Posts tagged butter
Posts tagged butter
After a long day of work, I tore myself away from my computer for long enough to make dinner. As you’ll see in coming posts, the “having time to make dinner” phase was drawing to a close at this point in the semester. But on this night, I happily withdrew to the kitchen to admire these enormous swordfish steaks I’d impulse bought on manager’s special at the Kroger.
I have since learned that a “manager’s special” sticker might as well be a giant, flaming red flag (be smarter than me. don’t get the yogurt). Anyway, this looked and smelled fine to me, but I’d never made swordfish before. I knew it was quite a beefy fish, filling, robust. So I knew I wanted to treat it nice.
So I obviously put gobs of butter in a mixing bowl and jazzed it up with fresh lemon juice, garlic, and parsley and probably more…I can’t seem to find the recipe I drummed up from Epicurious or Spark Recipes or whatever app I was using to search for ideas that day. After liberally rubbing the fish down with my herbed butter and sticking it under the broiler for several minutes, I moved to vegetation.
I had carrots, so I made carrots - simple enough. I like to buy the little baby carrots because they’re a nice and easy side dish for the sack lunches Rob and I so often tote. But tonight, they too were getting my herbed butter, so that the carrots themselves could receive what I like to call, “continuity of care” (psych joke, not sorry).
This turned into such a nice plate! Covered in butter, mind you, but you’ll also notice my “donut holes” from earlier that morning that hadn’t gotten the apple pie treatment. Like my adviser says, “Never do anything for just one purpose.” Check.
We sat down in front of the tv with a couple of pumpkin beers and ate our dinner in front of the Mizzou vs. South Carolina football game. Well, what we could see of it anyway, from behind Rob’s warty New York pumpkin. The first half was going so well, look how excited and happy and blurry we were!
It was short lived, as we endured a heartbreaking loss in double overtime. Rob learned that his new wife could write the book on how to be irrationally emotional following a heinous sporting loss. But at least we were well-fed - the swordfish was so delicious (thanks, butter), and the carrots and little biscuits really rounded things out into what’s probably the weirdest football-watching food ever. But you just wait until you see what I make for the Chiefs game the next day. You just wait.
After returning from City Island, Rob and I took our bags over to 29th Street in Manhattan, where we checked in at the wonderful King and Grove Hotel (http://www.kingandgrove.com/). Rob wanted to make my birthday extra special, not just because it was our first married birthday together, but because 25 is kind of a fun milestone (go go gadget rental cars). So in addition to bringing me to New York and pumping me full of fried seafood, he set us up with some luxurious accommodations. I knew I liked him.
Once we got there, we dressed for dinner. As you may have noticed, we had been eating pretty…heavily on our trip so far, and it was time to church it up. When we had booked the room a month or so earlier, we decided to do their chef’s package (delightfully entitled “say cheese”). It was a little more expensive, but we figured we’d be eating a nice dinner out anyway, and it sounded like a fun experience to have a three-course meal with all the trimmings. Including this super professional and otherwise legit looking voucher.
That’s right folks, they handed us this handwritten “IOU” voucher in the hotel lobby, and when we took it to the Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro on Park Avenue, it paid for our dinner. Lawdy mercy.
We settled into our little corner of the enormous space (http://www.artisanalbistro.com/), which is always shocking to find in New York. Seriously, the place might have been bigger than a Cheesecake Factory. Anyway, it was too bad that we had to be immediately next to a guy in a tweed jacket, bowtie, and fedora, talking out of his ass about his career in Egyptology to his clearly disinterested first date. They never mentioned the entertainment would be free!
Anyway, sorry, back to the food. We each got to choose an appetizer, and I had the chesnut gnocchi, served with guanciale (cured meat from the pig’s jowl!), brussels sprouts, pickled cranberries. Not bad, but it felt a bit disjointed to me - there were only a few pieces of each component on the plate, and you couldn’t really get a great bite of all of them together. I did like the little gnocchi bites though, and obviously the pork jowl (der).
You thought it couldn’t get fancier, right? Well this is going to be a fun post for you. Rob got ESCARGOT, that fabulously slimey snail dish, swimming in little pools of garlic and butter and topped with little croutons. This was my first time trying escargot, and it was surprisingly delicious. I chalk it up more to the garlic and butter than the snails, though.
