How to Cook the Perfect Steak & a Snake River Farms Giveaway! (CLOSED)

If you love steak, stop reading and enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!!! One lucky reader will win a 14 pound American Kobe strip loin valued at $499, generously provided by Snake River Farms.

This insanely beautiful piece of meat will impress even the most discerning eater. Snake River Farms is a purveyor for the French Laundry, a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars that many consider the best in the country. And if you aren’t familiar with the French Laundry, just let the steak’s impressive marbelization speak for itself. 

Nothing says ‘special occasion’ like a colossal piece of meat. There's something primal about gathering friends and family around a meaty centerpiece. It harkens back to a time when meat wasn’t an everyday indulgence, and only during celebrations would it be the star on the table. Whether it be a rib roast, whole turkey, or suckling pig - big meat can be intimidating.

I recently tackled my first 18 pound strip loin, and I'll admit I was overwhelmed by its sheer size. After watching a couple YouTube videos, my boyfriend and I gained the confidence we needed to proceed. The loin was surprisingly easy to butcher. Prepping this bad boy was as simple as trimming the fat (cap) off the top, and then portioning it into thick steaks. There was something deeply satisfying about cutting my own steaks and seeing the richly marbled NY strips in a neat stack waiting to be cooked.

After considering several complicated preparations, I decided there was no need to gussy up something already so beautiful; simple was the way to go. I liberally seasoned the meat with my boyfriend's famous rub and followed a few basic steak-cooking rules. The results were phenomenal! The intense beef flavor was perfectly accented by the smoky seasoning and it was so tender you could cut it with a fork. When you have steak this good at home, Delmonico's and Morton's Steak House completely loose their appeal. Just follow these basic techniques and you'll be able to cook the perfect steak at home too. (Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom)

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

  1. Start with Quality Meat - Buy your steak from a reputable source, and if possible purchase USDA prime, which has the most marbelization. And if the steak has been dry aged, all the better!

  2. Let the Steak Come to Room Temperature - This facilitates even cooking and relaxes the muscle fibers so they don't tighten up as much when the steaks cook. 

  3. Season Liberally - Don't be shy with the seasoning; remember you can't season the inside. 

  4. Cook on a Hot Pan - You want to get a good crust on your steaks so start your pan hot! Once you have good color, you can turn down the heat or finish the steaks in a 350 degree oven.

  5. Let Rest - Once cooked, let the steaks rest for 5 - 10 minutes. This allows all those lovely juices to reabsorb back into the meat.

Tommy's Famous Steak Rub

Ingredients:

  • 6 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Liberally apply to both sides of your steak. Store excess rub in an air-tight container.

Enter the Snake River Farms Giveaway!!

Need help entering? Just watch this 52 second video.

Night Out with Mom - Jardenea in Washington D.C.

My mom is sitting across a candlelit table with two glasses of wine and half a cocktail, and she's giggling at a bad joke I just made. We are at the beautiful restaurant, Jardenea, in Washington D.C. where we ordered the wine pairing...not the best idea since mom is the biggest lightweight I know. Luckily, I’m a bit more seasoned and happy to help her with her drinks. We got gussied up for a special evening together for no reason other than to enjoy each other’s company. As we happily converse over our delicious meal, I reflect on how far our relationship has come. 

There was a time when I never took anything my mom said seriously. Her guidance seemed antiquated, and I knew from the bottom of my teenage heart, that I was always right. I saw her as a traditional Korean who was out of touch with American culture and modernity. 

Now that I’m older and wiser, I see how mistaken I was. Her advice is always right, and I kick myself in the ass when I stubbornly disregard it. I’ve also realized we are so alike it’s uncanny – something I’m now sincerely proud of. We both love people and use too many superlatives; you’ll commonly hear us say, “Isn’t this the best day ever!” or “This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted!!!” And we both appreciate the little pleasures in life and show our love through food. 

And speaking of food, our dinner at Jardenea complemented our high spirits; it was soulful and generous. Mom enjoyed a jumbo-lump crab salad topped with a delicate fan of creamy avocado and white truffle vinaigrette. She enthusiastically ate it with a smile. My deconstructed caesar salad was my favorite dish of the evening. Super crunchy romaine hearts were stuffed in a brioche crouton ring and topped with peppery dressing, large shards of parmesan, and beautiful white anchovy filets. This course got me excited about caesar salad again, and I’ve been craving it ever since. 

For entrées, I had beef short rib en croute with polenta batonetts, and mom had Jardenea’s signature coriander dusted Hawaiian sea bass with blue corn grits. Both dishes were spot-hitting, but the sea bass was memorable. The earthy and citrusy notes of the toasted coriander complemented the clean, sweetness of the perfectly cooked fish. By the end of the night our stomachs were content and we were slightly buzzed, but couldn’t bring ourselves to leave. We ordered coffee and crème brulee and chatted until we knew we had overextended our stay. 

It’s funny how relationships evolve over the years, and when you finally realize that your parents are people too. As an adult, I have a newfound respect for my mom and have developed a friendship that's unique to a mother and daughter. I cherish the times we spend alone, and it's meals like these that I'll always treasure.

Jardenea Restaurant - Located in the Melrose Georgetown Hotel

2430 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

202-955-6400

Portrait of a Foodie: Thanksgiving Edition

This is Portrait of a Foodie - weekly pictures from my food-obsessed life. This year, Thanksgiving was perfect! There was home-brewed cider, crispy turkey, and gorgeous pies galore. Family and friends filled my cousin's beautiful house, where two cozy fires filled her fireplaces. I spatchcocked my first turkey and was thrilled with the results -  juicy meat and crispy skin in just under 70 minutes. I'll never cook a turkey any other way. Enjoy the pictures! 

