It’s been a while – heck, over 2 months – since my last posting, so I thought I would take it a little easy this time and just run down the positives and negatives from tonight’s dinner. Since the whole buying-a-house-painting-the-whole-thing-moving-into-it-2-weeks-before-Christmas-and-then-finally-making-it-through-the-holiday business, I’m feeling ready to get back into the blogging swing of things.
So, tonight’s dinner:
SOUP – Cheese soup (recipe from BH&G cookbook)
- Used up some cheese rinds I ‘created’ by not wrapping my stolen cheese (another story for another time) in anything but parchment paper (no Al foil) for a night. I had about a pound/pound and a half of cheddar, gouda and swiss. The recipe called for american and cheddar – but I wanted to use up these rinds, so I did. Reminder – always wrap expensive cheese in parchment AND foil – the former for it to breathe (and so not mold) and the latter for it to not lose all of its oils and dry out.
- Forgot to get the carrots when I was at the store, so the soup base was only red bell pepper, celery and green onion
- Like all BH&G recipes, it called for ¼ teaspoon of seasoning (in this case white pepper), and I always up it to a ½ tsp. This was a mistake, as it added too much heat for Jaime. Between that and the veggies, she was scared off from it.
- Used my little stainless stockpot (2 or 3 quarts), and it scorched the milk/flour soup base put in there. It just couldn’t handle the electric heat (or perhaps I’m still getting used to using my electric heat), and wasn’t distributing it well into the milk/veggie mixture. Along with the lack of smooth melting american cheese this made for a grainy soup.
- Recipe called for chicken bouillon granules, which I had forgotten I had thrown away. I used a cube, but the soup base was kind of bland. Maybe it would be better with that ‘better then broth’ bouillibase stuff I’ve used in the past.
BOTTOM LINE – FAILURE
The soup was good tasting, but a gloppy mess, somewhere between overcooked mac and cheese sauce and too-long-in-the-crockpot nacho cheese. I tossed it all.
SALAD – Baby spinach salad with dried apples tossed in toasted sesame and salad oil with Balsalmic vinegar, fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
- Got the spinach on for half price in the already cleaned and ready to use container
- Toasted sesame oil gave it a really nutty flavor without the nuts – something Jaime usually picks around
- Used veggie oil instead of my usual EV olive, and it was good – not overpowering. My EVO oil was still locked up cold in the fridge.
- Had it ready right on time – the vinegar sat on the leaves for just long enough to wilt them ever so slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Needed cheese. I tried to get away without it thinking the cheese soup would suffice, but since the soup was a failure, the lack of a good cheese accompaniment, the salad was a little plain.
- Dried apples were a little tough, and ought to be rehydrated before being put on the salad in the future. I was looking for apple chips (for a crunch, since I had no nuts – um, for the salad – right – ! -), but couldn’t find any. Maybe rehydrating in something like frangelica (and losing the sesame oil) would accomplish a nutty taste while getting rid of the toughness of the dried apples. Hmmm…
- Balsalmic is getting a little old – starting to sweeten a little bit.
BOTTOM LINE – SUCCESS
The experiments (sesame oil as nut flavor, dried apples instead of fresh) were a little over the top, but still balanced well. We ate all of it.
MAIN COURSE – Pan seared ribeyes with a simple reduction sauce
- Got the ribeyes in the discount meat bin for 50% off. Certified Angus 1.5 inch thick boneless ribeye steaks for 5.59/lb is a really fantastic deal.
- Easy cooking plan – put in a hot skillet and cook both sides for 6 minutes for a medium rare steak. Easy peasy.
- My skillet didn’t smoke for the first time on the new electric range! Hooray!
- The pan sauce was mega simple. Since the last time I tried a pan sauce I scorched everything because of the hot pan and continuing heat from the electric coils, I used my elevated metal trivet to put between the skillet and the element, and I turned off the burner completely as well before adding chicken stock (the low sodium Swanson kind that I like so much). I also added a little bit of corn starch and some of the Penzey’s shallot pepper. Really tasty, but the shallot pepper knocked it out of the park – however, it was on the salty side even with the low sodium chicken stock, so beware! Also, I managed to talk myself out of adding butter when it wouldn’t thicken as soon as I thought it should have. I made the right call – don’t be tempted!
- Let the meat rest for a good 10 minutes, which I think really contributed to the overall flavor.
- Couldn’t do a red wine reduction sauce like I wanted, since I didn’t have a bottle of the wine ATK recommends, and the one I did have (Merlot) was down as being awful. I also didn’t have any shallots, which are pretty important for most sauces that are more complicated then simple deglazing.
- Couldn’t find my kitchen tongs to turn the steaks, and so had to get my BBQ ones dirty. I think I tossed them, or maybe they got lost in the move.
- Steaks were not as well marbled as perfect ribeyes would be, but what a great beefy flavor!
BOTTOM LINE – SUCCESS
Among the best steaks I’ve ever cooked at home – certainly the best pan seared steak I’ve ever made. Jaime and I agreed to open our $85 bottle of 2000 Nickel and Nickel Cab next time I find Certified Angus ribeyes in the discount meat bin.