I thought I would talk a little about cooking with you today. Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. It is how I show my feelings and how I like to take care of people. I had written a cook book for my daughter, at her request, and then my computer crashed. I didn’t back it up! Rookie mistake to say the least. When I went to rewrite her another one, by this time she was now severely lactose intolerant. So, I had to set about changing recipes and making new ones to accommodate her needs. I will send her recipes at her request from time to time and started saving them along the way. So, one day, I will have a new cook book ready to go. Until then, I try to make sure I write it down and take pictures of the recipe to have additional backup of my creations.
Growing up in Texas, Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food are my favorites. Grandma made great biscuits, but the refried beans and tortillas were my favorites for breakfast. Our mother made great German style foods. Italian was my go to as a teenager. Mother had a great marinara sauce, but I like mine even better. I loved taking Home Economics in school. It helped expose me to different types of food and how to make a kitchen function well. Trust me, if the kitchen set up doesn’t flow well, neither will your cooking.
As we grow up and get exposed to more cultures, our food sphere expands. I love food. I love figuring out the spices and learning different ways of cooking. From drinks to desserts, I am always excited to taste new things and how it is made. Learning what wines to pair with food, and how to make those cute little bubbles of spirits makes cooking so much more exciting. There is a wine or liquor for every course, I just love it!
I also love setting the table properly. I don’t get many occasions to do that anymore with the kids all grow up. So anytime Marie wants to have a party, I am right there with her. I miss setting the full array of dishes for a table. Berry bowls are one of favorites. Few know what they are, and I love explaining the history of it. My husband and I have yet to really buy a nice set of dishes since we married (both previously divorced). So, you will see a lot of pictures with my deer dishes from good old Bass Pro. But Marie, Marie is the collector of dishes. Part of that is my fault for giving my old china to her. It makes for great occasions when you have an array of different dishes to use and expands your décor options for the parties. To me a good set of dishes/China just makes the food taste better. It can be dishes from the dollar store but if you put in the effort to set a nice table, the food just stands out.
Both Marie and I are collectors of cookbooks. Some we both have, and some are unique to the other. I have been known to take all my cookbooks and stack them up beside my chair for a day of inspiration as I thumb through them. I love to feel the pages in my hands and sometimes the little stores that go along with them are written with the recipe. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest is great for a quick idea and go to source. But nothing beats a good old cookbook in your hand.
Marie and I are both collectors of kitchen gadgets. Whether it is new or an antique, we both love our kitchen gadgets. KitchenAid has made it even easier with their mixers and all the wonderful attachments. Things as simple as a rolling-pin to a garlic press are so much fun. Pastry cutters and a simple mandolin can take a pie from good to great. One of my favorite ‘gadget’ you could say is my sous vide machine. I love it! My husband’s friend made his own sous vide from a YouTube video. Yeah, that didn’t work out too well. Then another friend who happens to be an incredible chef in his own right, showed me his set up. Again, the set up was homemade but far superior to the other. I opted to buy the actual whole machine for myself. They make an incredible countertop version. You would be amazed all the things you can make in it and how much it will help when it comes to throwing parties.
One of my husband’s favorite meals, venison with a Bordelaise sauce, I use my sous vide to cook. I decided to cook it and share with you how easy it is to make. Since my husband’s hunting and fishing supplies roughly 90% of our meat, I always have something wonderful on hand. With the meat defrosted, I prepared the sous vide machine by filling it with water and setting the temperature. I like my meat medium rare, so I set it for 134 degrees. As the water heats up I season the meat with my go to seasoning of granulated garlic (fresh garlic seems to go rancid when sous vide too long) and Tony Chachere’s Spicy Blend. Then I vacuum seal the venison loins in two separate bags making sure to double seal the ends. Once the water reaches the 134 degrees I place the sealed meat in the rack and set the timer for 4 hours. The venison would be ready in an hour if need be, but I wanted this for dinner, so I set it for 4 hours. The machine will cook the meat to the 134 degrees but never go beyond that and hold it at the temperature until ready to eat.
Bordelaise sauce is a fair easy sauce to make. There are many different versions you can find on the internet. I prepare it the way I was taught by a chef friend of mine. I use half of a large shallot chopped (about 2 tablespoons), 2 cups of beef bone broth (I make my own but you can used canned broth and add a demi-glace to it), one tablespoon of butter, 2 cups of red wine (I used a Cabernet, but I prefer a Merlot), fresh cracked pepper and thyme (I showed a bottle of thyme but remembered I just planted some fresh so used it instead). Sauté the shallots until tender then add the thyme (roughly ½ a tablespoon). Then add the wine, broth and cracked pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper so about a tablespoon). Simmer until reduced by half, strain the sauce before serving.
While the meat was cooking I prepared a butternut squash for the oven. Peeled, diced and seasoned with rosemary, garlic and Tony Chachere’s Spice N’ Herbs seasoning. I prepared a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with avocado oil spray. Oven heated to 425 degrees, I cooked the squash for 20 minutes turn them halfway through the process.
Once the meat was ready, I removed it from the bags and let it sit for a couple minutes. Normally I would have prepared the grill to sear the outside, but it was raining. Instead I heated my skillet until it was hot and seared the outside of the meat. I like the lines the pan makes but I don’t want to cook the meat. I remove it from the heat and use a torch to make the lines darker on the meat and give it a little crunch on the outside. Perfectly medium rare!
Finished off the meal with some English peas and I have a happy husband. Have you tried Sous Vide cooking yet?