Last week, Nicholas and I were at Target, and he spied a blue disco ball-type ornament that he quickly became obsessed with. He pleaded for me to buy it – its sparkly, glittery appearance going to the heart of his inner John Travolta. I said no, giving the usual spiel of excuses … it’s not going to match anything we have, we have enough ornaments, every time we enter a store it doesn’t mean you have to buy something, etc.; all very truthful excuses. I mean, hello? What about a shiny, spinning blue disco balls screams Christmas? Yup, nothing.
But then later in the week, my Mom and I were on a quick shopping excursion, and I spied a box of mirrored ornaments in a variety of colors. I immediately thought of Nicholas. How could I not? They weren’t nearly as garish as the blue one he so desperately wanted, yet I knew they would make him happy. And so, some six boxes later, him and my sister set out to decorate a small tree we had on hand last night, starting a new tradition, our disco ball tree. Definitely not something I planned on adding to our Christmas decorations, but he is certainly allowed to be part of choosing new traditions … so the disco ball tree it is. And I have to admit, it looks rather pretty. Between his idea and my interpretation of it (read: toning down of it), we have another new tradition.
Now jumping to dinner … any time we go to a restaurant, if The Husband sees an Argentinean Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, he immediately orders it. The man knows what he likes. Luckily his wife knows too. Catching up on my magazine reading today, when I spied a recipe for this steak in a Gourmet issue, I knew exactly what I was making. But now, what for Nicholas? He is picky about steak. Not necessarily about the steak in general, more so the times he’s interested in it. Some days, he’ll out-eat me in terms of steak; other times he can’t even feign interest. So a few pages later, when I saw a recipe for Grilled-Chicken Caesar Salad, I knew it would be perfect for him, and a menu was born.
He wandered into the kitchen while I was cooking, and asked what we were having for dinner. I told him, and when I mentioned salad with “white dressing” (his favorite), he immediately ran to the refrigerator. “But mama, I have an idea. I can have the salad from the red star restaurant instead. That will be good.” Yup, I do believe soggy, day-old salad is a close contender for the salad I just spent making for him … grilling the chicken, making homemade Caesar dressing, HAND-GRATING the Parmesan cheese. But, of course, what was I thinking? Luckily by the time dinner was ready, he forgot about the salad-in-styrofoam and not only polished off a plate of the one I made, but pounded through a bunch of steak as well.
I asked The Husband how the steak was, and in between mouthfuls, I got, “Very good. Better than the restaurant’s.” Now, of course, that smacks of your Dad telling you you’re very pretty. Of course he’s going to say that, he’s your Dad. Not biased in the least, right? But I agree with The Husband. If tonight’s recipe wasn’t better than the restaurant’s version, it certainly comes quite close. It was packed with flavor, and super quick to make. What better combination do you need? So all in all, a great eatin’ night and everyone was a member of the Clean Plate Club.
Now onto the Weekend Dog Blogging roundup.
A year ago today … eating, Cuban style!
There’s already snow over at Farmgirl Fare and it looks like Lucky Buddy Bear is enjoying every last flake of it! While you’re there, be sure to read up on the great cause that Susan highlights.
The sleeping trio from Dispensing Happiness in Tennessee pop in for a visit:
More snoozers … this time, it’s the pups from Is It EDible?, all the way from sunny California. Talk about snug as a bug in a rug!
Oh the face! How can you not love all that squishiness? Sophie from You Gonna Eat All That? gets a visitor, Java:
Simba from Up a Creek Without a PatL enjoys a quick romp in the last of the leaves:
Grilled-Chicken Caesar Salad
This version of the classic salad shows why it is a favorite across America. Recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine.
1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
2 (10-oz) packages hearts of romaine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 cups plain or flavored croutons
Special equipment: a well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan
Heat lightly oiled grill pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, pat chicken dry and coat with 1 tablespoon oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Grill chicken, turning over once, until just cooked through, 14 to 16 minutes total.
While chicken grills, blend garlic, lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until combined. With motor running, add remaining 7 tablespoons oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified.
Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss chicken with 2 tablespoons dressing in a large bowl. Add romaine, cheese, remaining dressing, and croutons and toss.
Makes 4 servings.
Grilled Skirt Steak
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine
In true Argentine and Uruguayan fashion, the steak is simply seasoned with salt and pepper, so the quality of the ingredients is particularly important. This is a well-marbled cut, which makes for a juicy and full-flavored grilled steak.
2 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 lb skirt steak (about three 1/2-inch-thick pieces)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Accompaniment: chimichurri sauce (see recipe below)
Prepare grill for cooking over direct heat with hot charcoal (high heat for gas; see “Grilling Procedure.”
While grill is heating, coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or by wrapping them in a kitchen towel and pressing with bottom of a heavy skillet.
Pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and crushed pepper, pressing to help adhere. Grill steaks on lightly oiled grill rack (covered only if using a gas grill), turning over once and moving around to avoid flare-ups if necessary, 6 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes. Thinly slice steaks diagonally.
– Steaks can be grilled in a hot lightly oiled well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan in batches over moderately high heat.
– If your sea salt is very coarse, lightly crush it with a mortar and pestle or the side of a large heavy knife.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine
This is the national condiment of both Argentina and Uruguay, and there are hundreds of versions. The sauce is also great with vegetables, especially grilled or fried tomatoes.
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots (about 2 medium)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl.
Makes about 2/3 cup.