29 March 2009

Entertaining in a foreign kitchen

I have been house sitting for the past two weeks while some friends of mine are in Africa. First of all, I'm terribly jealous that they are in AFRICA! Ugh...what a dream. I would love to go there. But I digress. That's a whole other blog.

Friday night I hosted a dinner party for a few of my friends, three of whom have March birthdays. I tried out a recipe for pot au feu, care of the Oregonian's Food Day column. It was a two-part recipe. The first night you make the pot au feu (basically slow-cooked meat with vegetables), and the second day you make another beef-centered recipe; I chose the beef ragu.

I failed to take a picture of the masterpiece that was my pot au feu. The meat turned out perfectly--moist, tender, flavorful. And the vegetables were cooked to perfection. I basically did a mix of root vegetables--carrots, fennel, parsnips, and rutabaga. It was really my last chance to make such a hearty and wintry dinner.

I was amazed at making such a delicious dinner, not only because it was my first time with this recipe, but I also was cooking in someone else's kitchen. My friend's kitchen is absolutely spectacular, though--every cook's dream. Six burner gas stove, lots of counter space and area to move around in, and a beautiful refrigerator to store all your delicious leftovers! But I felt disoriented. It was hard to find what I needed and my flow was off. I guess it doesn't matter what you have, it's more of how you use it. Either way, I got the job done and had many happy, full guests by the end of the night. We topped it all off with a lovely lemon cornmeal cake with blueberry sauce I found on Epicurious.

My beef ragu the next night, though, turned out spectacularly. After my short ribs had been cooking in the liquid for 4 hours the prior night, they got another 2 hours of simmering that evening when I made the sauce. I actually remembered to take a picture of it:

Bon Appetit!

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