Sunday, October 18, 2009

Roasted Chicken Thighs

Sorry I haven't posted much lately.  My cholesterol levels came back high, and the doc has me on a diet, for the first time in my life.  That kind of knocked me off cooking for a while, but I'm starting to get back on track.

So I made this chicken recipe tonight.  I thought the flavors in the marinade sounded intriguing, and they were, indeed.  Only problem is, it came out a little tough.  Not chewy, but a little tough to get off the bone.  Should I cook it longer, or did I cook it too long?  I roasted it for 25 minutes, checked the temperature, and it was only about 149, so I put it back in for 5 minutes, and it came out at ~162.  Any ideas?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Orange Braised Pork Loin

For my first attempt at braising, I tried this recipe.  I used my cast iron dutch oven, because it has a lot less volume than the non-stick one I got for Christmas, so I figured that would provide better liquid-to-meat contact.  It came out well, and turned out to go well with leftover potato glue.  One thing that I noticed, though, was that it dried out pretty quickly once sliced.  Fortunately, the sauce corrected that problem pretty well.  I tried to use my digital thermometer to tell when it was done, but it never read above 111 degrees.  The meat definitely cooked, so I'm not sure if there was a problem with the thermometer, or if there was some other cause.  I didn't think to check with an instant-read thermometer.  Next time, I'll have to do that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mashed Potatoes Fail

I was inspired by the success of the mashed potatoes I made for the 4th, and I had about a pound of potatoes left over, so I tried to make garlic mashed potatoes.  I thin-sliced the potatoes in the food processor, and set them to simmer.  While they were doing that, I chopped up two BIG cloves of garlic.  After draining out the potatoes, I sauteed the garlic in the same pot with a little bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  As before, I used water to keep the garlic from browning.  Then I returned the whole mess, garlic, potatoes, and all, to the food processor, and turned it on.  The result had a great flavor, but was gluey.  Did I just over-process it all, or do I need to stick with hand-mashing the potatoes altogether?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grilled Steaks and Corn-on-the-cob

I've tried grilling things before, but could never seem to get the heat quite right.  My grill's idea of "medium heat" seems to be rather higher than most of the recipes I've tried.  So I had to come up with some way of measuring the heat.  I don't have a suitable thermometer, so I found the "hand method," and tried that for tonight's steaks.  It worked pretty well, and (more importantly) fixed a variable for me.  The next step is to start fiddling around with cooking times at a similar heat.  Tonight's 1 inch thick strip steaks were cooked at medium heat (4-5 seconds before hand must be pulled away) for 5 minutes on the first side, and 4 minutes on the second.  Done-ness ranged from medium rare to medium, depending on the thickness of the steak at that particular point.  I'm pretty happy with that, but I'll have to play with those times a little to accommodate other folks, who may like their steaks a little more well done.  One other note on the steaks: before putting them on the grill, I seasoned them with a mix of kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and let them sit for about fife minutes.

Corn-on-the-cob is pretty straightforward.  Once the corn is shucked (hungry roommates are handy for this task), just drop it in a stock-pot of boiling water (I like to salt my water just a little), cover, and let it boil for 8-9 minutes.  Pull it out of the water, and you're done!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Greek Pot-Crushed Potatoes

I got a text-message invite from a friend of mine to a Fourth of July cookout.  The invite came in late last night, and so I sent back a text asking if we could bring anything.  I got the reply when I got up this morning: BYOB and a side dish.  I couldn't find my Mom's baked bean recipe (Hey, Mom, could you send me that?  Those are yummy!), so I started looking around for a relatively simple side-dish.  The Splendid Table to the rescue!  The recipe is from their book, How to Eat Supper, which I think I've referenced before. 

