Sunday, May 1, 2011

Foray into Gourmet

Devildog and I were watching Food Network on our afternoon off recently. We found this episode 5 Ingredient Fix and it was so awesome and yummy looking that I HAD to try these recipes. Except there was little interest in the tomatoes & blue cheese, therefore I wasn't going to try it. So I set out to find the round bakeware for the chocolate souffle, and added the steak, shallots, russet potatoes, heavy cream, and chocolate to my grocery list. I found an appropriate souffle baking dish in my friend Bridget's cabinets, sparing me the exhausting search to find one that my wallet was willing to buy at the moment.

I started dinner late on Saturday, so of course it was consumed late too. It's nothing new for us to eat at other people's bedtime. I've been told by my latina friends that I am the whitest hispanic they know. Yet, none of them have taught me to make empanadas - go figure. It was 9 PM before I was finished following the steak au poivre (oh pwahv) instructions, while concurrently working on the mashed potatoes and fried shallot instructions. This A.D.D. brain was in overdrive like a redneck's 4x4 in the mud. It took me 2 hours total to navigate this unfamiliar culinary territory, and I was thankful the steak went into the oven to finish cooking while I worked on the other stuff. And if I'd gotten thinner steaks, they would've cooked long before the potatoes finished boiling. Get the big boys, you won't regret it.
I later figured out that I should fry the shallots first, because it's ok if they get cold, plus they require a little more attention than I gave them. So, next time I make them, I will delegate the potato peeling, cutting and initial boiling to a capable teenager. For the sake of time and the fact that I cooked an entire 5 pound bag of russets, I used the multi chopper my sister in law gave me for my birthday. I peeled them, ran them through the wedger, then cut the wedges into smaller boilable pieces. It is so much faster for me that way. I don't have a ricer like the TV chef used, so I was able to just use my hand masher after boiling them sufficiently. Fork tender essentially means you stick a fork in a potato piece and it falls apart. When you cook it that long, hand mashing means you don't make glue of the potatoes. And the fried shallots? oh. em. gee. Even Devildog who doesn't eat onions, ate the shallots. I think it's because they were fried. The steak sauce was not terribly difficult to make, and I substituted rice vinegar for the sherry vinegar because that's what I had on hand. And the sauce works wonderfully with both the steak and the potatoes. This will make a wonderful Sunday dinner, or anniversary/first date/special occasion cooked at home. Heck, it will make a Tuesday dinner incredible. The leftovers in that picture are what I ate while I composed the post and baked. Somehow I managed that bit of multitasking by some miracle. I fed the kids, then waited for Devildog to join me for dinner. We had a nice conversation, and a lot of it was raving about the food, the flavors and my ability to cook this meal without burning something. He mentioned how I used to screw up food really badly when we were first married. Considering my mother could mangle a box of mac & cheese with the instructions printed on the back of it, and never having been taught to cook - it's a miracle my siblings and I can make edible food. Actually, my mom put a couple people in my path that shared their knowledge with me. As an adult, I sought out the advice and instruction of others so I could stand to eat my own cooking. And I know I stink at sharing what I know with my kids, but I'm working to improve that.

I wanted to make the chocolate souffle for dessert, but by that point in the day I was exhausted and my legs and feet were really ticked at me. I set out to do that on Sunday when I got home from church. So that's how this post is getting written. The souffle is in the oven. I started taking pictures but got a phone call in the middle of everything. My pregnant-with-triplets friend was needing to moan to someone. Call it returning a favor for the times I moaned while pregnant with the mini-human who has become known as The Blur. So there are not as many pictures as I wanted to have here. The instructions for the souffle on the website leave a lot to be desired. It's not idiot-proof, and the instructions are written like every fool has made a souffle and knows what they're doing. If I hadn't seen the show to get an idea of what to do, I wouldn't have even attempted this dessert. This same logic applies to some knitting patterns, but that's a different post for another day.

In any case, the recipe calls for 8 ounces of good quality dark chocolate. Because I'm heathen and I don't know my dark chocolates, I went with what I know - Hershey's. Eight ounces equates to about five and a half bars of the 6 pack. Yes, I did use my postal scale to weigh my chocolate. I chopped it up with a piece of wax paper over the cutting board, to keep the chocolate from getting stuck to it. I almost forgot to put the butter in with the chocolate in the double boiler setup. Then I set out to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and oy, that takes a while even with a mixer. I had the 16 year old beat the egg yolks while I was working on getting the egg whites to poof. At that point the phone rang, and photography stopped. Then there is the matter of folding the egg whites gently, and still mixing it with the other stuff. I had help from the Clone to do that. I then poured (probably should have scooped with the spoonula instead) into the buttered & sugared baking dish. It went into a casserole dish to catch any drips and into the oven. It's in need of cleaning as it is, why make it worse. I cooked it 30 minutes but it wasn't done, so I had to put it back in the oven a while longer. I didn't think lava cake middle was what I should have gotten for a souffle, right?

When it finally came out of the oven, I cut a wedge of it, and scooped a dollop of coffee flavored ice cream on it. It's what I had already and it was YUMMY that way. I still need to find my own souffle dish, and the PreggoX3 suggested a copper mixing bowl for the egg whites. I think next time I make the souffle, I will use a wider dish, and I've seen other instructions/comments that there should be a water bath in the oven for it. All I know is this is tasty, but requires a little work and care. And the instructions on the Food Network website could stand some clarification and enhancement.

PreggoX3 said she wanted a picture sent to her. So, how about an entire blog post? Is that better?


Kristin said...

Egg white issues? Two tips. Whip them in anything but a plastic bowl, and make sure the bowl is CLEAN CLEAN! Fats will ruin your egg whites. As will soap residue. The other tip is to make sure the egg whites are at room temperature.

Everything sounds delicious! Seeing as I can't do anything but bake, the steak "oh pwahv" sounds fantastic. :-) I'm currently sitting here waiting for my mommy to cook my dinner LOL.

Feisty Irish Wench said...

The hardest part of the steak? the sauce, and even then, it wasn't that difficult. It was just timing everything that is always my problem.

And were you in my kitchen? I used to sell Tupperware, so 99.999% of my bowls are indeed plastic. The biggest glass bowl I have is the one I used for melting the chocolate. It wasn't till after I was done that I looked up on top of the cabinets and saw a big metal bowl I could have used instead... *sigh*
I took the eggs out of the fridge as I was walking out the door to church so that they'd be room temperature when I got home. I guess this means I need to keep practicing, and go buy my own souffle dish lol.

BTW Bakerella, does the souffle HAVE to be made in a round baking dish?

Kristin said...

I am the queen of meringue. Egg whites shake in their shells when they see me coming. Plastic bowls hold fat molecules, which will prevent egg whites from forming into nice peaks.

Round souffle dish, yes yes. A round dish allows the souffle to rise evenly. The edges bake evenly. So yes, you need round souffle cups or a larger round souffle dish. The sides should also be perfectly vertical, not at an angle.