Monday, April 13, 2015

My Own Live-In Chef

Have I mentioned what a good cook my husband Stan is?  I used to tell my co-workers they wouldn't believe the dinners I came home to some evenings.  In this post I'll share with you some of the great dishes he's cooked for me in the past few years.  I'll admit, several of these recipes don't fit in with my new healthy eating plan, but most are fine, especially since we don't eat them that often.

For us, Sunday mornings are special - maybe because before we lived together we only saw each other on weekends.  Here are some of the nice breakfast dishes we've had:

Crepes with berries and scrambled eggs

Omelet souffle with strawberries, from a book by Hubert Keller

Fruit omelet with berries flavored with Grand Marnier

 Stan saw this dish featured in the Seattle Times and promptly visited Le Pichet to try it.  The Times said, "Inspired by a common preparation found in French bistros, the dish consists of French ham, two eggs and Gruyere cheese in a gratin that is then placed in a 500-plus degree oven.  What arrives at the table is bubbling perfection..."  Stan found the folks at Le Pichet very willing to share the recipe and explain the ingredients (uncured ham and aged Gruyere), and he's been making it ever since.   (btw - I would highly recommend Le Pichet any time of day for a lovely meal!)

Oeufs Plats, from Le Pichet on First Ave in Seattle

 Stan actually won a cooking contest with this appetizer!  It was long before I knew him.  He saw an ad by an Idaho potato company, for a contest of potato recipes, and the first prize was a trip to Ireland.  Stan's mother lived in Ireland and he decided to win the contest and take his kids to visit their grandmother.  And he did!

There are mashed potatoes in the bottom of the glass, topped with Alaska king crab in a citrus sauce.  There was a strict limit on the number of ingredients and Stan felt the orange, lemon and lime were all necessary, so he had to be tricky - he left milk out of the mashed potatoes and used garlic salt, instead of both garlic and salt. 

Prize-winning potato crab cocktail

 Stan's real specialty is meat and fish dishes.  This is steak with mushrooms and scalloped potatoes.  This year we've dropped the potatoes, and added larger servings of veggies.  I finally don't regard a starch as a mandatory part of a meal.

This is Pork Grand Marnier with orange sections.

Stan hasn't made this since we started avoiding gluten, but isn't it beautiful!  It's a pork tenderloin stuffed with boursin cheese and wrapped with prosciutto, in a flaky pastry crust.  It was delicious, too!

Rack of lamb with mashed potatoes, from Julia Child's The Way to Cook.  I'm ashamed to say this giant serving was mine : (   Hopefully I didn't eat all those potatoes, and I'm sure there was a side dish of broccoli.  Lately with rack of lamb I've been having Charla's Asian Pear butter.  It's great with all kinds of meats!

And, of course, I've already showed you the beautiful Valentines' Day dinner he made.  That is a round of lobster mashed potatoes under a steak au poivre wrapped in bacon with Cabernet and Bearnaise sauces.  Yum!

Veal cacciatore with spaghetti in mushroom sauce and broccoli.  We found really great gluten-free Italian pasta on Amazon, so we do still get to have spaghetti, linguine or other pasta shapes once in a while, although it's made from corn, which is not on a strict paleo diet.

Notice up in the left corner of the photo - those are my vitamins and a half glass of milk.  I still take the vitamins pretty faithfully, but for my year of health I've dropped the milk and most of the wine.  I love milk with a meal, but everything I read says the pasteurized cow's milk we buy is not good for us.

Here's another pasta dish with shrimp and tomatoes.  Stan added some black spaghetti that is colored with squid ink.  We learned about that in the cooking class we took on our trip to Italy.  (You should click on this link and scroll down to the lower right - Luisa has included a Guestbook on her website, and we are in it!  Too bad she titled our entry Pam and Sam, but you can see the letter and photos we sent her. )

Two yummy poultry dishes - duck breast with poached pear and chicken piccata.  The duck breast is on an old video from Le Cordon Bleu.  The chicken piccata is one of my favorites, and we usually have chicken in the freezer, so if Stan asks "What would you like for dinner tonight?" that is often my first choice.  The steamed cabbage wedges taste great in the sauce!

We eat a lot of seafood.  I didn't think I liked scallops, until my son Tyler barbecued scallops wrapped in bacon.  Now I love them.   These are scallops wrapped in bacon on top of mushroom mashed potatoes, and a favorite of ours, scallops and Brussels sprouts with blood orange sauce and minted blood orange salad.

This is Pacific halibut with morel mushrooms, green asparagus and truffled yellow split pea puree, from Ocean Friendly Cuisine by James O. Fraioli.  Wow - I sound just like one of those fancy food magazines!  And this stuff is all really, really good, too!

Before we ever thought about gluten, Stan was interested in making pasta.  How sad when that endeavor got scrapped in the name of healthy eating!  As you can see, he was doing well.  I forget whether this ravioli was stuffed with cheese or lobster, he made both.

And finally, dessert!  When we have guests, the dessert is usually my responsibility, but Stan has made some memorable ones.  I did cringe just a bit at the red jello in this trifle, but you should have seen his grandchildren's faces when he brought it out!

We learned to make these pears poached in wine with quenelles (little "eggs" of sweetened ricotta)  in our Italian cooking class.  They are as tasty as they are impressive looking!

And Stan's signature dessert - I'm sure he made this crème brûlée for me the first time he invited me over for dinner.  (I keep reminding him, the sexiest thing a man can wear is an apron!)

So, I think you'll agree I'm a very lucky eater!  Even when we backpacked to Lake Ozette on the Pacific Coast, we ate really well.  I wish I had photographed what Stan was cooking - I was probably too hungry!

We both had fun remembering all these great meals.  We found some we had forgotten about, and I've added them to my list of requests to enjoy again.  Most of the recipes started out from a book or video, and have been modified over the years.  If you'd like a recipe for any of these just ask in a comment and I'll get it for you.

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