It's pretty simple, once you work through it.  The secret is the food processor: use the processor to thin-slice both the potatoes.  This reduces the cooking time to around 6 or seven minutes.  Then dump the potatoes into a strainer, and use the same pan to saute up some garlic (also thin-sliced in the food processor) along with some salt, pepper, and just a little bit of red pepper flakes.  Neat trick: to keep the garlic from browning, add some water to the pan.  At the last minute, add a teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves.  Return the potatoes, mash, and fold in some parsley, sliced scallions, and the juice of a lemon.  It was really good, although the next time I think I will cut up the garlic a little finer, and perhaps add a few less scallions, maybe three instead of four.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Baked Chicken Legs

Sometimes you see something, and you just have to try it out.  I found this post in my feeds this morning, and was intrigued by the ideas for other breadings.  I ended up using only the suggested cooking time from this recipe, but that was enough to get me going.  I beat a pair of eggs to get the breading to stick, and then I mixed 3/4 cup of panko, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan, and some "complete seasoning" from Publix (I know.  More on this later.).  It turned out really well.  My Roommate and Former Roommate were both here, and they both liked it, as well.  I served it up with some peas and a spinach salad.  The original plan was to try out this green bean recipe that my Mom sent me a little wile ago, but when I pulled the beans out of the fridge, they were brown and mushy, the last victims of the Memorial Day Refrigerator Incident.

I guess I should tell you about that.

So, I'm sitting on the couch, minding my own business, reading comic books, because it's Memorial Day, and I can.  I'm savoring my day off, thinking of grilling something, because that's what you do on Memorial Day, right?  You set something on fire.

"Honey, do you smell that?"  My wife has a much more sensitive nose than I do, so this is not an altogether uncommon question.  In this case, the answer is, as usual, "No."

"Come into the kitchen," she asks, and so I do.  And now I DO smell it -- the unmistakable smell of burning plastic. 

I'd been getting my grill ready for summer earlier in the day, so my first thought was that maybe some part of the grill was still hot when I put the cover back on, so I rush out the back door, but no, the grill is fine.

There are certain sounds that I can live quite happily without ever hearing.  It turns out that one of those sounds is my wife's panicked voice, yelling for help.  I charge back into the house.  The kitchen is full of acrid white smoke, and my wife is pushing at the refrigerator, trying to get it away from the wall.

"We need to un-plug it!" she says, and so I wrestle the thing out from the wall and the cabinet (adrenaline is a wonderful thing), and reach back and pull the plug.

We rent, and so I call our landlady.  She tells me they have a spare fridge out in the back, and that she'll send her husband out to set it up for us to use until the repair guy gets out the next day.  So, fine.  He shows up, puts the spare right outside our back door, and plugs it in.  He tells us it will take a few hours to cool down, so we decide to go see Star Trek.  The plan is to move everything out to the spare when we get back.

We get back, and the spare fridge is cool, but not cold.  We realize that the temp needs to be set lower, so we turn it down.  This means another delay before we can transfer things, however, so my wife sends me to bed, since I have to work in the morning.

It's 5 AM, and my wife is coming to bed just as  am getting up.  This is Not a Good Sign.  Turns out that the spare fridge never cooled down, so she went ot Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, bought the biggest cooler she could find, along with about five bags of ice, and stuffed everything in the ridge and freezer in there.

The upshot of all this is that we lost most of what we had in the fridge, and a few things from the freezer, as well.  Most of the meat survived, thank goodness.  We thought the beans were ok, but (as you know) they turned out not to be.

Oh, yeah, the part that burned?  It was this little thing, about 1.5" X 1" X 2.5".  Know what it cost my landlady to replace?  $350.00!  It's moments like this when I'm perfectly happy to be renting.

Shrimp Piquant

I do love Publix recipes!  My wife said she wanted to do something with some shrimp we had in the freezer, so I found this recipe for Shrimp Piquant.  I made it pretty much straight up, and it was so good I forgot to take a picture until I was most of the way through eating it:


The rice was a little different from the recipe.  We just mixed in some corn, diced tomatoes, and a little parsley.

The "trinity mix" called for in the shrimp recipe was really interesting to me.  It gave a nice crunch, and added a surprising amount of flavor, as well.

We spiced the pasta sauce with red pepper flaked and Chipotle Tabasco sauce.  Yummy!

Rice Bowl Fail

I'm back! Sorry, I've been slacking for a while. I have a few things to catch up on.

Let's start out with a Fail, and get it out of the way.

