Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Making Mini Meatloaves

December 22, 2013

Quick Mini Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
Rodney Strong 2011 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

We are preparing to leave for a two-week vacation in New Zealand and that drives what is in this Sunday, Dinner for Two post, and what is not. It also explains why it's being posted so much earlier than usual. I needed a Sunday dinner that would not generate any leftovers, or would generate leftovers that could be frozen. I've been wanting to have meat loaf and this recipe for individual meat loaves seemed to meet all of the criteria. Not only could it be made quickly and easily, but it provides us with food that we can prepare quickly when we get back home. We will use up our potatoes by mashing and freezing them so we shouldn't have to go grocery shopping to have an easy complete dinner on our first day back.

The meat loaf recipe came from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook where it was called "All-American Mini Meatloaves". The technique should be useful with any meat loaf recipe. The small free-form loaves cook quickly and I was able to prepare the whole dinner in well under an hour.  The original recipe calls for 1½ pounds of meat which makes 4 individual serving-sized loaves. These are well browned on one side in an oven-proof skillet. The loaves are then carefully turned over, the glaze is applied (in this case a mixture of brown sugar, ketchup, and vinegar), and they are baked in a 350° oven to an internal temperature of 160° which only takes about 20 minutes.

The meat loaves were pretty good, they were tender and juicy and nicely flavored. They were a little lacking in beef flavor as the flavor from the browned side of the meat was overwhelmed by the glaze. Diane thought the glaze was too sweet but she allowed that this may just be because it is not the kind of meat loaf she grew up with.

For what it's worth, this is my 100th post to Sunday, Dinner for Two.  :-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Another Quick Cassoulet

December 16, 2013

Quick Pork Cassoulet
Sourdough Bread
Kendall-Jackson 2011 Vintner's Reserve Riesling

Quick Pork Cassoulet from America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Growing up, my favorite canned soup was Campbell's Bean with Bacon. I am not as fond of it now as I used to be, both the soup and I have changed. Nonetheless, I have fond memories of the soup and so I am on a quest for a good homemade bean soup recipe. With some bread and wine it makes a comforting and satisfying cool weather meal, an earthy, hearty combination of beans and meat. The best recipe I've found is not really a soup (though the line between soups and stews is blurry) but rather something based on the classic French dish, Cassoulet. The original French dish requires more work than is practical for the home kitchen but fortunately there are some easier versions which are inspired by the original, if not totally faithful. (I would like to try Cassoulet in a restaurant some time to see what the original is like.)

This Sunday I tried a third recipe, a third version of Cassoulet. All three have led to good results and I can recommend any of them, though my favorite was the original recipe I tried from Cook's Illustrated which starts with dry beans, rather than canned, and takes more time and effort than the two "quick" recipes I have used. The other was from Food Wishes.

Today's recipe created the most soup-like cassoulet with a thinner broth than the others which used bread to soak up the liquid and make a thicker dish. It was also the fastest recipe taking me about an hour from start to finish. I tweaked the recipe some, as I often do. I cut the pork tenderloin into smaller, bit-sized pieces rather than the 1-inch chunks in the Cook's Illustrated recipe. This may have led to somewhat tougher pork but it was still reasonably tender and the smaller pieces are easier to eat. Perhaps cooking 1-inch pieces is the way to go as they can be cut into bite-sized pieces after cooking and before being added back into the Cassoulet.

I will continue my search for a good bean soup but I will also be trying out some other cassoulet recipes. I found another version on the America's Test Kitchen web site. I would also like to return to the version that I first tried, but I will make a smaller batch than the first time. I don't know if these experiments will happen this winter, there are so many good recipes and only so many Sunday's, but I'll get around to it eventually.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Stew: Not Beef but Chicken

December 8, 2013

Chicken Stew
Parker House Rolls
Main & Geary 2012 Sonoma County Chardonnay

Chicken Stew from Cook's Illustrated
Chocolate Snowcapped Cookies from Food Wishes 

I've had beef stew many, many times. Who hasn't? But I don't remember ever having chicken stew. Chicken soup, yes, but not chicken stew. A recent issue of Cook's Illustrated introduced a recipe for chicken stew, comparing it quite favorably to beef stew, so I gave it a try.

