My mother and sister-in-law came for dinner tonight. (Or more accurately this afternoon… they arrived at 3:55, presumably on time for the blue plate special?)
For Mike’s family, the absolute fanciest dinner you can have (with the exception of turkey at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) is steak. (Or cornish hens circa 1982.) So when I was at my sister’s for Mother’s Day brunch this morning, I ran across the street to Sobey’s, one of few grocery chains that sells fresh bison in their meat case, and picked up some steaks.
I know I’ve talked about bison before, but just a reminder: because it’s so lean (containing half the fat of beef, and even less fat than skinless turkey or chicken, or even halibut) cuts like steak need to be given about a third less cooking time than a similar cut of beef. Because it looks and tastes like beef, people tend to treat it the same way in the kitchen, often drying it out. If you’re a beginner, try using ground bison first – it’s foolproof in chilis, meatballs, pasta sauces, etc.
When I did some foodstyling for Trish Magwood a few months ago, while she was in town promoting the 100th birthday of Melitta coffee, she taught me a quick spice rub that included actual coffee grounds. I’ve revised it a little.
Mike: “I can’t imagine ever having steak without this rub on it now!”
The smashed potatoes were simply my easiest option. My in-laws are very much the type to construct dinner out of 1) meat. 2) potato. 3) vegetable, preferably boiled. Mashed potatoes I love, but they are more tedious and require peeling, something I’d prefer not to do. Baked potatoes seemed far too steakhouse; I pondered going the twice-baked route with chives from the garden, but Yukon golds tend to have flimsy skins for that sort of thing. They are ideal, however, for a rough mash. To shake things up a bit, try throwing a small sweet potato into the mix as well; the mashing is so quick that they aren’t completely incorporated into each other, which keeps things interesting.
You don’t need a recipe for this; just like traditional mashed potatoes, add low fat sour cream, buttermilk, oil and Parmesan until you have the consistency you like. Leftovers are sturdy enough to be easily shaped into small patties (with or without the addition of a drained can of salmon or leftover flaked fish) and fried until crisp. (Stay tuned for Day 133.)
The pavlovas I made so that I could bring half to brunch this morning and use the rest at dinner. They seem fancy, but are one of the easiest things you can make. All you do is beat egg whites with sugar until you have a stiff mixture you can spoon onto a cookie sheet and scoop a divet into the middle of; they can be any size you want. Then bake them at 250F for a little over an hour, until they are dry on the outside but still chewy and marshmallowy on the inside. As a bonus, they will take care of dessert anytime you need to feed someone who has an intolerance to wheat or lactose or fat. And you can top them with cream, custard, ice cream, and any kind of juicy fruit that’s in season.
This recipe will make about 40 small (two or three bite) pavlovas, which could not be more perfect for a summer party. One passionfruit will pretty much do the lot of them. I adore passionfruit with pavlova – the sweetness, crunch and cream offsets the intense flavor, juiciness and incredible tang of the passionfruit.