Easy Steak Dinner For Two


This week, rather than presenting another recipe, I thought it would be fun to share with the new cook a super easy way to cook like a pro and prepare  steak like a fine restaurant. The following directions are for a dinner for two.

You will need two 8 oz. steaks (more or less depending upon your portion requirements). I like filet mignon and rib-eye. If you go with filet mignon have the butcher cut the steaks 2 1/2 inches thick, and for rib-eye have them cut 1 1/2 inches thick. When you get home if you see extra fat on the edge, cut it down to about an 1/8 inch. 

Take the steaks out of the refrigerator about an hour prior to the time you plan to cook them.  This is done so the steak will cook more evenly (center is not cold), and because it allows the steak a little time to sweat. The moisture can be blotted off with a paper towel.  Seasonings adhere better to dry steak.

Once you start cooking the steak it’s going to take maybe 19 minutes start to plating.  So, before you start cooking them you need to figure out the the time you will need for your side dishes so you can have everything done at about the same time. 

Example, if you are going to make mashed potatoes it is going to take a significant amount of time to peel them, bring the water to boil and cook them.  However, fresh vegetables, such as string beans, after being cleaned will cook quickly. 

So, if I was going to make the example side dishes I would first  peel the potatoes, and then place them in a pot with enough water to more than cover them.  The water will keep the peeled potatoes from discoloring while you do other prep work. 

Next I would wash and prep the vegetables cover them with wrap and place them in the refrigerator. 

Now the question is, how soon after the guest arrives do I want to serve the meal? This question triggers everything.  Since in my example I am making time consuming mashed potatoes, my timing solution is easy, cheat.  That is, I would time the potatoes to be cooked, mashed, and safely in the covered serving bowl about the time I expected the doorbell to ring. Now, I do not have to worry about the hardest to time portion of the meal.    Worst case scenario is I enjoy hors d’oeurves and wine with my guest a little too long and have to reheat the mashed potatoes. 

Lets cook the steak.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Season the steak on both sides with kosher salt and pepper.

Place a heavy skillet on medium high heat, and heat it until a drop or two of water evaporates in a few seconds.  Coat the skillet with two tsp of canola oil and place the steaks onto the skillet for two minutes each side.  When you turn the steaks use tongs so you do not cut the steak.

Put a huge oven mitt on your hand , and transfer the skillet with the steaks to the oven. If you want your rib-eye medium rare leave the skillet in the oven for about 9 minutes, if you are cooking the thicker filet mignon go about 11 minutes for medium rare. 

This is critical, first place hand into the biggest oven mitt in the world and then remove the skillet from the oven.  If you have an instant read thermometer check the temperature (medium rare 125 to 130; medium 135 to 140).  If the temperature is a little low do not worry as the steak will continue to cook while you let it rest covered with aluminum foil for about 5 minutes.

While steak is covered steam your vegetables, and if necessary reheat the potatoes. 

The steak will be perfect, the meal will be great, and you saved a small fortune by not going out to dinner.                                   


So there I was in Maui, enjoying one of my great vaction ideas and all that paradise has to offer. Half awake, tanning by the pool, nursing a margarita, blankly staring at a visitor’s guide when all of a sudden I snapped to attention. There is a Vineyard on Maui! Coming from California and enjoying various wine areas, I concluded that this must be explored.

Game On.

But, at the get go there was a hitch. Tedeschi Vineyards at Ulupalakua Ranch does not have an address. Seriously. So, I got out the map of Maui and found it helpful. But the best directions are to be found at the Tedeschi Vineyards website ( http://www.mauiwine.com ).

The trip turned out to be a lovely drive on Route 36 and Route 37 which took us past farm and ranch land, through Upcountry, and to the small community of Keokea. Ok, this is critical piece of information, when you spy the Henry Fong Store in Keokea, there are 6 more miles to travel to Ulupalakua Ranch. The Vineyard is on the left side of the road.

The Tedeschi Vineyards grounds are beautiful and tranquil. The large lawn area is perfect for relaxing or having a picnic. But, let’s keep moving, there is wine to be tasted.

Quick history of wine in Maui: before there were grape vines, there were pineapples. So it stands to reason that initial efforts to produce wine, or at least booze, would be by means of the pineapple. And, yes indeed, Tedeshi Vineyards offers a couple pineapple wines to sample. So, I stowed away my snooty hat, and gave pineapple wine a try.

I liked the Maui Blanc pineapple wine in sort of a Sangria kind of way. It was sweet and fruity, but it did not scream pineapple. Okay, confession time, I bought a bottle and later, along with “She Who Must Be Obeyed” really enjoyed it with our barbecued shrimp dinner back at the condo. I doubt too many Vintners from France or California are going to try to steal the pineapple wine market, but I gotta tell you, when you are in Maui, overlooking the ocean, dining on a warm breezy evening, that little wine is good, real good.

We also sampled Tedeschi wine made from …. wait for it …. grapes  grown on the hillsides we drove past after leaving the Henry Fong Store. I tasted a very nice Merlot/Syrah blend labeled Ulupalakua Red. And, Sue tried an unoaked Chardonnay labeled Upcountry Gold. Both wines were fine, and resulted in purchases.

In addition to wine tasting and wine buying, we also enjoyed examining all the historical memorabilia in the rooms adjacent to the tasting room. The trip to Tedeschi Vineyards was fun, tasty, and should not be missed.

But, one does not live by wine alone. So, prior to starting our wine adventure we did a little research to see if we could find a nice place to lunch in Upcountry. Our research paid off huge. As we drove down Rte 37 we kept a lookout for Rte 377, which would take us to Kula. There we found a gem of a restaurant known as Kula Lodge Restaurant. The restaurant is located 3,700 feet above sea level and offers unobstructed views of cascading landscape all the way to the ocean. The lunch menu was very good and the food excellent (for more information and great photographs go to http://www.Kulalodge.com ).

Maybe some time we will discuss another interesting wine by the name of Pink Catawba made from grapes grown on the islands of Lake Erie.  Point is, when travelling take time to explore local wineries, it’s fun and you never know what you will find.

Compare notes with your dinner guest. I bet you can come up with some wine tasting stories to enjoy over dinner. 

Good Eating and Table Talk,


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