Making the stew was not a lot of work. While it wasn't a simple dump and stir recipe, the amount of time and work was not overwhelming and much of the time was hands off. The early steps build the rich umami flavor of the stew and its smooth silky texture. Aromatic vegetables are cooked in bacon fat.  A cup of chicken stock was added and then fully reduced. Anchovy paste and browned chicken wings which were included in the stew added additional umami and chicken flavor. No, there is no anchovy flavor in the finished product.

I purchased "party wings" which I could use without additional processing, the wing tips were not included and the wings had been already cut. Instead of just discarding them after cooking, as the recipe instructs, we pulled the meat off the bones and added it to the stew. I also cut up the cooked chicken thighs before serving as they were far from bite sized; we like our stew components to be small enough to eat without having to cut them them.

The sauce was wonderful, full of flavor. The chicken was tender and juicy and the vegetables were cooked just right. This is definitely a dish to make again. It was served with Parker House rolls, which had been made for Thanksgiving, and a slightly oaky Chardonnay that went well with the rich stew.

For dessert we had chocolate cookies well coated with powdered sugar. These were easy to make and good to eat and would make a good Christmas cookie with their snowy topping.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie and Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner

November 24, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie from Cook's Illustrated
Parker House Rolls from King Arthur Flour 
Slow Roasted Turkey from Cook's Illustrated
Spiced Pumpkin Pie from Penn Live 

There was no dinner for two on Sunday, November 17. Not only did I not cook, I didn't eat, I didn't even get out of bed. I had chills and fever and no energy and no appetite.

By the time November 24 arrived, daughter Caryn was home from college for Thanksgiving break. A few weeks prior I had asked what she would like for dinner while she was home and she requested (somewhat to my surprise) chicken pot pie. My kind of food! I found a recipe and had done the shopping but I was still too sick to spend the necessary time on my feet in the kitchen to make this recipe. Caryn agreed to make the pot pie. Rather than being put out for having to cook the dinner she requested, she rather enjoyed the opportunity to cook something like this. Her usual college fare is far simpler.

The pot pie was very good, though a fair amount of work was required to make it. The crispy tender crust covered a rich filling of dark meat immersed in a thick flavorful sauce. It was good leftover, too, warming it in the oven rather than the microwave so the crust was still crisp. Caryn did a great job, very much appreciated by me, with a complicated recipe.

When Thanksgiving arrived I had recovered sufficiently to be of some use in the kitchen. Nonetheless, so no one had to spend the holiday entirely in the kitchen, we each took on several dishes. Not only did this spread the work it made the feast more of a shared experience to which everyone contributed, kind of like a pot luck even though everyone was in the same house.

I cooked the turkey and gravy and made Parker House Rolls. I bought a half breast and leg quarter which were cooked using Cook's Illustrated's slow roasting technique which is very easy to do and resulted in juicy meat and a flavorful gravy. I made he rolls a day in advance, cooking them until set and then browning them just before dinner. Diane made cranberry relish (cranberries, oranges, and sugar, like my mom always made) and mashed potatoes. Caryn was responsible for the vegetable, serving grilled asparagus and she volunteered to make dessert, a yummy pumpkin pie. Diane and Caryn also collaborated on a turkey crudité which is becoming a new family Thanksgiving tradition, which we picked at all afternoon long leading up to dinner.

After two weeks, many consultations with physicians, and tests galore, I am on the mend. There is no definitive diagnosis, the most likely explanation is a strong immunological response to toxins, perhaps from a bug bite. Despite it all, we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, and a hearty Sunday, dinner for three this last week, all things for which to give thanks.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Different Sort of Beef Stew

November 10, 2013

Catalan Beef Stew with Mushrooms
Mashed Potatoes
Green Salad
Cranberry-Apple Crisp
Burrell School House 2008 Pinot Noir, "Principal's Choice"

Catalan-style Beef Stew with Mushrooms from Cook's Illustrated
Cranberry-Apple Crisp from Cook's Country

Catalonia is in northeastern Spain bordering France and the Mediterranean. The stew we had for dinner is inspired by flavors and cooking techniques from Catalonia. It is different from the American-style of stew, such as my mom cooked, or stews of France like Beef Burgandy made with red wine. This stew has no vegetables, the primary ingredients are beef and mushrooms, but it has a rich flavor and texture provided in part by sofrito, a rich slow-cooked combination of onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, and picada, a combination of toasted bread, toasted almonds, garlic, and parsley. The beef is not browned before being added to the stew, browning occurs in the oven as the stew cooks without a lid with the beef exposed to hot oven air.

