Queen Bee Eats for a Day

The Perfect St. Patrick’s Day Meal March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Hope you’re wearing lots of GREEN!

the-table


Two weeks ago, my sweetie and I were in Gainesville partly for business and partly for pleasure.  I had scheduled a work trip to coincide with the same week of the Morrissey concert in Jacksonville for which we had tickets.  (The show was cancelled.)

corned-beef

 

As serendipity would have it, the other bee, Melissa, was also in town for work and my sister, Jennifer, was free, so what better way to celebrate our meshing schedules than to invite ourselves over to Donald and Erica’s for an early St. Patrick’s Day meal – Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes.

cabbage

 

We paired dinner with some Trader Joe’s Shiraz (surprisingly good) and a couple of beers.

 

potatoes

 

Melissa provided a quick, simple, and lovely conclusion to the meal in a dessert of fresh strawberries and cannoli accompanied by some really terrific Sweetwater (locally roasted & organic) decaf coffee Donald brewed.

 

dessert

It was a fun night filled with lots of food and friends.  I think we all had a really great time and can’t wait to do it again!

Here’s the Recipe –

New England Boiled Dinner

Ingredients –

4-5 pound corned beef brisket
1 head green cabbage, cut into wedges

8 red skin potatoes, halved
2-3 tbsp dried pickling spices

Directions –

  1. Place the corned beef in a large pot and fill with cold water.  Add the pickling spices to the pot – sometimes the corned beef will come with a packet of spices but it’s usually not very much.  Let the beef simmer for 3 hours.
  2. Next, add the potatoes to the same pot and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage and let simmer until the cabbage and the potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Finally remove the vegetables and the corned beef from the pot.  Thinly slice the corned beef perpendicular to the grain of the meat. Serve with a variety of mustards or horseradish sauces.

Everything was really delicious and cooked to perfection!  After seeing how it was done, it seems like a super easy way to make a lot of food for a hungry crowd!  Thanks again, Erica and Donald!

XOXO
QB

 

Valentine’s Day Main Course – Filet Mignon with Roquefort Sauce February 20, 2009

The steaks, ah yes, the steaks; the main course of our Valentine’s Day meal.  The best place to start.

The Back Story

They were directly inspired by “Steak and Sides” a Barefoot Contessa episode that we caught one lazy weekend maybe a month ago.  As a rule, I am not a steak fan (I’ll enjoy one every now and then), but my sweetie really is.  He’s a real beef man – burgers, steaks, whatever.

In the episode Ina made a couple of steaks, sautéed mushrooms, and onion rings.  The episode really made me drool.  My sweetie heard what she was talking about from the other end of the apartment and joined me on the sofa to watch and then turned to me and said, “You have to make that steak someday soon!”

As Valentine’s Day approached we agreed that we would skip the gifts this year since we have been investing in new furniture, apartment redecoration, and paying off some debt, we tried to think of something special to do.  And then it hit me – I’d make a great dinner!  (After all, for the wedding we received kitchen gadgets and prep tools galore – not to mention some really awesome Le Creuset pans!)

The Prep

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Obviously, some preparation had to go into making this dish and you may not have all the ingredients on hand, so read the recipe at the end of this post carefully before you begin.

A few days before Valentine’s I ordered (yes, ordered – we have most of our groceries delivered to us in NYC) some of the staples we had run low on and two beautiful hand-cut filet mignon, about 2.5″ thick and 10 ounces a piece.  A pleasant surprise was that the market had them on special for Valentine’s Day, which was perfect!

On the morning of Valentine’s Day, we headed out to Dean & Deluca to pick up the rest of what we would need – the Roquefort, the fleur de sel, and the chives.  My sweetie was so excited about the upcoming meal that he happily visited the store with me, crowded as it was, and smiled the whole time.  He even carried the basket!  (He normally does…)

It was turning out to be a lovely day.

The Steak Recipe (Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, “Steak and Sides,” Ina Garten, 2008)

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 (10-ounce) filet mignon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
  • Roquefort Chive Sauce, recipe follows

What to Do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with vegetable oil. Combine the fleur de sel and cracked pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.

