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Cooking for the 'rents help w/ the menu

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hey All,

My parents are coming all the way from Michigan to visit my new place in Albany, NY the weekend of father's day, and with the new-found joy of having my first "real" kitchen and my successes so far with cooking I've decided to cook them dinner. I've been trying to flex my creative muscles and come up with something a bit more creative and unusual than your traditional family fare, so I put together the following meal. Seeing as I have yet to make any of this stuff and I don't have the experience to get a good idea of what will and will not work, I would appreciate some advice. So far the meal I have planned consists of:

Salad
Field greens (green lettuce, red lettuce, and baby spinach I am guessing?) with pan-roasted walnuts and pine nuts, with a light pear-based dressing and a small wheel of warm seasoned goat cheese. I am trying to replicate a salad I had a few months back in a restaurant that was absolutely amazing. Not sure what goat cheese to use here. Chavrie is the only goat cheese I am really familiar with, and I feel it's a little sharper in flavor than I am going for, but the right consistency. Perhaps warm it will be better? I found a few good-sounding recipes online for pear dressing but advice would be appreciated.

Main Course
6-8 oz beef tenderloin with a simple sea salt and black pepper rub, grilled and lightly topped with garlic cloves that have been browned in olive oil and mashed, and blue cheese, lightly drizzled with a sweet, tangy bbq sauce. This is my own take on a similar recipe I saw on the food network. I am not looking to go heavy on toppings just accent the focus of the dish, the naturally awesome flavor of grilled beef tenderloin. Not very knowledgeable about types of blue cheese so I would appreciate recommendations for something that would be good crumbled on a steak and warmed and not so strong in flavor as to be distracting. For bbq sauce, I am just trying to balance the heaviness of the other ingredients and bring a touch of sweetness to the dish. Also not terribly knowledgeable on bbq sauce so not sure whether to go with store-bought or just whip up something simple.

Side Dishes
Grilled-in-husk corn and steamed asparagus with butter. Simple and yummy with steak.

Dessert
Home made fresh ginger ice cream garnished with some sort of simple cookie. I am loving my new ice cream maker, and I know my dad loves to get ginger ice cream when we go to chinese restaurants. A cookie just sounds like a good garnish.

-OR-

Chocolate souffle topped with a scoop of fresh mint ice cream. I successfully made souffle the other day and so I would enjoy the oppertunity to show it off :) Also, I am a big fan of the mint/chocolate combination and souffle and ice cream sound like a yummy combination :lips: I figure if I make the souffle small enough that it doesn't rise over the edge of the ramekin I can just throw the ice cream on top of it and serve the whole thing in the ramekin.


Comments would be very welcome as I don't have the cash right now to experiment over and over with this stuff. I am thinking I will make the dinner once for myself to tweak the recipes and make sure everything is good before I make it for my parents so I don't want to be way off-base to start with.

Cheers!
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post #2 of 22
sounds like your parents will love this dinner. Remember to peel your asp if needed. I usually de ear my roasted corn add a few peppers and sautee. Just makes it easier to eat, but with family who cares. I would also roast the garlic.
Remember, this is just what I would do, so they are not reccomendations.
Is there still snow on the ground in Albany?:D
pan
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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
There hasn't been snow for a while, thank-you-very-much!

What is a good method for roasting garlic? The recipe I based this off if just threw the peeled cloves in a shallow pan and covered them with olive oil, then cooked them until dark brown.

Any suggestions on the cheeses or the bbq sauce?

EDIT: I found a place with some really good fresh ginger and I am trying your method and the sugar syrup method I thought of to make ginger ice cream. I'll be reporting my results tomorrow :lips:

EDIT AGAIN: Peel asparagus?
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post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Okay never mind a third edit, I'll just post again :crazy:

I forgot to mention drinks! My dad is a beer man, and I do know my beers so not much concern there. My mom, on the other hand, is an occasional wine drinker and I feel like a good wine would go well with this meal. Sadly, I am utterly ignorant to wine other than some basics. I figure a red wine is probably the way to go, something not too dry. Not even sure where to begin on picking a bottle though. Also, what about a non-alcoholic option? Again, not even sure where to begin.
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post #5 of 22
mrs. b.....
your menu reads great...... Make sure to enjoy your parent's visit!

So many last minute things to cook will leave you in the kitchen.

salad reads great, any added cooking you have to do just increases the last minute shtuff....what about just crumbling goat cheese on top of the salad instead of warming it? Or think of making an asparagus salad that needs no last minute cooking and serve it at the same time as the steak and corn.

Caramelized onions can also be a sweet addition to the steak with garlic and blue (Maytag is a good choice) Both the onions and garlic can be made in advance. And warmed at the last minute.