For his entree, Rob ordered “chicken under a brick.” Not the most descriptive, flavorwise, but very informative as to cooking method. They did in fact cook this under a brick. It came with roasted vegetables and “pomme puree” (aka mashed taters). All in all, it was a nice dish, but nothing that knocked our socks off or was too far removed from what could be made at home…pending brick acquisition.
I had the skate wing, a nice piece of fish I’ve tried before at another French place back in Richmond (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/16925998365/yes-we-can-can). It was very nicely prepared, delicate and flavorful, served atop a bed of diced cauliflower, blood orange, and grenobloise (browned butter + capers + parsley + lemon). I especially liked the preparation of the cauliflower (I know, said no one ever), but they were crunchy and really took on that delicious brown butter.
We just so happened to be sitting right next to…the cheese cave. As such, we were served two types of cheese for our third course, which we didn’t get to choose, but were pretty happy with anyway. The first was La Bonde, a soft French goat cheese (in the foreground, there), and the second was Prima Donna, a hard, cow’s milk gouda cheese from the Netherlands. If I’d had to pick two on my own, I might have ended up with these two anyway, because goat and gouda are kind of the way to my cheese heart.
I have to say, this was a spectacular dinner. Not because the food was over-the-top good, but it was just a luxurious experience (I mean, this place has black truffle mayonnaise. BLACK TRUFFLE MAYONNAISE). I think it was a great idea to do the chef’s package with the hotel and have a swanky little meal, Egyptologist and all, before heading out to celebrate my birthday with Rob’s sweet friends. Kudos to my husband for making a girl feel special.
Hello! I’m so sorry it’s been so long. Rob and I got married last weekend in Kansas City (woo!), and we’re working on getting our little lives in order back in Virginia. Now that we’re married and no longer in a long distance relationship, surely you must be wondering…what will happen to good ol’ Eating with Rob? Fear not, faithful reader, I’m not going anywhere. Sure, I won’t be documenting every little thing we eat these days, but I’m sure to continue to document fun restaurants, new recipes, and special occasions. Like this one!
We didn’t know it was a special occasion at the time, but on Tuesday, June 4th, we fixed our last meal together at the apartment where I lived in Richmond for two years. You can usually find some decent steaks on manager’s special at Kroger, so I picked up a pair of strips for like five dollars and tossed ‘em on the griddler for Rob to manage.
Unfortunately, Cuisinart’s griddling technology doesn’t allow the surface to get quite hot enough to sear a steak without turning it an unsavory shade of gray on the inside. I knew this, but I’d hoped that somehow Rob’s meat-makin’ presence would mitigate the inevitable. Nerp.
We topped our steaks with caramelized onions (the only steak sauce anyone should ever need) and served it alongside some garlic and butter-sauteed spinach and macaroni salad. I wouldn’t recommend using the shells like I did since the thickness of the pasta really overpowers the other fixins, but otherwise this is a great recipe that I’ve used many times for parties and such (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/classic-macaroni-salad/detail.aspx).
We ate our dinner at my kitchen table, not knowing that it would be the last time we would eat together there in my apartment, where we met every few months for two years for a good home-cooked meal. We don’t even have the table anymore, sadly…it was too big for our new little place. But trading a kitchen table for having Rob back in Richmond with me for the forseeable future? Sounds like a pretty good trade.
On the morning of Sunday March 3rd, Rob and I met up with our good buddies Tyson and Kristen, who live just a few neighborhoods over in Crown Heights. They joined us in Park Slope for a nice Sunday brunch at Dizzy’s, a “finer diner” on 5th Avenue (http://dizzys.com/).
We began with a basket of baked goods that came with our prix fixe brunch. The dreamsicle-looking scoop you see on top there is actually a mound of some kind of fruit butter, and it was AMAZING on those scones. Once we’d had our fill and were waiting for our entrees, Kristen spilled a little of her mimosa into the basket, which was actually a brilliant strategy for flavor enhancement.
We waited for quite a bit among a gaggle of screaming children in the new back room of the place, but finally we were ready to eat. Rob had the above corned beef hash, which was much better than the version he’d had in Front Royal, VA a few weeks earlier (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/44142739970/come-down-from-the-mountain). This stuff was fresh and flavorful and served with two over-medium eggs…Rob’s favorite!
