Friday, March 3, 2017

"Barbara Cartland - The Romance of Food" & "Made With Love - The Meals On Wheels Family Cookbook" - Sirloin Steak w/Beaujolais Sauce and Potatoes au Gratin - Valentine's Day!

Date I made these recipes:  Valentine's Day 2017!

Barbara Cartland – The Romance of Food by [famous romance writer] Barbara Cartland
Published by Doubleday & Company, Inc.
© 1984
Purchased at Kona Bay Books, Kona, Hawaii
Recipe:  Sirloin Steak in Beaujolais Sauce – p. 60

Made With Love – the Meals On Wheels Family Cookbook, Edited by Enid Borden [with recipes from over 100 celebrities]
Published by BenBella Books, Inc.
ISBN: 978-193666198-5; © 2012
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, Richfield, MN
Recipe:  Potatoes au Gratin from Chris Frantz, music producer, musician, and former drummer for the bands Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club – p. 206

Well, Valentine's Day has come and gone and as sometimes happen, I am now many blog posts behind schedule.  But when it came to having a book at the ready, I'll have you know I found Barbara Cartland - The Romance of Food back in May 2016 while on a 25th anniversary trip to Hawaii. Awwww....  It was meant to be.

Some of you might be too young to be familiar with Barbara Cartland, the Grand Dame of romance writers everywhere, but not me. When I was in high school in the 70's, I worked as a student librarian and I had to re-shelve her books every day on the little spiral rack that held our paperback selections.  Although these books today are viewed as being pretty tame, (nay, even silly) back then the plot of the swashbuckling man seducing the shy timid woman (usually in a "historical" setting) were so "racy" that Cartland became known for writing the "bodice ripper." Well hardly, but you know, it only enhanced Cartland's reputation as the leading romance writer of her time.

In 1991, Cartland became a Dame ("There is nothin' like a dame/nothin' in the world" – South Pacific) when QEII awarded her an OBE [medal].  An OBE is awarded to a Knight or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, quite, quite, quite! Why, that's practically royalty which is why you will likely find the following interesting:  Barbara Cartland's daughter, Raine [Spencer], was the late Princess Diana's stepmother.  I know, right?  Alas, Diana did not like her stepmother, calling her "Acid Raine (ouch!)" which I have to say is rather un-princess of her, right? But whereas there was no love lost for her stepmother, Diana apparently spent a lot of time reading Step-Grandmama's "bodice rippers," which might account for some of Diana's naïveté when it came to love, the subject of which we shall have to say for another day.

At any rate, whereas Barbara had a lock and load on all things bodice and ripping, I just didn't find a lot of the food in this cookbook appealing. There were plenty of lovely photos but the recipes themselves were rather underwhelming.  I mean, she means well, even throwing in the word "love"  in the recipe's title here and there to keep us on track, such as "Love in a Shell" – p. 33, a dish of scallops in a cream and wine sauce, and "Lover's Delight" – p. 41, mushrooms in olive oil and lemon juice, but these were just "meh" to me.

And then there's the other extreme of recipes that sound so bloody awful that I wouldn't make them even if you held a gun to my head, such as "Jugged Hare."  I swear to you, no British cookbook would be complete without a recipe for "Jugged Hare" which appears to be some gawd-awful concoction of rabbit (hare), wine, currant jelly and blackberry jelly.  This is supposed to be the food of love?  More like the food of divorce which is to say "Oh hell no!"

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I found a spectacularly good potatoes au gratin recipe in the Made with Love Cookbook and so hmm, what does Ms. Cartland have that would pair well with those potatotes?

In the end, steak.  Nothing pairs better with potatoes au gratin that good old beef and happily, Ms. Cartland had plenty of recipes for that – whew!  And after considering several options (but not "Steak and Kidney Pie" – p. 60), I settled on Sirloin Steak in Beaujolais Sauce because it contained two favorite ingredients in one dish – steak and wine!

In this case though, I made two substitutions:  instead of Sirloin, I used Rib Eye because it was on sale, and instead of Beaujolais, I used Merlot since I already had a bottle of that open.  I passed on using bone marrow for garnish, not because I don't like bone marrow, I do (I know, I know—I can pretty much hear many of you saying "ew"), but because I would have had to cook said bone marrow and I didn't have time.

This dish turned out to be very tasty and easily made although it called for the addition of butter and flour to make a roux and that made the sauce just a tad too thick.  The real winner though, was the Potatoes au Gratin recipe from the Made with Love – The Meals On Wheels Family Cookbook.  Let's explore!

