Tyler, at your service.
It’s saturday night, I’m already in bed, I’m a little toasty after a couple of glasses of champagne, and I figure I have to post on this blog before Sam murders me. So, here goes.
A couple of weeks ago, Sam and I decided we wanted to throw a big dinner party. Actually, I decided I wanted to throw a big dinner party, when Sam mentioned that she wanted us to cook for her boyfriend when he was in town over Columbus Day Weekend. I have to admit, I jumped at this chance to finally throw a dinner party. I grew up going to dinner parties with my parents, helping throw dinner parties, but I never organized and cooked and actually executed a single dinner party myself. THIS WAS MY CHANCE. And I took it. So, we decided to invite my roommate to dinner, which would be held on Columbus Day. (eventually, however, our party grew from 4 to 3, then doubled to 6, all in one day.)
I put off deciding what to make until the night before, when I figured we should use whatever I have in my fridge, and maybe make some hearty meal, like steak, for Sam’s manly man boyfriend.
The Menu: Cheese and Grapes (Appetizer); Homemade mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, green bean fries, omelette (for Sam, who does not eat steak/beef) and apple cider bacon-pepper steak (Entrees); Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries (Dessert).
As you all now (and if you don’t, you will soon enough), Rachael Ray is my Spirit Animal. A couple of weeks ago I tuned to her show, and caught her making Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries. I missed the recipe portion, so I just threw something together, hoping something would stick. I made a cheesecake batter using one (1) cream cheese bar (don’t go for the low-fat bar: YOLO!), one (1) cup of powdered sugar, and about one-two (1-2) teaspoons of Vanilla Extract. I mixed it until it was as smooth as can be. After washing the two packs of strawberries I bought, I took a sharp knife and carved the strawberries hollow. Don’t worry if you don’t cut enough or cut too much. Then, I placed the cheesecake batter in a plastic bag, cut one corner of the bag (viola! a pastry piping bag!) and filled each strawberry with cheesecake batter. Rachael dipped her strawberries in graham cracker crumbs, but since I had no such thing, I just used hot cocoa powder, which actually melted into the strawberry and added a rich, chocolate little twist to it. After filling the strawberries, put them in the fridge for a couple of hours, and they’re good to go.
Verdict: THEY WERE UNREAL. I’m not just saying that because I made them. They were gone instantly. It’s a hit! It’s a hit!
Now, for dinner.
I decided to make the green-bean fries first, because they took the most prep time and could be baked last. So, first, you have to wash all the green beans, and cut both edges off. After they are more or less dry, roll them in egg whites (one at a time – yeah, it can be a pain in the ass, but it tastes so good!), and then in bread crumbs (I used plain bread crumbs, because that was all that I had, but you could easily use panko, etc.) and lay them out on an oven tray (don’t forget to Pam! that baby!). Then, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees, and throw those suckers in there for a good 15-17 minutes.
Then we cut the corn into thirds, and boiled it in a pot of water with olive oil, salt and butter (REVOLUTIONARY, I KNOW!!). I think you got it from here. Remind me to tell you all about how disastrous it is to experiment with corn one day.
Now, for my favorite part of the meal: the apple-cider bacon-pepper sauce. I stumbled on this recipe one day, and immediately had to try it. Sam and I tried it with chicken, and our lives were changed. First, you fry bacon. Since there were about 6 of us having dinner, I (read: I made Sam) fried about five (5) pieces of bacon. When the bacon was done, lay them on paper towels. I added one (1) cup of apple cider to the pan, and let the cider start to simmer with the bacon grease. Then, I added chopped peppers (red, green and orange) and minced garlic to the pot, and let it all come to a boil. When it began boiling, I added the bacon (chopped into tiny pieces back into the pan and then let it simmer for about 8 minutes on low heat. The source recipe calls for beef or chicken broth, but I was all out, so whatever. You can either put the sauce directly on the plate, or put it in a bowl and have your guests do it themselves.
I was worried when Sam said she would make homemade mashed potatoes from scratch but they surprisingly turned out swell. I’ll let her elaborate on them later.
Finally, my main source of nerves was cooking the steak properly and correctly. I bought two nice steaks at Whole Foods, and with my handy meat tenderizer, got about six (6) decent sized steaks from it. I made a dry rub for the meat, using paprika, garlic, salt and pepper, and let them sit for about four hours. Then, I grabbed a pan and drizzled a bit of EVOO (my buzzword) and then let it heat up. I threw the meat on there, for about eight (8) minutes on each side. Cook to your preference.
Finally, everyone was here and dinner was about to be served. Sam and I changed from our cooking rags into proper Dinner Party attire. We set the food on the table, I took off my apron, and we feasted.
VERDICT: Delightful. It was a success! There were no leftovers, and everyone was eating like their lives depended on it.
It was a success. I laid out the fancy table clothe, bought flowers and even rearranged furniture. It was exhausting, yet entirely fulfilling. Doing the dishes, however, was another story…
PS. If you wanna spruce up your apartment/home/room for Fall, stop by Bed, Bath & Beyond and pick up some Autumn themed felt place mates, for cheap, and hang them up on the walls, like I did! This is not a paid advertisement.