Monday, March 30, 2015

Last Supper with Great Friends

We entertained the Fangman's this weekend as they head for Des Moines in a few days. We have been friends since they moved here 8 years ago and will miss them sorely we just had to have a evening on the patio. A bit chilly that night as the ladies will attest but fond memories are there as we bid them farewell until we travel to Des Moines to catch up with them again.

I made an old favorite recipe that I haven't made in years. Scallops Au Gratin or Coquille St. Jacques. A french dish thats a little fussy and we found great dishes to serve it it. Usually we eat this over rice but tradition calls for mashed potatoes so we went with tradition. All in all it was a grand evening. Cigars and wine followed before we retired inside to have a rich dessert for a cap on the festivities. I made Pot de Creme with a surprise caramel sauce on the bottom.

The recipe comes from my Joslyn Cookbook which is loaded with kind of fussy recipes that only I would love. I believe they still sell the book at the museum but mine is a signed copy from when the author was still living.

Coquilles St. Jacques

3/4 c Dry Vermouth
1 bay leaf
1 diced shallot
1 pound Bay scallops, rinsed and dried
8 ounces of sliced cremini mushrooms
Water or Clam broth (optional)
4 tbl butter
3 tbl flour
3/4 c milk
1/2 c cream
2 egg yolks
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 cups mashed potatoes

I started by heating the Vermouth , bay leaf and shallots and simmering for 10 minutes. Add the scallops and mushrooms with enough water or broth to cover. Simmer gently till the scallops are just done (do not boil or the scallops with toughen). Remove the scallops and mushrooms and reduce the remaining liquid to 1 cup. 

In another sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour to form a roux but don't let it brown. Add the milk and cook till thickened. Add the beaten egg yolks and cream. Add lemon juice and zest. Thin if needed with more milk. Should make for a heavy cream sauce. Add the scallops and mushrooms back and stir to combine. Keep warm and set aside.

Cook and mash your potatoes. I used Yukon Golds. Load into a large pastry bag and pipe a border around the serving dish. Fill the center with the scallop mixture, top with Gruyere and broil till potatoes have a golden edge. Serves 4.

Chocolate Pot de Creme

Heat 300 gm cream and add 300 gm of semi sweet chocolate and 50 gm of butter. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt and stir till the mixture is dark brown and creamy. Set aside to cool slightly. I did all this in a 4 cup measure in the microwave.  Makes 6 servings

Caramel base

1 c sugar
1/4 c water
6 tbl butter cut into pieces
1/2 c cream

heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 c water in a heavy saucepan till the sugar turns amber. Add the cream off heat and mix adding butter a little at a time stirring after each addition.

Divide the caramel between 6 dessert cups. I refrigerated the caramel to set up a bit before pouring the chocolate on top. After pouring the chocolate, refrigerate till firm then sprinkle with Grey salt just before serving.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lenten projects...not much cooking going on

Busy working this Lenten season on the Narthex Project. It was rolled out at church last week to favorable responses and all 10 icons are now spoken for. I am also busy with a few private projects like the one below.

I always prefer smaller panel work which I find more intimate and easier to control. This is the preliminary drawing by brush on the panel itself. I am learning from my Greek friend, Christian,  and completing a black and white drawing with shadows before proceeding to colors. I actually find it easier to draw with a script liner brush than a pencil or pen. More control over the line quality. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lentil and Hominy Chili

I know what you're thinking but its Lent and we are basically Vegan for 40 days or so and I am always on the hunt for some good basic dishes. I am no chili fan as as rule but Brenda was hosting a book club party on a Friday night and a few of the girls are Roman Catholic so time to try some big Lenten cooking for a crowd and test a Potluck recipe as well.

This dish hails from Giada.

2T vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jalapeno de-ribbed, seeded and chopped
1 red and yellow pepper diced
1 1/2 t cumin
1T chili powder
1 1/4 t salt
1 cup French lentils soaked overnight and rinsed
1 1/2 c brown ale (Newcastle)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can hominy
1/4 c chopped cilantro
1 avocado diced
1/2 c Cotija cheese ( depending on your fast)
Lime wedges

In a large Dutch oven, cook the onion in the oil 3 minutes then add the peppers and garlic cook for 4 or 5 mintutes. Add the spices and cook 30 secs then add the beer, tomatoes, lentils and 1 1/4 water or vegetable broth.
Simmer for 25 minutes covered then uncover and add the hominy. Cook till liquid is reduced and chili thickens and lentils are tender.

I added a can of black beans. Serve with toppings of choice.
Serves 4 generous helpings. I easily doubled the recipe.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Humbling Experience

This weekend we visited Brenda's folks and made a brief detour to St. George Antiochian Church in Kearney, NE. Kearney population around 35K boasts a tiny Orthodox community nearly unknown to the city or the state. A faithful generation of the first Orthodox folks to settle this part of the country mostly of Lebanese descent.

They recently were featured in a local paper for having 250K of icons installed by an iconographer I am familiar with from the west coast, Dimity Shkolnik. My mother-in-law mailed me the paper.  I emailed Fr. Christopher Morris and asked permission to visit the church and take a few photos. He was most gracious to allow us the honor.

We have visited the church in the past over the years but haven't been there for the past eight years. We always loved the friendly community who embraced the strangers in their midst and frankly, we did not remain strangers for long.

The church has, needless to say, changed spectacularly.  More impressive than the wall icons are a series of egg tempera icon panels by Janet Jaime out of Oklahoma that dot the church. Unbelievably fussy and detailed they are jewels of the faith and rival any 16th century master in their fine execution. I was thoroughly impressed and even though I have seen some fantastic work from the family of Prosopon's school these could put them to shame.

I think rather than the austere Prosopon style of centuries old Russian prototypes, these favor a Greek style and have a definite individual influence of the iconographer. Brilliant work from the large 4 foot panel to the smaller 16 x 12 entrance panel.

Dimitry's icons, on the other hand,  simply transform the visual space inside the chapel. Representing the feasts and prophets, they are a masterwork of mixed influences and subtle color that portray the story of our Lord in a visual narrative. A feast if feasts for the eye and soul. The pews have yet to be put back into the church so the overall spaciousness is enhanced and hopefully they will leave just the pews around the edges. The current space is heavenly as is.

The space is humbling for several reasons, first and foremost because if the mastery of the work which I might never achieve in my remaining years and secondly because of these iconographers, relatively unknown in the world who boast no videos or self promotion yet achieve greatness in their own right. I have no business using the term iconographer when referring to myself after seeing this displays of masters art.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...