Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)

23 Feb
My clean kitchen

My clean kitchen

So remember how a couple of weeks ago – okay, more like a month ago – I was talking about how Amanda and I watched “Julie and Julia” and how I now simply HAD TO make Boeuf Bourguignon but I couldn’t because I didn’t have a Le Creuset casserole? Well, apparently my MOST AWESOME AND WONDERFUL NEIGHBOR JOHANNA reads my blog. She is possessed of a Le Creuset casserole the exact type that I required to fulfill my lifelong month-long dream. One afternoon, before I got home from work but AFTER Bill was home from work (this is a key detail), she knocked on the door and presented Bill with this casserole, telling him I could now fulfill my lifelong month-long dream of making succulent, delicious, amazingly wonderfully tasty Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child.

Anyway. So, I walk in the door after work and see this casserole sitting on the kitchen counter. I absolutely FREAKING SQUEE’D, recognizing what it was right away (of course). Bill looked at me like, “Really? It’s that exciting?” I said to him. “You. Did. NOT. You did NOT just buy me a Le Creuset casserole???? YOU DID NOT!” To which Bill responded with, “Well… no. I did not. Johanna read that you needed one to make that beef thingy you wanted to make, so she brought this over for you to borrow.” So, I was momentarily deflated, but unsurprised, because it would have been 1) a really big friggin’ shock if Bill had known me THAT well, to know how much I wanted one of these;, 2) had somehow kept the $350 purchase a secret from me; 3) had actually surprised me with it on, like, a Tuesday afternoon for no reason whatsoever.

And then I was all, HOW AWESOME IS JOHANNA???

Johanna's Le Creuset Casserole

Johanna's Le Creuset Casserole

She is the best. neighbor. EVER.

A couple of weeks passed before I had the opportunity to make the dish. Yesterday turned out to finally be the day, so I got started at noon on the button, the better to ascertain the timing of the preparation and cooking of Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child. I looked up the recipe. I studied it. I pondered it. Then I went about changing things, because that’s just how I roll.

I kind of borrowed the best bits from the method of Julia Child and the method of Ina Garten, and made this recipe easier to deal with. For one, hey Julia? What the heck is a “lardon” of bacon? Is bacon even sold in solid chunks anymore? And why the heck did it need to be boiled? I just provided instructions to dice and sauté the bacon, which is what Ina recommended.

Also, Julia had much more complicated instructions for the onion and mushrooms, added near the end of the stew’s cooking time. Rather than fool with simmering the onions in broth for an hour, I just instructed that they be sautéed in olive oil and herbs. Your mileage may vary, if you’re using fresh whole pearl onions and you’re concerned that sautéing them won’t soften them enough to be added to the stew, then go ahead and use the instructions Julia provided.

Speaking of herbs, Julia seemed to like to use fresh, tied in sprigs, and then removed at the end. I like my herbs to remain in my dish, so I subbed for dried. Also, Julia wanted me to drain the stew of its broth and make separate sauce to be added back in, whereas Ina provided instructions for thickening the stew right in the pot. I went with the latter.

My family dislikes onions so I didn’t add the pearl onions in at the end, just the mushrooms.

Finally, Ina’s recipe called for the meat to be cooked for 1 ¼ hours at 250 degrees, where Julia’s was for 3-4 hours at 325. I very much doubted the meat would be done per the time and temp Ina indicated (I was right), so I went for the 325 degree setting and the meat was done at 3 ¼ hours. I started cold (with all the cutting/slicing/prepping yet to do) at noon exactly, and the food was ready to eat at 4:45 p.m.

Ingredients for Beef Burgundy

Ingredients for Beef Burgundy

Ina’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/beef-bourguignon-recipe/index.html
Julia’s recipe: http://www.recipezaar.com/Boeuf-Bourguignon-a-La-Julia-Child-148007

Of course, as soon as I finished chopping and cutting and slicing all of the ingredients (primarily the bacon and the beef), the new knife set that I was waiting for was finally delivered. I’d hope to break them in on this dish, but the timing was off. Still, aren’t they pretty?