Blanch the asparagus and have a pan waiting with melted butter and herbs to reheat just before eating. (if you opt to serve 3 course)

Bread would be a great addition too.

Ginger ice cream with cookies reads great.

What kind of wine does your mom like? Buy what she likes to drink.
If you want to surprise her a Cabernet or a red blend....Zin/Cab/merlot is good. non-alcoholic option, how about rosemary lemonaid?
cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hmm never had asparagus salad. I'll have to look into it. I'd actually thought about adding carmelized onions to the steak or using them in place of the garlic. They are one one of my fav toppings! Is there any trick or special recipe for carmelizing onions? As far as wine my mom usually just gets a cheap bottle of white zin. Cabernet is actually one of the wines I was thinking of (I had a very good bottle of it recently :) ) but I wanted a second opinion before I went out and made an uneducated purchase. I've never seen a blended wine like you are describing. How hard to find are they?

You make a good point about being stuck in the kitchen, but he thing with the salad is I really liked having the walnuts still warm, and the soft consistency of the warm goat cheese was quite nice. At least the kitchen is immediately next to the table so I can see and talk to them while getting it ready.

Gotta go to work, more comments later :crazy:
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post #7 of 22
I'd get a bottle of whatever she likes to drink...white zin, or whatever.
Australian blends are inexpensive and relatively easy to find.

I put a bit of rosemary, black pepper and a shot of good bourbon in my caramelizing onions.
cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 22
Garlic done in olive oil is darn good. The oil gets real good too! :)

What a fantastic dinner. Sometimes people worry too much about the meal. Remember, company first, dinner next! :)
post #9 of 22
Mrs. B man. Your menu choices sound very good to me, and the choices. Will your parents stay with you, and for how long, or have you secured accommodation nearby for them? I do not, obviously, know your situation. Will there other meals. Breaky, lunch, brunch, it seems they coming a long way to see you, so it won't be a 5 minute visit.

I mention this only because you may have to consider a shopping list for other meals. It is such a bore having to run out for other bits and pieces, when you would rather natter away over coffee and a bikkie. Or take your parents out to scoure the garden centres for precious plants.
post #10 of 22
Sorry, forgot the wine. I don't care for strong reds myself. Get her favourite of course, but you might also get a gentle little merlot, like a cat winding around your ankles, soft and lovely. No threat at all.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
My parents will be for the whole weekend, and they have gotten a hotel room nearby. I don't plan on cooking for them all weekend, just this one meal.

Heh your description of merlot makes me miss fluffy :(
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post #12 of 22
I suggest a pinot noir or beaujolais, slightly chilled!
post #13 of 22
Maytag blue cheese is an excellent choice. Very palatable! I would consider getting some Demi-Glace Gold, saute some red onion finely diced in butter, add the demi (after you've added the warm water to the concentrate, of course), and then incorporate 2-3 heaping TBSPs of the Maytag blue cheese right into the demi. A few sprinkles on top of the steaks after adding the bluecheese demi is nice. Even a few sprinkles of some of the diced red onion too! I, personally, would never but BBQ sauce on a tenderloin!

For a nice red wine to go with filet, I would recommend a Simi Cabernet Savaugnon, circa 2003 vintage. These are nice accompaniments to filet and usually available under $20/bottle.

The rest sounds A-OK #1!

doc
post #14 of 22
Great meal and sounds like you are very fond of your parents. If there's a Trader Joe's available in your neck of the woods, see what they've got. They have a wide range of wines, all at most reasonable prices- like everything else in the place.

I wonder about Maytag blue as a mild blue. It's marvelous cheese, but I think of it as pretty pungent. How would a Gorgonzole dolce do? Or maybe a Bleu D'Auvergne?

Mike
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post #15 of 22
Somebody suggested Trader Joes for wine...they've got "Charriot" brand, I think it is a Cabernet Sav. under 12 bucks that is awesome, or look for an Argentinian Malbac]...lovely red!
Enjoy!
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am familiar with trader joe's, and unfortunately they do not exist in this area. I am going to compile a shopping list and have a crack at this meal tomorrow during the day and see what I come up with.
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post #17 of 22

Chefed

TRY CUTTING LARGE BULBS OF GARLIC IN HALF SKIN ON, DRIZZLE WITH A GOOD VIRGIN OLIVE OIL A SPRINKLE OF SALT WRAP IN ALUM FOIL PLACE ON PAN IN A 325=350 OVEN COOK SLOWLY NOT DARK BROWN OTHERWISE WILL BE BITTER. LET COOL SO YOU CAN SQUEEZ OUT.

