Well, it seems as though my life has gotten exponentially more insane since I started culinary school. I am getting less then a handful’s amount of sleep. My free time has gone out the window. Heck, I barely have time to cook nowadays! But ya know what? It’s all gonna payoff in the end. And even before then because I am living life to the fullest, and loving every minute of it.
That was interesting. I don’t usually start blogs out with non-food related stuff. Anyway, I actually was able to cook a nice dinner the other night and I thought I would share the details with you fine folks since that’s what I’m here for!
It was my wife’s birthday this weekend, so I decided that I would cook her a very nice dinner. Which, I might add, is a decision every home cook should make for their spouse. Anyway, I went shopping Friday afternoon for the ingredients for that night. I was so lucky to see that there were some beautiful New York strip steaks on sale at the grocery…and organic to boot! I snatched those up lickity-split! I also got some fresh herbs, and other stuff that I’ll talk about as this progresses.
I decided that I would cook a soup. I have seen butternut squash soup on television a lot lately, and I know a lot of people love it. I thought that this would be a great time to try it out, ya know. I found a very simple recipe, followed it along with some of my own little revisions, and it came out smashing! Not only that, but it is really, really good for you! There’s no cream or butter or anything in it, so it is in fact quite lean. I also did a little research on butternut squash, and it turns out that they are a fantastic vegetable. Tons of vitamin A, a bunch of vitamin C and a healthy serving of fiber. It was delicious, and even my picky-eating wife loved it. She’s been enjoying the left-overs for 2 days now!
Then I roasted some broccoli. This was, as I called it, the “broccoli that didn’t happen on Christmas Day.” I tossed it with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic. I put it into a smaller glass baking dish and roasted it for a little while, about 15 minutes. Then, about 10 minutes before we were ready to eat, I topped the whole thing with a generous helping of parmesan cheese and finished it in the oven. It was amazing. The cheese on top was gooey, but held everything together. The edges had essentially fried a little bit, so they were pleasantly crisp. It was very successful. I think the excess oil I tossed with the broccoli ensured that some of the pieces ended up frying, basically. It was delicious. I gobbled it up.
The steak. Oh the steak. I know you all know that I love steak. One tip that I will put forth right now is that if you have beef that is going to be grilled, roasted or broiled, make sure that it comes to room temperature (or as close as you can manage) before it hits the heat. The colder the meat is when it gets cooked, the less even it gets and that can result in some uneven cooking. So I had my steaks out for at least 30 minutes to take the chill off. And don’t worry about bacteria! The timeframe to start worrying about pathogens is about 4 hours, so you’re safe.
I digress. The steak. I made an herb oil for the steak. Olive oil, sage, chives and minced garlic. I salted and peppered the steak about 5 minutes before “show time,” Then I rubbed the delicious oil all over the steaks. Prior to this, I set my grill up and had it a-roarin’. That is, until I went out there 4 minutes later and saw that my flame had been reduced to a flicker. I was out of gas. Not to worry though: I have a stove! So I set my saute pan up over medium-high heat. I also opened a window and turned my stove vent on. After 5 minutes-per-side of loud cooking, I took them off the heat and transfered to a plate to rest. At this point, I topped them with a generous helping of bleu cheese and tented the plate to do two things. 1. To make sure the steaks did not get cold while they were resting and 2. Melt that glorious bleu cheese over the steaks! It’s also worth noting that if I really wanted to, I could have made a pan sauce with what was left in my saute pan, but alas, hindsight is 20/20. And quite frankly, it didn’t need a sauce. I plated up the steaks, and they were both cooked to an impeccable medium-rare. Cooked evenly, and the most amazing crust. I think running out of fuel in the grill worked in my favor because the entirety of the surface of the steak was crust. And let me just tell you right now that I think that may have been the best steak I have ever cooked. Ever. And I’m not saying that to inflate my ego or anything like that. It was perfect. A little herby. Slightly garlicky. Certainly beefy, and the cheese was (bleuy?) just the right amount of “funk” and gooey. I am afraid to make it again because it might not be as good! Hahaha. Not really. I think part of the success was the organic beef, but don’t hold me to that. Like I said before, it was on sale, and thus cheaper than the regular beef. I would need to run a few more tests to see if it actually held any sort of difference in quality (This is where my wife sighs in fake disappointment since I have to cook more steaks now).
It felt really great to be cooking again, too. Lately it has been all about throwing some chicken breasts on the grill and taking them off when the thermometer goes beep-beep. I was in my full element. Watching the times, prepping the ingredients, cooking. I loved it, and had such a great time cooking it. And really, the best part was knowing that I had just poured my heart into this food for my wife, and she was loving it.
Food is very powerful stuff. Knowing how to wield it properly can be a very powerful tool. Keep this in mind next time you’re gonna eat some canned, over-processed and over-salted foods.Stay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