Chicago Fusion Cutlery

Chicago Fusion Cutlery

My recipe:

• 8-12 ounces center cut bacon, diced
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2.5-3 lbs lean stewing beef (such as chuck roast), cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1 carrot, peeled and sliced (or 12 baby carrots, halved)
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced (my family dislikes onions, so I just quartered a large sweet onion and left it in chunks so they could pick it out)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
• 2-3 cups beef stock or broth
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 bay leaf
FOR THE BRAISED ONIONS
• 18-24 white pearl onions, peeled (again, my family dislikes onions so skipped the additional onions – frozen onions can also be used, drain and thaw first)
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• salt & fresh ground pepper
• ½ tsp tried thyme
• 1 tbsp dried parsley
FOR THE SAUTEED MUSHROOMS
• 1 lb mushroom, quartered (or halved if the mushrooms are small)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
2. Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9″ – 10″ wide, 3″ deep) oven-proof casserole (such as a Le Creuset) and warm over moderate heat.
3. Sauté the bacon for about ten minutes to brown and lightly crisp.

cooking bacon

cooking bacon

4. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
5. Dry off the pieces of beef and sauté them in several batches in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. It’s important that the beef be dry or it will not brown properly. And we’re talking about cooking, like, ten or twelve pieces at a time, darlings. Don’t crowd the meat.

Dry the beef well between layers of paper towels.

Dry the beef well between layers of paper towels.

Brown the meat a little at a time.

Brown the meat a little at a time.

6. Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon. You are now done with the most labor-intensive part of the recipe.

Browned beef and bacon.

Browned beef and bacon.

7. In the same oil/fat, sauté the onion and the carrot until softened. Remove vegetables to a side plate.

Cooking onion.

Cooking onion.

Cooking carrots.

Cooking carrots.

8. Pour off the fat and return the bacon and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
9. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.

Add flour to the beef and veggie mixture.

Add flour to the beef and veggie mixture.

10. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
11. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
12. Now, lower the oven heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
13. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Scrape a spatula or flat whisk along the bottom of the casserole to deglaze the lovely brown bits. This will make for a delicious and nicely-colored sauce.
14. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf.
15. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

Beef Burgundy, getting ready to go in the oven.

Beef Burgundy, getting ready to go in the oven.

16. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. Check every hour until desired tenderness is achieved. For us, it’s when the meat falls apart easily.
———-
17. At the end of the meat’s cooking time, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
18. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet. Sauté over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart. Remove to a plate. (I skipped this part.)
19. For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet. As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat. Place on plate with onions.

Oil and butter, making a snowflake in the cast iron skillet.

Oil and butter, making a snowflake in the cast iron skillet.

Cooking mushrooms.

Cooking mushrooms.

———-
20. When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven. Skim visible fat from the surface of the sauce, if desired.
21. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat. Bring to a simmer on the stove and cook for 15 minutes. Skim fat as necessary/desired.
22. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
23. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency, or dissolve two tbsp of flour in broth and add slowly to the stew. (For the record, the consistency of my dish was perfect and needed neither thickening nor thinning.)

Out of the oven.

Out of the oven.

24. Taste for seasoning.
25. Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley. Offer fresh crusty bread.

Boeuf Bourguignon with egg noodles.

Boeuf Bourguignon with egg noodles.

It turned out really freaking well. Even Bill was all, “Om nom nom nom,” which is the highest accolade he has to offer. I can now cross the making of Boeuf Bourguignon off of my bucket list. And DAMN, I’m buying me one of those casseroles. Price tag be damned.

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Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup

6 Jan

(Modified from the recipe in Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny.)

Prep & cooking time: About 40 minutes total
Serves about six

Ingredients:
– 1 tbsp salted butter
– 1/2 sweet onion, chopped (a half-cup or so of green onions would work well, too)
– 1/2 tsp dry mustard
– 3 cups chicken broth or stock
– 4 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced (4-5 small-ish potatoes)
– 5 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
– 2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
– 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
– 1/8 tsp nutmeg
– 1 tbsp Worcestershire (optional)
– 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
– salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add dry mustard, stir, and cook for about one minute. Add the chicken broth, stir, then add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, steam or boil the broccoli until tender, 5-10 minutes. Drain.

When potatoes are tender, use a slotted spoon to remove about one cup of the potatoes. Put on a plate and mash well with a fork, then return to the pot. This will thicken the soup.

