work your instrument

what’s for dinner- cooking for two

Categories: Salads and Dressings, Soups, Veggies and Sides, Desserts, Dinner for Two, Posted on October 10, 2011 by Sandy Bergsten

The programmers for the Today show are a sly group. They purposely put a guilty pleasure hook to transfix their 7:30 AM viewers. Many a morning I’ve caught my cute hubby loitering in the kitchen catching the latest tidbit in the ongoing sagas of Charlie Sheen, Casey Anthony, Arnold Schwarzenegger…

This morning the hook-du-jour was Michael Jackson’s personal physician. While this specific train wreck doesn’t usually pique my interest, Conrad Murray’s extra curriculars not only rousted me from my jetlag but had me sitting at attention casting off my bed sheets.

When the prosecutor asked Girlfriend Number Three what she was doing the morning of Michael Jackson’s death she replied, “maintaining my instrument”.

What?? Thankfully the prosecutor was just as confused and asked for clarification. Alvarez retorted that she was an actor and that her instrument was… well… herself. With that I was needless to say wide-awake. Who needs a cup of joe when you have Dr. Murray. If that guy loses his day job he should join the circus with those juggling skills.

Just to clarify- I am not an actor. And my instrument… well… it resides in a drawer… in my kitchen. The hand blender is an indispensable tool. It blends, whips, beats, chops. It’s an essential modern marvel.

 Braun Hand Blender

After being on the west coast for a week I thought I’d literally whip up something special for dinner. There is no better way to say I love you then with multiple courses. In an attempt to keep up with Conrad I thought I would try to juggle four for tonight’s supper.

steamed artichoke 

Steamed artichokes are a simple yet elegant way to start. Trim the bottoms of the artichokes, making an X in each stem. Then steam covered until tender and the leaves can be removed easily, about 30 to 40 minutes.

 cayenne mayo

If I were feeling ambitious I would use my hand blender (with its whisk attachment) to whip up a homemade aioli. But I wasn’t so inclined. Instead I made a yummy cayenne mayonnaise using Hellmann’s mayo as a base, a big splash of Frank’s hot sauce, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Simply stir with a spoon.

steamed artichoke 

Second up- a potato leek bisque. (Bisque being a fancy word for soup, kind of like actor is a swanky term for…)

 leek and potato bisque

Start with chopped onion, trimmed and rinsed leeks, and diced potatoes. Sauté in a little butter until they begin to wilt and breakdown.

 leek and potato bisque

Cover in broth and simmer slowly, partially covered, for about an hour. Now take out your hand blender and carefully puree the batch (take care not to splatter yourself with any of the hot liquid). Season and stir in a few tablespoons of cream. The beauty of this soup is that it can be served hot or chilled.

 beet salad

Up third- a salad of mixed greens, fresh chevre, candied walnuts and sliced beets. Tossed in a light balsamic vinaigrette.

 pumpkin tartlettes

And finally for dessert- pumpkin tartlets. Simply take Sable and Rosenfeld’s pastry cups and spoon in Dorothy Lane Market’s homemade pumpkin pie.

 whipped cream

I did finally use my whisk attachment to whip up some heavy cream with a spoonful of powder sugar. Let’s face it there are certain instances when only the real deal will suffice and having the right instrument makes all the difference.

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