Monday, August 15, 2011

Greatest. Hangover. Cure. Ever.

A tall bloody mary (for the alcoholic)...

Burnt toast and bananas (for the foodie)...

Copious amounts of Tylenol (for the druggie)...

A Sunday run (for the crazy)...

...And for everyone else - Emergen-C packets.

If I wake up in the morning feeling terrible and I can manage to peel myself off the couch, I wander straight(ishly) to the kitchen and make one of my all-time favorite hangover cures (aside from dating a nurse with an IV saline supply).  Each of the three ingredients is not forget one...
  • 2 Emergen-C Packets
  • Water
  • 2-3 Ice Cubes
1 Emergen-C packet isn't enough - You will need the concentration of electrolytes and vitamins, so two packets are a must.  The Emergen-C provides the boost, the sugar, and that ever so slight carbonation.  Water, not too much, maybe 8 ounces - You will struggle with drinking any more.  Two or three cubes of ice - You will want the drink cold as possible to combat your alcohol sweats.

Combine all three ingredients, stir, drink, maybe a Tylenol or two, then pass out for another hour.  Magic.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I need Japanese steel

"Why do you need Japanese steel?"

"I have vermin to kill food to chop."

"You must have big rats hot girl you need Hattori Hanzo steel."

And while I'm not going to go on a Quentin Tarentino-fueled escapade, having one really awesome chef's knife makes everything that much better.

"I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut." - Hattori Hanzo

(rewind 3 years)

Fighting the blistering cold of the imminent Swedish winter, I found myself wandering around the streets of downtown Stockholm.  As I continued to dodge the tourists, mothers with baby strollers, and rebellious youth, I fought my way into a large department store with hopes of reviving my body's warmth. Being me, I eventually landed in the kitchen department; however, unlike The Bride in Kill Bill, I wasn't searching for a knife that could cut God.  But that 8" Global Chef knife embedded behind the glass display case, framed in Swedish pine was still pretty damn impressive.

100s of Kroner and an awkward, broken-Swenglish conversation later, that sucker was mine...

Now, I'm not recommending going out to buy a Global-specific chef's knife1 (even though Giadi de Laurentis uses them).  But to rather skip out on the two rounds of Patron shots for one night and buy a really, really nice chef's knife.  Believe me, it will be worth it.  It will cut everything.  You'll enjoy cutting everything.  And even though there's two day's of plate buildup in the sink, that knife will always be meticulously washed and dried before anything else is done.  It will never be dishwasher'ed but taken care of like a Fantasy Football team in the playoffs.

Now you don't have to go saturate your knife collection and buy the whole $1,000 set2.  One (and maybe the pairing knife as a gift later) is all you really need.  The chef's knife makes it easy to cut, chop, dice, trim, and clean dishes (kidding, but maybe she'll clean up since she was that impressed by your cooking skills and Japanese steel).  Just remember Tip #4 and don't rush things with a really sharp knife, the hospital is never a good second date.

I like the weight of the Global knives, the single, forged steel blade and handle, the easy rocking motion and the good balance from the knife.
I recently bought a couple the 8" Global Chef Knife as a wedding gift.  A knife is kind of an intense gift so I wasn't quite sure how'd they take it.  However, I just recently heard stories that there are "special rules" for that knife.  It's always washed and dried immediately.  It's never thrown in the dishwasher.  It's used daily, highly coveted, and potentially a source of contention in years to come.  Just yesterday, to the chagrin of the spouse, the whole Global knife set and block now sits proudly on the brand new kitchen counter top.

I'd like to see a set of gift registry towels achieve so much....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

STK Steakhouse Served at Home

I found myself in NYC the other weekend staring blankly at the steakhouse menu of STK ( My brain was desperately trying to catch up to the task at hand but the stunning mix of scantily clad hostesses, extremely attractive clientele, expansive first floor lounge, and early evening drinks had me elsewhere. Penned with the slogan "...not your dad's steakhouse," STK was selling the sex. The online "commercial" (with very little images of steak and food but instead flashes of women's lips and wind-blown hair) was, well, very true to form. New York City at its finest....

Oh right....

Back to the menu.

"Steak, please."

Zooming ahead - past the stories, the wine, the steak, the appetizers, a night without cameras, and a Vamoose bus back home - I was craving steak again.

There are only two things you really need to make a good steak:
  • A good steak (seems obvious, but believe me, STK doesn't shop at Giant)
  • A well-loved cast iron skillet
Learn that and you can improv the rest.  When you have a decently stocked fridge, the sides come easy.  I always keep sweet onions on hand, and this week, mushrooms were the vegetable du jour. From the pictures, you'll notice the dull, canned green beans (what can I say...I'm not cooking for company every night).  Here's what came together and the subsequent recipe.nbsp&;

Bone-In New York Strip Steak served with Sauteed mushrooms and Sweet onions  and a side of Green Beans

  • Grass Fed 12 oz Bone-In New York Strip Steak
  • 1/2 Sweet Vidalia onion
  • 1 8oz carton of mushrooms
  • Salt, Pepper, Rosemary
  • A splash of sherry wine
  • A small slice of butter

As you know, timing is everything.  I figured the steak would take about 8-9ish minutes to cook and the mushrooms and onions about 10 minutes.  I did the mushroom-onion prep first, then re-used the cutting board to season the steak.  I planned on starting with the saute, and if I was off by a minute or two, I knew it could stay warm.

Sauteed Mushrooms and Vidalia (Sweet) Onions
3 minute prep. 10 minutes cook time.
  1. Cut an onion in half and slice lengthwise to make long semi-circles
  2. I bought precut mushrooms so I just put them on the cutting board and rough chopped them once or twice
  3. Start a skillet, on medium with some olive oil
  4. Throw in the onions and mushrooms after a minute or two.  Add some salt and pepper.
  5. I added a small sliver of butter and a splash of sherry cooking wine to give the saute some liquid and a different flavor
  6. Cook on medium for about 10 minutes - occasionally stir
  7. The mushrooms will slightly darken, absorbing the liquid and the onions will begin to caramelize
  • If you find that the liquid is evaporating, you can cover the pan for a few minutes to trap in the steam/moisture

Cast-Iron NY Strip Steak
3 minutes prep. 9 minutes cook time.

I like to keep my steaks simple.  In this case, I used salt, pepper, and a little bit of finely chopped rosemary.
  1. Preheat the cast-iron skillet on medium-high
  2. Season the steak
  3. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet probably won't need any more oil so I put the steak directly in the skillet
  4. I covered the steak with my make-shift lid and flipped it twice - 3/4 minutes in and also 7/8 minutes in.

And that was it. Pretty straight forward and while I didn't have the ambiance of STK, the steak was almost as tasty.  Once you get a hang of the cast-iron steak, the rest will fall in place The next time you're date is craving a beautiful petit filet or ribeye you'll be ready.