I had dinner a few weeks ago at Tijuana Flats. The specialty was this rice bowl with spiced steak, and grilled veggies. It was really good, so I decided to try to reproduce it at home. We had some flatirons in the fridge, so I figured this would be a good opportunity. I sliced them across the grain, to make them seem a little tenderer than they actually were, and asked my wife to work her spice magic on them. I really didn't do a good job communicating to her what I wanted though. She took a completely different approach to the spices. She started with this recipe, and then used 1/2 tbsp. agave nectar to sub for the brown sugar and then only 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. It was edible, but not what I was hoping for. We later determined that we need to look at fajita spices, rather than adobo. We'll come back to this concept later, I think.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pan-Sauce Again

I made that beef-and-mushroom dish again last night.  I know, I seem to make this a lot, but I'm trying to get it right.  This time, I added some corn starch to the pan sauce as a thickener.   It worked pretty well, although I added the meat back into the pan a little too soon, and it ended up a little tough.  Next time, I'll try Anne's butter suggestion.

I served it over brown rice this time, and the nutty flavor of the rice really complemented the dish well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Apple Crisp Chicken w/ Honey Carrots

Another Publix Recipe.  I skipped the Tangerine punch, because... well, bleah!

A success, but not an unqualified one.  The store was out of chicken cutlets, so i ended up using breast fillets, which are thicker.  As a result, it took longer for them to cook, and the breading burned just a little.  It wasn't too bad, and the apple butter gave it a tremendous flavor, but still...  Next time, use the cut of meat called for, or cut what you get down to size!

The carrots were also pretty tasty, but I'm not convinced that this was the best pairing.  It was an awful lot of sweetness.

My wife suggested that I try this with pork, some night when she is working.  I'm definitely going to try that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pork Chops w/ Caramelized Onions and Spinach

I had three medium-sized onions that needed to be eaten, and my wife (who is pig-tose intolerant) is at work today.  These conditions led to this recipe.

My wife has made a couple of tasty recipes over the years that involved caramelized onions.  She doesn't do it very often though, so I figured I ought to lean to make them.  I see why she doesn't make them very often.  They're not terribly difficult, but they take a fair amount of time and attention.  The result is so worth it, though.

The spinach was my usual saute-with-garlic recipe, but I wanted to put a little twist on it, so I spooned on a little blue cheese after plating.  I think goat cheese would have complemented the pork and onions a little better, but there was none to be had.

The whole thing came out well, and was nicely complemented by the red zinfandel that my roommate provided.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Thoughts on Beef and Mushrooms

My parents are in town for a visit, and tonight I made dinner for them. I tried to re-create the beef and mushroom dinner I made a few weeks ago, and mostly was successful. Everybody like it, but there were a few suggestions:
  • The last time I made this, the wine I used had turned to vinegar. This time I used fresh wine. The mushrooms came out all right, but I think they would have been better had I added a splash of red-wine vinegar to the mix. I also forgot to let the beef sit, and then pour the juice back into the pan when I went to make the pan sauce. The result was a winier-tasting sauce. Not bad, mind, but not what I wanted.
  • My wife suggested that I have ready a little bit of cornstarch in some cold water to add to the sauce, to make a bit of a roux. This would have stuck to the noodles a bit better.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lemon-Ginger Chicken with Honey

1.5 Lbs. Chicken Breasts
3 Lemons
.5 C. Wine, plus more wine (I used Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio, but choose whatever strikes your fancy)
2 Tbs. Peanut oil
~3 Tbs. Ginger Spice Paste
2-4 Tbs. Honey
1 Box sliced Baby Bellas
1 C. of Brown rice
  1. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the bottom of a shallow pan (I used a 9x9 glass baking dish).
  2. Add the .5 cup of wine, and stir.
  3. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks, and marinate in the lemon/wine mixture for about 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse the rice, and get it started -- ricemakers are awesome!
  5. Heat a stir-fry pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the oil, swirl to coat.
  7. Add one Tbs. of the ginger paste to the oil, let sizzle for just a moment.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, add 1/3 of the chicken to the pan, and stir fry until cooked through.
  9. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate, and repeat steps 7 and 8 with the remaining thirds of the chicken.
  10. After removing the last of the chicken, drizzle the cooked chicken with just a little bit of honey, and cover with foil to keep warm.
  11. Pour the used marinade into the pan, and boil until it reduces to about 1/3 its original volume.  Stir frequently to keep the foam mixed in.
  12. Dump the mushrooms into the pan, and stir gently.
  13. Add in a little more wine, and bring to a boil.
  14. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cover.
  15. Let simmer for a few minutes.
  16. Serve with rice, and a glass of the wine!
This is sort of a chicken version of the beef dish I made a couple of weeks ago.  It was good, but it really needed some green veggies to provide color and a contrasting flavor.  The original plan was to serve it with asparagus, but there was none to be had when I went to the store today.  Oh, well, next time.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Make-up Post: Seared Steak w/ Wine Mushrooms.