When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.

Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you’re actually testing the middle of the steak.)

Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve hot with Roquefort Chive Sauce on the side.

The Roquefort Chive Sauce Recipe (Courtesy of Barefoot Contessa, “Steak and Sides,” Ina Garten, 2008)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 ounces French Roquefort cheese, crumbled (4 ounces with rind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

What to Do:

Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has become thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper and chives and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.

The sauce recipe yields 4 servings.

Tips and Tricks

  • It’s a good idea to let the filet mignon reach room temperature, or close to it, before placing in the pan.
  • Use a touch less fleur de sel if you are sensitive to salty foods.
  • Use a coffee grinder to crack the whole pepper corns.
  • If you like your steak more well-done, cook in the skillet for about a minute longer on each side, keep in oven a touch longer.
  • You can use half-and-half in place of heavy cream for a lighter sauce, or a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half.
  • If you don’t know what to do with the Roquefort sauce leftovers, cut the recipe in half – you’ll have plenty.

The Outcome

The steaks came out beautifully.  My sweetie wants them again immediately.  I must say that I had my reservations about making this meal, but it was a delight – the sauce was the perfect compliment to the fleur de sel and cracked pepper crust.  We will definitely be enjoying this again – hopefully with some dinner guests the next time around!

dinner-cu-2

Anyone want to come over?

XOXO
QB

 

Valentine’s Day Dinner February 19, 2009

Filed under: Cooking Adventures,Food Holidays — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

dinner-cuThis past Valentine’s Day actually marked my sweetie’s and my very first V-Day as a married couple!  We’ve been going through an apartment reorganization, which we started with the kitchen and partly inspired this blog.  This also partly explains why I have not posted so frequently lately.  I digress.  So, getting back to the point…

Our first V-Day married was one of the best yet!  It was a really food-fabulous day.

It started with a light lunch at Lombardi’s (“the best pizza on the planet!”) in Little Italy.  We had our usually, a pepperoni pizza, which is my sweetie’s favorite – we will have a whole post on that later.

Then we headed over to Dean & Deluca’s flagship store on the corner of Prince and Broadway (the other bee’s favorite place in SoHo!) to pick up some last-minute ingredients for the special dinner I was planning to make (our list included Roquefort, Black Forest bacon, a baguette, chives, fleur de sel, and dessert).

The menu would include:

  • 2003 Winemaker’s Reserve Calloway Sangiovese (brought home from our honeymoon in California)
  • A baguette (for snacking with the extra Roquefort cheese and wine as I cooked)
  • Restaurant style filet mignon with Roquefort sauce
  • Braised Swiss chard with bacon
  • Sautéed snap peas
  • Parslied potatoes

The dinner was fabulous!  Valentine’s Day was last weekend and still five days later my sweetie hasn’t stopped talking about it.

I’ll be posting some pictures, preparation, and recipes in the next few days.  I just wanted to whet your appetites.

XOXO
QB

 

Clouds of White and Cranberries February 4, 2009

sunset-cover-dec08-m

Returning home from a trip just in time for the holidays, my honey saw a cake on the cover of a magazine, and left it on the table with a note – “lets make this!”.

I am, admittedly, a bit of a holiday grinch – but not when it comes to what we eat. And the theory that must be followed is this: A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.  ~James Beard

I begin there, and follow up with the description…cranberry obsession snow cake. Layers of pure white cake brushed with creme de cacao, filled with a cranberry jam, iced with white chocolate buttercream,  and topped with shaved white chocolate. It was a divine as it sounds. And pretty pretty pretty.

I made a bit of a modification, however. I boiled down the cranberry sauce until the cranberries were all popped, instead of adding in the additional whole/raw berries. This left out the uber tartness. But I promise it wasn’t too sweet.

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img_6479 And the cake was a hit! My mother-in-law ate it for breakfast and snack the following days. Here she is posing with the cake (the grin is pure excitement for the sweet goodness).

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The dogs begged for crumbs to drop (ok the dogs always beg for crumbs to drop, but this pic is really

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from the night we first cut into it, can’t you just see his effort).

