Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mmmm-the house smells savory!

When I first met her, in an online sense that is, I cooked and laughed until the laughing could no longer keep up with the increased caloric intake.  I took a break long enough to make it to my local bookseller and purchase her  photo filled cookbook, which has since become splattered, and thanks to the broken spine, lays flat on my counter. Some of the recipes are part of our corporate memory now, and thank you very much, some of the younger kids think her best stuff is something I thought of.  Do you think I should 'fess up?

(have you noticed she takes lots of pictures of cows....hmmm?)

Until I went slack jawed and drooly in the wee hours of the morning reading her site, I thought recipes just were flat lists on flat pages, and something to be checked off on my grocery list and assembled with little engagement.  That is until I encountered her regular guests, the "Cast of Characters", photographed up close and personal-who knew ordinary things like Crisco could have such highly saturated colors and sharp mouth watering images on it's packaging?

All this extra wordiness is the prelude to a series of food photos below.  I am venturing into uncharted territory in the kitchen- I am the novice chef in charge of cuts of beef I've never seen and thereby prepared before.

Tonight's menu includes red skin potatoes with butter and cracked pepper, roasted asparagus, and the star of the meal-Braised Beef Cheeks.

Thank goodness for Google, (well, most of the time...sometimes I don't feel so fondly). I surfed around and chose to prepare this recipe, found on Epicurious.com.

For now I've just got the preparation photos...I'll edit later tonight and add a picture of the finished dish, hopefully bubbling and looking appetizing in my braising pan. And, since I'm hoping you'll come back to see, I simply want to offer my opinion that this recipe is already a winner in my book since it called for generous amounts of red and wine and – wait for it-


For my real life friend Sarah (who is much more accomplished in the kitchen)- I attempted, (with my typical ADD success), a Mise en place approach, and gathered as many items together as I could remember between reading the recipe and 12 nano seconds later standing in front of my cupboard, wondering why I was there...? I think I just wanted to think in french while I messed up my counters and tell Sarah that she's the one who should take knife handling classes and I'll stick to the farm life.

Since some of you will surely ask, "Yes", that cheek came from this:

But, I digress- with yet another cow picture.

I browned the cheeks in olive oil, removed them from the pan, and added this.

About 10 minutes later, they were soft, and I added chocolate.  And, I'm just saying, somehow these savory veggies look even better now that they're drenched in oil AND chocolate!

The final step before placing the ingredients together in the same pan and placing in the center rack of my oven-let's pause here-

You've been good to me and given me so many luxuries.
Will you please keep my oven door from falling off today?
And is it too much to ask that the temperature would actually be calibrated to 300 degrees?
I'm not gonna complain, no way.  I've got an abundant life, and even if the oven doesn't work and dinner is a flop, the house sure does smell great.

I'm not being disrespectful, really.  Given the condition of my oven I really do pray before and during use.  I thought a few more people praying along might be a good idea.

Where am I...? Oh yes, the final step.  Lovely tomatoes and a smidge of garlic poured over the top and the braising pan placed on the center rack of my oven.

Since you know I'm new to being able to see, ( remember the new glasses?), I'd like to suggest that you'll notice a difference when you selectively use canned tomatoes from the San Marzano region of Italy.  But, if you can actually see the label, check to make sure that you notice added ingredients like basil.  It's possible that your new recipe won't call for it.

And now-for the update.
It was AWWWWSOME!  My husband has quietly suffered for years as there's hardly nothing he likes better than a beef roast after church.  But, his roast impaired wife is more likely to produce a savory piece of shoe leather than a succulent slice of meat.  Tonight he declared it was the "best you've ever prepared!".  So, the combination of the home grown meat, my new braising pan (which I bought several weeks ago-before I planned to make this recipe), a good recipe, and answered prayer about my oven produced a delish dish.

My photo pales in comparison, but I said I'd do show and tell...

Wish you'd been here-it was a great family mealtime!

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