Monthly Archives: August 2009

Three Step Bebop-Rebop Stawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Mama’s little baby loves bebop-a-rebop, bebop-a-rebop, rhubarb pie!  If you don’t know that song yet, you should.  Watch here.  Actually, I have never heard of rhubarb until I started listening to A Prairie Home Companion a few years back.  It kinda looks like a redish celery.  Apparently, hubby’s grandma frequently made rhubarb pie for him and the siblings when they were growing up in Indiana.  Well, no one ever made me any rhubarb anything — until now.  And, boy, did I ever get a lovely treat after a long work day!  Hubby made my first-ever strawberry-rhubarb pie, with made-from-scratch pie-crust and all.  Isn’t it a beauty?


Hubby's Delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


To make:  Three Step Bebop-Rebop Stawberry-Rhubarb Pie (modified from Betty Crocker’s Coobook 2001)

Ingredients:

Two-crust pie pastry – see below for link to recipe

2 to 2 1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups of sliced strawberries

3 cups of 1/2-inch pieces of rhubarb

1 tablespoon butter

First make the Best Buttery Pie Crust Ever from the July 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine. You cannot go wrong with this recipe. Butter makes all the difference!

Second, make the pie filling.  Mix sugar and flour in large bowl then fold the rhubarb and strawberries in the mix until they are coated in sugary goodness.

Third, put it all together. Line the pie plate with one of  your Best Buttery Pie Crust Ever and spread in (as evenly as possible) the rhubarb/strawberry sugary goodness mix.  Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the rhubarb/strawberry goodness.  Cover with the remaining Best Buttery Pie Crust Ever.  Seal both pie crusts together and flute (essentially, pinch the edges of the pie between your knuckles).  Slit the top of the pie crust as shown in the picture above (for ventilation).

Now you’re ready to bake.  55 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust.  Cool for about 2 hours, unless you just cannot resist the sweet-tart aroma emanating from your creation.  It is advisable to let the pie set, relax, and chill for it to be at its tasty best — so please be patient.  Enjoy!

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Julia Child’s Fricassee de Poulet L’Ancienne

Also known as “Old-fashioned Chicken Fricassee with Wine-flavored Cream Sauce, Onions, and Mushrooms.”

Last night, I attempted a great feat:  to master the art of French cooking as guided by Julia Child.  Well, at least, master one chicken dish by Julia Child.  I was craving something French, as I have been for some weeks now.  And being the ad-influenced consumer that I am (referring to my having seen the Julie & Julia movie recently and read the book — which I didn’t find to be as good as the movie, btw), I pulled our dusty Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 off the shelf and began to read.  Now, I had limited options on what to cook given what was available in our fridge.  I only had two options: chicken or beef.  Since I’ve been eating a lot of red meat lately, I went with the chicken.  I had chicken drumsticks, to be exact.  I wanted to make it up to Hubby since he recently cooked dinner for me and a friend, while we gabbed about people falling in love in their late twenties and settling for the first great guy encounter or waiting for true love to come along (that’s another post for another day).

So back to my chicken.  I didn’t want to just do a simple fry or grill.  I was craving something more complex in taste, but easy to make.  So, page 258 it was:  the location of my first Julia Child recipe excursion.  On initial read, the recipe seems straight-forward.  You saute some vegetables (1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 sliced onion) in 4 tablespoons of butter, then add the chicken, turning every now and then until the chicken is “light golden yellow.”  Then sprinkle the golden yellow chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and flour.  Cover and cook for another few minutes, turning once.  Then add the 3 cups chicken stock,  1 cup white wine (in my case, I used vermouth, which was an option allowed by the recipe), and an herb bouquet.  The recipe called for parsley, bay leaf, thyme for the herb bouquet, but I used the parsley, thyme, and rosemary since we had those fresh.  After adding these ingredients in the casserole, you bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes.  My chicken immersed in delicious liquid looked like this:

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While the chicken is cooking, Julia says you should make the onion and mushroom “garniture,” found on other pages of the book.  To make the onion garniture, you basically take some small white onions (I just sliced an onion), butter, chicken stock, and an herb bouquet and simmer these ingredients for about 40-50 minutes.  To make the mushroom garniture (basically stewed mushrooms), you simmer some mushrooms (I just used the baby bella slices), 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/3 cup water for about 5 minutes.  The point of making these two dishes is for the sauce.  You add it into the chicken casserole, eventually.  Plus they made great side dishes.  My onion and mushroom garniture looked like this:

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So back to the chicken.  Once the chicken drumsticks are cooked (i.e., tender when pinched. By this point the chicken should easily let your fork slide in when pricked), you need to reduce the liquid to make the sauce.  You basically bring it to a boil and let some of the liquid evaporate, and the sauce starts to thicken.  At this point, you can add the juices from the onion and mushroom garniture.

