Inspiring Cuisine

The other day a friend and I celebrated her birthday by feasting on crème brulee and chocolate mousse at a famous restaurant. As we neared the last bite of our sweets, my friend informed me she had decided to fast for forty days.

I was appalled. Forty days with no food? That’s going to be difficult, grueling, maybe even impossible. No nutrition for more than a month? That’s dangerous: doom, gloom, sackcloth and ashes, starving, suffering—yikes!

I know, I know, holy men have fasted and achieved astounding results. But right now Dale and I would like to celebrate food and marvel with you at what a blessing it is.

Easter will be here before you know it, so we’re launching our blog with:

Scintillating Ideas for Easter Dinner

When you see fresh strawberries, leg of lamb and asparagus at affordable prices in the grocery store, you know spring has arrived. But here in Colorado Springs the weather is somewhat confused.

Nevertheless, I planned my Easter Sunday dinner with all fresh signs of spring. I even had red and yellow tulips on the table! Would you believe? It snowed that day. Oh well, the food was great anyway. [Dale]

In many parts of the world lamb is a traditional dish for Easter Sunday. You might want to serve lamb to remind yourself that Christ died for the sake of the whole world

Try this original recipe to spruce up your Roast Lamb:

Bordelaise Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Minced Shallots 1 rib of cooked Celery
Meat Juices 1 cooked Carrot
1 cup Red Wine ½ cooked Onion
1 Bay Leaf 4 cloves Garlic
1 cup Water 3 teaspoons Bouillon granules
¼ teaspoon Dried Thyme

Expanding our understanding

Since Sauce Bordelaise was invented way back who knows when by who knows whom, there is more than one “right” way to do it. The basic elements are: 1. wine,  2. meat stock, 3. herbs, spices or vegetables for seasoning.

Seasonings4. Then you need a thickening agent. That leaves a great deal of room for invention and creativity. Let’s explore each of the elements so you can create your own signature sauce but not be locked into always doing it the same way.

Consider the wine. Generally you use a red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. What kind of red or white wine? What do you have on hand? What do you like to drink (if you do)? A good red Bordeaux would be excellent. RuthAnn keeps a bottle of burgundy in her cupboard. So she sometimes uses that.

Think about the stock. Homemade stock would be ideal, but few of us have the time or the scraps and meat bones to make a good stock. So we usually buy it. You can use canned broth, base which comes in a paste form, or bouillon granules or cubes.

Chicken stock for white meat and beef stock for red is a good beginning.

Remove as much fat from the roasting pan or sauté pan as you wish, then deglaze the pan with wine. Add the stock. Pour the liquid into a skillet, a sauce pan or the roasting pan you use for the meat. Add the seasonings (see below). Then turn the heat to maximum and boil until the sauce is reduced by one half.

The seasoning could be garlic, bay leaf, thyme, lemon, tomato paste, salt, pepper or shallots. I like to place a mirepoix (celery, carrot and onion) in my roasting pan to give the sauce a rich flavor. If you choose to use garlic or shallots in your mirepoix, you could cook them the same way. After roasting, mash the vegetables, but don’t puree.

Because this is a classic sauce, you use the classic thickener—flour. There are two ways to do this. The most often used is a roux. A roux is flour cooked in an equal amount of fat. In French or Italian cooking, butter is the fat of choice. Other styles of cooking use oils. If you’re making the bordelaise for red meat, brown the roux. If it is for white meat, cook the roux for only one or two minutes and stop while it is still blond.

Another classic means of thickening a small amount of sauce with flour is Beurre Manie (kneaded butter). With your hands, mix one stick of butter (softened but not melted) and 1/3 cup of flour together. When you finish, it should be the consistency of play dough. While the sauce is boiling, pinch a bit of the beurre manie off and whisk it into the liquid. Let it cook for a minute. Keep adding the beurre manie, one pinch at a time, until the sauce is as thick as you want it to be. A bordelaise is not a heavy sauce or a gravy.  You only want it to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Simmer the sauce at least twenty minutes. Keep the heat as low as possible, but be sure it is always simmering. Stir from time to time. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more water.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Strain it right before using. This sauce works well not only with lamb, but beef, pork or duck.

Place the remainder of beurre manie in a jar and save it in your refrigerator for the next time you need to thicken a sauce.

Tip: The salad on our home page will make a perfect first course for this Easter entree.

{Food for Thought}

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ at the beginning of the 1st century brought the kind of joy that requires a multitude of bells, a carillon ringing through the countryside, heralding hope. It was a hope so real that most of Jesus’ apostles sacrificed their lives for it.

The Son of God became a man. He taught, healed, was rejected, murdered and finally, raised from the dead for one purpose: to bring us into the Trinity’s joyous circle of love. In his excellent book The Reason for God, Tim Keller says, “The inner life of the Triune God. . .is characterized by mutual self-giving. Each of the divine persons centers on the others. None demands the others revolve around Him. . .Each. . .loves, adores, defers and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic pulsating dance of joy and love.”