I made a few recipe substitutions which didn't affect the essential character of the finished dish. I couldn't find boneless beef short ribs and had to settle for short ribs with the bones. I bought 5.2 lbs ($42!) and after cutting the meat from the bones and trimming the fat and silver skin I had 2¼ pounds of meat. There has to be a more economical way to do this, using a boneless chuck roast should work almost as well. The recipe specifies oyster mushrooms but I used a combination of oyster and button mushrooms as the oyster mushrooms were prepackaged and I needed to supplement them with button mushrooms to have the quantity called for. I used fresh rosemary from our garden rather than buying fresh thyme, much of which would probably end up being discarded. I had no sherry vinegar so used red wine vinegar in its place.

The stew does involve more work than a traditional American stew mainly due to preparation of the sofrito and picada. However, the extra work is rewarded with a beefy, savory stew featuring a rich flavorful sauce. It goes very well served over mashed potatoes with a vegetable or salad on the side. Like most braised dishes, I expect this one will only get better over time.

We are getting toward the end of apple season and starting to look forward to fresh citrus, but there are still opportunities for delicious apple desserts. I made one of our favorites, a dessert that combines sweet and tart apples with tart cranberries and a crisp, sweet and spicy topping. It is one of our favorites and we have it most every year. The crisp topping, which at its best when fresh, does not become totally soggy when you have the dessert as a leftover, retaining much of its texture.

We have had leftover Catalan stew several times and, as expected, it has only improved with time. We have had it over both mashed potatoes and as the topping on a baked potato and it was eminently satisfying both ways.  We are still enjoying leftover Atlanta Brisket which has also improved with time. (Yes, we have lots of beef in the refrigerator.) It was especially good served over noodles, perhaps not too surprising as it has a tomato-based sauce.

Not on Sunday
My 2012 Cookie of the Year was the Chocolate Chubby, a wonderful cookie that is sort of a cross between a cookie and a brownie. I am ready now to announce my 2013 Cookie of the Year, Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies. I described these a few months ago and I made them again this week. These are about the most peanutty cookies you can imagine. Instead of making the original all-peanut filling I made a chocolate filling which was almost as good. I have added instructions for this filling  to the recipe and encourage you to try these cookies. They're a little more work than most cookies but like the Catalan-style stew you are will be well rewarded for your efforts.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cooking with Cola: Atlanta Brisket

November 3, 2013

Atlanta Brisket
Crisp Roast Potatoes
Green Peas
Smoking Loon 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

Atlanta Brisket from Cook's Country
Crisp Roasted Potatoes from Cook's Illustrated

I had never heard of Atlanta Brisket until it was featured on a recent version of the Cook's Country TV show. Basically it is beef brisket that is braised with onions, ketchup, Coca Cola (thus the name as Coca Cola is based in Atlanta), and onion soup mix. I have one other recipe that uses coke as an ingredient, a Dutch oven recipe for Coca Cola Chicken that I learned about while in Boy Scouts.  It was an intriguing recipe and worth a try.

Instead of using onion soup mix, this recipe uses a mixture of spices to provide more control over the final flavors. The brisket was juicy and fall-apart tender, so much so that it could not be cut into nice, neat slices. The sauce was interesting with a unique flavor from the combination of sweet and sour ketchup with the sweet, acidic cola. There was no obvious cola flavor in the sauce which had some rough edges.

The roasted potatoes were good, crispy on the outside with creamy interiors. They were prepared something like oven fries; potatoes were sliced, parboiled, coated with olive oil, then roasted in a single layer on a baking sheet. While they were good we thought there were too many steps in the preparation and we will be trying some other roasted potato recipes in the future that will hopefully be simpler.

The potatoes help up well, they were warmed with a little oil in a skillet and they were certainly an easy and acceptable side dish. Like many braised dishes, the brisket improved with a few days sitting. As flowing water will wear down the rough edges of a stone producing a smooth cobble, time smoothed out some of the sauce's rougher, sharper flavors resulting in a more balanced, more pleasant flavor. We had the brisket simply rewarmed in the microwave and then again served on toasted hamburger buns.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Still Searching for a Hearty Homemade Bean Soup

October 27, 2013

Tuscan Bean Soup
Green Salad
Homemade Sourdough Bread
Vella Cabernet Sauvignon

Tuscan Bean Soup from Cook's Illustrated
French Apple Cake from Cook's Illustrated 
Katherine Hepburn Brownies from Brown Eyed Baker

Most of what I cook on Sunday is new to me. Most of what I cook on Sunday I would make again. But sometimes, when you try something new, it doesn't work out. Searching for a recipe for a good, hearty bean soup, I tried "Tuscan Bean Soup". This is not the bean soup recipe I seek.

