Monday, June 6, 2011

Just an average night at Casa Unicorn...

Hi there!

OK, before we get into today's post, I'd just like to take my hat off in solemn remembrance of my point-and-shoot camera that finally died about a week ago. What you're about to see represents one of its last efforts in catching images of edible beauty. Lesson learned: don't keep a digital camera in your shorts pocket while you're digging out the sand on a playground. Sand and electronics don't mix!

So, as those of you who are "Dude, Cook!" regulars already know, I recently moved in to a rather lovely apartment with my girlfriend Kari. One of the selling points of the place was its huge open-concept kitchen.

Kari and I are both pretty hardcore foodophiles (maybe even foodies), and we both love to cook. We also have both been blessed (or cursed) with a certain talent for taking a simple meal and kicking it up multiple notches. This has led to a lot of rather extravagent meals, some of them being competition for a gourmet restaurant meal. But I think none of them can top what we made about 3 weeks ago.

I guess it all started with fiddleheads. In case you may have forgotten my write-up on fiddleheads from last year, they're a kind of fern that grows in April and May (although the inordinately wet April meant a later start to the season). Anyhoo, we'd bought a whole bunch of them, and had to eat some of those bad boys!

Naturally, the thought process went to "Well, what do we have with it?" Steak, of course! So off we went to Aubrey's Meats in the Byward Market (our "local" butcher) and bought a couple of gorgeous New York strip steaks. Now, I'd rarely eaten blue cheese before meeting Kari, but I've since become a fan. So when she suggested picking up a nice blue to put on top of the steak, who was I to deny a lady? We had the rest of the ingredients at home waiting, so back we went to figure out how to create some culinary awesome.

Now, another area of fun we'd been having was in the area of dried mushrooms. Kari had bought this massive container from Price Club and I already had some dried porcini. So, in the interest of using up some of our dried goods (and space-occupying food in general), Kari decided she'd reconstitute (i.e. rehydrate) a bunch of them to make some sort of risotto (everyone has their speciality in the kitchen. Me, I'm all meat, sauces and stuff in a pot. Kari's ALL about starch. Risotto, polenta, bread, etc. The girl makes a meeeeeean side dish!). Meanwhile, I remembered hearing about or seeing someone using dried porcini powder as a rub for meat. So, I figured I should do the same!

With that in mind, here's the recipe for the Steak:

Porcini-Rubbed Steak à deux w.Blue Cheese

- 2x 12 oz. New York striploin steaks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried porcini mushrooms, ground into powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 50 g blue cheese (medium flavoured; not sure what kind we got to go with dinner, I think it was Danish?), sliced thin (4 small slices total, enough to almost cover the surface of the steak)

- Mix porcini powder, pepper and salt in a bowl.
- Brush olive oil on steaks
- Coat with porcini powder mix. Use clean hands to run seasoning into meat.
- Let meat sit for about 20 mins., until it reaches room temp.
- Heat grill to about 350 F
- Place steak on grill. Grill for about 5 minutes per side for medium doneness.  
- Serve topped with 2 slices of blue cheese per steak.

NOTE: To make lovely grill marks on steak, place it at a 45 degree angle to the grill 'lines' as seen to left. After about 2 minutes, lift and rotate 180 degrees. Repeat this process when you flip the steak.

This should be the end result:

Pretty, ain't it?

On the side, we had the Mushroom Risotto (I'll post the recipe some other time, once Kari gives it to me!) and an Avocado Salad (basically ripe avocado and tomato coarsely cut and mixed together with chopped Kalamta olives, capers, lemon juice and olive oil). As for the fiddleheads, I steamed them for about 10 minutes to get them tender, then sautéed with butter and garlic, finished with a bit of ground black pepper.

And here we are with the final result! Not too shabby, eh?

Even better with a lovely glass of vino and awesome company! (also note how awesome dinner can be even when you've barely unpacked your living space) 

And let's not forget dessert!

So yeah, all this to say, the difference a really nice kitchen can make in the preparation of amazing food is pretty remarkable. Not that you can't do the same in a small kitchen, it's just so much easier this way!

Alright, so enjoy it folks!  

P.S. It's called "Casa Unicorn" because when Kari and I first saw the place, we were sure it had unicorn parking out the back. Turns out it's the parking lot for an Anglican cathedral, but it was an awfully nice place nonetheless!

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