Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's on the dinner plate? 10/4/2013

Last night I requested a dinner with lots of vegetables, and my parents turned out to be in a cooking mood.  The result was fantastic, and plans have been made to repeat the meal for a dinner party larger than us three.

The meal itself consisted of miso-marinated flank steak, and sauteed diced vegetables - potato, onion, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and grape tomatoes.

My contribution to dinner-making was whipping up the marinade (more of a paste, really) and setting the table.

I got the marinade for the steak from the Bon Appetit website, kept more or less intact except for the addition of a single packet of instant red miso soup powder.  The recipe calls for white miso paste, but red miso has a saltier, more intense flavor.  Once you've developed the taste for it, there's really no going back.

I've made this paste before for flank steak, which can be paired with a miso-marinaded salmon, if you enjoy surf and turf.  If you do choose to go that route, the miso in both marinades lends a wonderful, earthy umami hit that pairs the two proteins together.

Can't really say much for grilling tips - my father is the grill master and we don't mess with him and his method since he continues to produce food on par or surpassing that of a fine restaurant.
See his awesome grill marks?

The vegetables are pretty simple - saute in a wok with a little olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a single pat of frozen beef bouillon.  That has to be made ahead of time.

I'm always loathe to waste good beef, lamb or chicken bones, and homemade stock is so much more flavorful than store stock, and has no preservatives besides.  I take that stock and reduce it into a gelatinous, inky goop of goodness, spoon it into a mini muffin pan with each depression lined with cling wrap.  Then I freeze it, and use the excess film to wrap up the frozen disks.  I keep those in a bag in my freezer, and they are incredibly useful for adding a bit of flavor and richness to rice, soups, sauces, and in this case, sauteing as well.  If you don't want to go through all that or want to make the veg now, I suppose you could substitute two to three tablespoons of broth/stock.

Back to the vegetables, take the frozen bouillon and melt it on the hot pan.

You simply cook the vegetables until they're done, starting with the potatoes, onions and carrots since they require more cooking, then add the zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes last.
Onions, potatoes and carrots first...
Then add tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.

Maybe sometime I'll make this again to finesse the actual timing of this recipe, but really all it takes is a watchful eye and tasting everything to ascertain doneness.  When the veg is cooked, sprinkle crumbed feta cheese on top and toss.

The heat of the vegetables will melt it and they will be coated with a creamy smeary layer of cheese.

My Dad, who loves his wine and buys it by the case because its cheaper that way, paired a lovely 2010 Arcturos Cabernet Franc from Michigan (Traverse City area) with our meal.

As for the dinner experience itself, the food was absolutely delicious, but the conversation and company kept us happily talking for hours.  It's truly amazing how food can facilitate social interaction.

COMING UP - In the works is my own recipe for a delightfully smoky tomato soup paired with grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches.

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