Recipe from Sunset, December 2008

Time: 2 1/4 hours, plus cooling time.

Bakers’ tip: To make a pure white cake, use your fingers to rub off the browned surface of each layer before assembling.

Ingredients
  • Cake
  • 10  ounce  unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 1/2  cups  cake flour
  • 4  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2 1/4  cups  granulated sugar
  • 7  large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Cranberry filling
  • 3 3/4  cups  cranberries, divided
  • 3/4  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2  cups  cranberry or cherry preserves
  • Buttercream
  • 5  large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4  cups  granulated sugar
  • 12  ounces  white chocolate (bars or a block, not chips), divided
  • 1  pound  unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
  • Assembly
  • 1/2  cup  colorless liqueur such as crème de cacao or kirsch
  • About 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter two 9-in. cake pans; set aside.

2. Make cake: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together on low speed until light and fluffy. Add egg whites in 3 batches, scraping inside of bowl as needed. Beat in flour mixture in 5 batches, adding 1/4 cup water after each addition (you will begin and end with flour); make sure flour is completely blended each time before adding water. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Smooth tops with a spatula.

3. Bake until center of cake feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes completely in pans on a rack.

4. Meanwhile, make cranberry filling: Combine 3 cups cranberries, the sugar, preserves, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until cranberries pop and preserves melt, 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup cranberries, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl and chill until ready to assemble cake.

5. Make buttercream: Fill a 2-qt. pan with about 1 in. water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Put egg whites, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Place bowl over hot water, making sure bottom of bowl isn’t touching water, and heat whites, whisking constantly, until hot to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan and bowl from heat.

6. Put bowl of warm whites on the mixer and whisk on high speed until tripled in volume and side of bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, chop 4 oz. white chocolate, put in a medium metal mixing bowl, and set in same pan of warm water off the heat to melt slowly, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from pan and let cool to room temperature.

8. Reduce mixer speed to low and whisk butter into whites, about 1/4 cup at a time, until incorporated. Continue to whisk on low speed until smooth and fluffy, about 10 minutes (mixture may look grainy at some point but will come together).

9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold melted chocolate into buttercream until completely combined.

10. Assemble: Rub tops of both cakes gently with your hands to remove browned outer surface, then carefully invert cakes and rub undersides so that cakes are completely white. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate, top side up. Using a pastry brush, brush top with half the liqueur. Spread about 1 1/2 cups cranberry mixture over layer with a metal spatula, leaving a 1/2-in. empty border around edge. Place second cake layer on top, flattest side down, and brush with remaining liqueur. Spread top and sides of cake with a thin layer of buttercream to seal in crumbs and chill 30 minutes. Cover with remaining buttercream, starting with the sides and covering the top last.

11. Use the palm of your hand to warm remaining chocolate. Shave smooth side of chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler to make thin curls; scatter curls over cake’s top. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Serve with remaining cranberry mixture on the side.

Make ahead: Baked cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature or in the fridge up to 2 days ahead. Cranberry filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled.

 

The Sweetest Day October 18, 2008

Filed under: Food Holidays — queenbeeeatsforaday @ 1:34 pm
Tags: ,

Since today is The Sweetest Day, I thought, “why not mention it on our little food blog”.

The idea actually came to me when I received an email from Vosges Haut-Chocolat called “What IS Sweetest Day anyway?” I usually don’t read their emails too thoroughly, if at all, but this one caught my attention.

The Sweetest Day began in the early 1920s when Midwestern candy company employee and do-gooder, Herbert Birch Kingston, decided that he wanted to bring a little joy into the lives of people who were usually forgotten – mostly orphans and the poor. So with the help of some friends and celebrities (like Theda Bara!) he started giving out small gifts and candy to the less fortunate.

The holiday is still observed mostly in the North East and Great Lakes Regions of the United States, but people all over the country do celebrate it. It takes place on the 3rd Saturday of October every year.

It’s nice to know that The Sweetest Day isn’t really just one of those “Hallmark Holidays…”, isn’t it?