DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary: Father’s Day, Sunday, June 24, 2018. Impastato Cellars. It looks as if all the women of all ages tried to express remorse their for not paying much attention to Father’s Day. This is particularly true for young adult women with not-quite-elderly fathers or husbands, who tend to treat the men involved as if having a special Sunday brunch were a parodies of the real holiday of Mother’s Day.

However, I could not accuse the Marys as having been among those slackers. I received a funny card with an audio track if you pushed the button. Mary Ann also gave me the kind of personal message that always makes me feel good about our twenty-nine-year marriage.

I was allowed to choose the dinner venue, which I did with a mind that knows I can’t choose a restaurant that is not amenable to the Mary’s tastes. We all like Impastato Cellars. That’s the Madisonville branch of Impastato’s in Metairie. We all know going in that the fettuccine alone will make up for any lack in the menu. The restaurant attenuated the menu so it will be able to take care of an expectedly large crowds. The way Impastato’s handles that is to run a limited menu with a colossal amount of food. A five-course dinner came with lots of pasta and shrimp for $45. Not bad, but not quite as good as on a normal Impastato menu.

When we get home, the Marys pack up for a trip to Meridian, Mississippi, where ML has to get back to early work tomorrow and the few days after. I cannot gainsay my daughter’s work ethic.

When MA arrives home, we have a pleasant conversation, one helped greatly by the absence of the late dog Susie. Although we miss our old dog already, we can’t ignore the quietude and peace. Nor do we want to.

Impastato Cellars. Madisonville: 240 Highway 22 E. 985-845-4445.

The peacefulness around the Cool Water Ranch continues into the day. Mary Ann has a plan. She will have lunch with me (my usual red beans and blackened catfish), after which she will drive to Meridian. There she will take her first look at the project Mary Leigh has worked on for many months. It’s a museum depicting the arts in that part of Mississippi, a much more beautiful area than one might imagine. Mary Leigh not only did a lot of the design work on the $60-million museum, but she performed much of the actual hands-on construction.

Late in the afternoon, MA calls to report that the museum–which she has not seen in any degree of completion–is thoroughly impressive. She says I ought to drop everything and come to see it. That would be tough to do, given that it’s at least a four-hour drive from New Orleans to Meridian. (Last time I went there, it was five hours on one of the fastest Amtrak trains in the country from New Orleans to Meridian.) MA says I ought to book the tickets, get on my dumb old train and and see this mind-blower of achievement from our multi-creative daughter (she also does pastry cheffing, among many other capabilities through her twenty years).

What a weekend this humble Father’s Day has been!

RecipeSquare-150x150

Sirloin Strip Steak Stanley

This was the most unusual dish found on the menu in the old Brennan’s on Royal Street. It was a steak with two sauces–one a beef-and-red wine reduction with mushrooms, the other a mild, creamy horseradish sauce. The bananas are only marginally involved, along the side of the plate, browned in butter.

Bananas? In a beef dish? Crazy as it sounds, steak Stanley was really a good dish. That was agreed upon not only longtime Brennan’s customers, but also by Ralph Brennan (who runs the restaurant) and Chef Slade Rushing. He changed the dish a little, but the essence remains. Its not difficult to make at home, once you get past the marchand de vin sauce–but even that is not too bad.

I was surprised to learn that steak Stanley is not original with Brennan’s, but a forgotten old dish from early in the century. I found it in a book of recipes from railroad dining cars in the 1930s and 1940s–although the recipe there is nowhere near as interesting as the one at Brennan’s. It was probably assembled by their original chef, Paul Blange. I’ll bet the constant availability of bananas in the kitchen owing to the popularity of Brennan’s original bananas Foster played a role in the preservation of steak Stanley to modern times.

  • Horseradish sauce:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. finely-grated fresh horseradish
  • 4 sirloin strip steaks, well trimmed, about 12 oz. each
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 bananas, preferable a little underripe but not green, peeled and slit end to end
  • Mushroom sauce:
  • 2/3 cup Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, or other big red wine
  • 1/4 cup highly-reduced beef stock or (better) demi-glace (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco Caribbean-style steak sauce (or Pickapeppa sauce)
  • 4 oz. mushrooms (preferably portobello, shiitake, or anything else interesting), sliced about 1/4 in chick
  • 2 Tbs. tomato sauce (marinara sauce from a jar is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Preheat the oven and broiler rack to 350 degrees.

