Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Little Hands and Weddings and Chicken and Carrots

Little hands. That's all I thought about for a week before the wedding - those little hands in mine. Holding hands as we navigated parking lots, streets - or just because.

And bike rides in the woods - the two of us singing as loudly as we could - to keep the bears away.

The flood of memories and how we got from Point A to here. And now I have another son. And was able to watch how warmly she has been welcomed into her husband's family and to know how happy we are to have him as part of ours.

I was so proud of myself. I held it together for the ceremony (officiated by a friend who sang at my wedding almost 28 years ago - how wonderful is that?). I held it together for the toasts. I even held it together when Devon and Kirsten had their first dance - all smiles and sweetness.

But then Paul and Kirsten danced to "I Saw Her First" and the floodgates opened.

And more mascara needed to be applied.

I had cousins in from NYC and the night before the wedding they were able to visit with Kirsten and Matthew. I served Chicken Marbella because it could be prepared ahead of time, is healthy (the rich foods were coming) and it is perfect for a crowd. It's Sam's recipe from My Carolina Kitchen. I have used it for many occasions and it always pleases. No leftovers!

Find the recipe here. It's an old Silver Palate recipe from the 70's and I promise you that you will use it again and again. And because it was the night before the wedding, I forgot to add the wine and brown sugar before cooking. And nobody knew. Chicken and olives and prunes... who needs sugar?

And served up some more healthy treats: Roasted Carrots from Stacey Snacks.

Find the recipe here. And because it was the night before my daughter's wedding, I forgot the avocado - and didn't tell anyone. Fresh carrots, chives, parsley and creme fraiche - who needs the avocado?

For the next two days we were tourists in our own city - reconnecting with my cousins and showing them around. I doubt they ever toured in a pick-up truck before!

Sunday eve, cousins are at airport (miss them), sister is at home and Paul and I are downstairs with sleeping cats watching Cosmos. Normal life. Sweet life.

A blessed life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Filets Mignons with Mushroom Sauce - April Comfort

Comfort me with mushrooms. A skillet wine sauce with cremini mushrooms is right up my Italian-loving (filet mignon) meat alley. If you are wondering about the wisdom of posting comfort food in April because - your daffodils are up and you've planted your garden, I have four words for you. "How nice for you."

Here in White Bear Lake, we still have the home fires burning. Spring makes a brief appearance and then flits away singing, "Ha, ha - just teasing." No April foolery intended. Snow is expected this coming Thursday and Friday.

But the filets are not a tease. They're the real deal. Add some dried porcini for a more intense flavor. Are you grilling already? (We are grilling in the snow. I have one determined husband. He also grills in sandals. So I have one slightly-warped husband.) Grill the meats and make the pan sauce and voila - you have "An Almost-Spring Meal."

The recipe is from Saveur: The New Comfort Food - a gift from my son who knows me and my struggle with Minnesota winters all too well. And it's so easy (which is my mantra) but you don't have to tell anyone that.

Ingredients - Serves 4
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 8-oz filets mignon (salted with Kosher salt and pepper)
2 shallots minced
1 lb cremini mushrooms sliced (add some porcini - makes it even earthier)
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons sherry (I used sweet)
2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon chopped chives (garnish)
1 tablespoons chopped parsley (garnish)
I think scallions would also work as a garnish.

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet (12 inches) over high heat. Season filets with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Flip once until browned about 4-5 minutes. Transfer filets to baking sheet and roast until medium-rare - another 4-5 minutes. Transfer filets to a platter and tent to keep warm.

2. Bring skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, the rest of the oil, the shallots and cook, stirring until shallots are softened - about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook (stirring occasionally) until softened - about 5 minutes. Add red wine and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally and reduce until sauce is syrupy - about 8-10 minutes. Add stock and cook until slightly reduced - an additional 4-5 minutes. Whisk in sherry and cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Stir continually until thickened.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in remaining butter and then add the chives and parsley. Pour over filets. Serve. Who needs spring?

The top of the fridge has been my hiding place for appetizers and salads because someone has a "dairy habit" (Luce ferociously goes after cheese and butter.) Yesterday he figured out how to get to the top. Now what am I going to do?