Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dinner and Sharp Knives

I made a great dinner for myself last night. Following the recipe in the current Cook's Illustrated magazine (I can't link to the recipe, you have to pay to join their website), I made American Potato Salad. The recipe uses russet potatoes, which are a little crumbly, but absorb vinegar better than waxier potatoes.

While that was cooling in the fridge, I used the "Spice Rubs for Grilled Steak" article to guide me in making a rub. I made a mix of 1 t. ground chipotle, 1 t. ground cumin, 1/2 t. allspice and 1 t. black pepper to rub on a strip steak. I used my in-oven digital thermometer to broil it to a perfect medium-rare. The juiciness of the steak really blended those spices together.

For my vegetable, I had some green beans tossed with a fresh diced tomato and red onion, drizzled with just a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (Actually, I learned that what I call balsamic vinegar isn't really balsamic vinegar. Only 3,000 gallons of the real balsamic are released annually. It costs about $150 for 8 oz.) I had a plum for my fruit and a chocolate malt for desert. It was a delicious dinner!

I got that issue of Cook's Illustrated for free when I signed up for the Americas Test Kitchen web site to get the pad thai recipe. I really like how they explain the process they use to get to the recipe. It's not just "here, do this," it's, "here's what I did, here's what didn't work, here's what tasters didn't like, so here, do this." Considering that, plus how delicious dinner was last night, I think I'm going to subscribe.

In somewhat related news, I sharpened my two "best" knives this afternoon (they're crappy knives, but the best in my arsenal of hand-me-down, cast-off knives). Yesterday I was getting frustrated cutting a tomato. Sliding the blade along the fruit would not bite. The blade just slid along the skin and left a little dent. I had to stick the point into the skin to break the surface. Then I could saw through it. But of course it squished the fruit and squeezed the juices and seeds out. How frustrating! Today, I remembered that I had a whetstone in one of those boxes of tools that I got when we cleaned out my grandparent's estate. To make sure I knew what I was doing, I watched a Food TV video on how to sharpen a knife. My whetstone has two grits, one on each side. Rough first, fine second, then finish the edge with a sharpening steel. I then plucked a tomato out of my garden and set to work slicing it. It was effortless. The blade just slid through the skin and eased its way through the flesh. I had clean slices with no squishing from a dull knife. This will buy me some time until I eventually buy a new, nice set of knives. Right now, my sights are set on Forschner/Victorinox knives. They were rated best by Cook's Illustrated.

Olympic women's beach volleyball is on the TV right now. They're hardly wearing any clothes. I'm going to watch it.

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