almost to be expected from Cali Pinots. I know not everyone would agree with me, but we cut our Pinot Teeth in the Willamette Valley.

We'll try to get back to cooking and blogging soon. We're just working on figuring out our new routine.