And that’s the kind of joy God has for us. Aren’t you glad?  [RuthAnn]

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16 Responses to Inspiring Cuisine

  1. Diane Rutledge Hazel says:

    Thank you, Dale and RuthAnn, for starting this blog. It is beautiful, high-class, intelligent, interesting, professional and friendly at the same time; and, well, just lovely, lovely, lovely. But, I would not have expected anything less. Congratulations on your achievement and your joy in sharing the experience with the rest of us. Maybe someday I’ll think of it as joyous, too. Right now, it’s just a chore. And a guilty one at that because of calories, calories, calories. But, I’ll keep checking in and learning.

  2. Dianny,
    Thank you so much for your delightful comments. Try the salad recipe. It is nutritious and a snap. I bet that will make you joyful.

    Love, you,
    RuthAnn

  3. Dave Ridley says:

    Yay the blog is up! Good work!

  4. Carole Duvall says:

    What a delicious Sunday surprise!! I share your joy for cooking. Putting together beautiful ingredients in ways that nourish and give enjoyment to others is a passion of mine too. Writing is so fulfilling when out of so many choices the right words seem to form on the blank paper in such a way as to be appreciated and understood by others. Music is a sublime gift to my soul. I think in heaven I will given the ability to play a variety of instruments and sing right along with the songbirds. God could have made just “plain vanilla”, but instead He has poured out His many flavors of creativity upon us. Thank you for sharing your cooking, writing, and creativity with us all. Exceptional blog!

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Carole, How fun to hear you say many of the things I think. You will be interested in the second blog, coming up tomorrow or Thurs. I speak of music and all the flavorful facets of God. So Fun to have you follow us.

      Love, RuthAnn

  5. SW101 says:

    Every Monday I do what we call “Daddy Dinners.” It’s a chance for my wife to take the night off, and for me to explore cooking with my 4 children. Initially, I figured it would be fried grapes and pizza crusts, but then I decided to try to actually learn how to cook things, or at least experiment with real food.

    I can’t say that much of what we’ve made has been wildly successful. Probably the highest praise came for a pear salad with mint leaves and pine nuts that we dreamed up. But the few things that DO make it onto the “hits” list get added to the menu of our imaginary family restaurant called “The Candle House Inn.”

    But coming up with ideas is always tough. Especially when things like “egg whites” sound more intimidating and foreign to me than “subdural hematoma.” Thus, I’m excited about the blog (and book) because it will really help me – and my little army of sous chefs – continue building our restaurant in the sky.

  6. Jay McClure says:

    As Dale will tell you, I am still learning how to make baloney sandwiches in some unique creative way. So you two guys are way out of my league. However, I love your blog. It is really classy and refreshing at the same time. I am really excited for you two and hope this blog takes off in a major way. I have shared your blog address on my facebook page with all my Facebook friends who are all over the country. Yep ! now your pictures are all over Facebook land…..(you should have combed your hair Dale) I also have a Twitter page and will repost there as well. I am really happy for you guys. It looks like you are having a ball. Who knows? Maybe I can learn something if I check in enough. Just wish I had heard of half of the ingredients you use for this stuff. Good Luck!

  7. debbie perryman says:

    I am enjoying the photos that accompany the web site. Also, thanks Ruth Ann for your thoughtful Food For Thought!
    Debbie

  8. Kay Nicholas says:

    Ruth Ann and Dale thankyou for sharing your love of food, recipes and thoughts. I feel privilaged to have been on your receiving list.I plan to bake the yummy sounding pie very soon.

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Kay, I’m so glad you’ve found us. I would love to hear about your experience with the Pineapple Sour Cream Pie. I’ll make sure Dale receives your comments. YOurs, RuthAnn

  9. Jay McClure says:

    Dale/RuthAnn

    If you haven’t considered a facebook page yet, you might want to. That is the first question all my friends ask “Do they have a Facebook page”. It would be easier for them to leave comments and ask questions and easier for you to reply. Whoever helped you set up your blog can get you set up in Facebook, as well. You’ll get much more exposure.
    Numbers 6: 24-26

    • ruthann1 says:

      Thank you jay.

      I know a facebook page is important. But I’m waiting until I get the basics of posting blogs down. I’m a bit worried about getting so overwhelmed I can’t handle all the comments. I need to answer them all. Yours, RuthAnn

  10. Diane Rutledge Hazel says:

    That pie sounds amazing.

  11. Judy Anderson says:

    The Inspiring Cuisine is definitely interesting and very inspiring. I do not “love” to cook, but definitely want to try some of the recipes posted on this blog. The recipes and scripture references are a very good mix and encourage a good, hospitible atmosphere for cooking and entertaining. Thank you Dale and Ruth Ann, I’ll look for your book and keep an eye on your blog. Judy Anderson

    • ruthann1 says:

      Dear Judy,
      Our blog and cookbook are written for people who don’t love to cook and who would like some inspiration. So I’m so glad that you feel spoken to in these areas. I found that when I began to understand more about cooking and gathered some wonderful recipes like the ones in our menus that I began to enjoy cooking a great deal more. I’m excited that you’ll be checking in and pray that God will bring you blessings through the blog and our communication. I would love to know a bit about you.
      Yours,
      RuthAnn (for Dale too)

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