Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dinner #5: Meat, Cheese and Sacrificial Apples

My only goal for this dinner was to end up with no more than 4800 calories worth of food total. This would have been 4 dinners at 800 calories maximum, with two meals left over for lunches and what have you.

Did I succeed? I dunno, I was too busy slapping stuff together to count calories. I made about three times the macaroni and cheese we needed. I think that's all the answer you need.

I think I did alright, all things told. We aren't counting the wine though, right? Right!

The Menu:
Rib Eye Steak
Macaroni and Cheese
Apple Cake Burnt Offering to the God of Cake

I'm not telling you how I made salad. It's salad. Vegetable pile with dressing- hoodily hoo!
I'll tell you about the dressing though, because I've been eating that all week. I've made it twice. It makes everything about lunchtime better.

1/3 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
TB or so of cider vinegar
ounce or so of grated Parmesan (get yourself a microplane grater, best ten bucks ever.)
1/4 tsp of Dill
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
TB of Johnny's Garlic Seasoning

Starting by whisking the mayo and sour cream together, and then adding about half the buttermilk, and mixing it completely before adding the rest. You don't want gross nasty lumps, do you?

Well too bad! You're getting lumps anyway, thanks to the parm, enjoy!
(this does better after spending a night in the fridge, btw)

Macaroni and Cheese:
Someday I need to actually use a recipe for mac and cheese. Someday, but not this day! This day I slapped things together an ingredient at a time.

I started by boiling the noodles, duh. When they were done I strained them and tossed them with about a tablespoon of butter. Just enough to get them slippery. Then, oh then I sifted some Vermont Powdered Cheese onto the pile and stirred it all around.

While the noodles were busy boiling I finely chopped 3 large mushrooms, a shallot, a couple cloves of garlic and added them to my trusty skillet with a little butter and a little salt.

I browned them until they were brown.

After they'd gotten good and toasty looking I added a cup or so of the ricotta cheese to the pan. I'd never used ricotta in mac and cheese before, but I still had most of a container left over from last week's adventure so I went with it.

I cooked that until it was heated through and looked sorta like vomit.

Open up, baby birds!

Then that got all stirred around and I started to dump in the shredded cheeses. Probably a cup and a half of white cheddar, cheddar and mozzarella. I dunno, I didn't measure.

Yay cheese!
Seen here looking less like barf...sorta

Before we move on:

I made lunch servings!

I dumped the remainder of the noodles into my favorite casserole dish. They were looking sort of dry and needy (probably from not adding in my usual amount of cheese. The usual amount? ALL THE CHEESE) so I mixed together a cup of milk and two eggs and poured it over the top. I don't usually go for the custardy type of mac and cheese, but this  seemed a better alternative to dry and burned noodlewad  - as if dry and burnt would ever be a concern of mine. 
More cheese on top:
You all should note something here. Even though the baking dish is huge I made only about a 1/3 of what I usually would have. In days gone by this dish would have been practically overflowing with noodles and cheese. So, hooray for me! Such mindfulness to my family's waistline could only end well, right?
This went into the oven at three-hundred-and-something for 40 minutes.

At the halfway mark I added in a little non ricotta ramekin that I'd made for Max.
Mothers: Enabling picky eaters until
the end of time.

It was then that I noticed the large batch was looking pretty brown and melty, and that maybe I should pull it soon. I'd not really considered how shallow the noodles were spread in such a large dish, and how they would cook much faster.

It was agreed, me and myself would be sure to pull it in the next 5 to 10 minutes.

20 minutes later:
I would later throw half of this away because dammit,
 I'm a proud American.

How could this have happened? It's as if I have long and sordid history of overcooking everything somehow!
It doesn't look so bad here, but trust me, it was pretty chewy. I'm just skilled is all. Skilled at driving out all the moisture and love a food has to offer.

The smaller serving? Oh, it turned out fine, naturally. My desication skills are usually only applied to the things I'm excited for.

Max wins again

Rib Eye:

It's Taxmas season, and I was feeling rich, so I spent 25 bucks on four steaks. I don't regret it, they were awesome.

I turned the meat over to Mark. I'm such a good little woman, trusting the man to be all manly. Feeding his ego by letting him be the helper. I could have done it all, but I learned that the man sometimes enjoys feeling valued in the kitchen, so I shared my burden.

Okay, so it's also because if I had made them they would have turned out sad and grey. I'm good for getting about 2 out of every 10 steaks with any sort of crust or browning. Most of them juice up the pan and then cook in their own slobber, never getting brown but usually getting plenty tough. Also I never seem to be able to cook them any way but raw or cooked-through.

I did help by pulling them from the fridge and arranging them on cooling racks to reach room temperature and to dry out a bit. I even blotted them with paper towels every so often to pull off the excess moisture (some of you savvier cooks out there may have been ready to tell me how if you don't dry the meat it won't brown - I know this, I dry it! It just hates me -I've accepted it.)

I didn't watch Mark work his magics, because I was busy putting a failcake together, but I know his methods included cooking them under the broiler and then putting them in a cast iron skillet to brown. We had ours a little towards the medium well side. There was also au jus and horseradish sauce - basically those two condiments were what the whole night was building up to. Salty meat water and creamy heat sauce. Yum.

To the Table!

I guess this is the pose the boys have decided on. Simon's looking pretty unimpressed even though we allowed him access to cutlery! That look on Max's face? That's the look of winning. He saw the crusty dried out mac and cheese we had and mocked us with his enjoyment.

Okay, I have to say that looks pretty good. The mac and cheese was a little chewy, but I'm a burnt cheese fan so it was okay (for the first and second days anyway, as mentioned earlier, we tossed lots of it.)

