Monday, September 2, 2013

First Great Chef, Mom, and Steak In A Bag

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My Mom and Sookie
It's only fitting that I start at the beginning right?  The 50 chefs (cooks) that have inspired me, must begin at home.  My mom cooked almost every night, it wasn't easy or cheap to take 5 kids out to dinner.   Mostaccioli night was every Sunday, steak every Saturday.  We ate lots of chicken drumsticks, pork chops, sarma, and wild game.  Pheasant, venison and moose were not uncommon, all "bagged" by my hunting father.  My dad liked (and still does) to eat well.  A meal on the table.  He would disapprove of my wine and cheese and popcorn dinners!   Our dinner table was in an octagonal room, all windows, that perfectly fit our round table and all 7 of us.  In the summer we ate on our huge screened in porch, just a block from the Mississippi River.  To this day the shrill locust call brings me back to that table.  It will also play a part in a future chef post!  By the time I was in high school, there was no one around but me.  My parents entertained a lot; big Christmas parties, bridge group, and then dinner parties.  They were famous for the theme parties, and a toga party was the highlight one summer.  The neighbors who were not invited had to smell that amazing lamb on the rotisserie all day long!

cooking implements...bag and stapler!
After I was married, my mom gave me her original recipe box, and filled it with recipes she loved.  One of them was Steak In A Bag.  She said it was a fun meal to make for company and delicious.  I tucked it away and decided now was the time.  I called my friend Rosalie and told her what I was up to and invited her and her husband for Steak In A Bag (hilarious, isn't it?)  She was all in and wanted to make an appetizer to go with the theme.  So in true Joan Petitti fashion, she made Rumaki.  Yum!

me and the first cooking influence in my life

We had a salad every night growing up, although it was nothing fancy; iceberg, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  I decided to amp it up a little and do an iceberg wedge with blue cheese vinaigrette.  It's kind of ironic, because I remember when blue cheese was becoming popular and my mom loved it.  She started crumbling it on our very perfect salad, and I was not happy about it.  One night I ran away because of her thoughtless gesture.  I wasn't gone long of course, but I really never got up the nerve to taste the stuff until I was in college.  Now I love it!  I knew the men would need a little more bulk with dinner so I roasted mushrooms and new potatoes with butter, olive oil, garlic and thyme.

And then came dessert.  As I said, we didn't dine out frequently, but when I was the only one home, my parents ate out more and more.  Being a teenager, I could sort of decide if I was interested in their choice of restaurant.  Bishop's Cafeteria was a favorite.  You wouldn't catch me eating public food on a buffet now, but this place was pretty high class...for a cafeteria that is, chandeliers and tablecloths.  I was like a kid filling up my tray, and getting to try all these standard American classics that we never ate at home.  There were no casseroles in our house, no mac and cheese, and dessert was usually a cookie or brownie.  I'm pretty sure we went so my dad could eat fried chicken, something my mom never made.  I can't tell you a single thing I ate at Bishop's except Chocolate Ambrosia Pie.  It was a chocolate pie with whipped cream and chocolate curls.  I think it was those curls that really lured me in, they were unlike anything I had ever seen.  The pie was rather pudding like, but pudding was another thing I never had much of as a kid.  So there you have dessert for our tribute dinner.  Everyone in my family who has heard the menu wanted to come, including my mom and dad!

Dinner is served

the salad and a taste of everything....
We all decided that dinner was great.  The steak needs a little tweaking, really a thicker steak would be better.  The cheese was not awful at all!  The salad is a keeper, I will make this dressing often, and the pie was the hit of the dinner.  After making dinner, I did Google the recipes to see what was out there.  My Ambrosia Pie is different than most I saw, but we all thought it was amazing!  The recipes we used follow, and stay tuned for Chef #2...another childhood classic!

Sookie and Rosalie eying the Rumaki!

Steak In A Bag

1 sirloin steak, 2-3#
4 T softened butter
2 T olive oil
1 clove crushed garlic
2 teaspoons Lowry's
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs

(I made a second steak with the same recipe, although I used 4 oz. blue cheese instead of cheddar)

with blue cheese
with cheddar
all sealed up, and on a cookie sheet

Mix butter, oil, garlic and seasoning together.  Slather on all sides of trimmed steak.  Mix cheese and breadcrumbs together and press onto butter mixture, coating steak well.  Place inside paper bag, and fold over the end and staple to secure.  Place bag on rimmed cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375˚ oven.  Bake 20 minutes and increase oven to 425˚ and bake 15 minutes more.  Let stand for 5 minutes before opening bag.  Most of our steak was over done.  But there is no way to check the temp without opening up the bag.  I couldn't find a thick sirloin, so I think I would cook it 15 minutes and then up the heat for 5-10.  You can always put it back in.  Also, Move the bag around so it cooks evenly.  The overcooked portion was still delicious!

out of the oven to rest

Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

set the wedge up so the dressing goes into the nooks!

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
salt and pepper
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
4 ounces blue cheese
3 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped
1 Head iceberg lettuce

In a jar, mix mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Whisk in the oil to taste and half of the blue cheese.  When you are ready to serve, pour dressing over wedge and garnish with remaining blue cheese and bacon.  Make 4 servings.

the best!

Bishop's Cafeteria Chocolate Ambrosia Pie

3 cups softened vanilla ice cream (buy the good stuff)
1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 small box chocolate instant pudding
Pie Crust
Whipped Cream
Chocolate Curls

Mix the ice cream, gelatin and pudding with a hand mixer and pour into prepared shell. My mom's recipe calls for graham cracker crust, but I was in the mood for a real pie crust.  So whatever pleases you.  It also called for a layer of Cool Whip which kind of grosses me out, so we went with whipped cream and on large chocolate shaving.  This was hands down the hit of the night!!


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