Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday Tarragon Cream Sauce

I asked myself what to make for dinner on the eve of Thanksgiving eve, and somewhere within my deep unconscious self a voice answered,

"Tarragon Cream Sauce."

I've never made a tarragon cream sauce. I'm not even sure I've had one in a restaurant. I Googled it. A recipe from Real Simple came up, promising to deliver a creamy tarragon sauce fit for a vegetable, chicken or fish dinner in three simple steps. And the first ingredient is a half bottle of wine. Sold.

Chopped onions, tarragon sprigs and said wine went into a pan, up to a boil, and back down to a simmer for 20 minutes. The smell of boiling wine is new to me - not many tarragon cream sauces get made in our kitchen. Something about the wine and herbs bubbling on the stove gave me that reassured feeling of "Yes! I'm cooking! Nothing has gone wrong!"

Step two calls for a cup of heavy cream and more simmering. I like the very hands-off pacing of the recipe. It gave me plenty of time to devote some attention to a block of brie cheese and more of the wine. As the sauce thickened a bit, I put a garden-variety piece of Atlantic salmon on the stove.

Once the sauce was done, I added the rest of the tarragon and some salt. Voila. I brought the sauce and the fish together to get acquainted. They got along fabulously.

On its own, the sauce is slightly bitter (all those onions, all that wine) but finishes creamy-sweet. Coupled with the salmon, it was a really good, really simple Tuesday night meal. And an excellent excuse to pick up a bottle of wine.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Carbohydrate High

I've decided to start preparing for the Boston Marathon. Not for any personal goals or to achieve some sense of self-fulfillment. I'm going to run a marathon out of necessity, because I've been eating enough carbohydrate-packed foods to power a whole team of distance runners. It started with waffles at Findlay Market. Those waffles. Smothered in berries and whipped cream.

Findlay Market played host to a tweetup that same day, and the friendly people of Daisy Mae sent each attendee home with a free vegetable of our choosing. Alex and I each asked for a sweet potato. What we got was a bulging grocery bag full of them.

I hauled them back home, promising that I'd transform them into something delicious to accompany the pasta dinner we'd planned for Wedensday. Days ticked by and I still wasn't sure what to do with them. First I settled on pie, then casserole. And then, remembering a visit to the Sugar Cupcakery, I broke out the muffin tin and whipped up a starchy, orange-tinted cake batter.

The recipe was snatched from Coconut & Lime which, despite a couple of typos, yielded some nice results. Plus, their photos looked insanely good.

So what's the secret of a great pasta dinner? Let someone else do all the hard work, (in this case, Bouchard's Anything's Pastable at FM) like making the noodles and sauce. We just heated everything up, threw in a vegetable and called it macaroni. Well, spaghetti with alfredo sauce, actually.

Bouchard's put together a tasty pasta dinner. A mix of whole grain and white noodles was a surprisingly nice combo. And my mother would be so proud to see me willfully eating peas. Amazingly, we still had room for dessert.

Full Disclosure: I used canned frosting. Yes, canned. I live in a teeny apartment and have no mixer and no willpower to make frosting by hand.

Does all this carb loading add up to too much of a good nutrient? I don't think so. Let me just go get my running shoes...