High-Dollar Holiday Alternative: The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation

Prelude- Let me explain why this particular recipe contains no accompanying pictures; the reason is that THIS year I am planning to make this dish for my New Years Night Party, and I feel that this is such a great alternative to lavish, overdone traditional holiday meals that I didn’t want to wait until after the new year to post the recipe. Plus, I can usually only afford to make this dish once a year so please accept my picture-less apology.

When I was growing up I always looked forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were ‘The Big Three’ when all of the aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather each of the extended families of cousins and other in-laws, and would have a huge afternoon-into-evening dinner party. This went on from the time that I was a baby into my early teens and, although I loved those times, the one thing that always bugged me was this; the menu never changed. Because it was always the same group of people, and because everyone had to make or bring their own special ‘signature’ dishes, it was a constant combination of all three holiday menus. There was always a massive turkey, a giant ham and 2 different types of polish sausage (pork and beef), along with the green bean casseroles, creamed corn, pumpkin pies, crescent rolls, etc. This happened three times a year, EVERY year from my birth until I obtained a drivers license. (Yes! Thank you Jesus!)

This is why I prefer to have non-traditional menus during MY holidays.  I want something that I don’t eat during the year but that I look forward to making and consuming. Something laid back and casual, but decadent, naughty, rich. Something that that is so expensive to make, you couldn’t afford to eat it out at a restaurant. I’m going to share one of those recipes now. This particular one works great with any of the ‘Big Three’ holidays, but is also perfect for poker parties or during the playoffs–provided you collect a cover charge at the door. It’ll feed at least 8 so plan accordingly. This ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every cent!

Presenting, what I like to call “The Special Salt-Encrusted Sirloin Sensation” or, “Some Real Expensive Meat Thrown In a Bunch of Butter.”

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Comfort Food Time: Creamy Veggie & Bean Soup with Homemade Rustic Rosemary Bread

Ok, y”all. Halloween is over. The election is over.  It”s time to really delve into comfort foods like soup and bread.  Or better yet, both. My house recently smelled like garlic and freshly baked bread for two days. Let”s face it–those are the best smells on earth.

I adore soup and just had to share this recipe; it”s soooo good, and healthy to boot.  This is probably my favorite soup I”ve made so far!  Make it, for realz.

Plus, a bonus bread recipe!  I spoil you, so.

Creamy Veggie & Bean Soup

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I Are Sophisticated

So-phis-ti-ca-tion. [suh-fis-ti-key-shuhn]. The art of becoming less naïve and more refined. The quality of refinement—displaying good taste, wisdom and subtlety rather than crudeness, stupidity and vulgarity. To become more worldly through cultivation or experience. To….

Ah, who am I kidding? I got nunna dat. I’m about as sophisticated as a Pop Tart. And just as square. Like a lot of you I sometimes pretend, but eventually I get found out. Like the time that I ordered the Trout Almandine special, and once the waiter placed it in front of me I asked him where they hide the tartar sauce. Sophistication always looks good, but sometimes it’s a lot of hard work. Take Beef Wellington. I’ve made this dish twice. It’s a half-day event. And each time that I served it to my sophisticated friends, they went bat-shit crazy. Couldn’t get enough, they said. I on the other hand, couldn’t wait to go out and get a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the finer things, it’s just that sometimes all of the extra hard work and cost just doesn’t seem worth it. I wanna be sophisticated, I just don’t wanna work too hard at it. Anyway, I recently had the need to provide a high-end breakfast for a special ‘friend’ that unexpectedly spent the night. A couple of eggs over easy and some Jimmie Deans just wasn’t gonna cut it. I needed sophisticated but do-able. And I just happened to have the perfect recipe. I call it, “The Morning After” breakfast. It also works for Mother’s Day and special occasions. Throw back a couple of Mimosas while you scarf it down and you’ve got the perfect start to your day. And if there’s an MMA bout on cable, it’s like Christmas morning!

The beauty of this dish is that it doesn’t require any special knife stills. If you can hack up some vegetables and walk away with all of your fingers still attached, you can make this dish. The hardest part is getting the eggs into a bowl without breaking the yolk.

Morning After Eggs

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Bread Porn (Literally)

I was thinking the other day about my first time. I was young and inexperienced. She was much older and had an intimidating reputation. The ladies in town used to point and talk about her in hushed tones, but she didn’t mind. She was confident in her skills and she told me that she didn’t care what anyone thought. She did it purely for the pleasure.

When I showed up at her place I was surprised to see that she had everything laid out and ready. There was more to this than I’d imagined, but she assured me that I needn’t worry.

