A few months ago, just as the great freeze was beginning, I attended a fabulous bloggers’ lunch in London with some new friends and not quite so new friends (I’m still a neophyte in this blogging world so it’s a bit early to consider fellow bloggers “old friends”). There were Meeta and Jamie (who had come from afar), Jeanne (organiser extraordinaire), Kavey, Anne, Hilda, Sarah, Julia, Catty, Eunice. We are a group of people with different backgrounds, histories, everyday lives and talents but all having one things in common – a love of food and cooking perhaps bordering on obsession. In a good way. We ate, we drank, we chatted, we laughed, gifts were passed around…
Gifts are generally good, especially when they come from fellow food bloggers. Kavey brought random packs of spice mixes for people to play with and blog about. I was given steak seasoning. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it, especially if you like steak. And I like steak. It’s the Friday night meal I will make if I’ve had an especially bad week – steak, baked potatoes and mushrooms. Mmmm.
So here I was with my packet of steak spice, mulling over ideas of what I could do with it. I knew some of the others would be doing slightly odd and creative things with theirs, but in my case I decided to call a spade a spade and use it in the way it was intended. I have my own dry spice rub that I use all the time on steaks and I decided to use this in much the same way. I had this whole blog post composed in my head (I even jotted some bullet points down on paper – here’s the place where you ooh and aah about my organisational skills) about the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) and simplicity in cooking. About not needing a long list of ingredients to make something good. You take a simple steak, a simple spice mix, and voila – a quick, dead easy, delicious meal. It couldn’t go wrong.
Here’s how I envisioned the steak looking:
And here it is happily letting the spice mix do its magic:
And here’s what happened…
I need you to do some visualisation now. Cue some relaxing background music (classical I would think), someone with a gorgeous calming voice to read the text, and imagine if you will:
A prime thick piece of Aberdeen Angus beef, cooked to perfection in a cast iron pan - juicy reddish-pink inside with a spicy crust on the outside. Roasted potatoes, fragrant with rosemary, sage and garlic, perfectly crisp on the outside yet light and fluffy when you take a bite. And a simple salad: lots of greens, slivers of sweet red pepper and licorice-y fennel, and a light lemony dressing. A perfect, quick, midday meal.
That was the plan.
Now for the next part of the visualisation exercise: cue in some thrash metal music, someone with a loud shouty slightly annoying voice to read the text, and imagine this:
OH BUGGER THE PAN IS TOO HOT. THERE’S TOO MUCH SPICE RUB ON THE STEAK. THE KITCHEN IS FILLED WITH SMOKE. THE STEAK IS BURNING. THE FIRE ALARM IS GOING OFF. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SHUT THE DOOR TO STOP THAT INFERNAL BEEPING??? AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH. BUGGER.
The potatoes were good. They were indeed herby and crispy and fluffy in all the right places.
The salad was nice and light and lemony. And I’m loving fresh fennel these days.
The steak was indeed juicy and redding-pink on the inside, but the spices were completely burnt (we had to scrape them off) and unfortunately a nice steak ended up with definite burnt undertones – not nicely charred, but burnt. It didn’t stop us from eating most of it though. Steak is steak after all.
I will admit that I am a bit bummed about the whole thing. I’ve only cooked steak a zillion times and have never burned it like this. I should have barbecued it. Or at least done a dry run since I was planning to blog about it. I will have to keep working with this spice mixture – I think it needs some liquid with it to really work well. It might work better with braised meat. I’ll experiment and report back.
We all make mistakes in the kitchen – luckily the vast vast majority of mine happen in the home kitchen (as opposed to the work one). If you would like to read about one of my kitchen mistakes gone RIGHT, read about my orange dust. That would make me happy.