Valentine's Dinner 2011
featuring Mastering the Art of French Cooking
by Julia Child.
by Julia Child.
Friday, Feb 11:
Started working on some stuff today to prepare for tomorrow. Made my Praline for dessert - burned the first batch of caramel, but the second turned out alright. Pretty much looks like peanut brittle. Pulsed in the processor for about 30 seconds, and it's done!
Trimmed 2 of my 4 lamb shanks. I didn't know what I was doing, and I was afraid of taking off too much of the fat and not having any flavor left. The other 2 I'm not even going to touch - we'll see which ones turn out better.
I think that's all for today. It's actually not that much work, and it can all be done tomorrow, then held until re-heated for dinner!! Yay!
Saturday, February 12:
The day is here! This morning, Matt took Abby out to the park for several hours, so I started work as soon as Anya went down for her morning nap. First I took care of my lamb. This dish is easy to prepare ahead of time and them bring back to a simmer before dinner. I browned the lamb, then made my sauce and put it all into the oven for about an hour. In hindsight, it was a little tough, and should have braised for about another 30-60 minutes. I refrigerated my stock so I could easily scoop the fat off, then reduced my sauce down to a nice thick glaze. All done and ready for dinner!
Next I worked on my potatoes. I peeled a bag of fingerling red & yellow potatoes, then sautéed them slowly until tender. I drained them on paper towels and saved the buttered skillet until dinner.
Carrots were easy. I quartered fat baby carrots then simmered them for 30 minutes with a touch of sugar, butter, salt & pepper.
I blanched my brussels sprouts, then placed them in a small casserole drizzled with butter, salt & pepper.
30 minutes before dinner, I brought my lamb sauce to a simmer, added the shanks back in then popped it into the oven to re-heat, with the brussels sprouts beside them. I heated my potato skillet, browned my potatoes further and added fresh chives, rosemary & parsley. I also sautéed my carrots briefly with chives and parsley.
When it was all done, I plated our beautiful dinner and poured the remaining gravy into a small pitcher. The flavors were excellant. Well developed and rich, well seasoned and strong. The only thing wrong was that the lamb could have braised longer, but the flavor was very good. The potatoes were tender, the carrots perfectly done, and the sprouts very tender and nice. I served our lamb shanks with a Cotes de Rhone wine, as suggested by the cookbook.
I almost forgot about dessert! I prepared it during one of Anya's naps. It was really pretty simple - an egg custard. Yolks & sugar cooked together, then folded into beaten egg whites with fresh, homemade praline (carmelized almonds), rum & vanilla. This was poured into dessert dishes lined with dried ladyfingers which were drizzled with rum and espresso. It wasn't quite as amazing as I'd hoped, but I think that's just because I really prefer rich chocolate desserts. The flavor was very good, and Matt dug into the leftovers only 2 hours after dinner!!
Well, the whole dinner was amazing! I am very pleased with every dish that I prepared. The vegetables had too much butter overall for my tastes, but the flavor was much richer than the veggies I usually make, so I guess it makes a difference. The lamb shanks were a bit underdone, but tasted very rich and flavorful. As far as the trimming goes, I should have removed the fat and silverskin from all of the shanks. There was no need to cut the meat away from the bone, because the meat contracted while cooking anyway - the ones I trimmed look really wimpy with such a small amount of meat on the end!!
Julia Child, you have done it again! An amazing Valentine's Day feast was prepared and enjoyed by one and all. I can't wait to try more recipes!!
Wait... what's this you say? You want photos?? I guess...