Add the half-and-half to the pot, stir, then add in the cooked broccoli. Heat until very hot, but not boiling (boiling will cause the cream to curdle – doesn’t change the taste but makes the texture a little unattractive). Stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. If using, stir in the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

This recipe would probably be excellent with some crisp-cooked crumbled bacon added in at the end, or added to individual bowls. I really haven’t found too many circumstances where bacon wouldn’t improve a potato-based soup.

Prime Rib Roast (Standing Rib Roast) with Au Jus

26 Dec

We first made this for Christmas 2009, and it came out so well we that might never go back to our traditional lobster dinner at Christmas (or at least, not for a few years). I compiled this recipe/method from several different sources. In summary, the roast is marinaded for 24 hours before cooking, then rubbed with a paste and seared at a high temperature to seal in the juices and give it a nice crust, before reducing the cooking temp to roast slowly for the remaining cooking time. The result is nicely pink prime rib steaks that fall away from the bone. It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, trust me!

Ingredients:

One well-marbled butcher-tied standing rib roast (keep it tied, don’t remove the twine!):
– 6 people – three rib roast – 7-8.5 lbs
– 8 people – four rib roast – 9-10.5 lbs (this is the size I usually make – it repeatedly feeds six hearty servings with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day)
– 10 people – five rib roast – 11-13.5 lbs
– 12 people – six rib roast – 14-16 lbs
– 14 people – seven rib roast – 16-18.5 lbs

Marinade:
1 1/4 cup dry red wine (I personally prefer cabernet sauvignon)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup water

Rub Paste:
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
(do not salt the roast prior to cooking, it dries it out!)

Basting Liquid:
1 cup beef broth or stock
1/4 cup dry red wine

Au Jus:
Juices from the roast
2 tbsp of fat from the juices (discard remainder)
3 cups beef stock or good quality beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Tools/Utensils:
One large, high sided (about three inches) roasting pan, no rack necessary
One instant read meat thermometer (absolutely required!)
One flat whisk (recommended)
One VERY sharp carving knife (absolutely required, serrated works best!)
Two large meat forks

Instructions:

1. 24 HOURS before cooking the roast, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Place the roast inside a very large tupperware container with a lid. Pour the marinade over the roast, flip it a few times to coat, cover, and place in the refrigerator. Turn the roast several times over the 24-hour period to evenly marinate the meat.

2. TWO HOURS before putting the roast in the oven, remove it from the refrigerator, pat it dry, place it in the roasting pan you’re going to use, cover it loosely with tinfoil, and allow it to sit out on the counter. The meat will cook more evenly, and more quickly, if it’s put into the oven at room temperature.

3. When it’s time to put the roast in the oven, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is preheating, mix together all of the ingredients for the rub paste. Thoroughly rub all sides and both ends of the rib roast, then place it bone side down/fat side up in the roasting pan. Place it in the oven and roast at 450 for fifteen minutes.

4. After fifteen minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and finish cooking for the remaining time.

5. Baste the roast every half-hour with the broth and wine.

6. Cook until the internal temperature reads 120 degrees F with the instant read thermometer. APPROXIMATE times are as follows, but always use the thermometer reading over the cooking time. Start checking the temperature of the roast a half-hour before the end of the cooking time indicated below:

7-8.5 lbs – 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours
9-10.5 lbs – 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours (for a four-rib roast mine is usually at 120 degrees F right at two hours)
11-13.5 lbs – 2 1/4 to 2/3/4 hours
14-16 lbs – 3 to 3 1/4 hours
16 to 18.5 lbs – 3 1/4 to 4 hours

7. When the thermometer reads 120 degrees, remove the roast from the oven, place on a cutting board or rimmed cookie sheet, and tent tightly with foil for 15-20 minutes. The roast will continue to cook slightly as it rests, so it’s important to remove the roast from the oven at 120 degrees internal temperature.

8. While the roast is resting, make the au jus. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a measuring cup to allow fat and juices to separate. DO NOT clean out the browned bits from the roasting pan, they’re what give the au jus color and flavor. Place the roasting pan over two burners turned to medium heat. Pour in two tablespoons of the fat (discard the rest), the roast juices, the beef broth, and the wine. Using a flat whisk, scrape up all the browned bits from the pan and incorporate into the liquid. Simmer on medium heat for about five minutes to slightly thicken the au jus. Remember, au jus is NOT thick like gravy, it’s more broth-like. Once thoroughly mixed and heated through, pour au jus from the pan into a gravy boat.

