Chateaubriand for Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2018

Chateaubriand

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a departure from the usual.  Our Son Michael loves to grill and decided to attempt a whole tenderloin cooked over indirect heat and then seared over the direct coals.  The inspiration came from Meathead Goldwyn in his iconic grilling book Meathead; The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.  The beef was outstanding.  Served with mashed potatoes and an updated green bean casserole, we never even missed a turkey.

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A whole tenderloin requires a breakdown to get to  a symmetrical log from the center.  The tenderloin tips are cut from each end.  The chain along the side needs to be trimmed away and the silverskin removed.  The trimmings can be used as a few filet mignon steaks, stew meat, and/or ground with some of the fat into upscale hamburgers.

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You will need to fold over the tapered end and tie it with string to ensure even cooking.  Once the chateaubriand is ready, dry brine it in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.  The dry brine is just kosher salt.  Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat all over the cylinder.  After the allotted time is up, remove the beef from the refrigerator and season it with a seasoning rub.

BEEF RUB
2 Tablespoons ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

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Set up the grill in a two-zone configuration and get the indirect zone up to about 225 degrees F.  Place the meat in the indirect-heat zone.  It will cook slowly for about 45 minutes.  Check temperature with a meat thermometer.

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When the meat reaches 110 degrees F, move it to direct heat to sear.  Leave the lid open and roll the roast a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so.  When it reaches 130 degrees F in the center, move it to a cutting board.  Cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes or so.

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Slice into at least 1 inch steaks and serve.  Serves 6 to 8 easily.

Parsnip Soup

Earlier in the day Kristen made a delicious Parsnip and apple soup with smoked almonds and scallions.  I don’t have the recipe but anything you add to it is enhanced by using an immersion blender to meld it all together.  Here is a similar recipe.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

One of the most colorful dishes on our table was this fabulous Kale, roasted quinoa, purple sweet potato and apple salad.  It was such a seasonal delight that I would love to serve this every Autumn and Thanksgiving.  Kristen is so creative.  Remind me to get the recipe.  Will try to blog about this again or maybe Kristen will put it on her blog, Menubility.

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I made a Bourbon Pumpkin Pie from this recipe.  I add a Streusal Topping.  Recipe follows.

STREUSAL TOPPING

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool and sprinkle over cooked and cooled pie.  You will have extra for other purposes.

FAMILY CHRISTMAS 2018

We took some time over Thanksgiving to have photos taken for our Christmas cards.  We are lucky to have Christobal of Azul Photography as a family friend.  Let the Christmas Season begin.

Flammkuchen: Tallinn, Estonia

November 10th, 2018

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Tallinn, Estonia is just 50 miles across the Gulf of Finland from Helsinki.  It shares a history with Finland, but as a Baltic country, it has many influences from Western and Eastern Europe. Its capital, Tallinn, has an intact medieval village that was not destroyed by the wars in Europe.

estonia

We took a ferry from Helsinki and spent two days exploring the Old Town and enjoying the diverse restaurants. Tallinn was a medieval stronghold of the Baltic trading world and was influenced by the Germanic Hanseatic League who ruled the seas.  Flammkuchen is a German (or Alsatian) pizza.

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We enjoyed strolling its cobbled streets and getting lost among the many turreted watch towers.

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Flammkuchen Wine Bar is situated in the Old Town’s Rotermann Quarter in a former old grain elevator.  The limestone walls and grain hoppers give the interior an extraordinary atmosphere.

Flammkuchen Pizza

Flammkuchen pizza differs from other pizzas because the crust does not include yeast.  This yields a very thin and crisp crust.  The traditional version includes creme fraiche, nutmeg, bacon and onions.  It was so delicious I had to make one at home.

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I was very pleased with the results.

FLAMMKUCHEN (Adapted from Curious Cuisiniere)

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water – you may need a little more
2 Tbls. olive oil

1 Cup Crème Fraîche or Sour Cream
Freshly grated nutmeg or 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 slices Bacon
2 red onions, halved and sliced
Corn meal for baking sheet

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 500F.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water, and oil. Mix until a dough begins to form.  Place the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until it is soft and smooth, You may need to add a little more water. Let the dough rest under a towel.
Mix together crème fraîche and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large sauté pan, sauté bacon until it is crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate.

Save 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease in pan.  Place the sliced onions into the hot bacon grease and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into two balls and stretch the two out into rectangles, roughly 10×16 inches each. Place the two onto a large baking sheet that has been generously dusted with cornmeal. Spread the crème fraîche mixture over the crusts, leaving just a little bare crust border. Distribute the caramelized onions over the crème fraîche, and sprinkle the bacon over the onions.  Place the baking sheet with the pizzas into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pizzas are crisp and the edges are starting to darken.  Slice and serve.

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Norwegian Apple Cake; Norway’s Landscape

October 11th, 2018

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Norway.  The place where my maternal Grandmother’s family originated.   I wish I knew more about them, but experiencing the country was part of the reason that we were in Scandinavia.  Of the four Scandinavian countries, Norway is the one with the most amazing heights.  Within the fjords, mountains jut above the landscape like jagged behemoths. The fog, forests and rivers put one in mind of wood nymphs, sirens, trolls and hobbits straight out of The Lord of the Rings.

Fjords of Norway 3

We were fortunate to be a part of a small Firebird Tour group for part of our vacation.  It was well worth experiencing.  All of our transportations (cars, trains, planes and boats) were taken care of.  Our hotel accommodations were excellent.

