Monday, January 30, 2006

A hasty menu for the week

We're trying to quickly repaint the basement before our new carpets are installed, so it's still a busy week! Fortunately, there are some quick recipes that can keep us in good shape.

Tonight we had a gourmet dinner with a 15 minute cooking time: venison tenderloin medallions encrusted with coarse salt and pan-seared, baked potatoes, and asparagus with homemade hollandaise sauce.

Here's the hollandaise recipe:

3 egg yolks
1 T lemon juice
1 T water
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch white pepper
1 T cold butter
2 sticks (1 C) melted butter

Hollandaise is actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but the first couple of times can be difficult. The trick is to use as little heat as possible. A double boiler is mandatory, though if you're skilled you can make do with a pan of water and a smaller pot that you hold just at the surface of the hot water. I've used this technique over a camping stove and it actually works!

First, in the top of a double boiler, beat the 3 egg yolks a little bit with a wire whisk. Preheat a bit of water in the bottom of the double boiler over medium heat and start melting the 2 sticks of butter in a separate pan while you beat in the lemon juice, water, salt, and white pepper with the egg yolks.

Add the lump of cold butter to the top of the double boiler, and put the double boiler together so that your sauce with the lump of butter is heating over the water. At this point, you need to stir the mixture continuously until the lump of cold butter melts into the sauce and the sauce begins to thicken. This usually takes a few minutes. If you notice that the egg is starting to cook to the sides of the pan, remove the double boiler from the heat and continue stirring - the heat of the water will do the job on its own. You should remove the top part of the double boiler from the bottom as soon as it's possible to see your whisk strokes leaving tracks on the bottom of the pan and the sauce is nicely thickened.

At this point, you're going to start adding the melted butter. Add about a teaspoon at a time and stir the sauce vigorously to make sure that it blends in completely. As you go along, you'll find that you can gradually add more and more butter at a time. Stir the sauce for an extra minute once all the butter is blended in. Voila! This sauce is also wonderful over steamed or pan-fried salmon, or with artichoke leaves.

Sam gets home late, so it's another pizza night!

Wednesday night I'm going to have a lot of homework to do, so it's going to be posole from the freezer and maybe a little leftover chili in a burrito.

Thursday night I should finally have some time to really cook, so I'm planning to make Cornish game hens with brown and wild rice stuffing, green beans, and a salad.


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