Accidental Restaurant Night

July 25th, 2011 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy

Something rare and wonderful happened about a month ago: both — BOTH — of our daughters were invited to a birthday party, on Saturday night from 6:00-8:00. That’s two hours. On a Saturday night. Which was on Saturday. Which is the day that immediately follows Friday, which is also a good day, but not nearly as good as the one that follows it. Saturday! Can I tell you how much I love whichever kind, compassionate person in the birthday house was responsible for that decision? Because of them, we found ourselves on an early summer night with two full hours to enjoy a grown-up dinner with our friends Todd and Anne. Two hours isn’t enough time to go to a restaurant and be back in time for the kids, maybe, but it’s plenty enough time to cook up something good at home, and eat in peace.

That afternoon, Jenny and I raced around shopping and spent way too much money on two gratuitous steaks, a bunch of fava beans, a baguette, and a big bag of assorted, odd-looking mushrooms. By 5:45, the grill had been lit, and the favas had been peeled, boiled, smashed, and smeared on toasts. Todd and Anne got a babysitter and came over at 6:00 sharp, and we had a drink like adults, without having to shout over The Penguins of Madagascar. We sat outside. We drank good wine. We threw a cast iron skillet on the grill, and cooked the mushrooms with some olive oil, salt, thyme, and garlic. We sliced the baguette and brushed it with olive oil, and grilled it, too. We cooked two beautiful steaks, and drove the dog crazy. We sat down to eat at the kitchen table, and there may have even been candle, napkins (a true rarity in our house), and matching plates involved. I love our kids, I really do, but this? This was nice. The food turned out pretty well, but the entree was the star. Turns out, a couple of thick, marbled steaks, doused with tons of salt and cracked peppercorns, cooked over a hot fire, are absurdly tasty. And easy. And when cooked right, with a slight crunch on the outside — and a juicy, medium rare in the middle — are just about as good as anything you’ll find in a restaurant. So who wants to host the next birthday party? – Andy (more…)

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A Fine Mess: Baby Back Ribs

June 27th, 2011 · 11 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Pork and Beef, Sides, Salads, Soup

I’ve gone on record saying that there is no such thing ever as a gimme meal when it comes to cooking for kids. But I’m just going to come right out and say this: If ever there was a gimme meal, these ribs are it.* Not only because they are so melty and gooey and quintessentially summer, but because they demand the complete abandonment of whatever table manners you have attempted to hammer into your children thus far. I think it’s the only time all year I encourage my girls to eat with their hands and get as messy as they want to. (It’s not like they’re ever more than 10 minutes away from washing up via pool/sprinkler/hose anyway.) (more…)

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