Creamy Braised Fennel & J.Q. Dickinson Salt Giveaway

Thanksgiving is a no-B.S. holiday and is, by far, my favorite of the year. There’s no going into debt to buy expensive gifts, no annoying jingles or flashing lights, and the traffic around shopping centers is relatively normal. It’s just about food, family, and friends. 

I also love that it’s a time when everyone flexes their culinary muscles. There’s passionate debate about the best way to brine a turkey and people don’t hesitate to spend a little more time and money on food. And it's perfectly appropriate to eat until you explode. In short, it’s the perfect holiday.

My family always does a potluck Thanksgiving, where the host prepares the turkey and the relatives bring the sides. This year, I’m contributing creamy braised fennel. 

Even if you think you don’t like fennel, you’ll love this dish. It's slowly braised in cream, which mellows its strong licorice flavor to the point where it's hardly detectable. After an hour in the oven, the fennel is fork tender. The mild herbal flavor of the fennel balances the dish's richness, and a generous topping of toasted pita adds crunch. It’s simply delicious, and would be a unique addition to your spread.

Speaking of potlucks, Renee from the gorgeous blog, Will Frolic for Food, organized a blogger Friendsgiving. A group of us brought our best Thanksgiving recipes to this virtual potluck. I’ve discovered many talented new bloggers and have been drooling over their dishes for the last couple days. 

Also, the fine people of J.Q. Dickson Salt-Works provided us with some really special salt to use in our recipes. This family run business harvests their salt from an ancient ocean trapped underneath the Appalachian mountains. They also gave us an extra jar to give away - so ENTER TO WIN BELOW!

Creamy Braised Fennel 

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 4 fennel bulbs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel fronds for garnish 
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups half & half (warmed)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves of sliced garlic 
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste (I used 20 turns of the pepper mill)
  • 3/4 cup crushed plain pita chips
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the long stocks from the fennel so only the white bulb is remaining. Trim about 2 tablespoons of the feathery green fennel fronds and reserve for garnish. Cut funnel bulbs in half, from top to bottom, then cut the core out. Slice fennel into 3/4 inch slices. 

Line the bottom of a baking dish with a layer of fennel slices. Sprinkle with a 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella. Top with another layer of fennel and sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup of cheese. Top with a final layer of fennel (3 layers total).

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and whisk for about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warmed half and half (I heated it in the microwave for about a minute) and chicken stock. Add parmesan, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Continue to whisk, and simmer for about 8 minutes, or until it thickens. 

Pour the creamy sauce over the fennel and bake for 40 minutes. While the fennel bakes, place pita chips in a large plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin (a food processor will also work). Place crushed chips in a bowl and drizzle in olive oil. Mix so all the crumbs are coated and spread onto a cookie sheet. You can bake this in the oven with the fennel (350 degrees) for about 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.

After the fennel has baked for 40 minutes, top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. Bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the toasted pita chips. Garnish with fennel fronds.  

Portrait of a Foodie: Underground Kitchen and Gelati Celesti Opening

This is Portrait of a Foodie, a weekly review of my food-centric life. You know you've had a good week when you go to the opening of Gelati Celesti and eat UNLIMITED amounts of ice cream...and I wasn't shy about trying all 30+ flavors. The boozy rum raisin and the highly caffeinated 'Dark as Dark' coffee ice cream were my favorites.

I also went to a "secret" 5-course dinner at an undisclosed location with a mystery chef. It was my first Underground Kitchen experience, and I didn't know what to expect from the pop-up dining club. All week, I obsessively checked my inbox for news of the dinner, and 2 days before the event all was revealed: I would wine and dine at the 2300 club, a Civil War row house in historic Church Hill. I was transported into another world, one where you sip cocktails in the drawing room and retreat to the smoking lounge for cigars and scotch. The food was sophisticated and southern, and I was particularly impressed with Chef Michael Hall's banana foster foie gras! Enjoy the pictures.

Gorgeous table setting at the Underground Kitchen dinner at the 2300 club

Gorgeous table setting at the Underground Kitchen dinner at the 2300 club

Sparkling Wine (Papet del Mas Brut Cava) and Byrrh cocktail

Sparkling Wine (Papet del Mas Brut Cava) and Byrrh cocktail

Smoking lounge art...I have a thing for english bull dogs

Smoking lounge art...I have a thing for english bull dogs

Complementary cigars 

Complementary cigars 

Appetizer of banana foster foie gras 

Appetizer of banana foster foie gras 

The "Cat Sea Pig" - scallop wrapped in catfish wrapped in bacon with brussels sprouts 

The "Cat Sea Pig" - scallop wrapped in catfish wrapped in bacon with brussels sprouts 

Evening Jazz to go along with the swanky Underground Kitchen dinner

Evening Jazz to go along with the swanky Underground Kitchen dinner

After-dinner scotch and cigars

After-dinner scotch and cigars

My new friend showing me how to smoke a cigar...I was really bad at it.

My new friend showing me how to smoke a cigar...I was really bad at it.

Parting gift filled with local richmond coffee, cookies, and tea

Parting gift filled with local richmond coffee, cookies, and tea

Look into the 2300 club kitchen

Look into the 2300 club kitchen

Opening night at Gelati Celesti - it was a packed house

Opening night at Gelati Celesti - it was a packed house

Pints of fresh ice cream

Pints of fresh ice cream

pumpkin ice cream

pumpkin ice cream

Ice cream scoop wall art

Ice cream scoop wall art