Saturday, March 31, 2012

BONUS: Curly's Birthday Stromboli Fest

For his thirteenth birthday, Curly wanted to make stromboli with Joe. Before I went on my gluten free diet, Joe and the boys used to make stromboli for me on Mother's day; he showed them the same method that his Italian mother used.

First, they cut up the ingredients and separated them into piles, one pile for each stromboli they were making.

Curly had only one useful arm, so Joe took care of the cutting and Curly did the separating.

Joe impressed us with his dough-throwing skills. We used store-bought frozen bread dough; we put it out to thaw and rise in the morning and by the afternoon it was ready.

Now to add the fillings...

(Joe likes to leave the sauce out of the stromboli and serve it on the side.)

Seal it up...

Brush with olive oil before popping it into the oven.

(Here's my gluten free pizza I made. Looks good, but the stromboli looked better.)

Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown. I asked Joe how long they cooked them and he said, "I don't know, I wasn't timing it. Until it's done."

A perfect birthday meal for Curly.

His cast is off now, and pretty soon we'll plan a bowling party for him and his friends. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 9, 2012

At First Sight: Grilled Porterhouse Steak with Au Gratin Potatoes

Do you remember the scene in At First Sight when Jeremy and Lexie are in a nice restaurant mulling over the menu trying to decide what to order? Lexie, because she's pregnant, wants to eat something healthy and orders stuffed chicken breast? And she guilts Jeremy into getting the grilled tuna, even though what he REALLY wants is a great big porterhouse steak.

"What are you planning on ordering?"

"I was thinking about the porterhouse," he said, scanning the menu. "I haven't had a good steak since I left New York. And the au gratin potatoes."

"Isn't a porterhouse two steaks? The strip and the filet?"

"That's why it sounds good," he said, closing the menu, his mouth already watering. As he looked across at her, he noticed her nose was wrinkling. "What?" he asked.

"How many calories do you think that has?"

"I have no idea. And I don't care either."

She forced a smile, returning to the menu again. "You're right," she said. "We don't go out like this all the time, so what's the big deal? Even if it is...what? A pound, pound and a half of red meat?"

He felt his brow furrowing. "I didn't say I was going to eat the whole thing."

"It doesn't matter even if you do. It's not my place to say anything. Get what you want."

"I will," he said, feeling defiant. In the silence, he watched her study the menu, thinking about the porterhouse. It was a lot of red meat, now that he thought about it, packed with cholesterol and fat. Didn't the experts say you should eat no more than three ounces at a time? And this steak...what was that? Sixteen ounces? Twenty-four? It was enough to feed an entire family.

(At First Sight, p. 77-78)

In the end he orders tuna. Today we're having steak and potatoes--something I'm sure my husband wishes we'd have more often--and I hope this is a meal Jeremy would love. (Except for one thing--we had the steak and potatoes on two separate nights. I'll explain why in a minute.)

First the easy part, the steak.

Did you know that there is very little difference between a porterhouse and a T-bone steak? They're almost the same, except on a porterhouse, the filet part is a little bit bigger than on a T-bone. Wikipedia says this: "Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin and include more tenderloin, while T-bone steaks are cut from farther forward and contain less." When I shared this with Joe, he said, "OK, so technically, a porterhouse is better than a T-bone." Sure, whatever. They're awfully big steaks.

I consulted one of my rarely-used cookbooks, Steaks, Chops, Roasts, and Ribs. It suggests several ways to cook and serve porterhouse steaks; I was thinking I would rub the bone with garlic before grilling them and then slicing the grilled meat and drizzling it with olive oil and lemon juice. (Doesn't that sound delicious? ) I decided to keep it simple and put only salt and pepper on the meat before throwing it on the grill.

They didn't need anything else.

Guess you're wondering why I have potato chips on my plate instead of au gratin potatoes. (And no, I did NOT eat that entire steak. That was only for the photo.)

Well, first let me tell you about these amazing potatoes I made. I've never made au gratin potatoes before, but The Pioneer Woman sure has!


by Ree Drummond

· 2 tablespoons butter, softened

· 8 large russet potatoes, scrubbed clean

· 3 cups heavy cream

· 1 cup whole milk

· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour*

· 2 teaspoons salt

· Freshly ground black pepper

· 2 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar

· 2 green onions, sliced thin (white and light green parts only)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a large baking dish with the butter.

Slice the potatoes into sticks, and then cut the sticks to create a dice.

Combine the cream and milk in a bowl. Add the flour, salt and some pepper. Whisk it together well so that the flour is incorporated into the milk/cream mixture. Add the diced potatoes to the prepared baking dish and pour the creamy mixture all over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes more. Just before serving, sprinkle on the grated cheese and return it to the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle on the green onions and serve it hot. Creamy, dreamy and divine.

(Source: Food Network)

*I substituted 2 tablespoons cornstarch to keep it gluten free.

Actually, I found two different versions of this same recipe This one from The Pioneer Woman's own website is the one I ended up using--why? Because of the fabulous pictures. Here Ree explains how to slice the potatoes into stacks (not sticks, as the above recipe says,) and she also suggests adding the potatoes and the milk mixture to the baking dish alternately in layers instead of putting all the potatoes in and pouring the milk over the top. And she doesn't sprinkle it with green onion after it's done. I didn't do that either, but only because I forgot.




Well, the potatoes ended up taking twice as long to cook as I expected them to. Don't ask me why; maybe it was my crazy oven thermostat acting up again. It was getting late and we decided to go ahead and cook the steaks and save the potatoes for the next night. It worked out great, because we had enough steak to make fajitas, and the potatoes were the perfect side dish!

(My tortilla-less fajita...I could have used corn tortillas but I don't like the store-bought ones, and I did not feel like making them. Which I've done before, and it's surprisingly easy; just time-consuming because you have to cook them one at a time.)

In about a month and a half, another movie is coming out that's based on a Nicholas Sparks novel--The Lucky One! I've started re-reading that book and I can't wait to delve into its culinary delights. Meanwhile I'll probably have a "7 Quick Takes" post here soon (perhaps including a recipe or two and a few photos of my hopelessly unorganized kitchen--oh, joy!) and I might even delve into a Lemony Snicket book. Or possibly one by J.K. Rowling. Or maybe I'll try something else from the Millennium series. Decisions, decisions...