Tuscan Bean Soup is pretty simple. It is mostly Cannellini beans and onion with additional flavor provided by pork and rosemary. The recipe specified chunks of pancetta, 6 ounces of it, that is browned and used to flavor the broth. I didn't read the recipe carefully enough before going to the store and purchased 3 ounces of thinly sliced pancetta instead to which I added 3 ounces of bacon. The pork and onions combined to make a thin broth with good, though certainly not robust, flavor. But I am looking for something with more body than provided by the thin broth in this recipe. I followed the directions for cooking the beans, cooking them for more time than the recipe suggested, but they still came out less tender and more al dente than they should. Part of the challenge was the direction to cook them until they seemed to be "almost tender"; I thought they had reached this stage but apparently not.

So my search for a hearty bean soup will continue and I may need to develop my own recipe. This is not a bad thing and I will likely write about it on Sunday, Dinner for Two, so watch for it.

Leftover soup generally improves over time. However, time in the refrigerator will not tenderize undercooked beans. It does, though, provide an opportunity to add some additional flavor. Some freshly ground black pepper and shredded pecorino romano improved this soup, giving it some of the flavor it was missing. 

Not on Sunday
While the bean soup was a disappointment, a dessert that I baked on Monday was not. It's still apple season and we made another trip to our local farm to restock. Rather than make another apple pie I made French Apple Cake from the September 2012 edition of Cook's Illustrated. Granny Smith apples are cooked in a cake that has two layers of batter, a custardy lower layer incorporating the apples topped with a light, cakey layer. This recipe turned out very well and we will probably make it again. The apples were distributed through the whole cake, though, so next time I will need to push them down into the batter, but this is a minor flaw. The cake kept well covered in the refrigerator and we enjoyed it all week for dessert.

On Friday I made some brownies that turned out really well. They had a nice crisp outside and soft, chocolatey inside. The recipe is attributed to Katherine Hepburn. We haven't tried them yet with ice cream and chocolate syrup, but I am confident they will be just as good in a sundae as they are eaten plain. I wonder, though, how the cocoa powder version would be, or with pecans rather than walnuts.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Eggs Benedict: Several Firsts

October 20, 2013

Eggs Benedict


You don't know if you'll like something until you try it, at least that's what my parents told me. I've always had an aversion to runny egg yolks. I order fried eggs "over hard" with the yolks broken and cooked. Diane prefers her fried eggs sunny side up and enjoys runny yolks. She regularly meets a friend for brunch and orders a version of Eggs Benedict which features poached eggs and their runny yolks.  (I think she gets a California Benedict. When you add avocado to a dish you get to add "California" to the name.") While there are many variations to the dish, in its simplest form it is a toasted English muffin with Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce.

I had never poached an egg or made Hollandaise sauce. I had recently watched a video demonstrating an egg poaching technique and this inspired me to prepare a favorite dish of Diane's despite my misgivings about runny yolks. When reading about the sauce there are warnings galore about it "breaking".  Hollandaise sauce is an emulsification of fat and water (the ingredients are egg yolk, butter, lemon juice, and water) and if not handled correctly the fat and water can separate. The sequence and timing of the steps–making the toast, warming the Canadian bacon, making the sauce, cooking the eggs–so everything came together at the right temperature was also a concern.

In the end, everything came out fine. It's a pretty simple and pretty complete meal (well, unless you insist on vegetables) and it took only about 35 minutes to prepare, much of that prep work. The sauce did not break, which was a relief. After cooking it in a double boiler I kept it warm by holding it over the hot water which had been removed from the heat. The sauce was nice and smooth though a little bland. I had omitted the optional cayenne pepper and next time I will include it and add more salt, too. The eggs were slightly overcooked: I checked them after four minutes and the whites still looked a little loose, so I put the cover back on the skillet for another minute. They were still runny but a little thicker than desired.

Overall I was pretty happy with this dinner, especially for a first try. I didn't find the runny yolks as revolting as they were in my memory. I'll have to try a restaurant version of eggs Benedict to see how it compares to what I made, and then prepare it again for dinner.