9. To carve the prime rib roast, cut off the twine holding the roast onto the bone. Using a large meat fork, stand the roast on its side with the ends of the bones facing upward. The bones should fall away from the roast itself (like opening a book), held onto the meat at the base (or “spine” of the book). Slice the bones away from the base of the meat so that they separate in one piece together. Save the bones for nibbling on, or making soup.

10. Slice the roast across the grain to whatever thickness you prefer. Serve on large plates and drizzle with au jus. Offer prepared horseradish on the side.

Recommended sides: mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables (asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli), baked potato soup, green salad.

Baked Orange Roughy

11 Jun

This is a light, simple fish entree that pairs well with roasted vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts – something green to brighten up the plate). Serve with rice pilaf or a dinner salad.

Serves two, generously.

– Two fillets of orange roughy (about one pound total)
– Two tsp olive oil
– Two tbsp salted butter
– Two tbsp garlic, finely minced
– Salt
– Lemon pepper, or regular pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly brush both sides of each fish fillet with olive oil and arrange on baking sheet.

Spread one tbsp of garlic on each fillet, then dot each with one tbsp butter. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is no longer opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

A Cheese Sauce for Everything

17 May

This is a great, flexible recipe for cheese sauce that goes with, well, just about anything. Pour it over vegetables, mix it with refried beans for a great dip, pour it over pasta. It’s very cheesy without being too thick or overpowering. And, as you can tell by how everything is “two”, it’s WICKED easy to double or halve.

Makes about four cups.

– Two cups shredded cheese – a cheddar or cheddar/colby/jack mix is good. Basically, you want a hard cheese, not a soft cheese
– Two cups milk – whole or 2% is fine. Heck, you could even use half-and-half if you’re feeling especially decadent. I usually use 2%. I wouldn’t recommend skim.
– Two tablespoons salted butter
– Two tablespoons flour
– Two egg yolks, lightly beaten (discard the whites or use them for another purpose)
– Two tablespoons Worcestershire
– A dash or two of paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour and butter are completely mixed, creating a roux.

Very slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour/butter mixture is completely dissolved into the milk. Allow the mixture to warm and thicken for about one minute, then gradually whisk in the egg yolks (you don’t want the milk to be too hot or the egg will cook upon contacting the hot liquid, which is, well, gross). Keep whisking and allow the mixture to get hot, about two minutes.

Gradually add in the cheese a little at a time, whisking constantly, until it’s all incorporated and melted. Add the Worcestershire, paprika, salt and pepper, whisk and allow the mixture to become hot, but not simmering or boiling, which will curdle the milk.

If the mixture is too thin, add another handful of cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little bit of milk. You can also add other spices – cayenne pepper works well, for instance.

Pour over whatever needs some extra cheesy goodness, and enjoy!

Steak Dinner with All The Fixin’s

23 Feb

Last night Bill was in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen with me. One of my favorite things to do is cook with Bill – the two of us gravitate toward one another as we work our way around the meal preparation. We tease. We talk. We exchange pecks while passing each other to the stove or the fridge. We taste test (never trust a skinny chef). We bicker cheerfully about prep techniques and seasoning. In last night’s case, we did all of this while maneuvering around the camera-mounted tripod. The sum of our efforts always result in exponentially better meals; more so than if one of us and prepared it alone.

Last night, we surpassed even our own best efforts. Oh, lord, have mercy.

First, we went to the grocery store. I love shopping with Bill, though we inevitably end up spending twice as much as if I’d gone alone. We LOVE to eat, have I mentioned? We kept up a running discussion of just what, exactly, we needed to make our dinner perfect. For this meal, the cost was COMPLETELY worth it. Here’s the list of ingredients for copying our meal exactly. You’re going to want to do this. Trust me.

