Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Steakhouse

Zack and I have such wonderful Fathers. It doesn't feel like there is any way to fully express our gratitude for them. They are men of legacy, strength and unfailing commitment and love for their families.

We had the honor of hosting them both last night for Father's Day. It was really fun to have them together, something that doesn't happen often. Interestingly, they have a lot in common. They are about the same age and worked as counselors and public servants in one way or another as we grew up. They served in the Air Force during Vietnam, both as medics. My Father was stationed in the Philippines. One of his duties was x-raying and loading wounded soldiers onto air transports bound for United States. Back at home in Bremerton, Zack's Dad served unloading those same types of transport planes, sending the men to hospitals and surgeries once they had arrived back in the states for treatment. As they sat sharing stories I was just so humbled by the fact that they had shared such a painful experience, and that so many of our fathers and grandfathers have. Humbled and blessed by their sacrifice, though they never speak of it as such.

For this special dinner, I wanted to make some classic steakhouse favorites - real "Dad" food, so to speak. My Dad gets excited about a few foods. Among them, hot fresh bread and good butter, wedge salads dripping with blue cheese and ice cream in all its forms. Since all that doesn't really make a meal, I filled in the rest with some other things I thought they'd both love.

The menu:

Buttermilk Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings
with curried ketchup

Iceberg Wedge salad
with heirloom cherry tomatoes, cucumber,
maytag blue cheese dressing and applewood smoked bacon

Bistecca Fiorentina or in English...
Herb Crusted Porterhouse Steak

Zack claims this was my best steak ever. I've made it about 5 times now and as with anything, practice makes perfect! The key is to get a real wet crust on the meat. Do this by making sure to follow the dry herb and salt rub with plenty of olive oil so that the rub is fully adhered to the to the meat. The oil reacts with the heat to ensure a deep dark crust. Just what you want! The meat within was tender and luscious.

Baked Dutch Baby Potatoes
with lemon thyme sour cream and snipped chives

Mini-baked potatoes essentially, but about the size of thumbs, so you don't fill up on potato. Equal portions potato to butter and cream. Wicked.

Julie's Hot Rosemary Bread
and Kerrygold Irish butter

and for dessert...

Peanut Brittle and Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Pie

I was so happy with how everything turned out. Delicious food and such great company. My Dad actually said it was one of the best meals he's ever had. After sixty plus years of meals, I have to say I highly doubt it, but it was music to his "little girl's" ears all the same.

I definitely want to share with you this awesome onion ring recipe, adapted from Ina Garten. The corn meal adds a wonderful crunch and sweetness. The real highlight of this appetizer was the addition of curried ketchup. The curry may be surprising but it takes this humble condiment to a whole new level. Try it with onion rings, fries, potato chips, burgers, whatever you put ketchup on.

Curried Ketchup

3/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbl curry powder

Mix together and taste. Add more curry powder if desired.

Buttermilk Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings

2 large Spanish onions (or 3 yellow onions or sweet onions)
2 cups buttermilk
3-6 dashes of Tabasco (depending on the heat you like)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
1/4 cup (medium) yellow cornmeal
1 quart vegetable oil

Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, and separate them into rings. Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the onion rings, toss well, and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes. (The onion rings can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours.) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When you're ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees F in a large pot or Dutch oven. (A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot will help you maintain the proper temperature.) Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture. Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning them once with tongs. Don't crowd them! Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch. Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried. They will remain crisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve hot.


  1. Wow Julie! That is a meal of epic proportions! What a nice way to honor the dads.

  2. I've made those onion rings, and yes, they are delicious! Sounds like a wonderful dad meal.


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