Monday, 26 April 2010

Cookbook Review: Rick Tramonto's Steak with Friends - perfect for Father's Day!

Steak with Friends
At Home, with Rick Tramonto
Rick Tramonto
with Mary Goodbody

This is Rick Tramonto's seventh book in his illustrious career, and it focuses on good food at home with good friends and family. A strong spiritual and family man, Rick loves nothing more than to share his favourite foods with the ones he loves. If you are not familiar with Mr. Tramonto already, he was one of Food & Wine's Top Ten Best New Chefs in 1994, and named Best New Chef in the Midwest in 2002 by the James Beard Foundation.
What could be more exciting and inviting than a home-cooked steak dinner? Steak with Friends contains 150 recipes for steak, seafood, and comfort foods, plus accompanying appetizers, salads and desserts.
This delicious book with beautiful photos and personal stories would make a great Father's Day gift for the man on your list.. and yes, it would be great for women too! (Okay, I admit, I am still afraid of the barbecue - I do the prep and sides and hand the grilling over to hubby.. but I have it on good authority that many women do grill!)

So, what delicious dishes did we try?

The first dish we tried was the Vegetable Spring Rolls with Three Dipping Sauces.
I love that there were three sauces, no more single sauce servings for me! The variety alone made the apps seem more special. These are veggie wraps, I had to sub out the bibb lettuce as I couldn't find any, so mine have baby spinach instead. Very tasty, I am a sucker for a good spring roll. Of the three dipping sauces, I love the Roasted Red Pepper Sweet-and-Sour Sauce best. There was also a Lime Vinaigrette, and a Plum Hoisin Sauce. In fact, the volume of sauce was pretty generous in relation to the amount of rolls in the recipe - I made twice the amount of rolls and also some simple chicken satays to help use up the sauces - yum!

What better starter is there than Mussels? I love that they seem so special, present well, and are so easy and inexpensive to make!
These are Rick's Ale-Braised Mussels, Belgian Style. I think this is the first time I have ever braised mussels in beer, I usually use wine, and the flavour was definitely a steak-house delight. Also, his mussels had diced ham in the recipe which was a delicious way to use up leftover ham. I think I still like wine-braised best, but we greatly enjoyed these. So did the new neighbour, who by now is thinking it isn't such a bad thing living next to a cook..

The same night we tried the Grilled Steak Caesar Salad. How can you go wrong with grilled steak thinly sliced, gracing Caesar salad and homemade croutons? A steak-house classic and a house favourite around here. Especially those croutons, I am surprised there were some leftover for dinner..

Okay, this next one has two parts: We made his perfectly grilled T-Bone Steak. (And by we I mean hubby, refer to above) On top you see the beginnings of the Gorgonzola Crust. Far better than just a compound butter, the crust has panko bread crumbs in it and heats up to create the most delicious topping for a steak that you have ever had. Gilding the lily? Maybe, but so delicious! The only problem, according to hubby, is that we don't have a photo of the perfect grill marks on the steak before we started the crust - you'll just have to take my word for it.

Voila, the finished T-Bone Steak complete with Gorgonzola Crust. Have you ever seen anything more inviting? Rick even offers wine pairings with many of his recipes. Because a good steak deserves a good bottle of wine, am I right?

And, of course, the ultimate steak dinner needs the ultimate spud. To complement our glorious Gorgonzola-crusted T-bone, I made Rick's Twice-Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar. Now, I admit, although I did pipe the filling in as suggested - mine melted down to a puddle of oozy goodness. It could very well have to do with my own faulty math as I divided the recipe, but no matter - the spud was delicious and almost a meal in itself. Almost.

Want to bring upscale steak-house to your home? Please friends, family and neighbours? Steak with Friends will help you reach those goals. Now, what time is dinner? I'll bring the wine!