Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Personal Chef

Inevitably, whenever anyone asks about my husband's occupation and I tell them that he's a chef, their response is always the same. Something along the lines of, "You're so lucky! He must make delicious meals for you all the time." Well no, not really. I'm usually the cook at home. When you spend 40+ hours a week in a kitchen, cooking is the last thing you want to do when you come home so I don't really expect him to. Honestly, you'd think no one had ever heard that old saying about the cobbler's shoeless children.

While it is true that Eric doesn't cook at home often, when he does, he goes all out and it's always amazing. He was in the mood to cook last weekend so we made a trip to the market to pick up supplies. Unlike those of us who use recipes as a guide for our shopping lists, Eric usually wanders through the store and picks up whatever looks good. He completely throws my grocery store route out of whack as we have to pass the vegetables to go to the meat counter first, and then double back to produce to pick up whatever he decides will best accompany his meat selection. I just deal with it even though it upsets my routine because I know the meal will be worth it. I am one of the most habit-forming, routine-following persons you will ever meet so that's a big statement for me. Seriously, I operate on auto-pilot about 80% of the time. I have also learned to suck it up over the grocery bill - I know walking in the store that shopping with Eric will cost double as he's not one to comparison shop. I'm pretty sure he doesn't even look at the prices.

Eric settled on lamb chops and decided he needed to make beef stock for a demi-glace to make a sauce for the chops. That's a mouthful- literally and figuratively. In order to make the stock to make the demi-glace to make the sauce, he ordered a cow femur from the butcher. A 5+ pound cow femur. It looked like something from the Flintstones. Yes, I am one of those people who are disconnected from the realities of our food supply and prefer the sanitized, neatly packaged meats purchased in the grocery store. Maybe I would actually enjoy butchering my own food; I wouldn't know as I've never tried. Until grocery stores stop selling pre-cut meats, I'm probably not going to find out. In deference to Michael Pollen (we all seem to have to cow-tow to him these days as he's toppled Alice Waters for America's foremost food authority), I do try to stick with Texas raised animals who are grass fed. Luckily, that isn't too hard in local markets. Austin may one day soon surpass San Francisco in militant, organic, biodynamic, locavore food fanatics. I don't count myself as one of them because I'm too lazy to ever be militant about anything.

You might have picked up on the fact that when Eric cooks, it's a big production. I call him Le Chef to tease him because he cooks like a chef, no matter the limitations of our home kitchen. And that might help explain why he's using a saw to cut up the cow femur. After I snapped a picture, I got out of the way. The end product was well worth finding tiny bone fragments in far-flung corners of the kitchen for the next couple of days.

I guess I had better stick with baking because I'm dangerous with power tools. I decided to break out an LCB recipe and practice making pate choux. I made choquettes, or choux balls with a sugar nib topping and gourgeres, a savory treat with thyme and white cheddar cheese.


  1. Shelley - i love your blog! miss you - intermediate is a very small class - just 11 - we have elbow room in the third floor pastry kitchen. We are finally working with chocolate, so many fruit desserts at the beginning. We mostly have Chef Jean-Jacques, with just one special appearance by Chef Cotte - at 8:30 am - I don't need people banging rolling pins at that hour. So glad you are still baking away. Montmartre misses you. Are you coming back for another session here?

  2. I wish! Despite all my bitching about LCB being like boot camp, I actually think I want to go back. Unfortunately, I'll have to work for quite a while to save up enough money and vacation time to go back. I read your post on making Opera. It looked amazing! Sounds like you're having an intense (of course!) but good time!