1. Make the horseradish sauce first. Bring the whipping cream to a light boil (use a bigger saucepan than it looks like you need, because it might foam over).

2. In a smaller saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add the cream to the mixture and whisk until thick. Add the other ingredients and lower the heat to low. Cook for another two minutes, stirring once, and remove from the heat. Keep it warm.

3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it bubbles. Put the steaks into the pan and sear them until they more-or-less unstick from the pan. (That doesn’t always happen, but if the steak is really stuck down there it’s probably not ready to turn yet.) Turn them over, tipping the pan to let to butter flow onto the spot where you’ll put each steak down.

4. After the second side unsticks (this will take two minutes or so per side), transfer the steaks to the broiler rack in the oven. If you like rare steaks, turn the heat off. For medium rare, turn the oven down to 250 degrees.

5. While the steaks are cooking, melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a second large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter bubbles. Add the bananas and cook until they’re browned–three or four minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

6. Return the pan you seared the steaks in to medium-high heat, and add the red wine. Bring it to a boil while whisking the pan to dissolve all the browned bits and juices left behind by the steaks. After two minutes, add the beef stock or demi-glace. Raise the heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce the liquid by half.

7. Add all the other mushroom sauce ingredient to the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. Keep the sauce warm while waiting on steaks.

8. Place the steaks on warmed plates. Top generously with the mushroom sauce, and pour the horseradish sauce on top of that in a thin, wavy ribbon. Set a banana half on each side of the steak, and serve while saying in a loud voice, “Behold! The world’s best steak ‘n’ bananas!”

Serves four.

AlmanacSquare June 20, 2017

Days Until. . .

Fourth Of July 15

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Vanilla Milk Shake Day. I prefer malted milkshakes myself, but I do lean toward vanilla over chocolate. Seems to allow the malted taste to come through better. First one I ever encountered was from a panel truck with a soft-serve ice cream machine aboard and the entire range of ice-cream-parlor ingredients. I loved it immediately. It was called Dairy Dan, and made the rounds in River Ridge in the 1960s. Anybody else remember it?

This is also Eggs Sardou Day. Poached eggs atop an artichoke bottom filled with creamed spinach, with a substantial flow of hollandaise sauce. The idea is such a good one that not only is the dish probably the most popular fancy eggs in New Orleans, but it has given rise to many other things Sardou as well. For example, there’s crabmeat Sardou, in which lump crabmeat takes the place of the eggs, but everything else is left standing.

Eggs Sardou was originally created at Antoine’s in New Orleans, in the late 1800s, when Antoine Alciatore himself was still alive. He named it for playwright Victorien Sardou, who’d just written a French comedy called Uncle Sam. (Imagine–the French poking fun at America!) The playwright is probably best remembered because posters for his plays were painted by the Art Nouveau master Alfonse Mucha, but I’m getting off the subject.

Antoine’s eggs Sardou is different from others in that it doesn’t include the spinach, but does have a bit of chopped anchovy. It’s a good dish, even though eating eggs at Antoine’s seems a little funny. Brennan’s changed the dish to its present form everywhere (except Antoine’s) by adding creamed spinach to the recipe. Making eggs Sardou at home is too much work for just one or two, but if you have a bunch of friends coming over for brunch, it would impress them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Curry, Louisiana is one of at least ten places in this country bearing that name. That’s appropriate, considering how many different kinds of curry there are. This one is just a junction on US 84 in Kisatchie National Forest, in Winn Parish, about forty-seven miles north of Alexandria. The nearest restaurant serving curry to the denizens of Curry is the China Restaurant, twenty miles down US 84 in Jena.