I've been sitting on this post for about a week or so, trying to pick apart where I went wrong.

I had this great idea.  I'd sear a steak, and then create a pan-sauce for the mushrooms.  Sounds great, and I did eventually figure out how to do it (see previous post).  But this attempt...

I think now that my big mistake was using a stainless-steel pan.  Stainless (I now know) conducts heat more efficiently than non-stick, which I'd used before.  The result was a LOT of smoke, and a burn across the bottom of my pan.  No sauce to be made there!  I'd chosen the stainless pan because I wanted all the little bits that you don't seem to get as much of with a non-stick pan.  A cast-iron skillet would possibly have been a better choice, but I don't have one of those yet.  So anyway, the steak was well-seared, but still medium-rare on the inside.

OK, so there is no fond for the sauce.  Well, there is, but it's all burned, and will likely taste pretty nasty.  What to do?  I'm still working with this idea of a wine reduction, so I pour about a half-cup of wine into a pan, and start boiling.  Note to self: never stick your face directly over a pan of boiling alcohol.  Anyway, the wine reduces, and I drop in the mushrooms and some chopped garlic.  As I saute, I add a little more wine, because I notice that I'm running really low on liquid.  The result was tasty, if not what I expected.  The mushrooms absorbed an intense wine flavor.  I don't know that I'd want to eat a lot of them by themselves, but they did complement the steak.

Not my best-ever dinner.  Fortunately, Scott likes his steak crispy on the outside and medium on the inside, so I got away with it, even if the house did smell like smoke for a day or two.

Garlic Bread

Last night was a much simpler meal -- just spaghetti and sauce.  We had a little leftover bread from Tuesday night's feast, though, so I figured I'd try my hand at garlic bread.  It was surprisingly easy.  I took a few big spoonfuls of butter, and melted them down in the microwave (25 seconds at 50%).  Then I stirred in a heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic.  This left me with a bunch of liquid butter -- very tough to manage.  So, I got out a second bowl, and half-filled it with ice-water.  I set the bowl w/ the garlic butter in the ice water, and stirred until it just started to thicken.  Then I let it sit while I squeezed four slices of bread out of the remaining loaf.  By the time I had the bread sliced, the garlic mixture was just about perfect -- still spoonable, but not particularly runny.  I spooned the butter onto the bread (being careful to keep it away from the edges), and popped the slices into the toaster-oven.  The result was pretty good.  I want to try a version topped with mozzarella, but I think that will require use of the broiler.

Lemon-Pepper Stir-fried Steak w/ Mushrooms and Spinach

A week or so ago my wife bought a ton of frozen beef from a door-to-door salesman. There were a wide variety of cuts, and given how much we eat in our house, she probably saved us a good chunk of change. So far, everything has been pretty good.

On Tuesday, I took three of the lemon-pepper steaks from this collection, and cut them into 1/2-inch slices. Then I heated a stir-fry pan, sauteed up a little chopped garlic, and cooked the sliced steak. I removed the steak from the pan, added a little leftover wine that had turned to vinegar, and reduced it just a little bit. Then I dumped in a box of sliced baby-bella mushrooms, tossed them in the sauce for a minute or two, added a little more wine, covered the pan, and let them steam for about two minutes. This all got dumped into a serving bowl. The last stage of the meal was wiping out the pan, adding fresh oil and about a tablespoon-and-a-half of garlic, and sauteing some spinach.

There were no leftovers.

