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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Steak Night

Well, I decided it was to be steak night, this had a lot to do with the fact that I had gotten home from a week of camping and had so much in terms of vegetable matter than had to be consumed, that I spent Friday and Saturday eating mostly vegetables at home. I figure, I am allowed a nice juicy steak. There were not a lot of preparation pictures, as I figure, it is just not that tricky to prepare a steak.

Since I spend much of the past week eating food cooked over a fire, I had little taste for more smoke, so it was to the cast iron pan, ripping hot, dry and ready to go. I oil and salt the steak, no pepper, then into the cast iron pan. Seared for 2 minutes a side and pulled to rest.

Steak resting

I has some fresh English Peas and decided the classic of Peas and Mushrooms for the steak was a good route. I sauteed up some onion, added the mushrooms and a little butter, rasied the heat to drive off some liquid and char the onions a bit. Oh, about the butter added after the onions, I use grapeseed oil to saute or fry, it is very high heat stable. The butter is just for flavor. In any event, the peas were added for just a few minutes to heat through, but, barely cooked.

Yes, I meant for the onions to be that color!

I ended up slicing the steak, and eating just 1/2 of the steak, it felt like a better portion and let's face it, I need better portions. There was a little garlic bread points to finish the plate. Here is a close-up of the meat, as I figure nobody comes here for the peas.

Too red? NO!

For me, this is a perfect rare-medium-rare, I really prefer these steaks on the just rare side of medium rare. The cast iron pan did it's job, putting a nice crust onto the steak, just enough to complement and caramelize the surface. A little black pepper after the rest, so there is no bitter, burned pepper smell or taste. Perfect dinner.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer comfort on a Friday

Somedays, when things have just not quite gone right, such as angry clients telling you to get a problem fixed and you are the guy standing in front of the delay, by Friday evening, you want some comfort. Now, I am not against a beer or three, and Fridays often find me practicing my mixology. But tonight, was to be different.

I went with this...

Comfort, why yes, I'll have some please...

What you see here, is a simple four cheese macaroni featuring my favorite cheese, Bellweather Farms Carmody, with a little cheddar, parmesan and emmenthaler. A simple roux, some white port and fresh cracked black pepper from my stash of Phu Quoc black pepper. Oh, and to top it off, there was some home made cracklins, from a few scraps of smoked bacon fat.

I am often asked how I would chosse elements for a plate, in this case, with the creamy, fatty flavor and soft texture of the macaroni and cheese, the complement could have been to try and match the main course, but, that really taxes the palate. I went with a contrast, a sharp one. That is a soft Elberta Peach, bridging the dish, it's soft texture and sweetness mimics the main course while not copying it.

The salad is a base of wild arugula dressed with a classic vinaigrette, kept a little sour on purpose. Very high quality olive oil and a spalsh of cider vinegar and balmsamic, the sweet and sour let's the arugula pepper work with the peach. It is also worth noting, the natural pepper flavor of arugula works brilliantly with both the peach, and the mac-n-cheese. Finally some sugar sured red onion, sliced paper thin, gives just one more layer of flavor.

There ain't no salad in BBQ!

With a macaroni and cheese dish that is anything but the blue box, something slightly crunchy, sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, it holds up the complexity of the mac-n-cheese without letting it dominate the palate.

Sugar-cured Red Onions:
A treat with any dish, I love these on fried potatoes, or with pulled pork in-lieu of slaw.

1 red onion, sliced very thin. I prefer a knife cut, but, a slicer works
2 tablespoons fine turbinado sugar
2 tablespoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar

Throughly blend onion, sugar and salt, let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Drain and add vinegar, do not rinse. Allow to sit for at least one hour.

A note on the onion, I prefer small red onions, and not torpedo onions but, the flatter ones.

The Vinaigrette:
1/8 cup very high quality oil, I prefer olive oil
1/8 cup champagne or other mild vinegar
1/16 cup Balsamic vinegar, does not need to be the good stuff
2 tablespoons Dijon or other delicious prepared mustard.

Add all ingredients to a stainless bowl and whick vigorously until an emulsion is formed. There you go, hand toss with salad of choice. The arugula is a great choice, I really like mache as well.