This blog is intended to be about week-long grocery adventures on a reasonable budget, but since I am still working out the kinks with that whole concept, so last night is a good moment to diverge. We were in Boston last week (Sister Hazel had a sweet concert at the Paradise Rock Club), therefore the last weekend was a drain on the dining-out budget. This weekend, with work catch-up and chores, we stayed home for dinner faced with a quagmire: how to exercise the canines. Steak night was the simple answer.
Might as well diverge from the divergence for a moment; one of the main reasons we went to Boston was to eat at Rocca. I met Tiffani Faison in Foxwoods last year; fittingly I was tasting a dish that was my absolute favorite from the evening only to realize who made it. So, with the weekend planned we headed out to Boston. I did not make reservations ahead of time, but did call on Saturday to check table availability when I first noticed something was wrong: the phone was disconnected. Few Googles later it became clear, Rocca Kitchen Bar closed for business on New Year's Eve. Major bummer to my weekend.
Anyways, so the criteria for Steak Night were "Tasty and Simple". For $66.85 I felt we got that down pretty well; that's less than half of what I would have spent at the Grill Room. Personally, I like spending time in the kitchen, so cooking only helps me enjoy the meal more. Steak offers a delicious treat that's also very simple. Some balk at the $15-25 per pound costs of steak at Whole Foods, it's totally worth it. It's still less than eating out. The Top Loin cuts were on sale at $13 per lb, totally worth it. Now typically I go for grass-fed and dry-aged, but Sunday night the selection was slim, so the sale option was the best option.
One of my favorite accompaniments to red meat is celery root; and personally I like it raw. The easiest thing to do, I find, is to make a simple celery root slaw with equal amounts celery root, carrots, and apples; lemon juice to preserve color; salt and pepper to taste. Celery root is common in WholeFoods, but I remember a time where it was a rarity. I typically buy the local carrots which happen to be giant and easy to peel. I had apples in my fridge; living in Maine, apples are a staple. The celery root slaw tastes best when grated on hand-grater, but the food processor just speeds things up massively.
Aside from the obvious indulgence of red-meat, 2lbs worth, we also did a creamed baby spinach. Again, a simple preparation of blanched spinach reduced in shallots, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. The baby spinach was a toss up between some bagged choices and the organic, plastic-box, greens Whole Foods carries. The bagged stuff looked pretty old - I refuse to buy anything that shows age, the spinach in bags had a few rotting leaves. Gross, but I am sure it is hard to notice. In any case, the organic baby spinach in boxes was the best choice, so we went with that.
We also did some left-over smashed potatoes, but that's nothing special. A little starch goes a long way with a steak dinner. The point is, for $67 we bought some great ingredients, but also a bottle of a 2008 Gueno Carlet that stood well with the strong flavors of the meat and sides. It was an enjoyable evening that combined a fun time in the kitchen with simple, yet delectable, food.