Kristen went with a raspberry-stuffed waffle they were having on special that day. The second she saw ours and compared it with her own, she feared she had made a terrible mistake. But after a few bites and a little syrup, she was happy with her life choices.
This did not stop her from stealing a few bites of Tyson’s biscuits and gravy. Apparently Rob has been trying to get Tyson over to Park Slope to try them at Dizzy’s for quite a while, so this was a big moment. He had them with scrambled eggs on top, and we were so pleased that he enjoyed them.
I also had the biscuits and gravy…it wasn’t until right now that I realized that we are having an exact replica of that diner breakfast we had in Front Royal, but the quality was worlds apart. I love the b&g at Dizzy’s (re: http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/25651975015/dizzy-with-goodbye). As you can see, it is just a rustic and savory looking pile of deliciousness, truly robust in flavor and far from its pasty facsimiles. It has just the right amount of spice, and paired with crusty biscuits and over-medium eggs, these are oh so hard to beat. You’ll never have any other like them.
We had a great time at brunch with our sweet friends - isn’t Kristen so channeling Annie Hall in this pic? We became painfully aware of the screaming baby population in Park Slope - I swear there was one at every table. But if that’s the price you have to pay to live in a safe and adorable neighborhood in New York City, I’ll take it. I hope we make it back to Dizzy’s again soon - hopefully avoiding the after-church brunch rush about town next time.
When we got home from a chilly afternoon of pictures with Mallory, we went right back to work. As the evening wore on and we started to get hungry, I looked up from the stacks of exams I was feverishly grading and said, “Guess I’d better fix something for dinner.” To which Rob, who could see how overwhelmed I was, insisted he’d do it instead.
He decided to take on the leftovers from our dinner at Edo’s Squid the night before (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/44314238625/krabby-patties). Determined to make my pasta palatable, Rob asked me questions from the kitchen about how to put together an alfredo sauce. And he did a really good job! Butter, cream, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper brought my lifeless linguine back from the dead.
His pasta, the sausage with spicy red sauce, was a little easier to resurrect, since there wasn’t much that was wrong with it in the first place. So he just heated it up on the stove.
He brought the fruit of his secondary labor into the dining room, where there was hardly room for it among the exams, computers, and cameras. I eagerly took my first bite, wondering if somehow, maybe, our manipulation had worked.
Oh my gosh, it was so. much. better. These poor noodles that were so want for flavor the night before had been helped tremendously by our joint effort alfredo sauce. I was so proud of him for being able to whip that up from scratch, based on nothing but my brief how-to from the dining room. What never should have been one meal has become two, and my wallet smiled somewhere. Rob saves the day.
A little later on the 8th, Rob and I went to the Key Food for one of my favorite pastimes, grocery shopping!
While at the grocery store, I spotted some beautiful fillets of fresh salmon, and thought to myself “Self, you have never made Rob that salmon you like to make.” Re: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/03/toasted-sesame-ginger-salmon/.
So when we got home, I sliced up our salmon into pretty little pieces and got them going in a haphazard marinade of things Rob had on hand that vaguely resembled the recipe. For example, he didn’t have rice wine vinegar on hand, but he did have apple cider vinegar (???), and I remedied his lack of brown sugar by using maple syrup. And a great crossing of the fingers was had by all.
We also bought some spinach at the grocery store, which I treated with garlic and butter on the stovetop. This ended up reducing to approximately one tablespoon of spinach, so I had to add some more.
After marinating the salmon for a half hour or so, I pan-seared it for a few minutes - one thing I like about salmon aside from its healthful and delicious nature is that it takes like NO time to cook.
It came out significantly oilier than it does when I make it at home, which I can’t explain. But then again, when all was said and done, I had really only used a few ingredients that it called for, so you can hardly call it the same recipe.
Rob loved it! Always a good feeling. And I tell you what, fresh spinach is so good and SO much better than any frozen or canned version, so I recommend you get on board that train, especially since it’s good raw in a salad or cooked in garlic. It was really nice to have a home-cooked, healthy, and affordable meal at Rob’s, where it’s so easy to get caught up in all the nearby eat-outeries (I just made that up, and I like it). You should give the (original) recipe a try.
By Saturday night, we were running out of time to use a Groupon I’d bought with a fast approaching expiration date. The voucher was for the Cornerstone Restaurant and Cafe (http://www.yelp.com/biz/cornerstone-cafe-new-york) over in Alphabet City; it cost me about $30, but was worth $98. Niiiice.
