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Father’s Day Prime Rib Dinner

happy father's dayMany dads would love a big hunk of beef for a Father’s Day dinner, and delicious sides make it all the more awesome.  Impress the fathers in your family with these recipes.  Of course, they’re great for any day of the year for any reason, but Zach’s stepdad Mike and the rest of the family loved this dinner tonight.  Mike likes simple seasoning, so Zach prepared a recipe with him in mind that turned out “perfectly cooked” (said Mike, a picky steak lover).

Makes 10-12

• For the rib roast:

one 7-lb. rib roast with 3 bones, and one 4.25-lb. rib roast with 2 bones (we wanted one big piece with 5 bones, but our butcher didn’t have any like that so we compromised)

1/2 cup of kosher salt

1/8 cup of black pepper

in the pan, on a rack, rubbed with salt

in the pan, on a rack, rubbed with salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.  Place the rib roasts fat-side up on a rack in a roasting pan, or improvise if the rib roasts are too big.  The main thing is not to sit the meat directly on the bottom of the pan.  Rub just a little of the salt and pepper lightly over the surface of the meat except the fat on top.  Pack the remaining salt and pepper on the fat to create a nice crust.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F.  The larger of the two rib roasts took 1 hour 35 minutes at 325 degrees F, and the smaller needed 1 hour 20 minutes.  To test the meat for your desired doneness, insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the middle of the rib roast but far from any bones.  Our meat read at 130 degrees F, which is on the low range of medium-rare.

out of the oven

out of the oven

Cover the rib roasts in foil and leave in the pan on a wooden cutting board for 30 minutes.  It is important to let the meat rest for a while once it’s out of the oven, and in the process the meat temperature will increase 5 degrees F (so the temperature of our medium-rare beef went from 130 to 135).  Resting allows the juices to spread evenly through the meat; if you cut it immediately, the juices will gush out and you will be left with dry meat.

cut into steaks

cut into steaks

Five bones means five huge steaks, but there is enough meat for up to 12 people.  Not every slice has to have a bone.

• For the Yorkshire pudding:

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of pan drippings from the bottom of the rib roast pan

2 tsp. of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  It’s best if you have two 9” cast iron skillets, but we used what we had.  Pour 1/2 cup of pan drippings in each skillet and heated in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the drippings start to smoke.

quality milk

quality milk

Straus Family Creamery is our favorite for milk and cream to use in recipes.  Just look at the butter solids accumulated at the top of this bottle of whole milk.  Shake it up, and it’s good to go.

eggs, milk, flour, and salt

eggs, milk, flour, and salt

Combine the eggs and milk, and whisk until frothy.  Add the flour and salt, and continue whisking until well blended.

going into the oven

going into the oven

Pour the egg mixture into the heated skillets.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

• For the potatoes au gratin:

4 lbs. of peeled russet potatoes

4 cups of whole milk

2 cups of chicken broth

1 1/2 cups of diced yellow onion

8 oz. of shredded emmentaler cheese

8 oz. of shredded medium cheddar cheese

4 oz. of shredded monterey jack cheese

1/2 cup of butter

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

1 tbs. of kosher salt

1 tsp. of ground white pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.  This will make it easier to slice them in a food processor with the slicer attachment.  Transfer to a pot filled with water to wash out some of the starch.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.

onions in roux

onions in roux

Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat.  Add the diced onions and cook for about 6 minutes until soft and tender.  Add the flour, and cook the onion-butter-flour mixture for 4 minutes to make a roux.  Around this time, go back to the soaking potatoes and strain them from the water.  They will need a few minutes to sit and be drained from as much water as possible.

add the liquids

add the liquids

Add the chicken broth and milk.  Stirring frequently and scraping down the sides and bottom of the pot, continue cooking and bring to a simmer.  At this point the roux should reach nappe (when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).  Mix the three cheeses together, and slowly stir in and melt all but 2 cups of cheese to the roux to make the cheese sauce; save the 2 cups to sprinkle on top.

potatoes, sauce, and two casseroles, one waiting for cheese

potatoes, sauce, and two casseroles, one waiting for cheese

When the sauce is thick and fully incorporated, spray the baking dishes with a non-stick spray and fill with the drained potatoes.  Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes so that it’s evenly distributed and coating the potatoes.

sprinkling cheese

sprinkling cheese

Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top.

delicious and crispy top

delicious and crispy top

Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the top is bubbly and dark gold, and the potatoes are fork-tender.

