Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Day of Firsts

On Tuesday night, my friend Bri came over for dinner after having been absent from our dinner parties for a couple months.  I had planned on not serving any wine because 1.) it was a Tuesday night and I'm not a total lush and 2.) Bri only drinks the sweetest possible wine and I don't like drinking sugar water.

Bri arrived when I was in the middle of cooking dinner, and she was hanging out in the kitchen with me.  To my utter surprise and elation, she asked me if I had any chardonnay.  At first I thought she was joking since I know her wine tastes, and chardonnay definitely does not fall under the category of "Wines Bri Might Drink."  Then I thought she might be taking inventory to see if I did, in fact, have some chardonnay on hand.  After realizing that she actually wanted to drink it, I rocketed into my fridge to get the Cardiff Chardonnay before she could change her mind.  Even more surprising to me was that she actually liked it.  I could tell it was going to be a good dinner.  To celebrate, I opened up a bottle of Miner Family Chardonnay, which was delicious.  She liked the Cardiff better, but I suspect that had something to do with it being less oaky.  In any event, she had finally moved into the world of actual wine!

I hadn't made my Pork with Balsamic-Cranberry sauce in a while, so I knew that was going to be our main dish.  Earlier that day, I had asked her what type of vegetable she would eat, so that I could figure out what side dish(es) we would be having.  She told me corn, potatoes, carrots, and other normal things.  I hadn't cooked carrots in a while, so I went with that.  Michelle wanted to eat asparagus, and it was on sale, so that was our second side dish.  Bri told me that she didn't like asparagus, but I figured she could just eat the pork and carrots.

In the middle of the meal, Bri gave me my second shock of the day.  She was suspiciously, or perhaps curiously, eyeballing the asparagus when she reached out and took a spear of asparagus and ate it.  I thought she was going to spit it out because asparagus is one of those things you either like or hate and she was already on record as being in the hate camp.  However, not only did she not (I know, nice double negative) spit it out; she ate the whole spear and then went back for 4-5 more spears!  I must have done something right with the asparagus if I could flip her opinion.

I made the carrots with a brown sugar-honey glaze.  I enjoyed them, and they were cooked nicely, but they could have used some improvement, specifically with the amount of sugar and honey.

We finished off with a strawberry shortcake using the rest of the shortcake shells that we had bought the day before.  Overall, I was very pleased because we ate a great dinner, and, more importantly, Bri started eating and drinking some awesome stuff.  I hope this trend continues in the future.  I was also giving her a bunch of cooking and wine tips while she was watching me.  With any luck, I'll be able to turn her into the ultimate housewife, except I know nothing about cleaning, so she's on her own there.

I have posted the recipe for the pork before (, so check that out.  Here is how I did the carrots and asparagus.

Carrots (serves 4)
1 medium bag of baby carrots
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
kosher salt

1.  Put the carrots in a  medium sauce pan and cover with water by 1 inch.  Remove the carrots and set to the side.
2.  Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and add 4 or 5 pinches of salt.
3.  Put the carrots back in the water.  Add the sugar and honey and stir together. 
4.  Allow it to cook for 10 minutes until the carrots are just done.
5.  Strain the carrots out, put them in a bowl, and cover with foil until it's ready to serve.

Roasted Asparagus (serves 4 unless one of them is Michelle, then it serves 3)
1 lb asparagus, hard wooden ends cut off
1 tspn kosher salt
2 tbsp butter, cut in half
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 lemon

1.  Preheat oven to 450.
2.  In a medium baking dish, spread the asparagus out so that it is in as thin of a layer as possible.
3.  Sprinkle salt all over the asparagus and put the butter pieces in the center.  Grind some pepper onto it.
4.  Put the pan in the oven for about 10 minutes until the butter melts and the asparagus looks a little wrinkled at the end.
5.  Remove the pan from the oven, squeeze the lemon over the asparagus and stir.  Transfer the asparagus to a plate and sprinkle the cheese evenly over it.

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