Not on Sunday
Since there are no leftovers when you fix breakfast for dinner and we had little food in the refrigerator after being out of town the previous week, I cooked up a pot of chili on Monday using the recipe for Quick Beef and Bean Chili that I described in February. I bought fresh chili powder and cumin which improved an already good dish. To go with it I baked sourdough whole wheat bread, replacing the yeast in the Test Kitchen's Almost No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread recipe with ¼ cup of sourdough starter. The starter, which I now feed every other week, keeps getting better and better and this bread developed a real nice tang. Feeding it and letting it sit at room temperature before using it probably helps the flavor and activity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A First Attempt at Pork Chops with Orange Gastrique

October 6, 2013

Pan Fried Pork Chops with Orange Gastrique
Steamed White Rice
Homemade Applesauce
Ravens Wood 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel

Professional chefs competing on shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef often make things that I have never made, never seen in a recipe or, frequently, never heard of. While most of the recipes you see on these shows are unique creations there are some preparations that appear frequently. Sometimes its just a fancy name for something familiar; what they call crostini most people would call toast. A common addition to a TV chef's main course is a "gastrique": red curry gastrique, fig gastrique, spicy red wine gastrique, spicy blood orange gastrique, and so on. I'd never heard of a gastrique, never encountered one before seeing them time and again on TV, so what is a gastrique?

I recently updated a recipe for orange-glazed pork chops. In the comments of my blog post about this recipe, Caleb suggested brining the pork overnight in orange juice and serving it with an orange gastrique. Ah ha! An opportunity to learn what a gastrique is. So I went to the universal fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, and looked up gastrique. Is it complicated? Exotic? Subtle? Strange? Nope,  a gastrique is a sauce made by caramelizing sugar, deglazing it with vinegar, and adding flavors, often citrus. Caleb even provided an orange gastrique recipe, which I followed, but it didn't caramelize the sugar but rather just mixed it with the vinegar and reduced it. Either way, I guess it is a gastrique, a sweet and sour sauce that uses a mixture of vinegar and sugar (or honey) as its base.

So, I came up with a recipe for that used the orange gastrique recipe that Caleb provided and a recipe I found on-line for an orange-juice brine. The pork chops (standard supermarket chops, about 1-inch thick and weighing about one-half pound each) were brined in the refrigerator overnight, then pan fried, browning them on both sides (3 to 4 minutes a side), and served with the gastrique.

My recipe needs more work before I have something to share. The biggest problem was over-salted pork chops. They were nicely cooked, juicy and tender with a little chew, but much too salty and lacking in any flavor from the orange juice. The gastrique was interesting, it was less sweet and more complex than the orange-glaze I have used before thouugh it was too thin and didn't stick well to the meat. I will try this recipe again making changes based on this first attempt: brine for less time and skip the orange juice, omit the orange sections from the gastrique, reduce the gastrique more, perhaps caramelize the sugar or honey used in the gastrique, and maybe add some orange zest to increase the orange flavor.

The side dishes were good, complementing the pork, and pretty simple to make. Steamed rice is good for dishes with flavorful sauces as the sauce soaks into the rice. Applesauce was made from newtown pippin apples we had picked recently; they were so good that I didn't add any sugar or spices to the applesauce.  The wine, however, was a poor choice. We chose zinfandel based on the recommendation of an app that Diane has but this wine was much too bold to pair well with pork and fruit.

We are looking forward to the second try of this promising recipe for pork chops.  Look for a blog post in a month or so with a description of the results.

Not on Sunday
We made some interesting snacks this week. Inspired by all the apples we have, Diane has been making cinnamon apple chips.  Our apple peeler-corer-slicer really makes this easy.  The machine cores and slices the apples and they bake for 7 hours at the oven's lowest temperature. They're so good she's had to make three batches so far. I tried a recipe for Fairy Gingerbread Cookies. These cookies are almost like crackers, they are thin and crispy and full of ginger flavor. The dough is spread in a thin layer on the bottom of a backing sheet for baking, and then scored, hot from the oven, with a pizza wheel so the cookies are easily separated when they’ve cooled. Anything that thin has to be calorie free, right?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Introducing Easy Corn Chowder

September 28, 2013

Corn Chowder
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Vella Chardonnay
Apple Pie

Foolproof Pie Crust (just double this recipe)

Like many culinary terms, "chowder" does not have a rigorous definition. The lines between soups and stews and chowders are blurry. Generally, chowders are thick, creamy soups usually including onions and potatoes and often fish or clams. Chowders are often eaten with saltine crackers (or oyster crackers) and frequently employ broken up crackers as a thickener.  It has been so for a long time, a recipe for Clam Chowder from The Every-Day Cook-Book by Miss E. Neil, published in 1891, does so.