Once the liquid has reduced and thickened, you need to blend 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup whipping cream in a bowl, using a wire whip.  This was where I got a little stumped because the recipe stated that I should “add the hot sauce by tablespoonfuls until about a cupful has gone in” my bowl with the blended egg yolks and cream.  So much for “easy to make.”  I decided, after deliberating with Hubby about my options, to take turn off the stove (which had been on high so that I could reduce the liquid into a thick sauce), take out the chicken (onto another dish), and pour the remaining liquid into a measuring cup (the kind with the spout).  This made it easier to “dribble” the hot sauce into the bowl.  Dribbling is important because you don’t want the egg yolks to cook and curdle.

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Once I blended all of the hot sauce into the egg yolk and cream blend, I poured the new mixture into the casserole and let it boil (to further thicken and reduce).  Once the sauce has reduced, you can now eat dinner!

Actually, while the sauce was reducing, I made some spatzle.  Once the spatzle is done and the sauce thickened and reduced, then you can eat dinner.  Put some spatzle on your plate; place a couple of drumsticks on top of the spatzle, pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with parsley, and lastly, place some mushrooms and onion garniture on the plate.  Complement the dish with a Cotes du Rhone or red Burgundy.

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Like this one: Valreas “Cuvee Prestige” Cotes du Rhone Villages 2007, which we got at our local Trader Joe’s for about $5 or $6 bucks! It was excellent with the meal. On its own, ripe and spicy. With the dish, sweet but dry with a fruity flavor and just enough edge to highlight the vermouth in the dish.

And for its encore presentation on Lavender&Cocoa: Fricasse de Poulet L’ancienne!

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I have to say that making this dish was quite stressful.  There was so much to do, even though the recipe seems straight-forward.  I have never used so many dishes (and pots) while cooking.  Hubby said that I’d get better if I cooked more from the book.  I’m sure, he’s right.  Practice does make for more efficient cooking.  Still, I think I will reserve the next Julia Child recipe I attempt for a weekend…when I have had a more leisurely day.

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Still on the Hunt for the White(ish) Convertible Sofa…

Sad to say, but I am. And to think, I was ecstatic when the West Elm delivery truck pulled up in front of my street. What’s wrong with it? It’s still too beige. I thought it might be the lighting, but nope. Late afternoon sun, early morning rays, evening lights don’t matter. It’s just too beige against my liquid blue wall (and the wall color, I’m definitely not compromising on). Take a look (and excuse the mess, I’m not done yet.)

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Getting Stuck in Chicago Ain’t Bad

Hubby and I were in Chicagoland this past weekend visiting his family and a couple of our friends and having a grand ‘ole time. But when it came to Sunday, we were ready to come home and get our week started. Do you ever just feel like being home? Well, this week is like that for me. Unfortunately, our flight got cancelled due to weather issues, and we were not rebooked until the following day on an early evening flight. So what do you do? Not wanting to further impose on family or friends (and realizing how awesome it was to have an excusable day off work), we decided to leave the VERY looooooonnnnggggg line we were standing in at the American Airlines terminal and make the best of the situation. Luckily, Hubby had free points to spare on his Kimpton card and was able to secure us a lovely, el primo room at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Chicago. Imagine our surprise when we got to the hotel, and the registration dude (what do you call these guys?) told us that we were upgraded to a suite! I once wanted to quit my job to be an interior designer because of all the pretty things one gets to look at if one was an interior designer. But I never followed through with that dream (hence the blog). If I was though, I would love to work for Kimpton and design lovely hotels like this one:

Hallway at Hotel Monaco Chicago
Entre to our hotel suite.

Living Space
Living area of our suite

Only at a Kimpton - Funky Patterns and Splashes of Color
Only at a Kimpton — funky patterns and splashes of color

Interior Room
Opposite of bed. Check out the window seat, which could double as another bed. The cushion is as big as a twin mattress! Great idea for small spaces in need of additional sleeping areas.