Even though it was really hard to do, I cut out half of my steak and put it in a lunch container for the next day. I'm pretty sure meat and cheese kept people in Seattle alive that day.

Simon thought life was great,  he got his own great big steak (as with mine, half of his went to lunch. It was thinly sliced for sammichy goodness) and got to cut his own meat with a real knife.

Max ate all of his. His dad and I briefly teased him about the cheese actually being pureed carrots (oh, if only carrots tasted like cheese and green beans tasted like bacon - what a wonderful world this would be) and he informed us that if we ever tried to sneak vegetables into his food he would know

It was kind of eerie the way he said it.  Sort of like you'd imagine a parent telling their kids that if they ever smoked Mom and Dad would know. I imagine the Max of the future doing great works to prove that all of the evils in the world - cancer, murder, pokemon - are directly related to vegetables.

I'm pretty sure Mark liked things okay - he ate meat and drank meatwater, that's recipe for happiness right there - but he doesn't always say much. In fact all head did was force salad on himself, mostly ignore the mac and cheese, and cram meat down his throat. How does that recognize my greatness I ask? That's right, it doesn't. Stupid meat being better than burnt cheese.

The End

What's that? Dessert?

Oh yeah, Dessert!

I was going to make Apple Cake. The recipe called for brown sugar and nuts to be layered in the bottom of a tube pan and the cake poured over it. I thought I knew better and I burnt the shit out of it.

It was one of the things I was really excited about so I took a lot of pictures. It really had a lot of good things going for it, so I'll post about it later.

But that night we busted out the Pound Cake from Sunday # 2 (most of the way down the page) and added a tasty fruit and mascarpone topping.

I bought a small (expensive!) tub of mascarpone cheese for last Sunday's dinner. I didn't need it for anything but apparently I thought I did because I squandered 5 bucks for a 5 oz tub. That's a buck an ounce (see how I help you learn?)

So I mixed that with about a half a cup of sour cream and a quarter cup of honey. It still needed something so I put in a half a tablespoon of KAF's super-awesome cinnamon. I did all this before I ever knew it would end up being dessert.

The tasty fruit for the evening was blueberries. I didn't even know I liked blueberries until last year. When you're trying to lose weight and cut out a lot of the processed crap (don't get me wrong, I love processed food, but it's still garbage) things with any amount of natural sugar start tasting a whole lot better. It also helps if these things are fresh and in season like my first berries from last year were.

The berries I bougth recently were not in season. Not at all. Oh, SO not at all. They were so, so sour. I bought them at the store near my work intending to have them as a snack. I could not tolerate them so they went where the punishment lives - in my purse (it's an ugly purse and something hiding in there stabbed me three different times.) After riding around in there for two days and not tasting any better, somehow, they went to live in the fridge. 

I'd seen them make Blueberry Muffins on America's Test Kitchen (you have to register to read the recipe, the bastards, but it really does look like a good one) and one of the steps for awesomeness is cooking down the blueberries. DUH! I've mostly told all berries to go eff themselves when they suck, so this never occured to me. 

What I did:

Two containers of blueberries (the small tubs)
Couple TB of sugar - or less if your blueberries don't suck.

Into a pot they go. 

I used a lot more pot than I had berries. I did this because I was too lazy to dig through the cupboards for a smaller one. Turns out the big pot is a good idea because blueberries are BLUE and they also explode.

I cooked these on medium heat until things were good and melty/explody.

Then I smooshed everything until it was sorry it had splattered up my stove:

I simmered this until it reduced by half or so:

I'd made this that night because I'd planned on adding it in as a swirl in the apple cake. That was before I decided to awesome up the cake (strike that, reverse it) in other ways. After it had reduced I set my blueberry goo to the side, wondering what I was going to do with it.

What I did with it:

It was so good. I've been having the blueberry and mascarpone stuff on a whole wheat sandwich thin every morning this week. As soon as blueberries go on sale again I'm making a boatload of this stuff.

The pound cake had lived in the freezer for a month by now and was pretty dry, but I am very much looking forward to dumping a pile of sugared strawberries on them as soon as the strawberries quit screwing around (I've seen some from California, but they look crusty and sad, like little strawberry hobos.)

I'll get around to the tragic tale of Apple Cake later. It's SO tragic I should look into selling the movie rights. It could be the next Precious.


  1. Ok, so I'll chime in on the steaks... The first thing I did was throw Denise's oh so favorite broiler pan in the oven to heat up, on the BROIL temperature setting, for about 6 mins to get nice and hot. While the pan is heating it's time to play with the meat. So we had them sitting at room temp on a wire rack waiting for some seasoning love. It was pretty basic, some salt, black pepper and garlic powder, with a little olive oil to make it stick. I like to rub it into both sides. By the time our meat was done with its rub down the broiler pan was good to go, I pulled it out of the oven and got that satisfying sizzle sound when fresh meat hits hot metal. So I tossed the pan back in for about 4 mins per side at about 4 inches away from the heat. After the 8 mins were up I tossed them in a cast iron skillet heated up to med high with a little oil in the bottom for about a min per side for the tasty brown crust. Let them rest for a few mins, and topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions.

    Tasty fun.

  2. It was mushrooms and garlic, dear. And that was ALL ME!



  3. Okay, that was awesome. Thanks again!

    (I particularly like the ongoing thread of this as you vs. Max. Hehe.)

  4. That mac & cheese didn't look burned to me...I LIKE crusty cheese!

  5. I like it too, but because this was so shallow it was basically all crust.

    Which is probably still a plus to you :D

  6. Your kitchen adventures are so much win. (Even if the food sometimes isn't. :p )

    I love the little things you add in, such as 'strike that, reverse it'. Awesome!