Two things:
  1. Cooking with frozen meat is a real challenge for me, because it means I have to plan my meals a couple of days ahead of time, so the meat has time to thaw. This is not my strong suit. I tend to be more of an "it's-3:00-what-am-I-making-tonight?" type of guy. Oh, well, I guess it's good discipline, and it is easier on the budget in the long run.
  2. This meal represents my first real success at cooking without ever once referring to a recipe. I was particularly pleased with the way the mushrooms came out. Pan-sauces rock!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eggs Experiment

I found this in my feeds the other day, and wanted t give it a try.  I cut down the amount of onion somewhat, because the red onion I had was pretty big, and had to short the garlic, as well, because the @#$&#$ bulb I bought the other day turned out to be no good!

The result was... ok, but not great.  The siracha gave it a nice spicy finish, but it needs something on the front end.  Maybe a little pepper?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ginger-Honey Chicken

I made all three part of this recipe today, thinking that I'd have lots of leftovers. Of course, some friends showed up. So much for the leftovers.

I burned the chicken just a little bit. Guess medium-high on my stovetop is higher than on the Publix Test Kitchen stovetop. Still, it came out pretty well. Very ginger-y, with just a hint of sweetness, perfect with a class of white wine.

The real winner here is the vanilla rice. This is the first time I've made rice not in the rice cooker, so I approached it with some trepidation. But, I followed the recipe, and covered the pan with aluminum foil for the simmering phase, and it came out just fine.

Catching up...

OK, I've been slacking on this blog for the last couple of weeks. Not sure why, but let me catch up a little.


Tuesday is Heroes Night. The show actually airs on Mondays, but Scott games and I fence on Mondays, so we always watch it on Tuesdays (how we lived before DVR's, I'll never know). Most of the time, our friend Amber comes over to watch, as well. So it's a great excuse to work on some cooking.

Two weeks ago, Amber and I finally came up with a decent chicken stir fry. I started by using thighs, rather than breasts. That was an experience in itself, since I couldn't get boneless, and had to de-bone them myself. I am happy to report that there were no bits of finger mixed in with our chicken.

We ended up soaking the chicken in the leftover sauce from an earlier attempt, and that made the difference. Good Stir-fry!


So, my wife says to me on Saturday afternoon that there is ground beef that needs to be cooked up that day, knowing that I had a friend's graduation party to go to that evening. So I decided to brown it with some chopped onion and garlic, and simmer it for a while in some jar spaghetti sauce. It was... ok, but it needed something, so I added a good solid handful of oregano, and that did the trick. We were able to eat off of that for a solid week!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Goulash with Caraway Seeds

When I was a kid, my mom used to make something called "Hungarian Goulash."  It was delicious.  This is not that recipe, but it's still pretty good.  To me, the interesting thing about this dish is that it's a multiple-technique recipe.  You start by browning the meat, and then you add the spices, veggies, and so forth, and stew it all for about an hour and a half.  Once again, the new Dutch Oven comes to the rescue!

I decided to make this because this weekend is a little more scheduled than normal, and I wanted something I could make on Saturday, then throw in the fridge and re-heat on Sunday.  Also, it's been cold (Florida-cold, not real-cold), and goulash is a great homey cold-weather dish.   As luck would have it, tonight was also one of the rare occasions that all four of us were home for dinner.  Sometimes, everything just works out perfectly.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meat Loaf

This is another recipe from I'm Just Here for the Food. I followed the recipe fairly closely, but put it back in the oven for an extra few minutes, as my new meat thermometer didn't register done yet. My oven seems to be running about 25 degrees hot, at this point.

I'd have to call this one qualified success. The flavor was good, but I may add a little oregano the next time. But the texture... The recipe calls for two sliced of sandwich bread, cubed. I was not very happy with the results of that. The cubes of bread seemed to absorb the fat, and left other parts of the loaf not so much dry, as crumbly. The loaf, as a result, has some serious integrity problems (insert joke about a politician here).

So, next time: use breadcrumbs, instead of bread, and add some oregano to the spice mix.

Yes, I drink wine with meatloaf!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baked Ziti

I started with this recipe.  I substituted spicy turkey sausage for the ground beef, and added about half a bulb of fresh chopped garlic, on the theory that garlic is never bad.  I started mixing everything into the pan, and realized that there was just no way I could mix in a full pound of shredded cheddar cheese, plus top with a mixture of cheddar and Parmesan.  So, I mixed in about 3/4 of a pound of cheddar, and topped with straight Parmesan.  The result was plenty tasty, but the top layer of cheese never really melted propely, probably because Parmesan is such a dry cheese.  Maybe mozzarella would be a better choice?

