I found some pics I took a few weeks ago, but failed to blog about the subject. Since they were of noteworthy food that I made, I figured it wouldn't hurt to post them a few weeks late.
The hubs and I have a date night just about every week. Sometimes we go out, sometimes we stay home and chef it up. This is a pic from our date night a few weeks ago; one that we stayed in. The menu was classic steakhouse: wedge salad, sirloin steaks, creamed spinach and a bottle of merlot.
Although this dinner seems super fancy and upscale, it was surprising easy to make. The creamed spinach was probably the hardest part, and it consisted of sauteing some onions, adding some frozen spinach and melting some boursin and parmesean cheese together. The steaks were from Swift Level Farm via Monroe Farm Market, and were very simply marinated in extra virgin olive oil, syrah and garlic, with some salt and pepper. I used to never marinate steaks because I'm a steak purist and I didn't want anything to interfere with the steaky flavor. (Don't even get me started on A1 sauce or anything else to top steaks with for that matter.). But, out of caution, one of the first times I grilled grass-fed steaks, I did marinate them based on the ratio I learned on The Worst Cooks In America: 1 part oil plus 1 part acid and add an aromatic. It's that simple. You really don't need to buy fancy marinades they sell at the grocery store, unless you just wanna try something different (and you like processed chemicals...) Everything you need is most likely in your kitchen cabinet already. Extra virgin olive oil is a good choice for steaks that won't be cooked long (me likey rare meat). But if you're going to grill or pan fry something (chicken or perhaps certain pork cuts) for a longer period of time at high heat, you'll want to use an oil that can stand up to the heat better such as canola. You don't get the subtle flavors of EVOO, but you meat will remain juicy and well lubricated, i.e. not sticking. Also, ABSOLUTELY vital is letting your steak rest after it's done grilling for a few minutes. I used to be a skeptic, and think that was just something food snobs said. But try it once, if you don't already do it. The difference is amazing.
Here's another fact to file under my affection for steaks. I'll. Never. Go. Back. To. Conventional. Steaks. When I say "conventional" I mean CAFO beef. Industrial beef. Corn-fed beef. Grocery store beef. And all the above. The main reason is not that "conventional" beef is unsustainable, environmentally damaging, and void of all the tenets of animal husbandry, although those are all true and important to me. It's the TASTE. It's a cliche to say it's the way beef was meant to taste, but it really was the way beef was meant to taste. It tastes and smells so beefy. Like the smell and taste of beef on steroids. (but literally it's quite the opposite). It tastes like a steak, soaked in beef stock, topped with shaved beef, covered in beef gravy, with a little beef on the side.
This was one of my more favorite date nights recently. I really enjoy cooking and staying in for date night, probably more than I do going out, especially if Jeremy helps me in the kitchen. Correction, if I'm helping him in the kitchen. We he cooks for us, it's mostly him running the show and I'm the sous chef. Maybe that's why I enjoy these date nights so well...
But, they also reminded me of two memorable steakhouse dinners we shared in the past year. Last fall, we ate at The Flame Steakhouse in the El Cortez Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Going to this place is like going back in time to 1966 Las Vegas. It is straight up old school. The food was very good actually. Don't be fooled by the tacky appearance of El Cortez. If you're looking for a taste of Vegas in it's heyday, this is about as authentic as it gets--probably because this place hasn't changed much since then. To round out the experience at El Cortez, don't pass up the $3 craps table and 2 for 1 martinis at the bar. Good times.
Back in April, we also ate at La Bonne Vie when we stayed at Mountaineer Racetrack in the Northern Panhandle. The food here is AWESOME. But bring your wallet for sure. Our tab was around $150 (we had a gift card) but worth every cent. At both places, I had a filet. That's what I always get at steakhouses. Filets are always around 4 to 6 ounces, and a very lean cut of meat, so it's probably the least diet-wrecking cut, compared to the other steakhouse standards: ribeye, sirloin, strip and porterhouse. I've seen porterhouses up around 28 ouces. This is insanity. I love steak, but in moderation.
Going out to get a great steak is so nice from time to time, but I stand by the thought that home cookin' is the best any day of the week. Cheaper, too. We are looking at getting a half a cow this fall, when it comes time to ... well, send that beef to it's maker. So, there'll be much more steak-eatin' for date night around our house. (and short ribs, and fajitas, and burgers...) We just bought a shiny new deep freezer that begging to have her shelves filled with fresh beef. Problem is, we need to find someone to take the other half of a cow. They don't sell them by the half apparently. Any takers? Seriously.