Last Night & Tonight

We were away for four days. Rented a sort-of cabin near Mt. Rainier. One of my favorite things to do is make dinner in a new place and try to come up with something good whilst dealing with restrictions and idiosyncrasies of a new kitchen/hotplate/cookstove. I’ll dedicate a post to that sometime soon. In the meantime here’re last night’s and this night’s dinners.

2/16/17 – Sous vide New York Steak, Sauteed Kale with Garlic, Mashed Fauxtatoes.

New York steak, Kale & Mashed Fauxtatotes

The mashed fauxtatoes are my favorite part. Cut up a whole cauliflower into florets keeping or removing as much stem as you like. Steam until fully cooked then steam for another 4 minutes. Remove steamer basket with the cauliflower and let it drain over a kitchen towel for a few minutes. Place the still very hot, now slightly dry, cauliflower in a saucepan with high sides, toss in two or three tablespoons of unsalted butter, a fat pinch of salt and then pick a direction: savory, garlicky, hot ‘n spicy, or something else entirely. Seriously, cauliflower, even more than potatoes, offers a blank canvas, freshly gessoed, limited only by your imagination. This evening I added a pinch of cracked rosemary and a healthy shake of dill, so traditional. Get out the immersion blender and puree until completely smooth. Cauliflower really is the new <insert previously trendy vegetable here>.

Tear the kale off the stem then steam/sauté in a blend of olive oil and low-sodium chicken broth. I leave the kale undisturbed and covered while the broth boils off, then add a pinch of salt and sauté in the remaining oil until bright green.

I sous vide the frozen steak for 1:30 @ 129 degrees, unbag it, pat dry, season generously with salt, pepper, and Penzy’s Roasted Garlic Powder, then sear over high heat in a mix of olive oil and unsalted butter, frequently basting, until nicely charred.

Slice on the bias, plate on pre-warmed serving plates then dust with a few twists of black pepper.

2/17/17 – Dungeness Crab Cakes and Broccoli-Cheddar-Hazelnut bake.

Fresh Crab Cakes

It’s a happy day when I wander into Fred Meyer to find great big Dungeness crabs on sale for $5.99/lb. And I enjoy making the counter woman smile when I say “nope, just weigh ’em and bag ’em” when she asks “do you want these cleaned?”

After much practice and provided I have running water, I can break down a 2+ pound crab in about 10 minutes. I realize that’s not fast, but I pride myself on the amount of meat recovered.

To the big bowl of luscious crab meat, I add a big scoop of mayonnaise, a drizzle of Worcestershire Sauce, and the juice of at least one lemon, but always test the lemon first. On two occasions I had lemons that were super-strong and rather than brightening the crab, soured it. Finely dice one red pepper and add what feels right. Sometimes I use the whole pepper, sometimes just half. It depends on the volume and flavor of the crab meat (which I’ve been testing at regular intervals). Finely slice three or four scallions, green and white parts, and add to crab meat. Gently fold everything together. Lastly, add about half a bag of Panko breadcrumbs and, again being gentle, fold it into the mix until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Line a baking sheet or tray with parchment paper, remove crab mixture from refrigerator and using a 1/3rd cup scoop, form as many cakes as you can. Pack the scoop firmly and really wack it to dislodge the cakes. Once out of the scoop handle them gently, unlike most crab cakes out there in the world, these are mostly actual crab.

Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large frying pan and set heating over medium heat. Using a fish spatula carefully place the cakes in the frying pan. Leave room around them so you can maneuver the spatula. Be gentle, move slowly.

Crab Cakes in the pan

Cook until nicely browned then, carefully, flip each cake and cook on the second side. Don’t let them burn. Reduce the heat if necessary to keep from burning while warming through.

For the broccoli, I’d normally steam up a bunch of florets, place the steamed florets in the drip pan that came with my toaster oven, cover with shredded Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, then broil until the cheese is bubbly with some brown spots. Once done in the broiler, remove and sprinkle with crushed unsalted roasted hazelnuts. Just a few, don’t go crazy. Let the whole thing cool enough so you can easily scoop the broccoli and the cheese together. But tonight I tried arranging the florets, after cutting them all in half, on a frying pan and browning them. I then added some low-sodium chicken stock and let them steam, covered, until the broth evaporated. I then plated the broccoli and sprinkled some shredded parmesan. I opted for simple and fast as I was hungry and really wanted to get to work on those crab cakes.