Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Week 40 - Steakhouse

The first thing you'll probably notice about our Week 40 steakhouse challenge meal is that there's no steak on the plate. I don't eat steak (or cook much red meat at home), so for the challenge, I made the meal that I would be ordering if I went to a steakhouse. I've had plenty of fish dishes from steakhouses, so I decided to make some salmon (the one I most commonly get there) with some typical steakhouse sides.

Coffee-Rubbed Baked Salmon

The first part of the meal was baked salmon, which I prepared with some coffee garlic rub, similar to the coffee challenge from last year. I forgot to also rub it with olive oil like I did that time so the ingredients were just:

- salmon ($9.17)
- coffee rub ($0.25)

After letting it marinate for a while, I baked the salmon in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees and then let it rest until the other meal components were done. Unfortunately it came out a little on the drier side, which I realized later was because I forgot to rub it with olive oil. Lesson learned for next time. It turned out much better, both in texture and taste, when I used the olive oil last time, but it was still good.

Roasted Herb Potatoes

Just about every steakhouse we've ever been to has had some form of potato side, whether it's baked, mashed, roasted, or something else. I decided to roast some small red potatoes, as I really like that side dish in restaurants with its creamy, flavorful potatoes. I didn't follow a recipe here, but just tried to replicate whatever flavor profile I could remember from the potatoes I liked.

The ingredients were:

- about 1.5 lbs small red potatoes ($1.79)
- olive oil ($0.50)
- salt ($0.05)
- freshly ground black pepper ($0.05)
- garlic powder ($0.05)
- dried rosemary ($0.10)
- 1/2 batch of parsley, leaves chopped ($0.90)

The potatoes were really easy to prepare, and I found myself wondering why I hadn't made them before. The steps were:

- scrub potatoes and cut in halves (or quarters, depending on size)
- grease baking dish and add potatoes
- combine olive oil (maybe 1/4 cup) with garlic powder and rosemary
- add olive oil mixture to potatoes along with salt and pepper
- mix together well
- bake in oven at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes (until potatoes are fork tender)
- move potatoes to large bowl
- add parsley and some more olive oil and combine well
- cover with aluminum foil for at least 10-15 minutes (or in our case, until everything else was done)

I covered the potatoes, hoping this would get them to soften up a little more, and it absolutely worked. The potatoes were exactly what I was hoping they would be - full of roasted flavor with a little crispness on the edges but really creamy and soft inside. I definitely plan to make this again.

Green Beans

I usually look for vegetable sides when at a steakhouse and green beans seem to be fairly common. I wanted to try something new so I went with a Williams Sonoma recipe for green beans with glazed shallots and lemon. I think I found it in a steakhouse sides section, even though the description on the page talks about Passover and holiday celebrations.

The ingredients we used were:

- 24 oz bag of frozen French green beans ($1.99)
- olive oil, about 1 tbsp ($0.20)
- 4 shallots, thinly sliced ($0.99)
- juice of 1 lemon and about 1 tsp lemon zest ($0.49)
- salt ($0.05)
- freshly ground black pepper ($0.05)
- 1/2 batch of parsley, leaves chopped ($0.89)

I mostly followed the recipe for making the dish and the steps were:

- cook green beans in boiling water until mostly done and then drain
- heat olive oil in large pan
- add shallots and saute for a few minutes
- add green beans and cook for a few minutes (trying to mix in the shallots which was way harder than it should have been)
- add lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper and cook for a few more minutes
- remove from heat and add parsley and mix together well

The green beans turned out pretty well and I liked them a lot more than I thought I would. A thought the lemon was overpowering, which is probably because I used more lemon juice than the recipe dictated, but I kind of liked the punch from the lemon combined with the shallots flavor. I thought it really livened up the plain green beans. If I make this again, maybe I'll use a little less lemon juice.

Belgian Endives

Belgian endives are one of those vegetables that we've had before (but not often) and have never made. I think I saw it on some steakhouse menu when I was looking around, and I thought it would be fun to try something new with an ingredient that was new to me. I decided to try a recipe for braised Belgian endives from Chowhound since I wasn't really sure what else to do with them. (I don't know if this is technically really braising since the endives aren't sauteed or cooked at all prior to being submerged in the cooking liquid, but that's the title of their recipe.)

The ingredients were:

- 3 Belgian endives (2 white, 1 red) ($2.99)
- 1 spoonful of chicken bouillon and 1 cup of water, mixed together ($0.25)
- 2 tbsp butter, melted ($0.12)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 2 tsp sugar ($0.05)
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar ($0.10)

Making the endives was pretty simple:

- prep endives (wash, cut lengthwise, and quarter)
- combine all non-endive ingredients in large pan and heat over medium heat
- add endives in single layer and cook, turning every so often, until soft and the sauce has reduced and liquid has almost evaporated (the sauce got very thick in our pan)

The endives were so buttery and a lot sweeter than we were expecting considering not that much sugar was added. A thought the flavors were really good and there was no bitterness of any type that you sometimes get with endives. I liked how soft these were and thought they were good for fall, although I might use a little less butter and sugar next time and the sauce would probably still be fine. Once cooked, the endives didn't seem that substantial in amount, so it was good that we had other sides too.

This was a pretty good "steakhouse" meal even though there was a lot of running around the tiny kitchen trying to get 4 dishes done at once (or more accurately, trying to figure out where to put everything for the various stages of the dishes). It was a little on the expensive side for dinner, just over $21 for the two of us, but that's certainly cheaper than any steakhouse meal out. It was the first thing I made after our trip to San Diego, and it felt good to get back into the kitchen to make something new. We were pretty satisfied.

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