Foodie In Training

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Quick Steak dinner for 2 and good beer.

Cooking for two is much different than cooking for six. For the past few months, Erin and I have been living in my parents' house and on any given night there can be as few as one and as many as six people eating dinner together. Usually, my mom takes over most of the kitchen duties (which helps explain our lack of activity on FiT- that's Foodie in Training, for those not paying attention). Every now and then Erin and I will make dinner for everyone. Or my brother Greg and I will come up with some creation (our cavatelli with chunky tomato sauce and diced chicken was awesome).

But the last week, my parents and brother have been out of town, leaving Erin and I cooking for two, like we did quite often in Cincinnati. When cooking for two some things aren't as practical: huge roasts, baked pastas, casseroles, etc. We've made those things before, its just that you end up with more leftovers than dinner, and we get sick of the food before it spoils. Instead, our go-to meals usually involve a small package of some sort of meat and smaller sides.

On Tuesday, Erin and I bought a couple small steaks. They were pretty thick and lean top round cuts. Being so lean, and not the highest quality, I wanted a lot of flavor. I used salt, lots of pepper, oregano, parsley, and some "Mrs. Dash" seasoning blend (basically some dried onion, more pepper and oregano). I also added a drop of olive oil. Once my grill-pan was smoking hot with some Pam, I added the steaks, searing the pepper-heavy seasoning into the meat, creating a bit of a crust. (Caution- if you try doing this, make sure you are prepared for lots of smoke and your smoke detector going off. If, say, you are cooking at a home that has an alarm system that will call an alarm company and ultimately the fire department whenever a smoke detector goes off, you may want to disarm the system before you start cooking). I then turned the heat down a little and cooked the steaks to medium.

Erin made some spinach with lots of garlic and lemon (which is, again, my favorite vegetable side dish), a salad and a little brown rice. I also sauteed some onions and baby bella mushrooms for the steak and rice. The mushrooms and onions cut the peppery steak nicely. A nice little meal, just for two.

Beer: I tried a hI.P.A.- Magic Hat Brewing Company's extremely hoppy IPA. This is a beer made for hop-heads, and I fall into that category. There is a bit of a fruitiness, but your hardly can find it under all the hops at both the front and the back of the taste. I love IPAs, and one of the reasons is how well they stand up to hearty food, like steak. hI.P.A. is Magic Hat's spring seasonal, and let me tell you: I'm ready for spring. I've already had Great Lakes Brewing Company's spring varietal: Conway's Irish Ale. And, pitchers and catchers report today! IT IS SPRING!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


As far as trendy and new restaurants, our options may be limited in little Sandusky, Ohio, but I have been happily surprised several times. Zinc, Red Gables and Nagoya being some of them that come to mind.

This weekend we found another great place in North Central Ohio: Touche'. It is a Martini Bar operated by Chez Francois, a highly regarded French Restaurant right next door. The menu at Touche is highlighted by appetizers and comfort food with a stress on high quality and French ingredients.

Friday nights is Martini night. My father-in-law (John), my dad and I all have an affection for a good martini, so we went, with our wives to enjoy the discounted martinis and good company. The three of ordered vodka martinis up. My dad's was dirty with anchoive stuffed olives. John and I had vodka martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives. Awesome.

I ordered a meat plate that had a good sausage, a thinly sliced ham, and smoked salmon. There were large shavings of parmesian cheese, the perfect salty compliment to the meats. There was also a large assortment of olives and a bunch of gigantic whole capers. This all surrounded the best part of the plate- a bunch of artichokes, sun dried tomatos, and a really spicy cherry pepper, all perfectly marinated.

Erin and I then split a ham and cheese sandwich. It had the same, high quality ham that was on my meat plate with melted gruyère cheese. It was served with a spicy giardiniera, dijon mustard and a plate of more olives and other pickled vegetables (including a green tomato).

My second martini was the same, but dirty. The three martini guys, after dinner, had a shot of Knob Creek on the rocks. A sofisticated and strong whiskey with a bite. A great finish to a great evening.