OR YOU CAN PEEL INDY CLOVES AND DO SAME WAY ALSO NO POT OR PAN TO CLEAN. GOOD LUCK CHEFED:crazy:
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post #18 of 22

Carmelized Onion

TRY SLICING MEDIUM PLACE IN LITTL CLARIFIED BUTTER THEN ADD A TABLESPOON OF SUGAR AND LET GET GOLDEN BROWN THEN ADD A LITTLE BALSAMIC VIN. AND REDUCE SLIGHTLY.CHEFED:lol: :crazy:
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post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, the steak was a bust. The carmelized onions didn't turn out anything like I expected. I think I am accustomed to the onions carmelized in demi-glace, and I was kind of expecting a savory flavor, which is not what I got. I picked up some blue cheese (couldn't find maytag) that smelled about like the flavor I was going for, but I found when it got warmed up on the steak the flavor became so intense that it was not good. Also, I found the garlic kind of turned crispy when I cooked it in the oil and wasn't condusive to making a paste. I just threw it in with the onions and it made for hard little bits in with the onions. Not so good to find little hard rocks mixed in with your nice juicy steak.

I tried to hunt down demi-glace at the local supermarket but I couldn't find it. Not sure what to do about the steak, thinking about serving it without any toppings.

I think my problem is that I have a good concept of what flavors I want in my mind, but I don't have the knowledge of how to realize them yet. I think I just need to get more experience with different components of dishes until I know the flavors really well. In the mean time, looking for a new steak recipe... :cry:

On the plus side, the salad turned out quite nice, albeit not what I expected. I had to do some creative modification to the pear dressing to get the flavor where I wanted it, but I eventually nailed it. I found that the goat cheese crumbled cold went REALLY well with the pear dressing. Oh my God I was not expecting that to be such an awesome pairing. I kinda went overboard on the walnuts which ended up making the salad a little bitter overall. I think with more goat cheese and less nuts I have a winner on my hands.

Also, I heard in a recipe that you can prepare souffle up to one day in advance and then bake it when you are getting ready to serve. This would greatly simplify the process of cooking for my parents, but I have a hard time believing that you really can let souffle batter (or whatever its called) sit in the fridge for a day and have it still rise properly when you put it in the oven. I am going to try it in a couple days anyway, but does anybody know if this really works?
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post #20 of 22
I so sorry you were not satisfied with the steak Mrs. B. That is very dissappointing. Even pi**addointing given the price. Would it be worth trying a recipe you are more familiar with since this is such an important dinner. I have a couple suggestions if you are interested. I also have heard you can make souffle a day ahead, but I never have. I will be interested in the answers. I have had success with roasting whole garlic using both a garlic roaster (pottery, unglazed), and double foil. I haven't done indiv. ones. The bulb comes out thick and buttery, light goldy, and wonderfully mild. It is such a nice job to squeeze that goo out. Have another go.
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thing is, I am just getting started with cooking so there really aren't any recipes that I am more familiar with and know I can pull off, other than the basic steak with sea salt and black pepper, which is a bit more bland than I was going for. I would welcome any suggestions for recipes involving steak, and believe me I am searching quite a lot for a good recipe myself :look:

EDIT: This recipe seems interesting. My only beef with it (pun intended) is that it doesn't use the grill, so I doubt I will get that nice crusted outside that I love about grilling steaks. I suppose I could broil the steaks and get the desired effect and still preserve the juices and stuff for the sauce. Whaddaya think?

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/reci..._21744,00.html
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post #22 of 22
Take a 1 1/2" - 2" thick filet mignon (s), heat your heavy cast iron skillet for like 1/2 hour with nothing in it, coat the filets with S&P and a bit of olive oil, throw in the already hot skillet, 3 minutes to a side. (Note: Shake the skillet by holding its handle with a hot pad, and if the steak breaks free on its own, it should be pretty well carmelized). You should get a very browned, crispy outside on both sides this way.

Then throw the skillet and filets into a preheated 400 - 450 F oven for maybe 6-8 minutes for medium rare.

Take the skillet out, tent the filets on a plate, deglaze the skillet, add some butter and shallots, then either add some demi and maytag cheese, or alternatively, add some nice red wine, and reduce to a syrupy consistency. S&P to taste.

Add the steaks back in, and any juices that leached from them on the tented plate. Heat just enough, (they should still be pretty much ready to go).

Serve with the sauce. Alternatively, you could add some crushed peppercorns (fresh green, brined green, black, combination of all three), and you could still add some cream if you want a very heavy sauce, before adding the steaks back in. This should work for almost any steak, if you take into consideration things like bone-in, and thickness (less thick, means less time in oven).

doc
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