Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Year Older And . . .

Another year, another birthday dinner.
Last night we celebrated His Highness' . . . -- well let's not get specific about years -- birthday with a menu of all of his favorites -- guacamole with melted cheese topping, homemade gingerale -- well more like gingerade (a little strong but not a bad first effort), Brazilian style collard greens, corn with feta mint butter, garlic bread, and oven-grilled peppered New York strip steaks with horseradish chive sauce.
The guacamole was recipe I found online -- a basic chunky guacamole (red onions, cilantro, jalapeño, mint -- that was new to me, red peppers instead of tomatoes -- sigh, the saga of James and tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, S&P) -- the something extra in this recipes was the idea to melt a cup of shredded Oaxaca cheese and pour it on just before serving. Dinner could have stopped right there and it still would have felt like a birthday. The corn was an idea from August's (09) Gourmet Magazine. I've done similar dishes with chile and parmesan or chile and lime. You just toss the boiled or steamed corn in a bowl with a flavored butter with crumbled feta and chopped fresh mint. For me. I liked the idea but it was a bit too minty. Next time I'll keep the feta, reduce the mint, and add a little cayenne or crushed red pepper. Collard greens are one of James' favorite vegetables. Instead of stewing we like them quickly cooked with garlic in a little hot oil until the edges turn just the tiniest bit crispy and brown and splashed with lemon juice just before serving.
I know it's grilling season but for a birthday I wanted to make the extra effort and makes steaks James' favorite way. Pre-heat the oven to 500º with a cast iron skillet inside -- when the oven is hot put the skillet on the burner and lay in steaks that have been thoroughly coated with cracked pepper and coarse sea salt (about a 50/50 mix). Brown the steaks on all sides -- about 2 minutes each -- add a knob of butter on top of each steak and place back in the oven in the skillet to cook through. Remove from oven and let stand about 10 minutes before serving. James really prefers filet mignon but I only had two left in our freezer store of Hearst Ranch grass-fed beef (and we were having a guest) so bone-in strip steaks were the order of the night. the horseradish sauce was creme fresh (3/4 cup), horseradish (about 1/3 cup), chopped chives (1 bunch), Dijon mustard (heavy 1/2 tsp), dash of heavy cream, S&P.
Garlic bread as an afterthought, I admit -- Tuesday night's episode of Hell's Kitchen has the teams making garlic bread appetizers for a group of hungry firefighters. It seemed out of character for HK's usual menu but it did look good. I had a half a loaf of homemade bread in the freezer, so I thawed it out, sliced it in half, added a paste of parsley, garlic, butter, S&P slathered it on and toasted it up. I meant to sprinkle a little parmesan cheese but no one seems to miss it.
Happy Birthday Honey!

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