• For the green beans:

1 lb. of green beans

1 large red onion

4 strips of bacon

3 garlic cloves

Black pepper to taste

Wash the green beans, and snap off the tops.  Break in half for bite-size lengths.  Slice the red onion, dice the bacon in 1/4” pieces, and mince the garlic.  Put the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Cook until a good amount of the fat is rendered out and the meat is just slightly starting to turn brown.  Drain out the fat, and add the onion and garlic.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add the green beans and pepper.  Cook with the lid on for 8 minutes, tossing at least once or twice a minute (tossing is better than stirring because stirring can break the green beans).



• For the grilled asparagus:

1 1/2 lbs. of washed asparagus with the hard bottoms of the stalks cut off

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar

4 minced garlic cloves

Mix the olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a bowl, then put in a large zipper storage bag with the asparagus.  Let marinade for 1 hour.  Turn on the outdoor grill at medium heat, and grill for 2 minutes on each side.

Walnut Creek Yacht Club, Walnut Creek CA

After a long day of personal and professional errands, we ended up in Walnut Creek for a late dinner and the Walnut Creek Yacht Club was still open.  Living in Oakland now, we had to seize the opportunity to dine here while in town, and we had been looking forward to tasting their famous super fresh seafood for some time.  Having a very close relationship with a seafood purveyor, all the seafood is guaranteed never frozen, in neither transport nor preparation.  The story on the back of the menu says that 99% of the items are made in house – our attentive, informative, and friendly waiter Tony attested that just about the only things not made in house are the ice cream from The Latest Scoop of Berkeley and the bread from Acme Bread Co.

jalapeño, cheddar & potato gratin

jalapeño, cheddar & potato gratin

There’s lots of “extra rigging,” or side dishes, and since Zach’s entree came with set sides, he added the gratin to try.  As a jalapeño and cheddar fan, he thought this was a cheesy gooey delight, and very spicy but with natural bold jalapeño flavor.  Don’t get us wrong, it’s not overly spicy but it’s definitely not mild, either.

pancetta wrapped rhode island monkfish

pancetta wrapped rhode island monkfish

Zach’s monkfish was well portioned, succulent, and with a texture between scallop and lobster.  It was tender enough to “melt in your mouth” and the crisp, perfectly rendered panceta added a little saltiness to each bite to enhance the flavor.  It came with a mushroom-herb risotto cake, which was crispy on the outside but with a soft center and deep, rich mushroom and thyme flavor.  It was “everything you would want in a risotto” but fried and with that wonderful mushroom flavor permeating throughout.  The mushrooms, like the asparagus, were hand picked by Joe Rubino Produce, and you can’t go wrong with supremely grilled local asparagus.  The sauce was tart and tangy with a red wine base and a slight earthiness from pink peppercorns.  Overall it was a very well-balanced dish

idaho rainbow trout with polenta fries

idaho rainbow trout with polenta fries

August’s piece of grilled rainbow trout had beautiful sear marks, and the taste was just as beautiful.  The texture was moist and flaky, and every nibble disappeared.  She thoroughly enjoyed the two sauces she chose from the myriad, stone ground mustard & dill and citrus scallion butter.  Under the delicious fish were four polenta fries with a zingy lemon aioli.  Crunchy outside with a typical polenta-texture inside, these were pleasantly surprising and distinctive.  An added bonus was the garnish pile with pickled onions; she doesn’t know if they were supposed to be more than a garnish, but they were good.

