Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dinner #2: Bacon and Eggs and Salad Nicoise

So, obviously, between the lost olives, no motivation, and beet sludge-glaze, things haven't been going well for dinner numero dos. I got through everything today… but can't say it went much better.

I started the morning by running to two health food stores looking for beet juice. No dice. No nicoise olives at the grocery store, and I didn't have time to go out to Whole Foods. Oh, and my renewed search for salt-packed anchovies struck out too.

I finally started cooking, two hours behind schedule, starting with my tapenade.

First, I deboned (olive-oil packed) anchovies. I had intended to do 8, since they were small, but at 6 said 'screw it.' Deboning took over an HOUR. Putting me another hour behind schedule (because for some reason I thought my anchovies were already deboned. Again: read the packaging self!) While I was doing this, I also clarified my butter. I forgot about the melting butter, and kept hearing this almost lapping noise. Thinking it was my dog, I turned around to say 'enough!'…. then ran over and barely saved the butter from boiling over. Whoops again. After going through the arduous deboning process, I rinsed and put in milk to soak while I went about other prep.

Next: pommes maxim. Things started to pick up here, as I (quickly) peeled the potatoes, sliced them on the mandoline, tossed them in clarified butter, and arranged them on the silpat. I've never bothered clarifying butter before, and was amazed at how easily it washed off my hands – no greasy residue, even before I used soap!

Next: everything egg! Water for poaching, water for hard-boiling, I SUCCESSFULLY! cut the tops off of the quail eggs. Poaching didn't go as well. I think about half of the eggs were more medium than soft-poached, and they barely had any white on them… but I didn't break any. That counts for something, right?

I also (uneventfully) hard boiled the other eggs. I found three broken eggs in the container, so luckily I managed to not break any of the hard boiled ones too. Yay me!

I also blanched the leeks.

One of my favorite things about TFL is the little sidenotes about why things should be done a particular way, such as including a crapload of salt when blanching. I've noticed my veggies look so much brighter and more appealing since I've started "generously" salting the water.

I had been alternating all of these tasks with soaking anchovies in milk, they were finally done, so I quickly made the tapenade, tossing in (kalamata not nicoise) olives, mustard, the (olive oil not salt-packed) anchovies, olive oil, and some other things. It doesn't look quite right – too oily, I think – but whatever. It's still tapenade. Ish.

I also cut the tuna for the salad nicoise, took out all of my ingredients, checked my schedule, made croutons, and generally ran around the kitchen trying to get things done.

I also peeled more beets, discovered that my mother in law was not going to be home, so I food-processed the beets into shreds, then used the cutter thing, watched the blender fail to extract more than a tablespoon of juice. At a loss, I wrapped it in cheesecloth and decided "hand-squeezing" was the way to go. Brandon literally wrung a cup of juice from beet shreds with his bare hands. Studly. I poured it in a pan and prayed it would reduce in time.


Brioche - Bread and Cie in Hillcrest, only available Friday morning

Nicoise Olives - only to be found at Whole Foods

Tuna - Point Loma Seafoods

Quail Eggs - 99 Ranch (or is it Ranch 99? Still haven't figured that out)

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