Saturday, January 06, 2007


We went to the West Side Market today and J picked out some lovely rib steaks with no particular plan for them. I had planned to make steak au poivre last night, but our dear family friend Shari called earlier in the week to suggest a celebration of my granddad's 88th birthday at Red Lobster. My grandparents were in the area, visiting with her mom on the way home from Christmas in Vermont so it worked out perfectly. So, we took Pie (Boot having prior plans with his buddies) with us. It was a merry party. Shari, her mom (my "second grandma") and her daughter, Kat were there. Shari showed off Kat's brand-spanking-new engagement ring. I can still remember when she was born! My baby uncle & his wife were there. My grands were there. A wonderful evening! Pie really enjoyed his dinner, with the exception of the stuffed flounder. He keeps ordering it and it's invariably too sweet for him. But, he ate the heck out of his crab legs and his steak. He says he should've had the lobster tail. That boy loves him some shellfish! He comments that the steak was "rather dry. You know, in a seafood place." J had an "okay" meal of scallops, shrimp scampi and stuffed flounder. I had grilled tilapia (I had hoped they'd have mahi-mahi, but none such luck) with a baked potato & a salad.

When I saw those steaks, I offered to take over dinner tonight. J accepted and I had a ball cooking. I made steak au poivre, baked potatoes and Italian walnut salad. J chunked a gorgeous pineapple we got at the market for our dessert. She swears it tastes like candy, I think it's better.

Steak au Poivre
3 tbsp. peppercorns (I used the 5 pepper blend from Williams-Sonoma)
2 rib steaks, about 16 oz. each (NY strips would work fine, too)
1 tbsp. oil
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. minced onion
1/2 c. brandy/cognac
2/3 c. heavy cream

Crush peppercorns in a ziploc-type bag (I used a meat pounder). Rinse steaks & pat dry. Press pepper into both sides of each steak. Let stand about an hour at room temperature. Salt the steaks. Heat oil and butter in skillet on medium-high heat, melting butter. Cook steaks in skillet to preferred doneness (I did ours about 3 minutes per side) & keep warm in oven. Pour off fat in skillet. Add onion to skillet, along with 2 tbsp. butter. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add brandy & bring to a boil. Continue to boil until liquid resembles a glaze, about 2 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices which have accumulated in the pan which the steaks are keeping warm on. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid is slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Add salt if needed. Cut steaks in half and serve with sauce. Serves 4.

Italian Walnut Salad
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. Grana Padano (or similar cheese such as parmegiano-reggiano or asiago), shredded
1 stalk celery, finely-chopped
1 c. walnuts, finely-chopped
1 head Boston lettuce, well-rinsed

Mash garlic into paste with salt. Whisk with mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil. Add everything but lettuce. Chill at least 1 hour. Divide lettuce evenly among 4 bowls. Divide walnut mixture evenly, placing a scoop on each bowl of lettuce. Serves 4. J says that this is her favorite food in the entire world now. She wants it for her birthday dinner, along with a chocolate bundt cake.

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