Monday, February 11, 2008

My First Dinner

All right, so I've cooked before, but this is my first blog post about cooking. I tried the follow the format set in, which is an awesome blog. Somehow she was reading my mind and what I wanted for Valentine's day (besides a girl) and posted the same meal on her blog today, but it's all good. Mine may not be as good, but I cooked it, so that counts for something.

The meal: ribeye steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and balsamic glazed asparagus.

All right, so let's start with the steaks. I'm a believer in some form of marinade unless it's a prime cut of meat, and I usually find Italian dressing works out well, so that's what I used. However, I just got some of Duke's BBQ sauce from back home so I mixed that in as well. It's a sweet, mustard based BBQ sauce,and is something I'll showcase later on when I make some pulled pork sandwiches. I let them marinade overnight.

Living in the city, it's hard to make a good steak. I'm used to a grill, but since I've been here a while I've tried a few different techniques (pan, oven, broiler). From them, I like the broiler the best; however, next time I'm going to give the pan method another try. Anyways, here they are:

And in they go:

After about 8 minutes, they look a little charred, and they're ready to be flipped. I'll flip and rotate them around since nothing cooks perfectly even:

After another 8 minutes and using my handy-dandy, brand new thermapen:

So let's check them out:

All right, so it's 115 degrees now -- not quite ready. I actually learned this isn't the best way to insert the thermometer -- we should going through the side to the center. It's more accurate that way. After this little lesson, I managed not to overcook or undercook the steaks, flipping and rotating to evenly cook them in the broiler. I cooked them to about 130, and after about 10 minutes of resting, I cut the bad boys open to check 'em out.

All right, now on to the garlic mashed potatoes. So after doing this yesterday and reading the pioneer woman's rendition, I've decided her way is much easier. For one, roasting the garlic looks easier and turned out better and the potatoes are easier to deal with (try peeling hot potatoes while your hungry friends are waiting anxiously...). So from now on, I'll use her method, but here's what I did.

First, the candidate spuds.

All right, so first we get some water, throw those potatoes in there, turn it up high, and let it boil.

When it finally boils, turn it down a bit and wait about 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are tender (stick a fork in it).

While we're waiting, let's roast some garlic. One head of garlic is about right. We'll use a saute pan to brown it.

Breaking the head apart into the bulbs, we'll heat it on low heat with the cover on for about 20 minutes, making sure to shake them around a lot so they don't burn.

About 20 minutes later, they've got some brown spots and they're ready to go.

I let them cool and soften a bit in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then I took them out, peeled them, and cut off the hard ends. As you can see, I burned mine a little. I'll try roasting garlic in the oven next time...

Our potatoes are done, so take them out, and start peeling with a small knife.

Taking the peeled spuds, I threw them back into the pot.

Throw those mushy, roasted garlic bulbs in there and take out the masher and get to work.

Last time I made these, I didn't have a masher....much easier this way.

Now, we need to add some butter. One stick is good for the amount of potatoes I took out. To make it easier to add in, let's melt it first.

Throwing that in there, we'll work it around a bit

We're not quite done with the liquid fat. Let's take some half-and-half.

It works a little easier if you warm up the half-and-half first, so I took about 8 ounces and put it in the microwave. Then, we add it a little bit at a time and mix it into the potatoes. I found out that about 6 ounces was all we needed.

Lastly, a little salt and pepper for flavor. Since it's garlic mashed potatoes, why not garlic salt.

While you weren't looking, I also added some chives I had to give them a bit of color.

And there you have it, garlic mashed potatoes. Quite garlicy and tasty too.

Now for the greens. I know some don't like asparagus, but I do, so I figured I'd give it a try. I figured tonight was cooking with the broiler so that's how I prepared the asparagus. Let's meet the bunch.

Grab each piece and just bend until it snaps. This gets rid of the hard, inedible part.

Lining them up on the sheet. I threw on some olive oil and some salt and pepper. Then into the broiler they go for about 8 minutes, flipping them in the middle.

As you can see, I think mine went in a bit too long, but just barely. Anyways, onto our sauce.

Take 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.

Put it into a pan over medium-high heat and let it boil.

After about 20 minutes, we get something much thicker. If we try to move it around, you'll see it sticks together.

Pouring it back out, you'll see it's been reduced to about 1/4 cup.

We also want 1/4 cup of olive oil. I decided to add it to the same measuring cup, rather than just drizzle them separately onto the asparagus. They don't mix very well and it made the drizzling a little harder, but in the end it worked out just fine.

One day, I'll try to make some homemade rolls. For now, crescents out of the can work just fine (probably better). I did my best to roll them up well:

But in the end it doesn't really matter :-)

All right, so that's it. Overall the food was quite good. I thought the steaks were a tad sweet (italian dressing + sweet bbq sauce), so next time I'll change it up or won't marinade as long. The mashed potatoes were delicious and the asparagus not too bad for such a green veggie :-)

Hopefully I'll continue to blog about my food posts. Let me know what you guys think.

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