With a family of five, it's hard to please everyone so I sometimes plan a meal around someone's favourite foods, particularly if their preferences have been overlooked - some might say "ignored" - for a while. After a string of meatless meals, fish, and pasta dishes, it was time for my husband and son, devoted meat and potato fans, affectionately known as "the carnivores", to have their turn.
Steak Florentine, strip loin steaks rubbed with garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper, and finished with olive oil and lemon. Simple is often best with a nice cut of beef.
The recipe calls for grilling the steaks outside. It was -1°C. "The carnivores", who have graciously bestowed the title of family "grill-master" upon me (actually, hubby lost it to me when he tried to serve burgers that were burnt on the outside and raw inside!!!), did offer to help.....to help bundle me up against the December chill, that is, so I could cook outdoors. I declined and opted to use a cast iron pan in my warm kitchen.
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs, a decadent dish of creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes topped with a crisp panko crust. This is a "special occasion" dish for us that makes great company fare since it can be made in advance and reheated when needed. It's always a hit.
And because the rest of us needed something to eat:
Arugula and Orange Salad with Basil Vinaigrette, peppery greens with a balsamic-shallot-basil dressing. Whatever you do, don't leave out the oranges, they're what make this salad so special. I even add the zest and the juice squeezed from the membranes to the dressing to ramp up the orange flavour. It's very bright and refreshing, especially important with rich foods on the menu.
Herb-Roasted Root Vegetables, a medley of winter vegetables, baked with mixed herbs until tender and caramelized. This is a great recipe to have at hand because you can use whatever is available in your crisper or cold storage. I made it with Brussels sprouts and carrots this time, and fresh rosemary and thyme since I had some. Roasting always brings out the sweetness and intensifies the flavour of vegetables but this recipe is particularly flavourful because of the herbs.
"The carnivores" were very happy.....and the others didn't complain either!
I wasn't a member of I Heart Cooking Clubs when Giada de Laurentiis was featured chef but I cook with her recipes often and these are among the family favourites. They're from her books Everyday Italian and Giada's Family Dinners but I found them (or variations of them) online as well:
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs
Arugula and Orange Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Herb-Roasted Root Vegetables (the book doesn't include the potatoes)
Giada is featured chef again this week so be sure to visit IHCC to see more of her dishes.