Edible Dictionary

June 20
Days Until. . .
Fourth Of July 15

Today’s Flavor
Today is National Vanilla Milk Shake Day. I prefer malted milkshakes myself, but I do lean toward vanilla over chocolate. Seems to allow the malted taste to come through better. First one I ever encountered was from a panel truck with a soft-serve ice cream machine aboard and the entire range of ice-cream-parlor ingredients. I loved it immediately. It was called Dairy Dan, and made the rounds in River Ridge in the 1960s. Anybody else remember it?

This is also Eggs Sardou Day. Poached eggs atop an artichoke bottom filled with creamed spinach, with a substantial flow of hollandaise sauce. The idea is such a good one that not only is the dish probably the most popular fancy eggs in New Orleans, but it has given rise to many other things Sardou as well. For example, there’s crabmeat Sardou, in which lump crabmeat takes the place of the eggs, but everything else is left standing.

Eggs Sardou was originally created at Antoine’s in New Orleans, in the late 1800s, when Antoine Alciatore himself was still alive. He named it for playwright Victorien Sardou, who’d just written a French comedy called Uncle Sam. (Imagine–the French poking fun at America!) The playwright is probably best remembered because posters for his plays were painted by the Art Nouveau master Alfonse Mucha, but I’m getting off the subject.

Antoine’s eggs Sardou is different from others in that it doesn’t include the spinach, but does have a bit of chopped anchovy. It’s a good dish, even though eating eggs at Antoine’s seems a little funny. Brennan’s changed the dish to its present form everywhere (except Antoine’s) by adding creamed spinach to the recipe. Making eggs Sardou at home is too much work for just one or two, but if you have a bunch of friends coming over for brunch, it would impress them.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Curry, Louisiana is one of at least ten places in this country bearing that name. That’s appropriate, considering how many different kinds of curry there are. This one is just a junction on US 84 in Kisatchie National Forest, in Winn Parish, about forty-seven miles north of Alexandria. The nearest restaurant serving curry to the denizens of Curry is the China Restaurant, twenty miles down US 84 in Jena.

Edible Dictionary

Deft Dining Rule #107:
One of the first steps to becoming a gourmet is deciding whether you want good or plenty.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
If your hollandaise breaks, add a tablespoon of warm water and see if it re-emulsifies. If not, start over again with just one egg yolk, whisking over gentle heat until it gets thick, then whisk in the broken sauce a little at a time.

Music To Eat In Your Room By
Today is the birthday, in 1942, of Brian Wilson, the songwriting genius and distinctive falsetto voice of the Beach Boys. His food quotation was, “Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once, and you’ll suck forever.”

Food Namesakes
Toast Of The Town— which later became better known as the Ed Sullivan Show, made its first appearance on CBS television on this date in 1948. It was on Sunday nights for twenty-three years. . . Candy Clark, who was an actress in a bunch of 1970s and 1980s movies, was born today in 1947. . . Novelist Charles Chesnutt was born today in 1858. . . Actor John McCook was born today in 1945. . . Writer Lillian Hellman came out of the jar today in 1905.

Deft Dining Rule #107:

One of the first steps to becoming a gourmet is deciding whether you want good or plenty.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If your hollandaise breaks, add a tablespoon of warm water and see if it re-emulsifies. If not, start over again with just one egg yolk, whisking over gentle heat until it gets thick, then whisk in the broken sauce a little at a time.

Music To Eat In Your Room By

Today is the birthday, in 1942, of Brian Wilson, the songwriting genius and distinctive falsetto voice of the Beach Boys. His food quotation was, “Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once, and you’ll suck forever.”

Food Namesakes

Toast Of The Town— which later became better known as the Ed Sullivan Show, made its first appearance on CBS television on this date in 1948. It was on Sunday nights for twenty-three years. . . Candy Clark, who was an actress in a bunch of 1970s and 1980s movies, was born today in 1947. . . Novelist Charles Chesnutt was born today in 1858. . . Actor John McCook was born today in 1945. . . Writer Lillian Hellman came out of the jar today in 1905.

Words To Eat By

“I am not strict vegan, because I’m a hedonist pig. If I see a big chocolate cake that is made with eggs, I’ll have it.”–Grace Slick, lead singer of Jefferson Airplane/Starship.

Words To Drink By

“I like my whisky old and my women young.”–Actor Errol Flynn, born today in 1909.