Saturday, March 15, 2008

Good food, quick and cheap.

Can you tell that this is my favorite topic?

Tonight's meal was just for my wife and me. We managed to get all of the kids out of the house, which makes for a very quiet evening. It's remarkable how wonderful that is from time to time.

The menu is pretty simple, but incredibly tasty. I dropped by our local supermarket and picked up a few things. An hour later, and we were savoring some seriously yummy fare. Let's start with the sides.

I picked up a small sourdough loaf, which I simply warmed in the oven. This was a vital part of the meal, but I'll get to that later. I also picked up some oyster mushrooms - these were sautéed in a bit of olive oil, butter, and wine. To my surprise, okra is available in acceptable quality. Most people know okra as that slimy vegetable in gumbos. It is, frankly, pretty disgusting in that form. I prepare it in another traditional way: slice the okra about a quarter inch thick, dust with corn meal, and fry until just crisp. This is incredibly tasty, and one of my favorite vegetable dishes. (My southern roots are showing!) For the final side, I picked up some chese and herb tortellini. For some reason I was craving pasta. After boiling it, I simply splashed the pasta with a bit of olive oil, and then scattered some feta cheese over it.

For the entrée, I found some small eye of round steaks. I wanted some filets mignon, but my local supermarket didn't have any that looked good, so I settled for a cheaper cut. For the steaks, I opted for a stovetop strategy: I pressed some salt and fresh pepper into both sides, and then simply sautéed them in a bit of canola oil. (Olive doesn't work so well for this task: it's smoking temperature is too low.) Once cooked to medium rare, it's time to make some sauce. This is the really yummy part! If you've ever sautéed meat in this manner, you know that it tends to make a mess in the pan. The easiest way to clean the pan and make something yummy is a simple manner of organic chemistry. Deglazing the pan with a bit of vermouth makes it easy to scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. I let the vermouth cook down a bit, and then added some shallots and butter. Once the butter had melted and the shallot had cooked a bit, I added a little more butter, some wine, and a tablespoon of beef demi-glace. (Williams-Somona makes a killer demi-glace, although it's a bit pricey.) Let it all cook together, and you have an amazing sauce for the steaks.

All that's left to discuss is the wine. For this meal, we pulled out a bottle of 1999 Cinnabar Cabernet Sauvignon. I've only got a couple of bottles left of this vintage, but it's been worth the wait. This bottling has delightful flavors of cherry and blackberry, with a nice edge of oak. It was an ideal match with the rich flavor of the beef and sauce.

Kudos on the wine go to the late Tom Mudd. The wines of Cinnabar were extraordinary under his guidance - he will be missed.

Bon app