Cooking with Bill and Tiffany – Fabulous Steak Dinner With All The Fixin’s

Essential Equipment:
– cast iron skillet
– meat thermometer

Ingredients:
– 2 Fillet Mignon steaks, approximately two inches thick (these were probably, like, 10+ oz each)
– 1 bunch fresh spinach
– 1 lb baby potatoes
– 1 package sliced mushrooms (we used baby portobello)
– 1 bottle good-quality red wine (we used Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon)
– fresh cracked pepper (table pepper would work, too)
– kosher or pearl salt (table salt would work too, just be sparing)
– vegetable or canola oil
– olive oil
– butter
– crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
– 3 cloves minced garlic, separated
– Worcestershire sauce
– non-stick cooking spray

This recipe absolutely requires a cast-iron skillet. If you don’t have one, go out and buy one. They’re only around $25. I have one of these pre-seasoned deals, and I love it. Pioneer Woman made me do it. She’s handy that way.

I must also mention that this steak recipe is ruthlessly stolen and slightly modified from The Barefoot Contessa’s Steakhouse Steak recipe. It’s good karma to give credit where credit is due.

Now, to get down to bidness.

About two hours before you intend to start the steaks, you’ll need to marinate them. Start by pouring yourself a big glass of wine, thusly:

barefoot

Now, in a glass dish big enough to hold both steaks, combine 1 cup of wine, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste (Calvin also tossed in a couple of blurts of Tabasco, and sprinkled each steak with a bit of tenderizer and poked ’em with a fork). Place the steaks in the marinade, turn to coat, then cover and refrigerate until ready to cook – at least two hours. Flip ’em over every now and then to marinade them evenly.

marinated

Okay. Ready to cook? Take the steaks out of the fridge and uncover them to bring them up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is heating, prep your baby potatoes:

potatoes

Wash ’em, pat ’em dry, cut the larger ones in half to even up the cooking, then put them in a large bowl. Toss them with a tablespoon of olive oil, two cloves of garlic, salt, and pepper. A little rosemary and/or dill is good, too. Pour them into an oven-safe baking dish and put them in the oven.

Wait ten minutes to allow the potatoes to roast. Have another glass of wine. Watch the Oscars. Dance around to 80’s music. Do your thang.

Next, place your cast iron skillet on the stove. Spray it with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray and heat it on HIGH heat for about five minutes. While the skillet is heating, remove the steaks from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush each steak on all sides with a light coating of canola oil. Then, either by putting cracked pepper and kosher salt on a plate, or by sprinkling directly onto the steaks, coat each side (including THE sides) with a light “crust” of salt and pepper, pressing and massaging into the meat (you dirty kids). I combined the salt and pepper into a small bowl, then grabbed little handfuls of it to rub into the meat. I’d say I used one tablespoon of salt (KOSHER, mind) and one tablespoon of pepper for each steak. Really, for this step you can NOT be afraid to get your hands dirty. Just wash ’em afterwards. You’re durable that way.

Place the steaks into the HOT skillet and sear on all sides (including THE sides) for 1-2 minutes each side. This will sear the steaks to a lovely dark color and adhere the seasonings like a “crust”. Here’s a shot of the steaks searing on their sides – kind of tricky if they can’t balance without being held:

browning

Once the steaks are seared, lay them flat in the skillet if they aren’t already. Top each steak with one tablespoon of butter (we used salted – don’t be afraid of the butter, it is your friend). Place the skillet into the oven with the potatoes and TURN THE OVEN DOWN TO 400 DEGREES (this is important so you don’t overcook the steaks). I had the steaks on the top rack and the potatoes on the bottom rack.

Cook the steaks according to how rare you like them. You’re really going to need a meat thermometer to do this right, as you can’t really time them for the appropriate done-ness. I have one of these – cheap and accurate. We like our steaks medium-rare, which is 125 degrees on the meat thermometer (I think 115 is rare). Stick the probe lengthwise into the side of the meat to get an accurate reading in the center. I’d say the steaks were in the oven for ten total minutes, though we took them out two or three times to check them. Keep in mind, my darlings, these were ENORMOUS steaks – so big that Bill and I only each ate half of one, and the remainder will be some truly fabulous leftovers. So, what I’m saying here is, YMMV.

TRUST YOUR MEAT THERMOMETER. We took the steaks out of the oven at 125 degrees exactly. You’ll see how lovely the result was in a moment.

