March 8, 2010

Linen: An Interlude

 Tea Time, by Robert Emil Stubner
The year is 2010, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish it were1910.

We're getting a new dining table. A very sleek modern number that expands to seat 6. It's all glass, metal legs, and a natural oak inset that's very Ikea if Ikea were just slightly pricier. It's very cool if I do say so myself. That being said, sometimes glass, metal and cool isn't what's called for. Sometimes, I want to take out my German Art Deco tea set and serve pavlovas and finger sandwiches. Sometimes, I want a little opulence - brilliant flowers overflowing from my good crystal vase. Sometimes I want a crisp white linen tablecloth beneath my vintage plates that I've lovingly collected over the years.

Sure, we have a bright orange couch and huge 46" flat screen across the room, but maybe just for one afternoon, I can pretend. Remember pretend? Remember when all you needed were plastic yellow tea cups with daisies on them, a fake tiara, and your favorite teddy bear? It was tea time and I was a Duchess taking tea with with the Queen. I miss those tea parties. And so, I decided that what I needed was a linen tablecloth. Something crisp, white, classic and lovely...

My search has been depressing though. I can tell you that I actually found a linen tablecloth that was over a thousand dollars, and no it wasn't made from Mermaid hair. I have found every manner of polyester table covering you could ever want, plastic is also really popular, and almost any tablecloth made of a natural fiber is some god-awful heavy brocade nonsense that wreaks of dinner parties at a wealthy Texan's -  that is if it comes in white or ivory. You'll find that various shades of  reds and golds are all the craze these days - oh, that and roosters. Christmas themes are immensely popular as well as sunflowers which I think is supposed to be some semblance of French Provincial?

I did eventually find some simple white tablecloths. But now I find that purchasing a tablecloth online defeats the purpose. If the point of my little foray into "pretend" is perhaps capturing something of a bygone era, than I'm approaching it all wrong aren't I? I need to feel the linen between my fingers. I need to assess the weight, see the imperfections. I need to scour the flea markets and antique stores. I need to physically find my little piece of the past. After all, what good is wishing for 1910 while shopping in 2010?

When I find my perfect linens I'll make sure to post the table resplendent with tea set, flowers, and pavlovas. And then dear readers, pretend is once again open for business.

March 3, 2010

Beef Negimaki

This is a very quick, satisfying and super easy dish. And, like most of my fave recipes, it's a really wonderfully adaptable one too. You could use, chicken, turkey, or even pork for the meat. Don't like scallions? Asparagus is a lovely replacement, as are string beans.

PS if your wondering when we hired a professional food photographer... we didn't. Truth is, we gobble down the tasty morsels before we could get the shot! That being said, below the pic is a link to the site where the recipe can be found. Those are actually ham Negimaki, not beef, but the results will look exactly like that.

Beef Negimaki

1 lb thinly sliced lean steak
4-5 bunches of scallions, cleaned and trimmed (if somewhat thick, halve them)
1/2 cup dark soy (I use low sodium)
1/4 cup honey

-Soak handful of toothpicks in water
-Turn on broiler
-Whisk soy and honey together, set aside
-Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound or roll out meat so that it's very thin and of even thickness
-If meat is wider than about 3", trim to 1"-3" strips
-Wrap meat around 2 scallions, securing with toothpick
-Brush meat with marinade on both sides
-Place tray of marinated Negimaki under broiler for about 5-6 minutes total, flipping meat half way through (if using poultry, you might want to increase cooking time to ensure that its cooked through)
-Remove toothpicks before serving hot with any remaining marinade

click here for link