I can't believe it's already time for another edition of "Saturday Chez Nous"! This week has passed so quickly. Probably because my in-laws were here till Wednesday morning, then we were working toward the last day of school on Friday, more baseball, and dinner guests last evening.
Speaking of baseball, Ben had a game last evening and we had determined that he would miss it because the family dinner plans we had were made a few months ago before we had the game schedule. I thought, "How wonderful! All five of us having dinner with all # of them!" Yesterday morning, Ken starts this whole thing, "So how important is it that Ben be at our event tonight?" Ugh. Well, it was valuable to me, but was I willing to die on that hill? Ben was very sweet and said, "Mom, if you want me here for the dinner, I'll be here." When I asked him, "How bad do you want to play?" he got this look in his eye, and said, "I always want to play, Mom." So, story short(er), they wore me down, I'm a softie, and he went to play.
Our guests arrived, we visited, grilled, finished up the salad, and all, and Ken's phone rang. We filter calls when we have guests, but he noticed that it was one of the dads from our team.
Kelly, the dad with calculated bits of enthusiasm, said, "So, Ken, how many homeruns does Ben have this year?"
Ken responded with, "Well, none. He doesn't have any." Kelly said, "Wrong! He has ONE!"
Ben had just hit a homerun!! And I wasn't there to see it! Ken came to tell me and I got so excited! Our guests probably thought I was possessed by the way I reacted! And you have to understand that our little big guy is a base hitter—he knows how to get on base and move the runners around and he doesn't usually hit homeruns. All those Cheerios for breakfast must be making him more powerful! He would probably attribute it to the myriad of pizzas that he eats!
Oh, and he got back in time for dessert! I have to tell about a 'rising-up-and-calling-me-blessed' moment even though he had no idea that's what he was doing! He walks in last night and we're all still sitting around the table. "P", the other mom, and I start clapping for him. He tries not to grin because that just wouldn't be cool. He puts his bat bag out in the garage and when he walks back in, he is carrying the homerun ball. He walks over to where I'm sitting and hands it to me. That's what I called blessed. It's just a ball, grass-stained, bat-battered. But he handed it to ME! It could've been the Major League MVP trophy and it wouldn't have been any more beautiful. (IS there a MLB MVP trophy? I think there is. . . whatever. You know what I mean!)
Dinner last night was Marinated Flank Steak, Apple/Potato/Onion Gratin, and Italian Green Beans, preceded by Butter Lettuce Salad with Goat Cheese Crostinis, followed by Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream. Want recipes? Here ya go:
MARINATED FLANK STEAK (recipe originally from Everyday Food, May/June 2003)
- In a shallow dish, whisk ¼ c. lemon juice, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard, 1 T. olive oil, and sugar, 3 chopped garlic cloves, ½ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper.
- Pierce 1 ½ lbs. flank steak all over with a fork; toss in marinade. Marinate 30 minutes, turning once.
- In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over high heat until smoking. Remove steak from marinade; cook until browned 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Rest, covered, 5 minutes.
- In a saucepan, bring marinade to a boil; strain into serving dish.
- NOTE: I usually grill this steak. I'd rather the mess be outdoors than all over my stove, which is where it ends up when I use my cast-iron skillet!
Apple, Potato, and Onion Gratin (recipe originally from epicurious.com, CondéNet, Inc., Bon Appetit, Feb. 2005)
- 12 T. (1 ½ sticks) butter, divided
- 2 lbs. onions, sliced
- 2 T. (packed) chopped fresh thyme
- 4 t. fine sea salt, divided
- 2/3 c. water
- 2/3 c. dry white wine
- 4 t. sugar
- 2 ½ lbs Yukon Gold, yellow Finn, or German Butter ball potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 2 lbs tart apples (such as Granny Smith, Pippin, or Pink Lady), peeled, halved, cored, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Melt 6 T. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, thyme, and 2 t. salt; sauté until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until onions are tender and begin to color, about 8 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Add remaining 6 T. butter, 2/3 c. water, wine, and sugar to skillet; stir and swirl skillet to combine. Bring to boil. Cool onion mixture to lukewarm.
Combine potatoes, apples, remaining 2 t. salt, and onion mixture in large bowl; toss gently to blend. Transfer to prepared baking dish, spreading evenly. Cover dish with parchment paper, then cover with foil, shiny side down. Bake gratin until potatoes are tender, about 55 minutes. Uncover and bake until top browns and juices bubble thickly, about 20 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand uncovered at room temperature. Rewarm, loosely covered with foil, in 300˚ oven for 20 minutes.) Let gratin stand 15 minutes before serving.
This is a little lighter than normal gratins in that it doesn't have cream or cheese.
Italian Green Beans (I originally got this recipe from my friends, J & L, and I'm not sure what their source was. If you recognize it as yours, please let me know so I can give you the credit!)
- 5 T. olive oil
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and parboiled for 3 minutes (I recommend just putting the raw beans in the pan with the olive oil to let them cook a little. Parboiling them creates the risk of them overcooking, especially if you do this ahead of time so that you are ready for your guests! This is what happened to me last night and they were the worst green beans I've ever made!)
- ½ t. salt
- 1/8 t. black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
- 1/8 t. red pepper flakes
- 1 15-oz.-can stewed tomatoes, drained, chopped, juices reserved separately
- 3 T. chopped fresh basil
Heat 3 T. olive oil in large skillet on high about 2 minutes. Add beans and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ t. of the salt and pepper. Mix well and cook 1 more minute.
Transfer beans to a dish and set aside. Pour remaining oil into same pan. Set on medium heat.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and basil and cook for 3 more minutes. Return beans to pan with salt and reserved tomato juices. Cook until most of the juices have been absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.
Can you believe I have no pictures of any of those dishes? I guess that's what happens when you cook on a time schedule!
Today is lazy. School is out for the summer, the College World Series is on, we're coming down off of houseguests, and we are just getting caught up and laying back. Hope your Saturday is as enjoyable!