This post details a welcome back dinner I made for David, and my trip to Findlay market to get the all sorts of yummy items to make it. That said, it’s also about how to make yourself feel better after having spent $180 on cookware.
I’d read about Le Creuset pans. They seemed to be on just about every cooks Christmas wishlist, and I recalled the Brown Eyed Baker mentioning that some could be found at TJ Maxx.
Which is where I found myself on Friday afternoon. Looking at a $140.00 Le Creuset 5 ½ qt enameled cast iron French oven.
I did some research and did a quick twitter poll. Is this pot really worth it? I asked. How is it different than a crockpot?
“Well, you can put it in the oven. Oh, and it’s not a DEATHTRAP” Said Jeff.
“NO WAY! The last time I trusted something French I ended up gagging on Saison beer.” exclaimed 5chw4r7z.
In the interest of accuracy, I feel that I have to point out that Saison style beer is not technically from France, rather a French speaking region of Belgium.
5chw4r7z’s Franco-phobia aside, the overall endorsement was that this pot would probably continue to be used in the kitchen long after I was gone. A versatile pot, good for soups and stews and braising. A heavy pot—something I can attest to after carrying the thing around the store pondering my potential purchase.
My decision made, I plunked it on the counter with two small and one large Le Creuset potterie baking pans and lugged it all home.
David would be coming back into town from Michigan the following day. I was planning on making dinner for him anyway. And what’s the point of buying an expensive French oven if I was not going to use it? I resolved to make dinner in my new Le Creuset cookware. All my new cookware, including the baking dishes.
I stayed up that evening looking at photograzing and tastespotting until my stomach started rumbling. I needed a main dish, a side, an appetizer and a dessert.
I really wanted to try making rack of lamb, so that was what I decided to make as a main. David said he wanted eggplant. I find eggplant a very strange vegetable, but stumbled upon this recipe for a vegetable tian at the Gastronomer.
For dessert I knew I was headed to Findlay market, so it had to involve Dojo Gelato in some way. I found the perfect recipe from Smitten Kitchen for vanilla roasted pears, and knew Dojo’s Mexican vanilla gelato would be a great counterpart to the dish.
I loaded myself up with re-usable bags and headed off to Findlay Market, where I found everything I needed. First stop, Kroeger and Sons for two frenched lamb racks. I got two racks and also two lamb chops because they looked nice for $45. Then over to Madison’s Produce for fresh rosemary and thyme. I also saw some figs on the shelf next to the herbs, and grabbed those. I made the figs with this recipe for roasted figs with balsamic vinegar, leaving out the pine nuts.
Then over to some of the produce vendors for a bulb of garlic, an onion, a lemon, 5 pears, an eggplant and a zucchini. Back over to the other side of Findlay to Krause’s deli for cave aged gruyere. While I was there I saw some rosemary Manchego, a quarter pound of which also ended up in my grocery bag.
Then back again to the other side of Findlay, where I picked up two bottles of wine from Market wines. Going around the front, I had my last two stops—the Colonel for spices, (a blend of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, appropriately named “Simon and Garfunkel” and one large, fragrant vanilla bean) and Dojo for gelato.
I ended up with two pints of gelato with two different flavors in each. Gingersnap and Mexican vanilla in one pint, and rose petal pistachio and chocolate in the other.
My shopping done, I brought my now very heavy bag back to the apartment and began the prep work. David got back a little early, so nothing was cooked, just prepped and in the fridge, but it all worked out. We seared the lamb well after covering it in herbs and roasted it in the oven until the internal temperature reached approximately 130 degrees.
I’d say the star of the evening was the tian. With the gruyere cheese on top of the eggplant and zucchini and the flavor from the sautéed onion, garlic and herbs, this is a dish that we will be making again soon. It looks very impressive in the pan and is incredibly easy to cook. I can imagine many variations of this as different vegetables come into season.
Kitty was not much help, but he sure looked cute
I really enjoy going to Findlay Market. People are friendly and cheerful, vendors take the time to have conversations with their customers and give their recommendations (David and I spent a good 45 minutes with the Colonel getting an impromptu spice education on a Saturday morning) and I almost always find something new and interesting.
If you have not been, go! Christmas is coming up. Don’t get your standing rib roast or holiday meal supplies from the Grocery store this year. Head down to Findlay and see what I mean.