Monday, May 2, 2011

Metals...No, Wax, and Finally Some Food

I finally finished the wax for that 3-Magnolia pin/pendant commission, and here’s a process picture I took just before attaching the sprues and investing it in plaster for casting.





One of the perks of making things is that they frequently look just as interesting while in process as they do when they’re finished.  On this type of project for instance, the sculpted pink sheet wax has an ethereal semi-transparent quality through which you can see the layers of petals overlap, and then later on, just after I’ve cast it in silver, cleaned, annealed and then quenched it, the petals will be flushed with the dark rose pink glass of the flux that I painted on before annealing (to prevent firescale).  Just as a note, this is also one of the many reasons I like Clary Illian’s A Potter’s Workbook- because nearly all of the photo illustrations are of greenware, thus removing the distraction of glaze and leaving you with the form itself.


And now for some food, as it has occurred to me that I’ve rather neglected the 350° end of things...though neither of these dishes are baked.  If you want more foodie fun, (plus postcards of life as a grad student in England), check out my friend Jo Zalea’s blog Not an Everyday Circumstance.

I’m not sure quite what to call this dish, I suppose it is a variant of chicken fricassee, by technique, but what I loosely based it on was the “Cornish Hens Shoemaker-Style” from the Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook that McKenzie Smith made while I was in Florida last month.

In a large frying pan, sauté in 1 tbs. butter:

2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 med. Yellow Onion, ¼ inch dice
8 oz Mushrooms, diced
2 med. Carrots, sliced
2 tsp dried Marjoram
pinch of Cinnamon
pinch of powdered Savory
½ tsp dried Thyme

Remove the veggies from the pan when the carrots are just starting to soften, and set aside. 

Dice 1 lb Chicken Breast into 1-inch cubes, and toss in ½ cup flour, then brown in the frying pan with 1 tbs butter.

Once the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, return the veggies to the pot and add 1 to 1 ¼ cups of Chardonnay.  Simmer, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender (about 8 – 10 minutes).  Serves 3-4

This would be really good with steamed asparagus...  Which leads me into the next recipe, not to be served at the same meal, for reasons which will soon become apparent:

Heart-Attack-In-A-Bowl Cream of Asparagus Soup

I make this recipe once or twice a year, only in peak asparagus season.  Whether the heart attack comes only from how good the soup is, or the calories from fat involved is debatable, and would depend on one’s constitution and genetics.  The seriously sinful version can be made by using heavy cream instead of half and half.

1 ½ lbs Asparagus
Water
1 pint Half & Half (or Heavy Cream)
1-2 tbs unsalted Butter
Salt to taste

Wash the asparagus, remove and discard the bottom inch or so if they’re store bought and not from your garden, then snap off the tips and set them aside.  Snap the stalks into 1-inch pieces and put them in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, and simmer, covered, until tender.  Remove the stalks from the pan when done, and add the tips to the pot to simmer, also until tender.  While the tips are simmering, purée the stalks with the half & half or cream, and set aside.  Once the tips are done, remove them from the cooking water and set aside.  Melt the butter into the cooking water, then whisk in the asparagus purée.  Then chop up the reserved tips and add them as well.  Continue lightly whisking the soup over low heat until just heated through, then add salt to taste, if you wish, and serve.  This soup is best accompanied by slices of a good crusty baguette, from Mirabelle if you’re in C-U, and maybe a nice brie or camembert with a light, dry, white wine.  Serves 2-3

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