Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just Call Me Wilma

Flintstone, that is. I found this steak in the fresh meat case at my local grocery store a while ago and just had to get one. As this was Angus prime steak, even on sale it cost a pretty penny. As we would only likely have this once or twice a year, I decided to splurge a bit for my family. But first, the corn:

I bought three firm ears of corn at my other local grocery/department store.

Now, listen (er, read) carefully. It is not necessary to strip the husk away to determine if you have a good ear or not. Just firmly grasp and feel the ear and you can tell if it is fully formed and good (and get your mind out of the gutter, please - this is a family-friendly blog). I hate to try to find good ears of corn, only to find that others have unwrapped the things before I had gotten there.

And in this case, I needed those ears to remain fully husked, as it were.

The only preparation I did here was to pull the excess corn silk off the top of the husks. I then soaked the ears in water for a couple of hours before cooking.

Now, on to the butter. Compound butter, that is. I picked some fresh thyme and rosemary from the garden. Allow the butter to sit out at room temperature for a couple of hours to soften.

Now that the butter is soft enough to work with, finely chop the thyme and rosemary.

I do wish you could smell these freshly chopped herbs. Um, no. I won't ask if you can see the flavors. I really won't.

Now the herbs have been thoroughly mixed in with the butter. If dinner is to be served within a couple of hours, it is all right to keep this out at room temperature during that time.

And now we have the star of this meal: the steak. This is a Cowboy Rib Eye steak. Wouldn't Fred Flintstone be proud?

Now, I simply cannot imagine that this could possibly be meant for just one person. As it is, this particular steak is meant for three adults and I am sure that we will have leftovers.

Allow this steak to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour before cooking. Not only must the meat rest after cooking, but it must rest before cooking for better results.

Drizzle with olive oil and liberally coat with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat your outdoor grill and drain the ears of corn before placing on the hot grill. I would not recommend cooking corn that is still in the husk inside as the aroma of burnt grass is prevalent.

I placed the corn on the cooler side of the grill and cooked for about 15 to 20 minutes before putting the meat on to cook.

I also added two sprigs of fresh rosemary to the meat before cooking. Allow the beef to sear on one side before turning. Remember, the meat is ready to turn when it easily releases from the cooking surface.

Turn the heat down to low and allow the second side to sear. Then move the meat to the cool side of the grill and cook until the desired doneness is achieved.

Take the meat off the grill and cover with aluminum foil so it can rest for 15 minutes or so before slicing.

While the meat rests, we ready the corn for service. Once the corn has been cooked, the silk comes off very easily.

After resting I sliced the steak. Ah, rare, just like we like it.

Hey, I was right. We had quite a bit left over for later. Mmm, I'm thinking about a nice steak sandwich with caramelized onions...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dinner, Interrupted

Now, how did that happen? This dinner was originally meant to be cooked over the course of one day, but only after I had started the long process of cooking the meat did I find out that my husband would not be home for dinner that night. Hmm, on to plan B, then. So I seasoned the pork roast with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I sauteed the pork roast in olive oil before placing the pork roast with onion, garlic and vegetable stock in the slow-cooker. As the game has now changed, I turned the heat down to low and let it cook away happily all day.

I started this pork roast before I learned that my husband wouldn't be home for dinner.

Later that evening, I pulled the thoroughly cooked pork roast out and prepared to shred it.

I chose to use two serving forks to shred the pork this time. Tedious, but the pork is now ready to become shredded pork barbecue.

Now, you weren't going to throw the vegetable stock out, were you? I pulled the onion and garlic out and set that aside for later. I put the pan on the stove top and began simmering the liquid while I prepared the remaining ingredients for the barbecue sauce.

As I was winging it, I really wasn't sure what ingredients I would use. Let's see: I started out with molasses, Worcestershire Sauce, catsup, soy sauce, bottled barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard and brown sugar.

At this point, I played 'mad scientist' and added the ingredients to the simmering stock and tasted until I was happy with the results.

Remember the onion and garlic? I couldn't let them go to waste, but first they needed to be chopped.

And now the finely chopped cooked onion and garlic can go back into the sauce.

Now you know it's coming... Can't you just see all the flavors? Well, I did warn you.

And the sauce meets the pork.

