Paula was not working today. I made her dinner and then we braved the cold to see a movie. She had given me movie tickets as a Christmas gift and it seemed like a good time to use them (…before I forget that I have them!)
I tried several recipes for our dinner tonight. First, we had 1/2 pound of ground beef in the freezer so I made some hamburger steaks with onion gravy. I divided the beef into 2 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Then I sprinkled the patties with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. I heated 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I cooked the patties for 3 minutes on each side, basically until they were browned. Then I removed them from the pan and set aside.
Now it was time to make the gravy. I added 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Then I added 1 vertically sliced medium onion and sautéed for 3 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. I sprinkled the onion with 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Then I added 1/2 cup of beef stock (or broth). I brought the mixture to a boil and returned the patties to the pan. I reduced the heat to medium-low and cooked for 5 minutes (partially covered), until gravy is slightly thickened.
For a side dish, I made oven fries. There was a recipe in the most recent Cooks Illustrated
that made them sound quite tasty. First I set the oven to 425 degrees and put the rack on the lowest position. I sprayed a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and poured 3 tablespoons of oil on the pan, tilting the sheet until the pan is evenly coated.
I halved 1 1/2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes lengthwise. I turned the halves cut sides down and cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch thick planks. Combine 3/4 cup of water and 3 tablespoons of corn starch in a large bowl, stirring to make sure that there are no lumps of cornstarch. Microwave at 20 second intervals until the corn starch mixture starts to thicken. This should take between 1 and 2 minutes. Stir until the mixture has a pudding-like texture. Add the cut potatoes to the bowl and toss until each plank is evenly coated.
Arrange the planks on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil from the baking sheet and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the bottom of the fries are golden brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and use a spatula to flip each fry. Return the sheet to the oven and bake another 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle the fries with some salt. Transfer the fries to a paper-towel lined plat before serving.
Finally, I made some Brussels sprout that I bought at the farmer’s market last week. I trimmed and halved the sprouts. Then I arranged them in a single layer, cut sides down, in a 12-inch skillet. I drizzled 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the sprouts. I covered the skillet and placed it over medium-high heat and cooked until the sprouts started to brown, about 5 minutes. I uncovered the skillet and continued to cook until the cut sides were evenly browned. I moved them around in the pan if necessary to prevent overbrowning. While the sprouts were cooking, I combined 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey with a few red pepper flakes. When the sprouts were done, I removed the skillet from the heat and added the vinegar-honey mixture, stirring to coat evenly.
Paula and I enjoyed this meal. It was a little more preparation than we usually do for a meal. But since Paula was not working, we cooked it together and enjoyed spending time together in the kitchen. After the meal, we headed out to see the latest Star Wars movie. I guess that you could say that this was a “date night” of sorts. No matter, it was a most pleasant evening!