Author, Gourmet Chef, and Ping Pong Champ!

Blog 2: Capricorn 12/22-1/19

July 26th, 2013 Evelyn Cole

capricornus

Capricorns are ambitious. They work so hard they forget to have fun. Everything becomes a task to complete, so they struggle to relax. They climb mountains and trip over rose bushes, crave affection because they do not laugh at themselves. Giants among us, Capricorns accomplish amazing feats. We need them. They need the rest of us to tickle and kiss them, metaphorically, of course.

Okay Capricorns, here’s your plan:

Give yourself permission to have fun at your dinner party. Write out a permission note and paste it on your desktop.

Plan your courses so you don’t make this too much work the day of your party. Give your dinner party on a Tuesday or Wednesday so your guests won’t stay too late.

Keep the number of guests to eight or below. Here’s a suggested plan:

 

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Make Winter Pork Stew the day before and refrigerate overnight.

6 tablespoons olive oil or so 3 pounds pork stew meat trimmed of fat, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and patted dry with paper towels Salt Freshly ground pepper 4 cups sliced onions 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic 2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes, drained 2 cans beef stock (4 cups) 1 cup dry white wine

1. Heat olive oil in large, heavy, pot over medium-high heat.

2. Season pork pieces to taste with salt and pepper.

3. When oil is hot, add enough pork to fit comfortably in single layer and sauté, turning, until browned—several minutes.

4. Remove pork with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue until all meat has been browned, adding more oil, if necessary.

5. Add onions and cook until lightly browned, about five minutes.

6. Add garlic and cook and stir one minute more.

7. Return meat to pan. Toss with flour and stir and cook two minutes.

8. Add thyme, rosemary, basil, fennel, pepper flakes, tomatoes, stock and wine. Bring mixture to simmer.

9. Lower heat and cook, covered, until meat is tender, about one hour.

10. Uncover and cook thirty minutes more.

11. Let stew cool, loosely covered, at room temperature. Gently toss to mix.

Refrigerate up to 3 days, but at least overnight. Let stew come to room temperature before re-heating.

Serve on rice or on pound of cooked garlic fettucine

 

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Make appetizers, dessert, and salad early the next day and then set your table.

 

Deviled eggs for appetizers 

1. Hard boil 6 eggs, peel eggs when cool

2. Cut in half

3. Mix yolks to taste with mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard or honey mustard and a couple of tablespoons of dried onion flakes.

4. Fill each egg half with mixed yolk and serve with napkins.

 

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Safe Caesar’s salad

1. In blender or food processor grind ½ cup olive oil,  2 or 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 4 or 5 anchovy fillets.

2. Pour into your salad bowl.

3. Wash, dry, and chop head of Romaine lettuce.

4. Add to dressing with 2 cups of bread croutons and ½ cup of grated pecorino cheese. Toss all together.

I make my own croutons from dried bread or you can buy them ready made.

This makes enough for 8.

Also, I buy bags of lemons, squeeze them all and freeze the juice for all those recipes that call for one or two tablespoons of lemon juice.

 

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After appetizers serve the stew and salad with bread of your choice.

 

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pie

 

Chess pie with sugar-sweetened fresh or thawed blueberries on the side

1. Bring ¼ pound of butter to room temperature.

2. Cream it with ½ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

3. Add 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and one cup of cream. Beat until well mixed.

4. Pour into an unbaked 9 inch pie shell.

5. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then 300 for thirty minutes.

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All elements of this menu can be made before the guests arrive, so Capricorn you can relax. Remember, guests pick up your body language. If you are anxious, they will be, too. When guests are anxious, they talk too much and don’t hear each other. Since you are the conductor, you relax first. They will follow.

Here’s a brief cooking scene from my novel, The Underbelly:

“Hi Trishita,” he said with a false air of nonchalance. “We came in to watch you cook, okay?”

“Sure. Just don’t break my concentration.” She had her back to them and heard scraping sounds of moving furniture.  She looked back over her shoulder and saw that they were moving the picnic bench in from the side yard.  Arthur showed up and helped with a smile so wide his thin mustache seemed to stretch like a rubber band across his upper lip.

Ethan carried letter-sized sheets of white cardboard with a black number printed on each.  After one perfunctory glance, Trishita returned to her tasks. She put the homemade chicken stock on to boil with a cup of rice and heard Ethan whisper.

“That’s at least a seven,” he said.

“But it’s only rice. I’d say a five,” Sylvia said.

“Rice made with chicken stock and flavored with fresh grated pecorino,” Arthur said, “is more than ordinary rice. I’d give it a nine.”

Curiosity crept up Trishita’s back. She turned to look at them. They sat side by side on the bench, each holding up a numbered card.

“What are you guys doing?” she asked.

“We’re cooking judges,” Sylvia answered. “We rate your performance by number and hold up our judgment on each thing you do for our make-believe audience.”

Trishita smiled and went back to work. She sliced the artichoke hearts and put them aside. Then she heated the olive oil and sautéed the diced pancetta with the chopped porcini mushrooms. The pungent smell of the wild mushrooms, mixed with the sweet scent of the Italian bacon, brought a cheer from her judges. She turned to look. Each was holding a card bearing the number ten.

 

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Written by Evelyn Cole

Evelyn Cole




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