My mom's recipe for Corn Chowder has been passed down through my youngest sister, Dena. Mom didn't remember where she got the recipe. Dena has made some changes and it is her version that I used. The recipe uses cream or half-and-half or milk; following Dena's recommendation I used cream. The resulting chowder was not too rich so I would stick with this choice. A full sleeve of saltines, soaked in the cream, thickened the chowder nicely.  The chowder was not too salty from the crackers, if anything it was too bland. It would benefit from more corn flavor than that provided by two cans of cream-style corn, more seasoning, and some added depth of flavor. The potatoes were good as was the consistency of the chowder. Once we're done with the 10 or so servings that we have, some of which we've frozen, I'll try out some of these ideas to add flavor and report on it in a future blog post.

I've been wanting to try the Test Kitchen's recipe for Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. The bread turned out well and we have been enjoying it. It takes a little planning as a biga is created the night before and some of the whole wheat flour is soaked overnight. These steps serve to enhance the whole wheat flavor in the bread. The bread was good with dinner and has been good for sandwiches and toasted for breakfast.

For my second apple dessert this Fall I made an apple pie. I still need more practice working with pastry but I think I'm improving and this pie came out very well. I used half golden delicious apples and half newtown pippins which were seasoned with just a little powdered cinnamon and allspice. Diane thought the filling needed more cinnamon and I thought it needed tarter apples. We're both remembering pies that our moms made and, consciously or not, comparing this pie to those we remember.

Food plays a central role in many of our memories of home and family. What we ate around the family table as we grew up has a tremendous influence on what foods we enjoy today. Food triggers memories of times long past. Collecting and sharing recipes connects generations.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Summer becomes Autumn with Baltimore Pit Beef and Apple Galette

September 22, 2013

Baltimore Pit Beef Sandwiches
Steamed Local Sweet Corn
Deli Cole Slaw
Boston Lager/Vella Cabernet Sauvignon
Apple Galette

Baltimore Pit Beef from Cook's Country 
Apple Galette from Cook's Illustrated

You don't need to dig a hole in the back yard to make Baltimore Pit Beef,  just a gas or charcoal grill.  A relatively lean, and inexpensive, cut of beef, top sirloin, is cooked relatively quickly, taking just a few hours to prepare. I bought a roast labelled "Beef Loin Top Sirloin Roast Boneless" weighing 3.81 pounds.  I applied the dry rub on Saturday evening and the beef sat in the refrigerator for about 16 hours before cooking. On the grill it took only about 30 minutes to reach 100° and another 15 minutes or so to finish.  Even then it was more done than I had intended, probably medium rather than the target medium rare. Despite this the meat was tender and juicy with a lot of flavor provided by the rub. The sandwiches are garnished with tiger sauce, a combination of horseradish, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and garlic. Being cautious, when we made our sandwiches using thinly sliced beef, we smeared just one side of the buns with the sauce but we both agreed they would be better with more.

We had two summery side dishes to go along with the sandwich. We can still get fresh local sweet corn and so, while the getting is still good, we got some. We also bought cole slaw from the deli at the supermarket rather than making our own and having leftover cabbage.

We celebrated the arrival of Fall by visiting Gizdich Ranch to pick apples: red delicious, golden delicious, newtown pippin, and gala. For the first baked apple dessert of the season I made a great dessert, apple galette. Crispy, flaky, buttery, tender pastry is shingled with a thin layer of caramelized apples. There is no seasoning other than some butter and sugar so the flavor of the apples comes through cleanly. Diane called them apple cookies but I thought they were a little fancier than that.

Our Sunday dinner for this first day of Autumn was something of a transitional meal. The fresh flavors of summer -- grilled beef, fresh corn, and slaw -- combined with an Autumnal apple dessert. We're looking forward now to the heartier meals of the cooler part of the year: stews and soups and roasts and braises. No matter what the season, there is good food to be cooked and eaten and shared.