A couple of equipment notes:
  1. I am in the process of calibrating my oven.  I bought an oven thermometer, and set my oven to 320 to start tonight (the recipe called for 350).  The temp shot all the way up to 400, so I opened the door for a few minutes, and turned the temp down to 300, figurin it to be about 50 degrees off.  Periodically during the baking process. I looked at the thermometer, and adjusted the temp as needed.  I figured this would be reasonably safe with this partiucular dish, since the turkey suasage was already thoroughly browned before adding it, and nothing else carried a particularly high risk of contamination.  I had no trouble with the ziti not being hot enough (I checked it with a meat thermometer as soon as I pulled it out), but the readings I got during the process kept tracking exactly with the set temperature.  So, has anyone ever heard of an oven that heats up to higher than the set temp at first?  This would make sense to me, as it would help account for the initial opening of the door, but it seems a little sophistacated for most ovens.
  2. When grating a lot of cheese, a food processor is a must-have.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  It took us a long time to get to using it, but I am officially declaring it indispensable.
So, anyone have any good recipes for grated cheddar?  I'm thinking nachos...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Flash Chicken Saute with Cider and Garlic-Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Both of these recipes are from "How to Eat Supper," one of my Christmas presents.

The chicken recipe is a two-part process. First, sear the chicken (browning each side first, then reducing the heat and cooking for about 4 minutes on each side), then deglaze with cider vinegar and build a pan sauce. This was my first pan sauce (thanks to Ann for letting me watch one "in action" last night - very inspiring!), and it came out well. I did make one mistake, in that I leaned over the pan at one point to separate a couple pieces of garlic, and got a snoot full of reducing vinegar. I'll have to remember that trick the next time I'm all stuffed up!

The chicken turned out to be the hard part. I bought the chicken breasts this afternoon from Publix, and didn't realize until I pulled them out of the fridge to cook them that they were still frozen! I thawed them out as best I could using running water, but it still threw off my cooking time, and they came out juicy, but a little tough. The flavors were quite good, though, so I think if I am a little more careful next time with the state of my chicken, this could be a really great dish.

The side dish involves cutting up a whole head of cauliflower (core, leaves, and all!), and steaming it until it's very soft. Then dump it in a food processor with some spices, and puree. It comes out the basic texture of mashed potatoes. It was good, but needed... something. Maybe a little more pepper, or fresh nutmeg instead of dried. In any case, definitely something worth experimenting with in the future.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Flank Steak

Christmas was good this year (see picture).

The Alton Brown cookbook ("I'm Just Here for the Food") is just what I need -- a technique book. I read it through while still at my parents' house, and I think I'm going to have to cook my way through it. Brown has a great way of explaining things; not just techniques, but why they work the way they do. He's also very funny. Mom was a little puzzled that I was laughing at a cookbook, but it really was the only reasonable response.

Anyway, tonight's exercise was seared flank steak. The book is divided by cooking technique, with an explanation of how each one works, and why it works the way it does. So, I followed his recipe pretty closely. This also gave me a chance to use the Dutch oven in the picture, as well. Brown insists that a cast iron skillet is superior, and it may be, but I got a pretty good result with my Dutch oven. The steak is seasoned with nothing but kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, an it came out great! The secret seems to be the waiting. You wait for the steak to come a little closer to room temperature, then you season it, and wait a little while for the salt to draw somoe of the steak's juices to the surface. Sear it for 3 minutes per side, then put it on a rack, cover it loosely with some foil, and wait a little bit more before slicing. Patience is not one of my virtues, particularly when I'm hungry, so this represents a significant challenge.

My wife was a big help tonight, making her roasted asparagus for our side. Don't know what I'd do without her. I certainly wouldn't be learning to cook!

By the way, the other book in the picture is "How to Eat Supper," by the women behind our favorite cooking radio show, The Splendid Table (if you have trouble viewing it, disable your adblocking software). Great program, and a wonderful book, as well.