Sadly, this will now be covered and set aside until tomorrow.

Oh, look. It's tomorrow already. About an hour before I anticipate dinner being served, I put the pork barbecue in a 350 degree oven.

I decided to make mashed potatoes for dinner. And as you can see from the above picture, I also decided to make sweet mashed potatoes.

Either boil or microwave the cut potatoes in salted water until tender.

And now we mash. Add the butter, milk and more salt and some black pepper. Mash until you have the desired texture.

I'd say this is ready. Since it's not quite dinner time yet, I put the lid on this dish and put it in the oven with the barbecue pork. At this point I turned the heat down to warm.

Now, on to the regular mashed potatoes. I used Yukon Gold potatoes.

First I mashed and then I got the hand mixer out. A food mill can also be used, but never use a food processor or you will end up with a gummy mess.

Now, I had just gotten to this point in my nice family dinner preparations when my dear daughter rushed out of the house yelling that she wouldn't be home for dinner tonight. Hmph, I think I will run out on dinner the next time.

I learned this recipe from my dear friend, Rosie Hawthorne. Thanks, Rosie!

As this dish comes together very quickly, I left it for last.

First I saute the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil.

Add the frozen green peas and cook until just warmed through.

Finally I add the sliced Napa cabbage and again just cook until warmed. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Well, what do you know? I guess sometimes a good meal can come out of last minute changes. In case you were wondering, I like to mix my sweet mashed potatoes in with my mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Normal Evening in Southern Indiana

As is usual for this time of year, we once again find ourselves in an unsettled weather pattern. As such, we may or may not be experiencing stormy weather each day. It just depends on what the weather decides upon for that day. We poor humans are just along for the ride.

I'm sorry (well, only if just a little bit), but there is nothing prettier than a sunset before the storm.

The storm clouds have been building.

There's got to be a morning after (hm, now why am I now thinking about Ernest Borgnine in the movie 'The Poseidon Adventure'? - or am I really showing my age here?).

Well, let's just go with the idea that water droplets on canna leaves are intrinsically beautiful.

Now, why would you ever doubt me? Trust me, there is beauty in even the simplest of things in life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do You Want Balsamic Onions and Peppers with that?

While reading through my copy of 2008 Christmas with Southern Living published by Oxmoor House, I came across an intriguing recipe. Again, as this is a proprietary recipe, I will only give you the gist of the thing so that you can follow. So please pay attention.

Here we have extra virgin olive oil, a good quality balsamic vinegar, molasses, black pepper, red bell pepper, white and red onion, fresh Rosemary and kosher salt.

I only added one half of the red bell pepper as I am the only one who likes this in my family.

The pepper and onions are ready for the grill.

Cooking away.

Do not adjust your computer monitor. Unlike the last post, this foggy photo is because of the steam generated by the plastic wrap over the blackened peppers. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Now you can peel away. And whatever you do, DO NOT rinse! Or you just might as well eat cardboard - or have saved us all the trouble of going through this step. Never wash away this flavor that you have worked so hard to achieve.

The peppers have been peeled, the onions cooked, and the sauce is ready. Hint: go heavier on the balsamic vinegar, the olive oil and a bit lighter on the fresh rosemary before going even lighter on the remaining ingredients. Test until you are satisfied with the taste.

The ingredients are now melded together.

What a nice Saturday evening dinner. Here we have grilled ribeye steak, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, baked Yukon Gold potatoes with butter and freshly chopped chives and the balsamic onions and peppers.

Garden Guests
I have had the privilege of documenting various garden guests this weekend. Sorry, but I didn't have my camera on hand when the deer went loping through the yard yesterday. That happens sometimes.

First off, the camera. Gee, do you think it is a bit hot and steamy outside? Given that my camera lens immediately fogged up when I stepped outside?

Well, this isn't exactly what I had in mind regarding garden guests, but I just had to share this plant with you. It is a blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis). Now, orange is not my color, but my husband loves orange, so natually I felt the need to incoporate this color into my garden.

Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my dill weed plant.

Couldn't you just hug them? But not too tightly, mind you.

Squee! And yet another of my Croakies. I love my gray tree frogs. Could you tell?

Tiger Swallowtail on a Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)

Black and Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies visit the Butterfly Bushes.