I've got nothing but love for this cookbook and for this organization.  Meals On Wheels ensures that no senior goes hungry by delivering meals to those seniors who are unable to cook for themselves.  Many years ago, some friends and I delivered meals to seniors on Christmas Eve through a similar organization, Little Brothers of the Elderly, and it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Several celebrities contributed to this cookbook to held end senior hunger and I have to tell you, most of the recipes were absolutely mouth-watering.  The challenge though, was what dish to pair with something from Barbara Cartland's book.  For a while, I considered making actress Dawn Wells' (Gilligan's Island) "Weenie Linguine" recipe (p. 140) and thought maybe I could pair it with a Cartland salad or dessert but no.  Then I thought long and hard about Adam West's (TV's Batman) "Sawtooth Mountain Pot Roast" (p. 60) (also pictured on the cover), but that didn't work either.  And sure, I could have skipped the Cartland book and just gone with a recipe from the other cookbook but I wanted to be done with "Bab's" book sooner than later.

In the end, I settled on Potatoes au Gratin (p. 206) submitted by music producer and musician, Chris Frantz and were we ever glad we did because folks, it was delicious.  Not just a little delicious, "magically delicious" just like Lucky Charms (cereal), such that Andy kept exclaiming every five minutes "These potatoes are really good!"

I think it's a good sign that my honey was groovin' on his Valentine's Day dinner!

In conclusion, while the steak was good and the sauce was yummy, the potato recipe is the one you want to keep on hand and make, especially if you are having company as they will ooh and aah and love you to pieces, Valentine's Day or no Valentine's Day!

Sirloin Steak in Beaujolais Sauce – Serves 4 – Barbara Cartland – The Romance of Food
4 thick boneless sirloin steaks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup softened butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon chopped parsley
Pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ¼ cups Beaujolais wine
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 clove garlic, crushed
A dash of brandy
Bone marrow for garnish (optional)

Ann's Notes:  I substituted rib-eye for sirloin, and Merlot for Beaujolais.  Also, I wasn't satisfied with the "roux" – the flour + 1 tablespoon softened butter.  I think you can get buy without it or maybe just add the butter to the wine mix and see what happens.  In this case, the flour made the sauce a tad thick.  Also?  See my note below about the steak.

Season the steaks and seal in 1 tablespoons hot butter in a skillet, then remove and keep hot and try on one side.  To the cooking juices in the pan, add the shallot, parsley thyme, bay leaf and ground pepper then add the Beaujolais.  Reduce the sauce by two-thirds by boiling down over a high heat then thicken at the last moment with a half-and-half paste of flour and 1 tablespoon softened butter.  Add the crushed garlic, the rest of the butter and brandy.  Do not allow the sauce to boil.  Pass the sauce through a fine sieve.  Garnish the steak with slices of poached bone marrow before coating with the sauce.

Ann's Note regarding the steak:  Unless you want it raw, you will need to cook it a bit longer than directed above.  Ms. Cartland wants you to "seal" the steaks in a hot skillet then remove, and by this she likely means "sear," which means you are to cook the steaks on each side until each side is brown and somewhat caramelized.  This doesn't necessarily mean your steak is cooked to your liking so if you want your meat to be more done, keep it in the skillet for longer and/or do what we did which was to add it back into the pan so as to soak in the wine sauce!

Potatoes au Gratin – serves 6 – Made with Love-The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook
2 T. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and ground black pepper
1 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
2 ½ c grated Gruyere cheese, divided
1 c cooked and coarsely chopped bacon (about ½ pound)
2 T. chopped parsley
Cream, as needed (Ann's Note:  at least 1 cup for a half recipe, more for a full)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Rub a 9- by 12-inch gratin dish with butter and crushed garlic.  Ann's Note:  Ever the rogue, I opted to add my crushed garlic to the dish itself instead of "wasting it" on the pan.  Good call, that!

Make one layer of sliced potatoes overlapping like shingles on a roof in the bottom of the dish.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Then, add a layer of finely chopped yellow onions and 1 cup of cheese atop the potatoes.  Sprinkle with bacon and parsley. 

Add a second layer of sliced potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, and add a top layer of remaining 1 cup Gruyere.  Gently pour light cream over the dish until the top layer of potatoes is almost covered.  Ann's Note:  I purchased one small carton of heavy cream (not "light" cream) and that almost made it to the top of the potatoes.  I made a half recipe so if you make this full recipe, buy a large carton.)

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, and flatten the top layer with a metal spatula to keep the gratin moist.  Cook until the gratin is a golden brown and the potatoes are cooked (insert a knife in the gratin to check them), about 30 more minutes. Sprinkle the top with another layer of Gruyere for the last 15 minutes of baking.  Remove from the oven and serve.  Ann's Note and it's a big one:  I missed the part about adding another layer of cheese in the final 15 minutes of baking – oops – and so baked what I had the extra 15 minutes, oh well. The result was that the cheese crisped up instead of being all gooey and man, did we love that, or what? 

This dish rocked our world.  Make it.  Make it now.  Eat it.  Eat it now!

1 comment:

Brian Nystedt said...

Print3e the potato au gratin...can't wait to try this one. Kissesssssssssssssss, Brian