Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Big Mis-Steak?? Part2

A Strange Alien Ex-Lifeform...
And so to Saturday – Steak Day in the Old Fella’s household. Sinéad and I looking over the table at this large, pink, alien piece of muscle and fat sitting on a plate and sort of looking back at us. Sinéad looked at me – I looked at Sinéad - we looked at the steak. Could we do it? Could we actually eat this? Could we put so many years of bad memories behind us and actually eat this? “We’re having STEAK???” squealed Alice from behind us. Two things shot through my head instantaneously – 1) I’m not being beaten by my 11 year old daughter who loves beef and 2) how come my 11 year old loves beef when we don’t? Sinéad left the room….
The Menu
I decided to keep this simple. If we were going to do this we felt it was important to ensure we could taste the steak and not cover it up with something like a pepper sauce, at least for the first time. So we agreed on Rib Eye Steak, Salad, Spicy Potato Wedges and Homemade Dinner Rolls. Can I be really honest here and say, yes, we did have a packet of sausages in the fridge just in case.

After watching Series 1 Episode 1 of Good Eats “Steak your Claim” I had paid visit to the local butcher and chose a nice steak – good colour with some marbling about 1½ inches thick. If you are in Ireland check out Good Eats on YouTube as it isn’t broadcast on the Food Network here (what’s up with that?) The books are available on Amazon and I thoroughly recommend them.

At this point I turned to the wedges …This is so much nicer than any of the packets you buy in the supermarket (good for vegetarians too...)

Spicy Potato Wedges
3 to 4 mid to large firm potatoes (I used Roosters)
2-3 Tbls Vegetable oil

Spice Mix
1 Tbls Paprika
1 Tbls ground Coriander
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds (lightly crushed)
1 Tsp Turmeric
Pinch of Salt and grind of Pepper
I added a ¼ Tsp of Chipotle Chili Powder to give a kick – omit if you don’t like chili or use any standard chili powder if you prefer.

Preheat the oven to 200oc
Cut the potatoes into half, then quarters, then eighths. Parboil for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well. Return to pot.
Add the oil and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the Spice Mix over the Potatoes and mix well.
Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes turning once until the wedges are golden, soft and fluffy.

So we fired up the cast iron pan and cooked the steak according to the instructions. Prepared the salad. Buttered the rolls. Put the wedges into a warmed dish. Plated. Looked. Looked again. Breathed deeply. Ate……
And it wasn’t terrible. We couldn’t believe it – a good steak properly prepared was …actually nice. And the biggest surprise was that the pinker meat in the middle was tenderer than the well done parts at the edges. The TV chefs actually know what they are doing – who knew? And yes – we will be eating it again. I might even try roast beef next……

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Big Mis-Steak??

Like so many of my generation growing up in Ireland in the 70’s, meat and two veg (one of which was potatoes) was all you got…ever. And, like so many of my generation growing up in Ireland in the 70’s it was, erm, “well cooked”. In fact, Red Meat such as roast beef, lamb, pork was rarely, if ever, red. It looked more greyish brown due to the fact it was put in the oven on Sunday before 10 o’clock mass and taken out between 1 and 2 for dinner – whatever the size of the joint….

Now don’t get me wrong – my mother is an excellent cook. She loved to try new things picked out of magazines and books and I still make her sausage stuffing (like a sausage meatloaf) and her chicken curry casserole (none of my friends had ever had a curry that wasn’t a pot noodle).

But despite the fact that she was a good cook and that I knew what a frankfurter was, the Sunday Roast was always a trial for me. Slices of this roast beef with beef gravy and soggy beans. But what got me was that everyone else in the family (parents and four other siblings) loved it. It was just me. I couldn’t swallow it and the smell alone made me gag but I was made to finish it every week. Why was I so different?

Years later, I met my wife, Sinéad, and found out that she had the same issues. I had a soulmate and so I married her (what do you mean that’s not the basis for a sound marriage?). During our long late-night discussions, I realised that we both also wondered at these TV chefs who served up these cuts of beef that were RED and had JUICES to eager and shiny f-list celebs who tore into them like early man to a mammoth steak. Surely those were undercooked and therefore would kill you by being in the same room?

The point of this blog is that I have to face up to certain realities. I am a reasonable amateur cook with a passion for trying new techniques and styles of cooking. I love Asian, particularly Thai, food and have no trouble making a Thai red curry from scratch. I also have a particular affinity for Southern U.S. cooking and make a mean Fried Chicken and Biscuits. I do not; however, do roast Red Meats or Steaks (or most veg for that matter) well. Through this journey I am going to face my fears and (with A.B.’s help) will make and eat those foods that have caused me to pass out in terror. I have come to realise that my pallet needs to be re-educated and this starts now – with a big juicy Rib-Eye Steak.

I have been to the butcher – the hunk of cow is in the fridge and I will let you know tomorrow if I am an Alpha Male or a Wimp……

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh My! Where was I??

I swear, I only closed my eyes for a minute.  I was feeling tired and lay down for a second - suddenly it's eighteen months later... awoken by a kiss from my princess - well a swift kick but that's not important right now. 

I arose from my slumbers and went downstairs to see how the world has changed.  I was amazed to see a  shiny new and wondrous kitchen resplendent in it's shininess and looking..well..shiny. This, combined with a new Good Eats book (3 - The Later Years), I knew that I was awoken for a reason, no, more than a reason, - a MISSION. That was it.... - I have a purpose in life.. to make something each week from Alton Brown's Good Eats and share it with you, dear reader.  

So please feel free to join me in a cooking experience, an homage to one of the best cooking shows on TV as I attempt to increase my culinary skills, test my new kitchen and have a bit of fun on the way. 

Over the next while I will be trying to make a different recipe from Good Eats each week and will post my journey, the failures and successes. I will also be trying new styles and techniques in other world cuisines in an effort to expand my repertoire and prove to myself that healthy cooking is more than just a hobby - it's a way of life.

Starting next weekend I will be hoping to blog at least once a week - just bear with me as I try to get to grips with the technology.  I would love to hear your comments, views or thoughts on the results and any tips from experienced bloggers are always graciously accepted.

Lastly, there are many food blogs out there - thanks for taking the time to read mine.  I hope you enjoy it....
......To the kitchen and beyond!