Dinner with Lauren | Croissants with Brie & Tomato Jam | Spice-Rubbed Skillet-Grilled Angus Ribeye Steak | Potato Au Gratin | Garlic-Sautéed Spinach with Bacon and Sambuca
SINCE STARTING THIS BLOG, IT seems that many of my friends were not aware of my love for food and cooking, and that those who were aware have expressed greater desire to join me when I'm "phuding". Some have volunteered to accompany me when I'm checking out other restaurants, and some have requested to join me for one of my home-cooked meals.

My very good friend, Lauren, had been asking to be my dinner date for quite some time, and she would now have the opportunity as she had earlier in the week offered to buy me a steak dinner as a return favor for a previous charity I had given her. I believe that charity was in the form of several glasses of red wine (over a number of evenings).

After pricing some decent steakhouses in her soon-to-be new neighborhood, Midtown East, I asked if she would prefer if I just made steaks for us at my place. She didn't want to obligate me to cook, but it turns out that was her preference as well.

So she volunteered to pay for the groceries, and, after meeting me at my apartment after work, we organized my grocery list and headed to Food Emporium.


She had seen the "menu" for the evening's meal, and expressed how sensually appetizing it looked. (For the sake of running a site for the general public, I have paraphrased!)

Stopping for a 1.5 liter bottle of a Anakema Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, we headed back to my place where I started almost literally firing on all burners while Lauren made herself comfortable by watching Grey's Anatomy on Hulu on my Mac.

I hastily rolled some Brie cheese in Pillsbury Croissants with some tomato jam my friend, Karie, was nice enough to procure for from the Greenmarket at Astor Place awhile back. I brushed them with some eggwash that had a pinch of fresh cracked pepper and cinnamon, popped them in the oven for 15 minutes, and served them to keep our appetites occupied until the main course.


If I were a bit more thorough, I would have taken a picture with one of these pulled open, but the priority was controlling the timing of the food prep in the kitchen. It took a croissant or two before lauren found one that she said had the right balance of croissant, jam, and cheese. Good thing she went through three of them to find it though!

I then sliced and boiled some potatoes. Meanwhile chopped a leek stalk and a couple of garlic cloves and tossing them into some heated olive oil. Salt and fresh-cracked pepper follow, along with some butter and a few teaspoons of flour. Stir that to make a roue, then added a cup of milk, a cup and a half of shredded Cheddar cheese, some heavy cream, parmesan, and a pinch of nutmeg. Drain the potatoes, layer them into a greased casserole, pour cheese mixture over potatoes, topped with extra cheddar, and place in a 350° oven.

I had rubbed two Angus ribeye steaks when we got back from the grocery with a simple mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and a pinch of nutmeg, after about an hour in the fridge, I turned the fire all the way up under a cast iron skillet.

In a separate pot, I heated a little olive oil and dropped in some raw bacon I had sliced into bits and three cloves of sliced garlic and some salt and pepper. I cooked stirring over medium heat until the garlic just started to brown, then emptied a full bag of baby spinach along with some chopped basil leaves into the pot, adding a bit more olive oil to cook.

As the spinach started to cook down, I threw the spice-rubbed steaks onto the preheated skillet, cooking about 6 minutes each side, until the acquired a nice crispy exterior. I removed them from the heat and let them sit for ten minutes as the potatoes had been taken out of the oven and was also sitting, and as I tossed 1/4 cup of Sambuca on the cooked spinach mix and tossed just long enough to cook off the alcohol.

A quick plating for my patiently hungry guest, and here's the final result....




Overall success all around. The steak sliced easily and tenderly and burst with hearty flavor. The potatoes au gratin were warm, rich, aromatic, and had a nice, not-too-thick-or-thin sauce that hugged tender bites of potato. The spinach—the best I have ever made!—was the one part of the dish that both Lauren and I could have kept eating for hours (she even threatened to eat mine while she thought I was too preoccupied with my ribeye!).

This is the kind of meals that "food comas" are made of; Lauren cleverly and accurately coined the term "steak drunk". We were lightheadedly delirious from the culinary excess, so much so that we had to raincheck dessert.

And we also needed to rally, since we were to meet her sister and a close friend at the bar underneath my apartment within minutes. And rally we did, as the company and good time we had hanging out was well worth it.


Lauren's sister, is as pretty as she, expressed her jealousy, although she is admittedly a "practicing" vegetarian. Since she's already enjoyed one of my homemade burgers—according to her and Lauren, the best they've ever had—she volunteered to eat any meat-based that I prepared.

Coming from a non-meat eater, that was quite the compliment. And I now look forward to repaying that favor by cooking them another beefy meal in the near future.

Bun Apple Tea!


Dinner with Lauren | Croissants with Brie & Tomato Jam | Spice-Rubbed Skillet-Grilled Angus Ribeye Steak | Potato Au Gratin | Garlic-Sautéed Spinach with Bacon and Sambuca