What's better than great food, great friends and a great photo to capture the moment? That is what this blog is - creativity from kitchen to camera. We are having a blast looking for challenging recipes (or making up our own!) and documenting the cooking process with serious photographic effort.

Come along with us on our journey to discovering new culinary delights and the making of food-tography!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Steak night!

Last summer Tammy and I went to a restaurant named “Cooks!” It was owned and operated by a chef/instructor at a culinary school (yes, “was” – it closed). Anywho, the concept was interactive dining, in which pros show you how to make your own meal. We went on Italian night. We made mozzarella cheese right from the curd for a Caprese salad. For dinner, we went into the kitchen where the chef/owner guided us through the process of making chicken marsala and risotto. Both were firsts for us. I couldn’t have been happier.

But why would a story titled “Steak Night” be about making chicken marsala? That’s a fair question, but stick with me; I’m getting to it. One part of cooking Tammy really enjoys is stirring things. Keep your comments to yourself. Risotto, as it turns out, requires lots and lots of stirring, so Tammy was in her element.

Then last Sunday Tammy is looking through recipes, sees Parmesan-Carrot Risotto, and decides to make it. My job was to decide what to have with it. I suggested frozen fish sticks, because I trust the Gorton’s fisherman. Tammy was not amused, so off to Publix I went to purchase ribeyes. I found 3 beauties, and I usually season steaks with Penzey’s English Prime rib rub, but these looked so good I decided to go with just a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tammy was deep into her stirring, and I had some onions on the grill.  How great is this picture?  My wife is a talented chick.

I pulled the onions off the grill and finished them in a sautee pan with some garlic and a whole grain mustard and red wine reduction.

Then it was time to grill the steaks. Some people will be very surprised by this, while others will think it’s a major understatement: I’m a pretty structured guy. And when it comes to grilling steaks, I have a formula. I get my grill up to about 375, and with the flame on full blast I sear each side for one minute. Yes, I use a stop watch.  (Flattering profile shot, eh?)

Then I turn the flame all the way down to low and grill them another 3 minutes per side for medium rare. I don’t waver from this formula. Ever. I know some people can tell doneness by poking steaks with their fingers. I don’t know if I could tell doneness by poking a steak with my finger, because I don’t poke steaks with my finger. I have a formula.

Now I know I had decided to just season them with a little salt and pepper; however, while I was getting the whole grain mustard out of the fridge for the reduction, I spotted a bottle of pesto, and I recalled that when I bought it the cashier told me it was great on steak, so after I turned the steaks for the third and final time I spread a spoonful over my steak and let it get awesome for the final 3 minutes.

For a salad I just ran a cucumber through my mandolin and then dressed it with the juice of one lime and some salt, and Tammy garnished it with some fresh thyme. It was a bright, cool, tart crunch to balance the rich risotto and steaks.

I just reread the previous two sentences, and they're without question the most effeminate things I've ever said or written. Hopefully the fact that I was drinking cans of Busch Light during the entire grilling process butches it up enough to restore my manhood.

So here’s the finished product!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque. Creamy, buttery, smooth, savory and of course, full of lobster. Need I say much more? So many times I have enjoyed a bowl of this delicious soup, and so many times I have said "one day I am gonna make this." Well, I finally decided to go for it... and what better day to make such a romantic bowl of love than Valentine's day.

Dina finalizing the recipe

After much deliberation I chose a recipe that did not call for a live lobster. Thanks Gregg, for convincing me to spare myself the agony of having to assassinate several crustaceans. And thank you for offering to pick up the pre-steamed lobsters and have the shiny red shelled critters waiting to be made into soup.

Off I went with my list to the grocery store. Much more than I expected to have to buy, with vegetables ranging from fennel and leeks to oranges and carrots - wait, I don't remember all these fruits and vegetables in my lobster bisque, where do they come in? Well, before making bisque it turns out, you have to make stock. So with all my veggies and cream in shopping bags I head to the liquor store. Yes, now we add sherry and cognac. Yum.

Then the fun part, playing with the food. We pour the wine, gather all the ingredients, and then set them up all pretty and posed for the pictures. To me, this was the most fun of the entire event. I love the way food looks - especially big, red lobsters - and I really enjoyed "food styling" all the ingredients for Tammy to masterfully photograph. After a few glasses of wine Deni, Tammy and I joined the food for a few pictures of our creation to be, then we really started playing.

Down to business... chop, chop, chop, ew! have you ever cut up a lobster? Gross! It's a good thing it is dead and cooked. Simmer, strain, and oh this is fun - ignite! And then finally we have - stock. So now that we have been cooking for hours we can start to make the bisque. A little cream, some more butter - hey, where did that other stick of butter go?!? Oh... the dog ate it. Yikes. That's ok, we have more on reserve (and it's not my dog!).

Deni was so happy the onion matched her shirt. :o)

Yes, orange peel in lobster bisque.

Photographer / Supervisor / Wine tester

In the end it was a great day, full of hard work, wine, friends and lots of fun. The soup was delicious and I will NEVER make it again. It is much too much work when they make it so good at the restaurants!

(Written by Dina, Photos by Tammy, Cooking by Dina, Deni, Tammy & Gregg)