Now, the steaks need to rest for 10 minutes after removing them from the oven. Place the steaks on a serving platter, and sprinkle the desired amount of blue cheese or Gorgonzola (we used Gorgonzola) on each steak. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and set aside. Be patient. The steak needs to rest before it’s chewed up.

Now, TURN OFF YOUR OVEN but leave the potatoes in until the rest of the meal is prepared.

While the steaks are resting, it’s time to prepare the veggies. They’re both very quick preps and were done at exactly the 10-minute mark when we cooked ’em last night.

First, you take your spinach:

spinach

Wash it well and pat it dry. Place a large skillet on the stove, and over medium heat saute one clove of minced garlic in one tablespoon of olive oil. Once the garlic begins to brown and is fragrant, add the spinach in batches, stirring constantly to coat. Once the spinach is SLIGHTLY wilted and it will all fit into the skillet, cover the skillet, remove it from the heat, and allow it to steam and wilt.

Next you take your mushrooms:

shrooms

Wash them and pat them dry. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Add one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and stir to coat. Keep stirring until the mushrooms have softened and the sauce has slightly thickened, about five minutes. Cover and remove from heat.

Now remove the potatoes from the oven. Uncover the steaks. Cry a little at their loveliness. Dish up the steak, potatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Arrange prettily on a plate and take a picture, like so:

platefulperfection

DO YOU SEE THAT PERFECTION? Feel free to click on the picture and view a larger size to bask in all of its glory.

Serve with your steak sauce of choice (though it doesn’t need it), maybe some sour cream and butter for the potatoes, maybe some salt and pepper for the spinach and mushrooms. Oh, and more wine. Celebrate the gastronomical glory that is steak.

You’re welcome.

(Cross-posted at Snerkology.)

Un-rutting.

29 Jan

I love to cook. Have I mentioned?

However, every now and then I find that we’ve gotten into a culinary rut. I keep making the same round of stuff, week after week. The food is still quite excellent (of course, I made it), but it’s all starting to get a little old.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve made little forays into jazzing up our supper menus. Last night we had Trader Joe’s Mahi-Mahi with a basmati/wild rice medley (also TJ’s brand) and some nice squeaky green beans. Calvin seemed to like it, which is the Number One Requirement of any food that I introduce to the household.

One night last week, after purchasing one of these little beauties, I made a variation of this Steakhouse Steak recipe, courtesy of Ina. It was decent, though I believe it would have been better had I cooked fillets instead of New Yorks. Hey, any steak in a storm, and our grill has been defunct for MONTHS, now.

Now. If you all aren’t clear on my love affair with my crock pot, then surely you haven’t been paying attention. As things stand right now, I use mine about once a week, maybe twice. This lady, on the other hand, had the intestinal fortitude (har) to cook up a different crock pot recipe EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.

I figured if she could do it for a year, I could do it for a week. Of course, I’m cutting down severely on the work involved by using the recipes she’s already tried out, instead of inventing my own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all that. Here’s the menu for next week:

Sunday – Taco Soup. It should go well with the Super Bowl. And all the beer. Alllllll theeeeeee beeeeeeeer.

Monday – Dry Rub Ribs, accompanied by PW’s Crash Hot Potatoes and garlic roasted cauliflower (which recipe I will post soon.

Tuesday – Stuffed Peppers. A whole meal contained in a vegetable! How terribly handy.

Wednesday – Bacon and Cheese Chicken. I mean, really. There is no way to go wrong, here. I’m going to pair it with some Garlic Cheese Noodles. Because you can never have too much cheese. NEVAR. Oh, I should probably have some sort of a vegetable, too. Umm… yeah. Celery and carrot sticks dipped in ranch. There ya go.

Thursday – Tilapia in Foil Packets. Served with another of TJ’s rice medley mixes and a green salad.

Friday – Fast food night! It’s tradition.

Saturday – Lasagna so easy that even I can’t screw it up. Accompanied by some garlic bread and a salad. Yes, Virginia, you CAN cook pasta in the crock pot.

In this little project I hope to end up with a half-dozen more recipes to add to our rotation. I kind of like the idea of trying out the recipes of a specific food blogger for an entire week’s worth of menus. I’ll probably do it again.

And you’ll be sure to hear about it.

(This entry cross-posted at Snerkology.)