“I’ll take it slow” she purred. It all came together remarkably quick and before I knew it she gently took me by my hands. “I want you to do this” she said. “You need to be forceful and firm. Work it between your fingers. Here, let me show you.” Kneading, massaging, and pulling, her strong hands working their magic while I took it all in. Then, it was my turn. “Don’t be afraid to get a little rough” she cooed. “Be aggressive!”

Just as I started to feel confident she stopped and looked me in the eyes. “Now I want to put it someplace warm and watch it rise.” She poured oil into her hands and rubbed them together. “Once I’m finished we’ll cover it and let it rest. Then, when it’s ready I want you to use yours hands one more time, just like I showed you.” I was eager, and after what seemed like an eternity she finally said “It’s time!” I was surprised when I looked down to see that it had doubled in size. And I’ll admit that she took my breath away when she punched it down and slapped it on the counter top. “Now we’re close!’ she excitedly said. It was amazing to see how she pinched, pulled and rolled it under her palms, preparing it for its final destination. “Are you ready?” she teased. I nodded. “Then do it! Put it in!’ she cried!

I don’t know who’s a sicker puppy; me for writing this garbage or you for reading it! But hey, how many boring ‘How to Make Bread’ recipes have you had to endure? At least this kept your attention.

Bread Porn

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Eyes Before Taste Buds: Panzanella Salad

Sure, it’s great when food tastes good, but any food blogger will tell you that what’s really important is presentation. Colorful, vibrant food is instantly appealing. Looking at a wall of penny candy or a heaping bowl of fruit, you are mesmerized by the abundance of color. If it’s appealing to the eye, it must be appealing to your taste buds, right? We felt this way when we first created this summery, visually enticing side dish. Panzanella salad, a classic Tuscan summer dish, celebrates fresh garden produce.

Classic panzanella incorporates stale, unsalted Tuscan bread. Since we do not keep stale bread on hand (who doesn’t finish bread before it goes stale?) we decided to char a fresh French baguette. The toasted baguette inside the dish absorbs the vinaigrette while maintaining its crunch alongside the fresh cubed vegetables. The married flavors are a kaleidoscope of color and texture.

Panzanella Salad

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My Breakfast is Better Than Yours: The Croque-Madame

What did you have for breakfast when you woke up this weekend? Unless it was a croque-madame (which I didn’t even know about until this weekend), you lose. What you’re looking at is the female version of a croque-monsieur, which is a glorified ham and cheese sandwich with bread soaked in a tasty sauce. I’ll let you figure out why this one’s considered the female version.

Anyway, I was lucky enough for my girlfriend to have seen it made on The Chew, which inspired her to make it for breakfast. It peaked my interest right away — pretty much just because Michael Symon is on The Chew and I’d love to hang out with him and have a beer. But other than that, this concoction has everything a breakfast should be.

Think of what you’d order at the diner. If you have any wits to you, you’re going to order eggs, some delicious meat (bacon or ham), toast, and homefries. But let’s be honest, most of us just use the homefries as filler, to soak up the “dippy egg” or sunny-side up egg. This breakfast has it all and more. Not only does it have a delicious, savory meat, but it also includes melted cheese in between a tasty baked bread with crispy toast.

Further, the toast has been soaked in a cream (bechamel sauce) made of milk and nutmeg, giving the whole meal a bit of a sweet undertone. Finally, thanks to the females out there, the fried or poached egg crowns the sandwich. To eat it the right way, break the yoke first, and then cut into the rest of it. Get a little bit of everything in every bite and there’s no need for those homefries.

The Croque-Madame

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BEER: It’s What’s for Dinner (Numbers 3, 4, & 5)

Things are getting fast and furious in Endless Simmer’s quest to use beer in 100 different dishes. After an off-list detour for Corona cupcakes, we’re back this week and crossing three items off the agenda: beer cornbread, beer-marinated pork, and chocolate beer milkshakes!

Last week, I embarked on a beerfeast of epic proportions. My plans consisted of a four-course meal; each course cooked with beer and paired with a different beer. I got through my week mostly by dreaming up the menu: pork loin marinated in an IPA, mashed potatoes with a brown ale gravy, cornbread with a wheat beer, and milk stout milkshakes.

When the end of the week finally came around (and the drinking began) the menu got downsized a bit, quickly falling from a beerfeast to a dinner with some things made of beer, but not all the beers I wanted to make them with. The pork ended up being marinated in a brown ale, which the friend who brewed it proudly called a “piece of shit.” Mashed potatoes and gravy didn’t even happen, after I asked another drunken pal to peel potatoes and found that ending horribly wrong.

Fortunately, I made the cornbread in advance, and when I reached my peak in drunkenness later on in the night, I was still well able to whip up the milk stout shakes. And of course, while we were beginning our beveraging, we did brew an IPA. So in the end, I still had a fairly epic beer dinner, reaching a new record of three items from my beholden list.

1. The Appetizer: Wheat Berry Cornbread

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