Sometimes you gotta tell about the failures.
Yesterday was my darling husband's birthday. I wanted to make his favorites. I won't exaggerate and say it was horrible, but for those of you that love to cook and adore food like I do, you'll understand my frustrations - even if he was just happy for the effort. But the ice cream was good!
Here's the story (and any advice on what to do next time would be great):
The menu plan was puff pastry with brie, bits of gorgonzola and raw honey, spinach salad with homemade blue cheese, steak, marinated broiled summer squash, key lime ice cream and brown sugar shortbread cookies.
I had everything ready to go, cookie dough (using grated panela which was beautiful), dressing, steaks and summer squash in a marinade of balsamic, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, dijon, bit of sugar. Ice cream was in the fridge ready to hit the mixer (thanks nooodles!!!).
I pre-heat the oven and when I go to pop in the puff pastry...I smell gas and there is no heat. We spend the next 30 minutes trying to get the oven to work. Finally we do get the broiler to work (bottom broiler) and the stove top is working. OK, I can improvise, right?
I cut up some french bread, put the cheese on top, melt in the oven (slightly warm by the broiler) and then honey on top. It was OK, but it was no puff pastry. At this point we're so hungry we're just shoving them in while I try to cook - not eating slowly while longingly gazing into one another's eyes.
I have a confession: steak is not my forte (and we live in NYC so we don't have a grill). I always overcook it (I can't stand my meat pink but my husband likes his practically raw). I figured I would just get a pan really hot (don't beat me, I don't have cast iron....I know, I KNOW!!) sear the meat, and let it sit in the warm oven while I broiled the squash. If needed, I could cook mine a little longer on the stove top before cooking.
Now, I've cooked squash this way many times - it'[s better on the grill, but broiling isn't an issue. Dunno why this time was different but it wouldn't cook. Maybe the broiler was only partially working but I couldn't get those suckers to even get really warm, no matter how close I got it to the flame - I spent a lot of time with my head on the floor making sure the flame was on.... Anyway, I figured I'd take two more pans and get them really hot on the stove top and brown the squash in small batches and keep it warm with the steak. Problem with this - bitter squash and a house filled with smoke. Filled....no really. FILLED!!
So here I stand with amazingly overcooked steak, a house filled with smoke, bitter squash, grumpy, and not in a terribly loving mood.
We had pretty tasty and tender but dry steak topped with a blob of uncultured butter and a little gorgonzola, bitter squash (which my husband didn't mind but I refused to eat), good salad!!....You know steak is too dry when your partner eats the topping off of the last 3 inches and leaves the steak to be thrown away.
hmmm....now what do I do with this cookie dough?
Well, the oven wasn't hot enough to even attempt it. So I tried to make shortbread on the stove top. Not easy to do. The cookies were ok, but very, very, very crumbly and dry. Sigh. Dangit - I even used really expensive butter! Thankfully the rest is in the freezer.
Nooodles asked for the recipe:
4 cups of flour
1 lb of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
325 degree oven. 8-10 minutes. I usually half this recipe. The brown sugar is a must, it makes a big difference. This was a prize winner at the Chicago State Fair. Works best IN an oven.
The ice cream was fantastic. I hate getting out my mixer so I simply creamed 8oz of cream cheese (lowfat) with about a cup of powdered sugar using a spoon until smooth, then I added in 3/4 cup of non-fat evaporated milk and lime juice to taste (Must have been at least half a cup of juice). The ice cream came out so luscious and rich - tasted like key lime pie. The ONLY fault I see (and this isn't a fault at all) is that it's so dense, I could easily have made a double recipe. Oh, it also set up really quickly in the mixer - only took about 10 minutes. My husband absolutely loved the ice cream. I'm going to try it again with other flavors (but he may have been oohing and aahing for something decent after the absolute failure of dinner).
Sigh - thank GOD I'm taking him out to dinner on Friday.