Full disclosure. In Week Twenty-Nine I forgot to take notes about what was happening in my life, so I am working purely from memory on this one. I do remember that it was a busy week at Hurley House due to five private events. This always translates into more hours for me, because most of the cooking and kitchen tasks fall into my lane for special events (on top of all of the normal kitchen duties).
Because I was physically present at the store during the events, but only working from the kitchen and not out in the front of the store, I made the best of the time by cooking through a lot of recipes. While a private dinner was happening, I made Filet Mignon with Mustard and Mushroom. While Timm taught Whiskey Night, I made French Chicken Pot Pies. It worked.
I am beginning to accept the reality that this cooking for the Ina Project really requires so many extra hours. There’s not a short cut, no matter how much I want there to be one. I want to believe that I can do it while I’m managing the kitchen, and it never works that way. So, on weeks like this, it works because I was forced to be in the kitchen at night. Other weeks, it doesn’t work because I am at home and my bed is within my reach.
WHAT I COOKED
French Chocolate Bark, Back to Basics
Toasted Coconut Marshmallows, Family Style
Homemade Marshmallows, Family Style
Ultimate Pumpkin Pie with Rum Whipped Cream, Foolproof
Perfect Pie Crust, Foolproof
Orange French Lace Cookies, Foolproof
Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, Back to Basics
Lobster Rolls, Cook Like a Pro
Filet Mignon with Mustard and Mushrooms, Cooking for Jeffery
Rich Celery Root Puree, How Easy Is That?
Turkey Tea Sandwiches, Barefoot Contessa
WHAT I LEARNED
FILET MIGNON WITH MUSTARD AND MUSHROOMS.
This recipe is an excellent use of a cast iron skillet. The heat of the pan is a tool towards success when it comes to cooking steaks. They sear in the smoking hot pan, and then the residual heat finishes the cooking. The mushroom sauce is perfection. As in my other notes about filets, no one needs twelve ounces of meat. No one. Four twelve ounce filets can feed six to eight adults, which comes in handy, because this recipe does not scale well. So, if you want to serve more than eight people, either use two pans, or choose a different recipe.
RAISIN PECAN OATMEAL COOKIES.
Listen. I know. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies get a bad rap. They are the ugly stepchild of the Oatmeal Cookie family. But these are different. These are the version for people that have been wounded by renditions of this cooke that are too sweet, too bland, too raisin-heavy. This cookie will remind you of all that’s good and true about toasted pecans, brown sugar, hearty oats, and a few raisins thrown in for sweetness. This is the official Oatmeal Raisin Cookie at HH, and I would never serve something that I didn’t love. This cookie is a worth-it endeavor.
I was shocked by how much I loved this. I ate it four days in a row for breakfast, which in a world where I don’t need to add cooking to my schedule, should say a lot for this recipe. It is hearty and interesting, and I loved the hazelnuts and honey. The addition of yogurt and fruit adds freshness. I liked how I could let it soak while I was getting other things done, and then when I was ready to eat, it was waiting for me. In theory, I think you could make a big batch of this and eat it all week.
FRENCH CHICKEN POT PIES.
There is a soulful satisfaction that comes with making chicken pot pie, particularly when you don’t have to make the topping from scratch! Using puff pastry makes the perfect elegant topping for this dish. I think everyone should have a delicious pot pie recipe in thier arsenal of dinner menus, and if not this one, then choose any of Ina’s variations. She has several, and they all follow the same basic formula, with little tweaks here and there to add varity. This version has leeks and quite a lot of tarragon, so if either of those ingredients don’t strike your fancy, maybe head a different direction. But, the overall appeal of this dish is that is a complete meal in one pan, and you get to eat puff pastry. As an added point of presentation, I love to make chicken pot pie in a large cast iron skillet and serve it family style at the table.