Happy New year! It has been a while since my last update. I’ll have to post again about Christmas and New Years specifically. This blog post it to update you in the wonderful world of Kristina’s Kitchen – Adventures in Cooking!
Scott and I got a nice 5-in-1 Grill/Griddle/Pannini Press for Christmas from my parents (thanks mom and dad!) and we have been attempting to use it.
Adventure 1 – Steaks
Now that we have a grill, I no longer have to fiddle around with finding ways to cook the steak in the oven. Toss some confetti for me. I got a packet of steak marinade, Montreal style, and read that I needed to soak it for 15 minutes. Now, I thought marinade was supposed to soak for the whole day, but what do I know about cooking, right? I followed the directions, read and reread the pamphlet that came with the grill on how to operate it, finally finding that I needed to set it to “Grill” and “Sear”. All is going well, steam issuing from underneath the press, sounds of sizzling steak great my ears. When it is time to remove the steaks, I grab some tong things and move them to a plate. Now, let’s back up and paint the picture. Imagine our grill press sitting on the counter top just beside the sink. Behind it is a toaster and a large Death Star cookie jar. The grill cannot be opened very far and there’s really not much room to scoot it away from the sink as then it would be invading the fridge’s space. Fast forward to present. Yes, I dropped a steak in the sink! Scott had just got done cleaning a fork so there was certainly water and some soap remains there to great the lonely steak. My husband, bless his heart, told me to just put it on the grill for another minute or so and he’d eat it. In the end, the steaks tasted great and I almost got them my preferred restaurant medium pink. Next time will be better.
Adventure 2 – Hamburgers
I must say, touching ground beef uncooked is gross. End of story. It’s cold and greasy feeling. But I had to touch it as I made my own hamburger patties. I learned this recipe from my dad.
1 lb ground beef
1/2 packet dry ranch mix (like 16 oz Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Dry Mix)
Sprinkle dry mix in bowl with beef and mix with hands gently. Ball up beef and flatten to make about 4 inch patties.
Makes 4 hamburgers
Beyond needing to get over how gross the meat felt, it was rather simple. Somehow I made the patties too small and our hamburger buns were giants. But they tasted FANTASTIC.
Adventure 3 – Panninis
Well, this adventure was interesting. I’ve only ate a few Panninis in my life, never saw them make them, Scott had no idea what they were, and I didn’t know what to put on them. So, I googled for Panninis and found several suggested recipes. Me, being me, combined what I thought was the best of all and sent text messages to my husband to buy at the store. I still don’t know what ciabatta bread is, but neither did he. He came home with a huge loaf of Italian bread. I had him get Salami, Ham, Provolone Cheese, Lettuce, and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
The first Pannini I made was a battle. The top of the sandwich wanted to slide off or only get cooked on half of it by the grill press. Until, that is, I found I could make the top of the grill float and move to adjust to the stuff it is pressing! Still, it was a challenge. I’m pushing on the top and poking the sandwich with the back-end of a whisk (you know, the thing you use to beat eggs…. or something) trying to keep the sandwich all in one piece.
The second Pannini I decided to trim the Italian bread on the top and bottom half to make it 1)Less thick and 2) not so rounded. Waaaay better that time around! The bread didn’t move as much, the cheese melted better, and overall a much better Pannini. Oh, I had also put some olive oil on top and sprinkled basil flakes so it gave it a nice look. My husband says, “It’s like I’m in an Italian restaurant.” I’m glad he liked it.
Well, since then I’ve made another set of steaks (none in the sink this time), and got my perfect medium pink in the middle. We’ve done hamburgers again and I made them the right size. But, I keep putting off trying to make another pannini. I think that thing was more work than it was worth. Tonight we made spaghetti and meatballs (prepackaged – I’m not that brave yet) only to find we lacked pasta sauce. My wonderful husband is out at the grocery now to get the sauce. I’ve since heard we could do olive oil and salt? Hmm. Oh well, on to more cooking adventures!