However, while figuring out what to order, the waitress told us that we were limited to two beers or house wines, two entrees, and two desserts - no combination of which would add up to $98. I was a little peeved, and for the first time ever, Rob thought I might actually get mean with a waitress (all I said was “Well that’s a little misleading!”) She said they’d changed the menu to make their prices cheaper, so it didn’t add up anymore. Riiiiight.
So anyway, we ordered our beers (they were out of my first choice and NOT off to a good start) and then a pair of the most expensive entrees they had - some kind of steak…ribeyes, maybe? Ordinarily we never get the same thing as the other, but we were determined to spend our allotted value! I did feel better about being slightly duped when we were greeted with some unexpected salads and a surprisingly sophisticated vinaigrette, though.
It tasted nice, kind of like your folks might have grilled for you in the back yard. Of course it was difficult to love it since we’d had such fancy pants steaks the night before, but I appreciated its homey flavor. The mashed potatoes were nothing special, but the SPINACH! I never thought I’d say this, but I loved the spinach. Douse anything in butter and garlic and it’ll be wonderful I guess, but this was the best spinach I’ve ever had. Delicious.
After our steaks, it was time for dessert. Rob got the cannoli you see above, and since they boast Italian roots in this restaurant, they did it fair justice. I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so Rob ordered me the affogato sundae, which was ice cream, espresso, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. Since we rarely get dessert out (with the night before being an exception), this was a nice treat.
By the time the meal was over, I was a little less miffed about the whole situation. Food has this effect on me. It might not have been worth $98, but we did have a large and decent meal there, and yes, we tipped our waitress 20% on the whole value like good customers should. I’m not sure this is the kind of place we would have ended up without a Groupon (this is Groupon’s charm), but in the end, we were satisfied.
On the morning of Sunday August 26th, it was time for me to pack up and get ready to go back to stinky ol’ Richmond. Since we’d spent an arm and a leg on Mexican the night before (a sentence no one else has ever said), we decided to take it easy at home.
I think it’s the sweetest thing when Rob makes me breakfast. The idea is so that I can be working on something else (like packing), but I always end up in Rob’s little closet of a kitchen with him anyway, snapping away.
Usually we have our eggs over medium, but it was much faster that morning to just scramble them all together and divvy ‘em up among the two of us. We didn’t have any bacon (silent, emo tear), so we slapped some Nutella on a few slices of toast and called it a meal. Life lesson: you don’t need both butter and Nutella on the same piece of toast.
Anyway, after such a funny little trip with practically a stopover in New York, it was time to go back. If there’s one good thing about a long distance relationship, it’s that we have opportunities like we never had before to explore places that are proximal to at least one of us. Nothing between Boston and the Carolinas is too inconvenient. This little farewell breakfast was a time for me to stop and think about how hard we’ve tried to make the most of the distance, and that we’ve done pretty well so far.
I have to admit, we weren’t the most exciting eaters during this trip. We had a lot of leftovers, a lot of sandwich cake, and perhaps the best of these, a lot of biscuits.
For breakfast on our last morning together, I broke out the biscuits (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/biscuits-recipe/index.html), excited to try them two ways. The first, I naturally smothered with gravy (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/super-sausage-gravy/).
And on the second, I was delighted to smear our homemade butter (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/26559173908/paula-deen-eat-your-heart-out). Topped with some strawberry jam, it was a real treat.
It was a quick breakfast, since I’d made all of the ingredients earlier in the week, and each have appeared in previous posts on their maiden voyage. This breakfast leftoverture was a nice way to spend the morning together.
…you make breakfast.
I fried us each a pair of over-medium eggs and a few slices of turkey bacon, and toasted some bread that was just begging for our new lactic creation.
If there’s one advantage our homemade butter has over store-bought, it’s that it spreads way easier!
But how does it taste? The verdict?
Rob-tested, Rob-approved. Like I said before, it doesn’t have the strongest butter flavor, but it’s worth it to know that the only thing in it is whipping cream. No salt, no “natural flavoring,” just pure dairy product.
This was something really fun to do together on an otherwise laid-back and uneventful day. We spent the rest of our Sunday doing homework side by side with sprinklings of conversation…mostly about butter, but who’s counting.