Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve Dinner

I started a new tradition this year. Usually during the holidays, I travel to my family's home. You see, I'm sitting low on the totem pole in terms of hosting a holiday get together. I'm unmarried, nor do I have kids. I also live in the smallest space. So when it comes to having people get together, I always travel. So to break the tradition of me having to travel all the time this holiday, I decided to make a special dinner for Mr. Meat & Potatoes and myself. I wanted it to be special. So I opted for things I've never made before. And decadence was definitely in mind. So, on the menu for my first Christmas Eve dinner: bread with white truffle butter: Wagyu steak salad Lobster mac n cheese And chocolate mousse. First, the bread was a loaf of rosemary bread from Amy's Bread. I was afraid that the rosemary would be too strong for the white truffle butter but it was just fine. The butter was rich and creamy. The truffle was really good. It didn't taste like black truffles at all. The best thing I can compare the taste to is really rich creamed mushroom soup. So rich and delicious. I couldn't get enough of it. So now I know what all the hype is about. Though truffle butter is nothing compared to actual shaved truffles. For appetizers, I made a simple steak salad. I stopped by a store near the East village that specializes in Japanese style wagyu beef. However, they only sell American beef. I went in and the shop is pristene. I asked the butcher for the best cut of beef with the most marbeling. He suggested the ribeye which was $49.99 per pound. Yes, that's a lot of money for meat but this was a special dinner. I ordered just one pound because it was going to be an appetizer. The cut a piece off for me and wrap it in a container with a small piece of fat. That piece of fat is for seasoning and oiling the pan for searing. But before that, I let the meat come up to room temperature which is about 1 hour on the counter. Next I heat up a pan and melt the fat. When it starts smoking, I season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Do not touch or move it now! You should hear a nice sizzlign sound. I lower the heat a little to allow the steak to cook instead of burn. At this point, I turn the oven on to 375 degrees. After a few minutes, I flip the steak over to cook the other side. Do not touch again! I allow the steak to just sear and caramelize to creat e delicious crust. I only cook this side half the amount of time. Then I throw the entire thing into the oven for about 10 minutes. I finally take the steak out of the oven and out of the pan. I place it on the cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes. This allows the meat juices to run back into the steak. This is how steaks stay really juicy. Once rested, I sliced the steak in half and placed it on top of some romaine lettuce. The steak was cooked to a medium rare. The fat had melted into the meat. This was the most tender steak I've ever made at home. It is also more tender than a few steaks I've had in restaurants. The flavor was intense and fantastic. So good. I couldn't stop eating it. Now I know why so many people will pay the big bucks for wagyu beef. I wonder what dry aged wagyu meat tastes like. For our main courses, the lobster macaroni and cheese. I bought 2 live lobsters totalling 4 pounds. I steamed them in a large pot until cooked through (about 7 minutes per pound). When they're cooked, I quickly throw them into an ice bath to stop the residual heat from cooking the lobster into a chewy mess. When they are cooled enoough to handle, I take all the meat out of the shells. The whole lobsters may seem big but there's much less meat. Next, the pasta. I like to use a pasta with ridges so it will hold the cheese sauce better. I boil it in salted water as directed in the box. I undercook the pasta a little to prevent it from being mushy when I bake the entire dish at the end. As that boils, I heat up some heavy cream for the cheese sauce. I heat it up on low to prevent boiling. To that, I add about 1/2 pound of brie to the cream. Stir constantly until melted. When the pasta is cooked, drain well then add to lobster meat. Mix well. Lastly add the cheese sauce to the pan. Top with bread crumbs and bake in an oven until bubbling and the bread crumbs have browned nicely. The lobster mac n cheese is so rich. The cheese sauce is thick and creamy. The pasta is not mushy. And the lobster still holds up because the brie isn't a very strong tasting cheese. Yum! For dessert, the chocolate mouse. I melted some semi-sweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate with vanilla extract and water. After it is melted and cooled, I added the butter. As that melts down, I work on the eggs. I seperated 4 eggs. Then I whipped the eggs yolks with sugar until light yellow and smooth. Then I add the chocolate mixture to the eggs until mixed well. In another bowl, I whip the eggs whites until stiff. Then I slowly fold in the egg whites in parts to the chocolate mixture. Lastly, I whip some heavy cream to make whipped cream until thick. I fold that into the chocolate mixture in parts as well. I put them into ramekins and refrigerate them in order to let the mousse set correctly. At this point they should be very light and fluffy with a nice chocolate flavor. After they've set, they should be thicker. It should have the consistency of whipped chocolate pudding. The chocolate mouse is so good. Light but decadent. Not too sweet but not too bitter either. Yum! It was nice ending to very special meal. I really enjoyed this meal. It was really special and had lots of foods that we don't normally eat. For my first Christmas Eve dinner, I was quite satisfied.

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