Thursday, January 6, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Hello and good evening (at least at the exact moment I'm writing this it's technically evening - I have no control over when you will actually be reading this).  I'm contemplating the start of a blog dealing with food.  Well, more than contemplating, as I've already undertaken the pedestrian steps of actually creating the blog.  I'm now at the "what the hell do I post" stage. 

Much to my surprise (sarcasm alert) I am not the first person to create a food/cooking/eating blog.  In fact, I'll be upfront here, at the moment I can't even pitch to you why this blog is unique and why you must read it.  Seems a lot of bloggers enjoy putting their credentials front and center so that a reader will know that the recipes/reviews/posts on the blog have some legitimacy.  Um, OK.  So what about me is so "special?" 

I don't know.  Look, I'm just a dude who likes to cook and my only formal training was from a home ec class during freshmen year in high school.  I made Scotch Eggs, they were pretty damn good.

So where to start?  How about with dinner tonight?  Here's what I'm serving - will you join me?

Tonight's Menu:

  • Fresh Bust Your A$$ Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Oven Roasted "Suck on THIS" Sweet Potato Fries
  • Sauteed Swiss "Because There's Gotta Be Something Green on The Plate" Chard
  • Grilled USDA Prime Bone-In Ribeye Lickolicious Steaks

Let's start with the final product (and let me apologize at the outset - food photographer I am not):

The Final Plate - need to work on presentation . . .
O.K . . . was the meal any good?  Hell yes.  In hindsight, I would have cut the cooking time down on the steak by about two minutes, but everything else came out perfect.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves here, I'll give the final review at the end of this post.  Right now, let's get into the specific dishes - at least those that I remembered to photograph (sorry biscuits).

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Super easy to make.  First you start with one, two or even three of the babies and chop 'em up.  Actually, first peel the SP (sweet potato for short - come on keep up).  How you chop 'em just depends on what you want your fries to look like?  Shoestring?  Go really thin.  McDonald's?  A little bigger.  Oven Fries?  Come on, do you really need me to tell you how to cut your fries?

Just peel and chop - sharp knife helps.
After you are done cutting the fries, it's time to make a little seasoning salt.  Yes, you can use plain salt if you want - but, come on, that's boring.  Why not just go out and buy pre-cut frozen fries.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  Use your imagination a little Francis.  What flavors do you like?  Spicy?  How about a little cayenne and chili powder then.  A little zesty italian zip?  Basil or oregano would work.  It's not rocket science, it's fucking salt - go for it.  Gather up whatever you desire and pour about two handfulls of sea salt into a spice grinder, add spices and then grind it down to a nice fine powder.  Do a taste test.  If your immediate reaction is to suck up the entire salt mixture, you've done your job.

Red pepper flakes, sea salt, onion powder, rosemary, paprika,
chili powder and garlic powder - my secret salt recipe.  Oh - and
some expensive olive oil to toss the fries in before baking.
Once you've got your salt together, it's time to toss the fries and salt together with some good olive oil.  Some people do this in a ziploc bag - that's weak.  Get your hands dirty, toss by hand in a good bowl.  Seriously - do it.  Put the fries in a bowl, give a couple short pours of oil, then throw in a much salt as you can stomach and rough up the mixture so the SPs are coated evenly.  Turn oven on (preferably convection) to 350 degrees.  Time to open up some wine.  I suggest during the prep period sipping on a nice white.

Mmmmm.  Lockwood Chard.  Smooth and easy and not
so bad on the eyes.  Good drink while you cook vino.
Once the oven comes to temp, you'll want to put the fries on a parchment paper laden baking sheet and then stick 'em in.  Flip the suckers every 20 minutes until they look almost done.  At that "almost" point, crank the heat up to 425 and roast for about 8 - 10 more minutes.  At that point your fries are done and ready to be served.  If you didn't time things correctly with the steak and other dishes, then just turn the oven off at the "almost" point and let the fries lounge in the oven until the other dishes are ready.  If you are a total klutz and really mistimed everything, crank the oven up to 500 and let the fries sit in there for 5 minutes while you plate the rest of the dishes.  Really, this is quite easy and you'll love the ultimate result. 
Looking at this picture now, I realize I should have cut up
more of the sweet potatos.  This is, like, what, only one mouthful?

While your fries are cooking and you are drinking some wine, now would be a good time to start on both the steaks and the chard. 

Grilled USDA PRIME Rib Eye Steaks
As I was strolling through the meat department at my local grocery I spied several packages of steaks with PRIME stickers . . . PRIME?  I usually don't see this grade at my store and immediately scooped up two slabs o' beef.  I like to take my pound of flesh out of the fridge about an hour before I'm gonna cook it and let it "rest."

Mmmmmm.  Steak.   Mooo.
When it's time to put the steaks on the grill, I grab salt, pepper, and sometimes some storebought rubs.  In this case I wanted to see what happened if I blended a Tom Douglas Rub with a Montreal Seasoning Rub.

Steaks awaiting their "spa" treatment.
Nothing difficult here.  Just spread around a little oil - canola or olive - and then apply whatever amount of salt, pepper and rub looks good to you.  Rub it in tenderly and you are good to go.

We're ready for the grill, sir.
I have a gas grill.  If you have a charcoal grill, sorry, can't help you.  I preheat my grill to the hottest temp possible.  Then, per something I read in a Thomas Keller cookbook, I take half an onion, dip it in canola oil, and rub the grates.  CAUTION:  THE OIL WILL LIKELY FLARE UP.  Seriously, I have the singed hairs to prove it.  Just move fast and you'll be OK and avoid the annoyance of having to track down and use a first aid kit.  Once the grill is up to temp it's time to get a nice char on the steaks.  I cooked these steaks for 1 min. on high (three burners) with the lid open, I then continued to grill them on high for another minute with the lid closed.  At the 2 minute mark, I flipped (the steaks that is) and did 1.5 minutes on high with the lid open and then 30 seconds with the lid close.  So then at the 4 minute mark I turned off the back burner, slid the steaks to the back so they weren't over any direct heat from a lit burner and turned the other two burners down to medium - actually a little closer to low - and closed the lid and cooked them for 2 minutes.  Then I flipped 'em and did another 2 minutes.  In hindsight I'd cut down that last indirect heating stage to 1 min., maybe 30 seconds.  Take off the grill and cover loosely with foil (you don't want to steam the meat).
Prettier than a prom date.
While the steaks are on the grill, time to fire up the oven and get the chard going.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Nothing particularly hard about this dish.  Just get yourself some swiss chard (or any type of chard I suppose) and cut the stalks off and finely dice. 
Chop it up baby.

Then add to a skillet or some other type of pan where you've hopefully heated up some oil in medium high heat.  Toss 'em up with some garlic and shallots for a few minutes until tender.  Drop some of that white wine you are drinking into the mix and let it sizzle for a minute.

Do not drink wine from the hot pan.
 Then time to grab your chard leaves and chop those into manageable pieces.

Chopped Chard Leaves.
At this point you are probably running a three ring circus between checking on the steaks, peeking in on the fries and heating up the chard.  Just so you don't forget, open up a nice bottle of red to serve with the dinner.

Decent little Zin that pairs nicely with steak.
 Once the wine is opened, toss in the chard leaves and cook until slightly wilted.

Leaves after just being thrown in the pan.

And scene.  Time for dinner.
And that's all she wrote folks.  Get the steaks off the grill, fries out of the oven and the chard exiting the pan.  Serve on plates with a buttered biscuit and ring the dinner bell.  Oh, pour the wine too.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Two Inch Thick Custom Cut Porterhouse Steaks