But back to the recipe trying itself. I am a fairly accomplished amateur cook. I don't pretend to be good at baking, but I can cook pretty well, and I enjoy throwing things together without much rhyme or reason (hence #36, "take a cooking/knife techniques class"). Generally speaking, when I cook I start by reading a recipe or watching Good Eats, then I modify based on what I have on hand and go from there. Thus I have a bunch of "base recipes" in my head that can be changed or altered depending on my mood or what's in the fridge - usually the latter. About a week ago, I decided it was time to add a recipe for Brandy Cream Sauce to my repertoire; I'd seen it on the Good Eats episodes called "Tender is the Loin," and it just marinated in my head until I ran across a sale on brandy at Rite Aid. Surely cheap brandy is appropriate for cooking, if not for drinking!
So I looked up a recipe on Epicurious and tried it out. Having never made a cream sauce before, I went out and bought some heavy whipping cream for the base and made sure I was Doing It Right. It was, as most foods full of fat and alcohol are, delicious. Sadly I started playing with the sauce before my 101 in 1001 re-started.
But last night, oooh. Last night I went off book for the first time and just cooked. I figured for my first attempt, I should start with a bang - or at least a big ol' fire. Have you ever cooked with brandy? It's great fun; you get to set it on fire. Yea.
So here for your cooking enjoyment is my recipe for
Blue Cheese Brandy Cream Sauce
Your favorite steak. The sauce will make enough for 5-6 people if you're not stingy like me.
1 c. beef broth
2 T butter
3/4 c. onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. chopped brown mushrooms
1/4 - 1/3 c. brandy
1 c. milk (I used 2%)
3/4 c. blue cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the steaks in a hot skillet (cast iron is best, DO NOT use non-stick) for 4 minutes on each side or until done to your liking. Remove to plate and cover with tin foil, then a towel to keep steak warm.
Put beef broth and butter into pan and deglaze by scraping little brown bits of steak off of bottom of pan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms. Cook until onions are soft - liquid should reduce by about 1/2. Add brandy, then remove pan from stove and (this is the best part!) light it on fire to allow alcohol to burn off. Don't worry, it'll go out by itself when the alcohol is all gone. Replace on medium-high heat and add milk. Continue cooking until liquid reduces by about 1/2 (7-10 minutes). Add blue cheese and cook until cheese has melted.
Pour over steaks and serve. Also goes well over vegetables and rice.
In other news, I encountered an interesting bit of my upbringing today. Most people whose origins are in Places of Color will tell you that they were required to have some form of food in their mouths at all times when they were young because "if you won't eat, something is wrong with you! Are you sick? No? Then just one more bite, mijita. Now just finish your plate, there's a good girl." Ahem. Anyway, THB had a really rough day today and was facing an even rougher evening. So while we talked a little, I offered to 1) get some beer, 2) open a bottle of wine, or 3) cancel the plans we had for Glee tonight. He rejected all three offers and then his phone rang. So what did I do? I left the room and went straight to the kitchen. He came out about ten minutes later, just as I was chopping the last of the onions into the slow cooker (put on high, a slow-cooker will finish chicken in about 2.5 hours. Perfect for starting dinner at 4:30!). He sat down at the counter and looked at me, then started laughing.
"What?!?" I asked, and held out my hands for him to smell. We both love the smell of fresh-chopped onions-and-garlic on a cook's hands (remember this, ladies...). He pointed at the Crock Pot and said, "I told you I didn't want anything, but I'm sad, so you came in here and started making dinner. For two. Because you didn't know what else to do to make me feel better, you started cooking."
And it's true, I did, because food is love.