One of the last projects I had to complete for my last class was a presentation.
"Invite three interested adults to participate in your presentation." So, Tom of course, and our BFFs Hollie and Brett. That was easy.
"Include a visual." How about a PowerPoint? Done.
"Create an activity that they must participate in during the presentation -- sitting and listening to you describe the activity does not count as participating." Well, my research was on pitch-matching in 10-11 year old male voices, so they will sing through some of the exercises and complete the same assessment that my student subjects had to do. They will sing in their "kid" ranges -- this should be entertaining.
I knew this wouldn't be a complete presentation without dinner, so I invited them over for an entire evening and got the menu planned. Keeping in mind that I needed to utilize the massive quantities of herbs from the garden overflowing our backyard, this is what I came up with:
Brown Sugar Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
Summer Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Salmon Beurre Blanc
French Bread with fresh herb compound butter
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Sparkling White Wine
The dinner was a success even though I felt the salmon got a little too overcooked and I didn't have enough time to bake the cupcakes...Hy Vee bakery to the rescue! We had mini vanilla cupcakes with pretty sprinkles on top. Oh, and by "craft beer" I mean "Michelob Golden Light." We forgot to pick up a growler from MC Brewing.
I fell into deep, committed love with the main course. Beurre blanc is a French white wine butter sauce and OH MY LANTA. Fantastic.
Needless to say, I feel obliged to share this beurre blanc recipe with you, which is slightly adapted from one of Mr. Alton Brown's recipes. These photos are not from the original sauce-making experience, but the emotions most definitely are.
1. Chop up some shallots. I used a half of a medium-sized shallot, about a tablespoon and a half.
2. Remember your ski goggles under the sink and put them on. My eyes were already watering after about .5 seconds of chopping. Does anyone else have super-sensitive eyes?!
3. Put the shallots in a prep bowl with 6 whole black peppercorns (I used 7 because I am a rebel) and one bay leaf, and set aside.
4. Get to work on the star ingredient, the butter. Here is one stick.
5. Do a double-take at the recipe. OMG this recipe calls for three. THREE. Three sticks of butter. Wallow in the gluttony that you are about to experience and go to the fridge and get two more sticks.
6. Stop wallowing and do a joy dance because this is going to be delicious.
7. Cut the butter into cubes. Halve them the long way:
Then into quarters:
and into cubes. Put them in the fridge so they stay cold.
8. Grab another small prep dish and measure 2 tablespoons of dry white wine. I used some of my beloved Naked Grape Pinot G. Also, add 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar into the same prep bowl. It's not pictured because vinegar is boring.
9. Gawk at your cutie-pie son who is having his own supper.
10. Get to work on some fresh vegetables. 1/4 of a red onion! Ski goggles back on, stat.
(Stat. What does that even mean? I know that medical pros say it and it means right away. Why "stat?" Feel free to fill me in, medical friends.)
11. Red and green bell pepper, half of each.
12. Red skinned potatoes...I think probably 4 or so, cut into bite sized pieces.
13. Go into your backyard and crawl into the literal jungle of herbs. I picked parsley, thyme, and rosemary. I would have included sage so I could sing Scarborough Fair while picking them, but I didn't really have a need for sage. Next time.
14. Realize that the photo of herbs also includes a hair brush. Why a hair brush? Jude likes to carry random objects around with him and this was one of the objects of the day. Promptly move the brush somewhere else.
15. Chop up the lovely fragrant herbs and set aside. I mixed the rosemary and thyme, to use with the roasted veggies.
16. Prepare salad ingredients. In this photo I forgot the radishes. Shame on me. Radishes are one of my top 5 salad toppers. Imagine romaine, these strawberries, green onions, carrots, thinly sliced radishes sprinkled with sea salt (they are so good) and fresh parsley. Salad perfection, I believe. Any sweet vinaigrette like raspberry or honey mustard would be good, but ours was Panera poppyseed dressing.
17. Put your toddler to "work" in his cupboard, filled with baby-friendly kitchen things.
18. Toss veggies and potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary/thyme mixture. I always cook the potatoes on a separate pan and give them a 15-minute headstart. If I cook them together, the onions and peppers burn. I also used asparagus on the original recipe.
19. Roast in a 425* oven, potatoes in first, then veggies after 15 minutes. 30 minutes total.
20. Notice that Jude has declared it "break time." He is all about that blue sippy cup.
21. Start the glorious, heaven-sent, wondrous beurre blanc. Shallots, peppercorns, bay leaf (I guess there were two in mine), wine and vinegar all get hot together. Boil, then simmer and reduce until there is about 2 tablespoons of liquid left.
22. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream. I didn't mention that in the ingredients before. Don't you go and forget it though, because it is miraculous. Bring this to a simmer and let it reduce by half.
23. While the sauce is becoming magical, put some chicken breasts in a saute pan. Just salt and pepper and olive oil, nothing fancy. My veggies were done at this point so there they are, cooling off a little on the side.
24. Put some bread on the veggie pan and plan on putting it back into the oven right before serving, so it gets warmed. This bread is one of my favorites from Aldi. It's a big round loaf of Italian bread and you can find it in the bread section. Duh.
25. When the sauce is reduced by half, call your handsome husband in for help. Ask if he would rather be the "feeder" or the "whisker." Tell him that he should be the whisker, because he has whiskers. LOL. He's not laughing.
26. Add the cold butter one piece at a time while your Whiskered Husband "vigorously whisks" the butter into the sauce. This takes a while. Look at that mountain of butter cubes. If you've ever seen Julie and Julia (one of my favorites!), this is the sauce-making process that Julia Child describes to her sister in a French restaurant while they eat Brie and drink wine.
I want to be Julia Child.
This isn't pictured, but don't forget to flip the chicken over! :)
28. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh colander and you're all done! It will smell amazing. Don't taste it yet, because you'll burn your mouth.
29. When all is brought together, you'll have THIS:
Chicken with the awesomesauce, topped with parsley.
Roasted veggies which taste great with the awesomesauce.
Bread with compound butter -- this particular one is garden basil and garlic.
30. Revel in the deliciousness. You're welcome.