It's finally starting to warm up around here, after weeks of threatening to snow but never quite getting on with it. Inside the kitchen, however, warm, stomach southing, dishes are still being made. Monday the marked the beginning of Dinner Gone Wild. Exotic ingredients and unusual flavor combinations will be the norm this week. The menu was Winter Squash Bread Pudding, Beef Tips with Onion and Sage, and Blanched Spinach with sesame sauce.
The pudding was inspired by the guidelines found in Urban Pantry, the steak bites were completely winged, and the sesame sauce was courtesy of Maki's Just Bento Cookbook.
The basic idea for this was "pudding texture, dinner taste." To achieve this I used a bag of seasoned stuffing bread cubes (found stuffed in the back of the pantry, score!), two Acorn squash, sage, eggs, and milk. I infused the milk with the sage, just 'cause I like making things more complicated. Since the crumbs I used were already heavily seasoned I doubt this really made an impact on the actual taste of the dish. But it made me feel like I was cooking. The squash was very work intensive. I scrapped out the seeds, cut it into eighths, and cut the shell off before cubing it. I would love to try either pureeing it or just grating it next time (if I had a mandolin, maybe a thin julienne) so that the squash would have more of a chance to meld with the other flavors. The dish as whole turned out really well, though, so I'm putting this in my files as "worth perfecting." The only thing that really stood out was the name, no one seemed to like the idea of eating bread pudding for dinner ( or at any other time, which is just insanity. Bread pudding is awesome. End plug for Bread pudding/) I found myself switching to "squash stuffing," just to avoid the wrinkled noses.
The Beef Tips
This was really simple. I chopped up a purple onion lengthwise (wait, aren't they supposed to be red?), let it cook with some minced sage for a few seconds with a teensy bit of olive oil, and then added two sirloin steaks cut into bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper (the smallest mouth in the house belongs to the three year-old, though you wouldn't know it to hear her talk). I splashed a little bit of rice wine vinegar and red wine vinegar into the pan and let the meat cook until rare before adding some milk and cornstarch for a bit of a gravy. Just a little though, it's still too cold to go swimming.
The Spinach and Sesame
The spinach was really easy to cook, nothing to talk about there, just stuck it in some water and boiled. But the sauce stymied me. I used Tahini, because that's what my ethnic grocery store sold (no nerigoma, oh well). The sauce ended up having a near-perfection fore-taste and a bitterly-off aftertaste. Yuck. Edible, enjoyable even, but not a success. Since I sept-tupled the recipe I am willing to blame it on my math. Maybe the bitterness was because I put into too much tahini, or not enough sugar?