Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steak, with the most delicious sauce you will ever make.

This one is for Kelly. And Nadine.

My friend Kelly, fellow UD grad and teacher, who I have known for years, is a newlywed and is just beginning to experiment in the kitchen. She gave me a good what-for about not updating my blog, and gave me a few suggestions about what she would like to see. I believe she used the word "tough" to describe what she really wanted, steak done sans grill. Of course, you know me. I can't turn down a challenge. And even though my family has been trying to get healthy lately, I figured we could stand to splurge just this once.

Also, my great aunt Nadine passed away today at the youthful age of 101. Even though I have no idea if she liked steak or not, we ate this meal in honor of her. Cheers, Aunt Nadine.

Oh, be still my heart. This was the richest, most delicious meal I've had in quite some time. I gathered these recipes from a variety of places. The asparagus is a recipe I use over and over again, given to me several years ago by our good family friend Kathy. It's always a huge hit. The steak I learned from Omi, my grandmother. The sauce, which is the best part, came from Pioneer Woman. I'm not sure what I did before Pioneer Woman. Ate less delicious food, I suppose. The rest, of course, I made up. I do that at times.

Start off with a few necessities: olive oil, butter (I use the fake stuff), blue cheese, parmesan cheese, cream, tomatoes (these are heirlooms! Sometimes I use cherry), asparagus, cauliflower, onion, and a few room temperature rib eye steaks.

I also used garlic salt and garlic pepper, FYI.

And, oops, there's some Lindeman's over there. You don't need that for the recipe, just for fun. Try not to judge me.

The first thing we are going to do is to make a dish that can truly substitute for mashed potatoes. If you are on a low-carb diet, or just want to incorporate more veggies in your life, try this. Or you can used mashed potatoes. I'll never know.

The easiest way to separate cauliflower that I know is to turn it over and go at it with a knife. If any of you know a better way, please feel free to comment. I'm all about education here.

See? Pretty. It doesn't really matter, since you are going to boil the business out of these anyway, so don't stress.

Get a relatively large pot and boil some water. Just before adding the cauliflower, generously salt. You'll thank me later.

While the cauliflower is boiling, grab your asparagus. It's January in Ohio, so the asparagus is a little meager here. What you really want in a bunch of asparagus is super thin stalks. The thinner the stalks, the more flavorful the asparagus. Because we doctor these up a bit, it doesn't really matter. But whatever you do, for the sake of everything good in this world, do not get canned asparagus. I do not know whose idea it was to ever can asparagus, but I dislike them greatly.

Test your asparagus by holding onto both ends and bending until the asparagus snaps.

Wherever it breaks, take the head (the flowery part) and line it up with the other heads and cut. You're getting rid of the thick, woody stems, which generally provides for tastier asparagus.

Lay out your asparagus on a jelly roll pan, as close to a single layer as you can get. Because these asparagus were so thick, less came in a bunch, so it wasn't difficult to line 'em up.

Next get your tomatoes. I usually use cherry tomatoes and chop them in half, but when I went shopping last weekend I saw these babies. Heirloom tomatoes! Heirloom is a particular type of non-hybrid tomato and they usually don't have them around these parts. So I figured I'd use them! Aren't they pretty? Use whatever tomatoes you like.

Give 'em a good rough chop. It definitely doesn't matter what these look like. Get as close to bite-size that you can.

Douse these guys with a little olive oil...

Add the tomatoes, top with a generous handful of parmesan cheese, then pop them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starts to brown. You don't want to overcook it, so make sure the asparagus aren't mushy. I hear no one likes mushy asparagus.

While the cauliflower is boiling and the asparagus is roasting, get your large onion and do like you do. Cut it in half, get rid of the skin, and then slice it into relatively thin slices.

Relatively thin. This isn't Iron Chef.

Get a nonstick skillet, a pretty big one, and melt 4 tablespoons of butter on medium to medium high heat. I use the fake butter, so don't feel guilty if you want to too. Of course, if you want to use half a stick of butter, you go right ahead. My thighs and I will cheer you on and then secretly hex you out of jealousy.

See? Doesn't quite look like butter, but trust me, it'll do, pig.

Drop in your onions and let them sizzle. The smell of onions cooking in butter? Unmatched.

Here's my first caveat: "But I don't like onions!" Yes you do. Yes. You do. Try it.

About this time, your cauliflower will be nice and mushy. Give it a good drain.

Put the cauliflower in a bowl with about a tablespoon of butter. Do it.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted with this cauliflower, so I added garlic salt and garlic pepper. Figured I couldn't go wrong! And I definitely didn't go wrong.

A hand mixer is useful here to get everything combined and light. This can sit out for as long as it takes to make the other dishes.

Speaking of other dishes, hello gorgeous. These are two ribeye steaks, looking delicious. I salted and peppered them for good measure, but really, you could just admire their natural goodness.

Remember those onions? I hope you've been checking on them. They should be getting brown, so move them around a little. If they look "burned," don't you worry... that's how they should be. Say a little prayer for caramelized onions. That's part of the recipe.

Now you need a stainless steel skillet and some more butter. This is for the steak, so don't be shy. Are you seeing why the fake stuff is alright for these recipes? No need to totally give up on a healthy lifestyle. Just set it a side for a second.

By now, the onions should be pretty much done. Turn the heat as low as it goes and add about 3/4 cup cream. Now, I'm lactose intolerant, and I wouldn't think of omitting this step. So you shouldn't either. That said, you could use light cream, or milk, or even beef stock, and you'd be alright. But just alright.

The cream will start to take the brown color of the bits that were left in the pan. Oh, glory.

Get the steaks in the pan with the butter and sear on both sides for about 3 minutes each. Cover and let steam until the steaks are done to your liking. And your liking needs to be no more done that medium.

Caveat #2: "But I like my steak well done! No pink at all!" No you don't. No, you don't. Unless you have some sort of medical condition that disallows you from eating medium rare meat, please try this with at least a little pink. Otherwise, you might as well eat leather for dinner.

Of course, leather mixed with this sauce wouldn't be all that bad. That's how good it is.

Once the steaks are done and off the heat, turn the heat off the sauce. Dump in about a cup of blue cheese.

Caveat #3: "But I hate blue cheese!" No you don't. No, you don't. Try it. Please. Please please please please. Just trust me. Without the blue cheese, this is just an onion cream sauce. Snore. Add the blue cheese, for the love of everything tasty in this world.

After about 20 minutes, the asparagus will be done. Yum.

I served this with a little bit of the cauliflower on the bottom, then the steak, topped with the sauce that will stop traffic. And then I nestled the asparagus next to it all, just for some color.

Oh, my.

Oh, my.

To recap: Onions. Cream. Blue cheese. Don't ignore my sage advice.