Reading Nook

Umm.. yeah, this is a nice view.
Outside our window. Umm… yeah, this is a nice view.

Pete, our adopted goldfish for the night
And of course, Pete, our adopted goldfish for the night. (Yes, at a Kimpton hotel, you can borrow the company of a goldfish if you get too lonely!)

Needless to say, we were able to have a little QT and enjoyed the sights of the city. So, next time you get stuck at an airport trying to rebook that cancelled flight — whip out your rewards credit card or hotel points card and just say — “to hell with it! I’m gonna have me a good time!”

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World’s Longest Yardsale Finds

They’re finally here. Thank you, FedEx for delivering them safely!

Japanese Mini Vase
You may recall this beauty from my very first post.
Started at $5, walked away at $3.00. But as the yardsale went on, we got better at our bargaining!

Milk Glass YS
Various milk glass items. From left to right: hobnail (that’s the pattern) candleholders, Fenton (we were told that’s the maker) rose pedestal candy dish (aka compote), hobnail bowl (we think this is also Fenton-made), and Fenton milk glass hobnail double crimped vase. The name “milk glass” refers to the “milky” color (if you haven’t gotten that already). We saw a lot of white ones at the yardsale, but I understand that this sort of glass comes in other colors too, like blue and pink. Milk glass was intended to look like porcelain, but was less expensive to produce. Total collection: $25. Not sure if we overpaid for one of them; the rose pedestal bowl was $15. Everything else was below $10.

Milk Glass Vase YS
Milk glass hobnail vase. According to this site, the maker is Anchor Hocking Glass Co., c1960 or 1970. Going for $15 on the site; I got it for $2 a the yardsale.

Fragonard Prints YS
Fragonard prints for $3. I think the guy who sold it to us didn’t know they were signed. If you look very closely at the bottom left or right of the prints, you can see the name “Fragonard.” Okay, nix that idea. There’s no way you can tell from the picture, but I promise it’s there! Anyhoo, Jean-Honore Fragonard was a French artist popular during the late Rococo period (18th century), characterized by lavish opulence, a taste for the exotic, and ornamentation. Living up to his time, Fragonard’s most popular works were genre paintings depicting scenes of intimacy and pleasure. The ones we bought are at least PG-13!

Lamp YS
Italian lamp (I think also from the Rococo period) for my Mom’s bedside table. She was looking for something with height, and I think we found it. Started at $5, walked away at $1.50!

Lamp Foot YS
Mom’s lamp, up close and personal. Rococo, lavish, ornate, see what I mean?

Mirror YS
I know, just a plain mirror (for now) — but I plan to paint it white so it will go fabulously well against my liquid blue wall!

Quartz Clock
Elegant little clock that I got for a buck. I know, it’s a little scratched, but I think it’s lovely. On my way to completing the home office/guest room look!

French Lamps YS
My most prized find — a pair of French lamps that I got for $6 buckaroos! Aren’t they beautiful? If anyone knows more about these lamps (period, style, etc.) please do share!

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Fields of Gold

I think this image speaks for itself. Enjoy and happy Wednesday!

Fields
Photo credits: RM – an old friend from a long time ago.

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The Hunt for the White(ish) Convertible Sofa is Over (or so I Hope)!

I finally found it!  After a LONG TIME searching for the perfect, convertible, white sofa for my newly re-painted-now-liquid-blue-formerly-buttery-yellow home office/guest room, I think I’ve finally found one.  After several disappointments (“oh, it’s too long. No, it can’t fit width-wise.  It’s not white enough.  It’s too white.  It’s too modern.  It’s too classic.  It’s not eclectic enough), I think I got it.  Thank you, West Elm gods!  You won’t believe how very little selection of lighter-than-beige-as-close-to-white-as-possible-but-not-too-white convertible sofas/sofa beds there are out there. Affordable ones, anyway. Here are the contenders (in no particular order and picture size is no indication of preference, that’s just how they got downloaded):

Contender #1: Ikea Ektorp
Ikea Ektorp

Contender #2: Ikea Hagalund
Ikea Hagalund

Contender #3: Ikea Karlstad
Ikea Karlstad

Contender #4: West Elm Convertible Sofa
West Elm Convertible Sofa (in Pumice)

And the winner is…. (I think):

West Elm’s Clark Sofa
West Elm Clark Sofa 1

West Elm Clark Sofa 2

I’m going to the store later after work to check it out! Please, please, please be the one!

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