Grand Hotel Oslo

We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway.  All of the Nobel Prize recipients stay here before the awards ceremony. Next to the hotel is the Freia shop selling delicious Norwegian chocolates.

Grand Hotel Oslo Lobby

We all met in the lobby after our two days there to take a train to the fjords region and Bergen, Norway.

Flam Viking village

Since prehistoric times, Norwegians had covered their homes with sod roofs.  The sod covered layers of birch bark and acted as insulation, as well as being able to absorb rain water.  The vegetation growing on the roofs was also attractive to goats.  I can picture a humble hobbit warm and snug in his home with a goat chomping away on his roof.  For a region with countless fjords and waterfalls, Norway is known for its pristine water.  Even the tap water is crisp and clean.  Norway exports a very expensive bottled water called Voss that is popular with many Hollywood celebrities.

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Apples have been a crop in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries for thousands of years.  They have been discovered on Viking ships which had been buried in clay.  The clay preserved the ships and allowed us to learn much about the Viking way of life.  Apples are harvested in the Fall as they are in our country.  This a version of a popular, simple apple cake with Norwegian roots.

NORWEGIAN APPLE CAKE

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  •  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Grease and flour a 9-inch tart pan (with removeable bottom) and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk, cream the melted butter and sugar until light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.
  6. Add the vanilla extract.
  7. Add half the flour mixture and all of the milk.
  8. Mix thoroughly and then add the remaining flour. Combine until no streaks of flour remain.
  9. Spread batter in the prepared cake pan.
  10. Core and cut the apple in half. Cut each half in to ⅛” slices and arrange on top of the cake batter in a decorative pattern.
  11. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and turbinado sugar.
  12. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and cake is thoroughly cooked by testing with a toothpick.
  13. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Hygge: Our Trip to Scandinavia

October 3rd, 2018

Hygge

Hygge.  However you pronounce it (Hooga, Hhyooguh, or Heurgh), what is important is what it feels like.  It is all about feelings of intimacy, cosiness of the soul and taking pleasure in the moment.  It is the Danish way to live well.  The Scandinavian inhabitants have been designated the happiest people in the world.  The word Hygge expresses all that makes life happy.  The above scene captures the elements of hygge well; the warmth of throws, the texture and comfort of pillows, flowers, candles and the close intimacy of a welcoming table.  Keep in mind, this was just at a humble cafe on a quiet street.  Imagine what it would be like in a Scandinavian home.

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All over Copenhagen beauty abounds.  In spite of long dark winters, people manage to fill the warmer months with flowers and a buoyant attitude.  Bicycle lanes line every major and minor street and riders are given priority.  There are more bicycles in Copenhagen than cars.  We saw people of all ages two-wheeling their way through town.

Copenhagen Michigan girls

We shared a riverfront lunch table with two lovely young ladies from Ann Arbor, Michigan, our home state.  They had just arrived from Iceland sans luggage and were in a funk about it.  It pleased me so much that after a pleasant time with them, they thanked us for lightening their mood and we exchanged phone numbers.  We kept track of them in their travels.

Oslo Michigan girls

We reconnected in Oslo, Norway and had dinner with them.  They never did find their luggage until the end of the trip but managed to have fun with less “baggage” anyway.  A friendship was forged.  “The art of hygge is the art of expanding your comfort zone to include other people”. From “The Little Book of Hygge; The Danish Way to Live Well”.

Copenhagen Hotel

Even our hotel in Copenhagen, The Admiral, was cozy with wood posts and beams and soft bed linens.  Hygge even has a dictionary of sorts.  Hyggerbukser means “That one pair of pants you would never wear in public but are so comfortable that they are likely to be, secretly, your favorites.” Hyggerkrog means “The nook of a kitchen or living room where one can sit and have a hyggerlig time.  But my favorite is Hyggesnak; “Chit-chat or cosy conversation that doesn’t touch on controversial issues.”  Seems appropriate to our times.  There will be more of our trip in future posts which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.

I apologize for being gone for so long. It has been a busy summer.  Time has slipped by too quickly.  But I am back and looking forward to hearing from all of you.

Orange, Tomato and Broccoli Salad

June 27th, 2018

Orange, Tomato and Broccoli Salad

Our 4th of July celebration is set in stone.  It is a family event with three generations, water sports, fireworks and lots of food and drink.  I always have a container of chocolate chip cookies for the kids.  My Granddaughter requested two separate containers this year; one for the three girls and one for the three boys because in past years the boys have snuck too many cookies.  The girls will probably hide their cookies.

We will be grilling most meals with chicken, hamburgers, ribs and a smoked pork butt among the offerings.  But I do try to get creative with some of the side dishes.  This year I experimented with this Orange, Tomato and Broccoli Salad with an Orange Vinaigrette.  It is a winner.

Orange, Tomatoe, Broccoli Salad Alternate

Whatever your plans for the holiday, you can’t go wrong with this colorful salad.  Happy Independence Day.

ORANGE, TOMATO, BROCCOLI, AND SWEET ONION SALAD WITH ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients: 

2 cups ¾-inch pieces broccoli florets

3 large oranges

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 cup diced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui)

¼ cup sliced fresh basil

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1½ tbsp red wine vinegar

1½ tsp grated orange peel

Preparation: Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Place broccoli in large bowl. Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Holding oranges over small bowl to catch juice, cut between membranes to release segments. Cut each orange segment crosswise into 3 pieces. Add orange pieces, tomatoes, onion, and fresh basil to bowl with broccoli. Add oil, vinegar, and orange peel to bowl with collected orange juice; whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over broccoli mixture and toss to coat. Bon Appétit, 2002.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.