Steak Fritz night and other tales

so i cut my finger last night while peeling potatoes for frites. It was Steak Fritz night at chez French Tart; we hold those events every other month or so (you can see about previous Steak Fritz nights here and here). I was peeling some good ol' Idahos prior to mandolin'-ing them to matchsticks. i've had so much going on lately that my mind was elsewhere (more on that later), that when i picked up my favorite bright green Kuhn Rikon peeler and started peeling like mad i barely felt the peeler graze my left index finger... until i yelped when I saw all the blood. and the boy came running, and then breathed a sigh of relief, because he thought i'd cut myself on the mandoline (which would be a far, far worse cut than the one i am currently sporting; at least i'm still able to type respectably well).

i've a lot going on these days. for one, i really hate my current day job. i've not hated a job for a long, long time. even all those long years at Old Big Corporate, even all the turmoil and stress it caused and acid reflux and sleepless nights; i still liked the job reasonably well, and it didn't hurt that i had a lot of friends there. but i'm just not a good fit here at New Big Corporate. i'm unhappy with the job - and that's never a good sign. so i've been going on the occasional interview, and sending out the ol' resume and hoping that sometime soon i'll find a job in a company that i actually like and respect. let's keep fingers crossed over that, and as my sister-in-law says, Whammys for me.

and secondly, but most importantly, almost every single moment of my free time in the past few weeks has been spent studying for a certification exam. i've needed this particular certification for many years; and when Old Big Corporate ditched 1,000 of us last summer, i decided to spend some of my severance on a course for this certification exam. this is the only way i'll get ahead in my chosen career - the one that will open doors and pocketbooks, IMO. but let me tell ya - i'm having some difficulties, because this material is not easy. i literally spend all of my free time, all weekends (except yesterday's excursion with the boy to get some pho and a quick jaunt to the local Asian megagrocery) working on formulas and memorizations and flash cards. i'll be glad when I can get back to my life, and i pray that i pass the &@!*#$ exam.

so what i'm trying to say is that i've not done a lot of cooking lately. the boy has been a gem - a real saint in that department. he's been taking up my slack on all things cooking and housekeeping. But yesterday I felt the need to do something productive with my hands, hence the blood all over the kitchen sink.

Last friday (as in, a week ago because this past Friday i spent the evening in studying my tuckus off), we had Mr and Mrs B over for dinner, as a thank you for helping take care of Mrs P while we were busy cooking our way up and down Marin county over Christmas. I decided to make Dorie Greenspan's Galette des Rois for dessert, for two reasons: one, it was approaching Epiphany, and two, I haven’t had one since high school and This Girl needed That Fix.

The boy decided to make his fried chicken that I love so very much (that's the only picture i took of it and it's not a great picture - doesn't do it justice). Actually, it’s Alton Brown’s fried chicken, and has fantastic results. This is the best recipe for fried chicken I’ve seen anywhere, and if you do not deviate from the recipe one bit, you will have excellent results each and every time. I don’t think we even had any leftovers that night – we all went back for seconds. It’s funny because we were thinking of making some sumptuous elaborate elegant meal for the B’s, and then decided on fried chicken, which turned out to be the best idea ever. I remember watching an episode of The Barefoot Contessa where Ms. Garten was hosting a business dinner, and she decided to serve meatloaf instead of something really over the top elegant. People really like down-home cooking – I’m not saying that they don’t like elegant food, because hell, I do. But every once in a while, you want to push up your sleeves and eat with your hands and get pieces of crispy chicken skin on your cheek that someone has to tell you is there yet you don’t really care because the rest of the table has gone quiet, not from lack of something to talk about but because they’re so busy eating and enjoying the food. Sometimes, no conversation is necessary.

Okay, so I cheated on the Galette; I used Pepperidge Farm’s puff pastry from the freezer, but it still worked out quite well. I went rummaging through my craft and art boxes and found a skull-shaped bead to use as the fêve (hey – it’s all I had that would work). As for the crown, I used leftover Christmas wrapping paper, some black construction paper, and a glue stick. I made the crown the night before, and let it rest on the bust of Napoleon that sits in the far corner of the dining room until it was needed. As you can see, the crown is larger than Napoleon’s head, but I’m sure, being Napoleon, he would have liked that very much.

I’m definitely making the almond cream again – I can see it as a nice filling for croissants or some other pastry. I’m getting all these ideas of things I’d like to make once I get my life back.

And last night’s Steak Fritz night turned out well after all. The boy took over the potato cutting for me after he finished bandaging me up and listening to me wail. a bandage, a glass of wine, a good medium-rare steak, and all was right with the world again.


Emily Brannen said…
Who got the baby? (feve?) :)

You can make chide fricken anytime...I'll be there!
Betty C. said…
Hey, I always use frozen puff pastry when making galettes! The French variety may be better than Pepperidge Farm's, though...
Ashley said…
I saw a short NYT video about making a Clementine Clafoutis and I immediately thought of you. Have you ever made one? It looked simply delicious... :-)
NDM said…
J'aime la galette
Savez-vous comment?
Quand elle est bien faite
Avec du beurre dedans

Sorry 'bout the job situation-hang in there, corporate hell is vast but not inescapable!
french tart said…
emily, nobody got it! i think someone must have swallowed it - the skull bead was so tiny to begin with. there's always next year...

betty, oh i'm sure French puff pastry is better than Pepperidge Farms... the quality of ingredients has got to be better, i'm sure (good French butter... yum...). i wonder how hard it would be to smuggle through customs?

ashley, nope never made one but you're giving me ideas! there is all this really fabulous citrus out right now.

nathan, i love that poem! and thanks for the words of encouragement. i'm working from home this afternoon, (a rare thing) and that's never a bad thing.
Cakespy said…
Ha! I love the thought of a swallowed bead. ;-) I was so happy to see this beautiful lookin' galette though!! It makes me close my eyes and remember the first time I tasted one in Paris...sigh. Regardless of what you used, it sounds like it tasted pretty good??
french tart said…
cakespy, it was very good. Dorie Greenspan's almond paste mixed with pastry cream was delicious. i highly recommend you try it!

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