There’s no way for any boat, and clearly not a yacht, to get to Walnut Creek.  We always wondered why this restaurant/bar would be called “yacht club,” and we learned that it is indicative of the atmosphere that owners Ellen McCarty and Kevin Weinberg wish to create.  The seafood, though, is the main attraction and it never fails to put on a show.

Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri, Elote Corn on the Cob, and Jalapeño Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

There are so many variations on meat and potatoes, it doesn’t even compare to Bubba listing different types of shrimp preparation in Forrest Gump.  With Cinco de Mayo fast approaching, we’re doing a nod to Mexican flavors with elotes y chimichurri.  Okay, to be honest, elotes are Mexican but chimichurri, derived from tximitxurri, is Basque for “a little of this, a little of that.”  Many Hispanic cultures have adopted the word chimichurri to describe a sauce that usually has garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and a combination of fresh herbs.  August tried making chimichurri once in 2007; it was that memorable because it took her two hours to mince all the ingredients without a food processor!

Serves 4 as per the recipes (but we only did 2 corn ears for ourselves)

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• For the mashed potatoes:

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, washed

1/2 to 3/4 cup of fat free milk, depending on desired consistency

1/2 cup of shredded Rumiano mild cheddar cheese

1 jalapeño pepper

4 tbs. of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Over an open heat source like a stove top burner, hold the pepper over the heat until the skin blackens and the pepper slightly softens.  Put in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap to steam for 10 minutes.  This will help cook it further, and make the skin very easy to remove; remove the skin once it’s cool enough to touch.  Split in half and discard the seeds.  Dice up the pepper and set aside.

In a medium pot, boil the potatoes in about 12-16 cups of water, or at least so they are covered by water.  Cook low heat to achieve a slow boil so that the potatoes don’t break apart.  Boil for about 45 minutes or until a thin, sharp knife easily sinks in.

Drain potatoes in a strainer.  Add the milk and butter to the potato pot, then transfer the potatoes back in along with all other ingredients; Chef Zach recommends to start with about 2 tsp. of salt.  That might sound like a lot of salt to some people, but potatoes need a lot of it.  Mix with a hand mixer on low speed until thoroughly mixed.

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• For the avocado butter:

1 medium-size avocado

2 oz. of softened butter

A pinch of salt

avocado butter

avocado butter

Mash the avocado with a fork, then add the butter and salt and thoroughly incorporate.

• For the corn:

4 ears of corn (although we did 2)

Avocado butter

1/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco

1/2 of one lime

Paprika for dusting

Shuck and clean the corn.  Grill on a barbecue or open grill for 10-12 minutes, or until the corn just starts to brown.  Not every single kernel has to be brown (notice the pictures throughout the article).

Spread the ears with avocado butter, squeeze the lime for juice, dust paprika, and evenly sprinkle the queso fresco.

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• For the steak’s chimichurri sauce:

1 cup of lightly packed flat leaf parsley

1 cup of lightly packed cilantro

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot

4 garlic cloves

3 tbs. of red wine vinegar

2 tbs. of fresh lime juice

1 tsp. of salt

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Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor.  Pulse the food processor about 15 times to break down the herbs but not completely liquify them.  Turn the food processor to ON and slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream.

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Once all the oil has been added and mixed in, set aside until serving.

•For the flank steak:

1 1/2 lbs. of pasture-raised beef flank steak

1 tbs. of paprika

1 tbs. of kosher salt

1 tsp. of ground cumin

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp. of onion powder

1/2 tsp. of ground white pepper

Mix all the dry ingredients to make a rub.  With your hands, work the rub all over all surfaces of the flank steak.  Let sit in on a sheet pan the refrigerator for an hour, covered with plastic wrap.

guest appearance by bea

guest appearance by our dog bea

If you’re following this recipe and good with your timing, the grill will already be on for the elotes.  Grill the flank steak on each side for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.  Don’t fidget with the steak; the only times you should touch it are when you put it on the grill, flip it, and remove it.

Slice on the bias, against the grain, for thin strips.  Garnish with chimichurri (and serve in Arakawa Pottery).

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