I like to take the week between Christmas and New Year's off every year because a) it's a quiet week at work so I don't spend the whole vacation actually working and b) because I have new toys I can play with in the studio.
I got the 72 set of Derwent Inktense Pencils (which Amazon still has an INSANE price on) this Christmas and so I've been Inktensing up a storm! I also got a felting machine so I'm looking forward to messing around with that. Yesterday, my sister and I set up a still life and painted and I'm about to go do that again this afternoon. I'm really not very good at that, so the practice is good for me. I got a new (to me) kind of oil paint that NEVER dries until you heat set it - Genesis - enabled by a Facebook friend - Sunny Carvalho. Haven't played with those yet.
I'm at that point where I don't know what day of the week it is. I love that moment in a vacation. I do sort of need to know what day it is soon though because I'm taking two crafty classes with the BFFs tomorrow. I think.
When I saw the new Happy Watercolor (from the new upcoming mini) set sitting on my desk this morning, I knew what I had to do with it in honor of my vacation. :) The greeting is from one of our custom monogram address stamps that I bent to my own dark purposes. Muahahaha!
Stamps: Undefined Heisenberg, Custom Address Stamp, Happy Watercolor
Ink: Summer Sun, Lucky Limeade, Basic Black
Paper: Whisper White
I always do what Heisenberg tells me to do. After all, he is the danger.
Part of my relaxation has included cooking.
My two favorite things I've made are Beef Stroganoff with Polenta (instead of noodles) and Panettone Bread Pudding.
Here are the recipes for your enjoyment! Go relax!
Beef Stroganoff (Adapted from Epicurious)
2.5 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into stew sized chunks
2 TBS oil
6 TBS butter
¼ C finely chopped shallots
1 lb. small button mushrooms, sliced
1 C beef broth
2 TBS cognac
¾ C creme fraiche
1 TBS dijon mustard
Pat meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil to high. Working in batches, add meat in a single layer and cook just until brown on outside - about a minute per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet.
Melt 2 TBS butter in same skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped shallots and saute until tender, scooping up brown bits. About 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle with pepper and saute until liquid evaporates about 12 minutes. Add beef broth, then Cognac.
Simmer until liquid thickens and just coats mushrooms, about 14 minutes. Stir in creme fraiche and Dijon. Add meat and any juice. Simmer over medium-low until meat is heated through but still medium rare. Season to taste.Serve over polenta
Polenta (dramatically adapted from Ina Garten, Food Network - terrible errors in their recipe)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup polenta
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the cornmeal, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you're stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.
Panettone Bread Pudding (Courtesy Giada, Food Network)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 (1-pound) loaf panettone, torn or cut into cubes. (If you are in Austin RUN to Mandola's and get theirs - INCREDIBLE.)
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
To make the sauce: Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. (The amaretto sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm before serving.)
To make the bread pudding: Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes in the prepared dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend. Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm amaretto sauce, and serve.
Whisper my name. Heisenberg says so.