Steak Sampler, Anyone?

19 Sep

The sampler gave everybody a unique opportunity to contemplate the merits of different cuts and cooking methods.

We spent yesterday with my mom and Uncle Freddie, shopping for fresh ingredients on Granville Island, visiting the Gourmet Warehouse, and then coming home and preparing an elaborate meal.

For dinner, we didn’t have to look much beyond the Oprah Magazine Cookbook for inspiration. We decided to give 2 new side dishes a try–Paula Disbrowe’s Two-Potato Gratin (page 186), and Govind Armstrong’s French Beans with Roasted Figs, Thyme, & Rustic Croutons (page 165). As dinner was being prepared, we served some crackers alongside a decadent duck pate with black truffles, and rich, cave-aged Gruyere.

For our main course, Chad indulged his carnivorous tendencies and designed a “steak sampler.” It consisted of 3 different types of Canada Prime beef, which we bought at Armando’s, our favourite Granville Island butcher. Chad BBQ’d a rib eye brushed with smoked olive oil, a New York, and a 2″ tenderloin. He also pan-seared a second 2″ tenderloin and baked it in the oven. The sampler gave everybody a unique opportunity to contemplate the merits of different cuts and cooking methods. They were all delicious, but the BBQ’d rib eye with smoked olive oil was last night’s winner.

The bean salad on the side was gorgeous, flavourful and fresh. It’s a definite make again, perfect for company. To make the croutons, I used a walnut loaf from Terra Breads, as opposed to the recommended walnut-raisin loaf, which I couldn’t find. For the vinaigrette, I used red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, and olive oil in lieu of walnut oil. (I figured it probably wasn’t worth splurging on those things since I wouldn’t use them very often.) The best part of this salad was the oven-roasted, slightly caramelized fresh figs, which offered a sweet and elegant twist.

I learned yesterday that my Uncle Freddie is not a fan of scalloped potatoes. (He lived through many years of eating scalloped potatoes every Thursday night like clockwork. They were made with love, but not to his liking.) That said, he was open to giving this two-potato gratin a try, and I was optimistic that it might even change his mind.

Alas, the baking dish I used wasn’t shallow enough (the recipe called for a shallow gratin pan or ceramic baking dish) and some of the potatoes were undercooked. Not the world’s most experienced cook, I’m learning the hard way that it behooves me to pay very close attention to the specific cooking vessels demanded by these recipes! 😉 In any case, we had some good laughs about my interpretation of “shallow.” I’m sure this dish would have been fabulous had the potatoes been uniformly cooked. Next time. (Next time I think I’ll also follow Freddie’s suggestion of microwaving the potatoes for 5-7 minutes beforehand.)

All in all, it was a great day. There’s nothing quite as fulfilling as the combination of family, stimulating conversation, laughter, and lots of fine food. Bon appetit! 🙂


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