Deconstructed Cobb Salad
How I Make Steak
On my monthly Costco shop, I always buy a package of flap meat. It makes the best steak for the best price ($8-9 per pound - used to be $6!). It's a splurge but we get two "fancy" meals out of our $25 purchase. It comes in two pieces, so I put them in the freezer individually in gallon bags (I usually thaw by submersing the meat - still in the sealed bag - in a bowl of hot water for about twenty minutes).
To make this delicious steak, I heat up butter (or bacon fat) in our cast iron pan on medium high, turn on the fan, and cook it on one side for 5-7 minutes. I flip it and repeat. Sometimes I have to flip it one more time to get it perfectly medium to medium rare. I let it sit for a few minutes before slicing against the grain.
If I am cooking onions (usually red), I cook them in the (greased) pan for about 5-10 minutes and then add the steak, cooking them both together until the onions are nicely charred (I take them out before the steak). Sometimes I add mushrooms, but if I do that I usually cook it all before I make the steak, so as not to overcrowd the pan and because mushrooms are liquidy.
This is one of our favorite family dinners - steak, mashed potatoes, and salad (the kids don't have the onions and blue cheese - more for us!).
Hard Boiled Eggs
How I concocted last weekend’s Turkey Spinach Artichoke Chowder - definitely a rough draft (speaking as a writer), but it was delicious (husband raved) and I will be making a final version the next time I have turkey gravy (may be a while):
I wasn’t paying attention to amounts (I rarely do), but the base of this soup was leftover turkey gravy (from Christmas dinner) and chicken broth.
I made the meatballs out of ground turkey, frozen chopped spinach (defrosted in the microwave), parmesan (the canned stuff, I admit it), garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and - here’s the weird part - cream cheese. Next time I would soften the cream cheese and thoroughly mix it with the seasonings before adding it to the meat, but this time I got away with putting it in the mixture in random chunks (I tried to distribute evenly) and letting them melt into the soup.
So basically, I brought the base (gravy/broth) to a boil, added in roasted red potatoes I had frozen (you could use fresh, but just cook longer), reboiled, lowered to simmering, and added the meatballs (making them as I went - plop, plop, plop).
Then I added some quartered (or maybe it was halved) canned artichoke hearts (that I had frozen, but I don’t think that matters).
After ten minutes or so, I thickened it by adding potato starch and sour cream (next time I will dissolve the potato starch into the sour cream - or a cupful of soup - to avoid glops).
Cooked for another five minutes and it was done.
Enter the Buffet Lunch
Decided to make it easier on myself and give the children a self-serve lunch - cold cuts, cheeses, crackers, fruits, and nuts. They thought it was glorious. Not sure why it took me this long to come up with such a basic idea!
It was gratifying to see them consider one another, asking if they could take the last piece and graciously assenting to each other.
They tried more foods than usual - my 8 yr-old even said "salami tastes better than I thought it would" and my son took tangerine (not his favorite) because of the creativity that buffet style eating sparked.
They didn't have to keep asking for seconds, thirds, etc., yet they seemed to know when to stop eating.
The next step is getting them to assemble the buffet...judging from my track record, that will happen by the time they're teens ;)
I confess to watching one reality show: Hell's Kitchen. Every summer my foodie husband and I eagerly await the next episode. Currently we are down to the final four chefs, so it seemed like the right time to share the recipe for Gordon Ramsay's Baked New York Cheesecake (it's all over the web, but that links to my favorite cooking site), which I recently made for a family gathering. It was devoured by everyone, ages 3 to 69, and I got compliments all around.
I tweaked it just slightly: I added cinnamon and sugar to the crust, omitted the sultanas and lemon juice that were supposed to be folded into the batter, made a topping (sour cream + whipped cream + sugar + vanilla) and covered it with blueberries, rather than just dusting it with powdered sugar.
Two techniques that worked beautifully: covering the bottom of the springform pan with foil (kept it from sticking) and keeping it in the oven for an hour after it was done (kept it from cracking).
My recipes on Food.com (4.6 star average rating)