Monday, March 14, 2011

A smokey repast

As blogger is being problematic with uploading photos, instead of a real post I'll share with you an adventure from my weekend. A friend from NYC who had never visited DC decided to come down for the weekend as my guest and see the sights. After a busy Saturday walking around the National Mall visiting the monuments and the Smithsonian museums, we decided to make a simple, filling meal at home: a salad followed by a steak, potatoes and asparagus.
For the steak, I thought I would take a tip from Jacques Pepin and fry it in butter. BAD PLAN, Jacques! After 2 minutes my apartment was filled with so much heavy smoke that you could barely see 2 hands in front of your face, setting off my smoke detector. Regrettably, I opened my windows and then the door to my condo's hallway -which then set off the entire building's fire alarm system!Sirens blaring, an annoying electronic voice repeating *WARNING WARNING* every 30 SECONDS, elevators and doors disabled for 30 minutes, I then had to explain to not only about 30 of my neighbors that it was a false alarm but also to about 10 very kind (and annoyed) firemen! All said and done, after the excitement ceased, the meal was delicious. So much for a relaxing meal for two! How was your weekend?

24 comments:

Blue said...

Decidely not as much fun as your weekend!

Butter, as you found out, has too low a burn point - ghee might be better. Olive oil also has a low burn point - I never uderstood why all those TV cooks suggest it for high-heat frying. Can you get beef dripping or lard in your neighborhood?

Whatever the social cost your dinner and dinner table looked delicious!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Blue I should have known better but I figured Jacques couldn't be wrong! I'll go back to just a touch of vegetable oil!

Toby Worthington said...

Too funny, Stefan!
Why is it that things go wrong when entertaining?
While hosting a party on Sunday, two of the guests
who happened to be pregnant women asked whether
the cheeses were pasteurized or made of raw milk.
A simple question that had me rummaging through
the kitchen trash bags in search of the original wrappers for those cheeses~which took 15 minutes
and made me very cross! Perhaps not nearly as dramatic as your smoke and fire alarm. Then again,
firemen can be quite attractive.

little augury said...

what a way to entertain! can not even touch your excitment. Your abode looks wonderful. pgt

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Toby-sounds like your dinner went as well as mine! Luckily Todd (the guest) was very understanding and as he put it "it's a dinner I'll never forget"! We ate in because we thought it would be more relaxing!
Gaye -thanks so much! It's small but home.

pve design said...

Reminds me of the time my daughter had a sleep-over and our alarm went off in the middle of the night...It caused a bit of a disturbance but then we were soon off to slumber.
Your dinner sounds fun, "smoke and mirrors!"

Todd said...

I hope the candle helps with the steak smell. Thank you for being such a gracious host!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Patricia, a sleepover not to forget! Smoke & mirrors - lol!
Todd -thank you for your generous hostess gifts!! Love the candle. After 2 days of the windows open and candles lit - no more smoke smell! xo

Windlost said...

Brave of you to admit that. LOOKS great....

xo Terri

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Terri -it was too funny not to share!

Thomas at My Porch said...

It looks so beautiful, it is hard to believe it followed such calamity. When using butter at high heat it is always good to go half and half with oil. Also, after the steak sears you could lower the heat and baste with butter. Or make a flavored butter (garlic and crushed peppercorns) and put a pat of it on the finished steaks.

BTW: Looking good in Elle Decor! (And when do we get to see pictures from the cruise?)

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MK said...

But the meal looked delicious :) Stefan we have been through this adventure. We invested in a commercial grade exhaust, since then no problems. As you said, the steak was delicious, you put butter in anything it sure will taste great. you Just need a good exhaust in the kitchen, no need to change the recipe.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Thomas - I blindly trusted a recipe (which as we discussed I rarely follow) so that won't be happening again! Butter makes everything better. Thanks for noticing my little picture in elle decor! A small thrill :-) Pics from the cruise up soon when I can get my act together!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

MK - new condo building and the developer only installed recirculating hoods at the stoves. Bad decision. What are these recirculators even for other than to blow smoke in your face?

smilla4blogs said...

Sometimes a combination of unsalted butter and olive oil helps, although still a low burn point. Thank heavens whistles and sirens are par for the course in Washington! Your apartment is drop dead gorgeous...I wouldn't care what was for dinner in such a setting!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Smilla, you're too kind! It was unsalted butter but still the smoke -ugh. You need to come by for drinks next time you visit JCB and the gentleman!

The Devoted Classicist said...

Is it too rude to ask about the big framed drawing over the bookcases showing an elevation and plan in a landscape setting?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Classicist - not rude at all. It's been in a number of pictures over the years and people have asked about it. I keep meaning to do small post on it. It's part of my (small) collection of architectural student works from the 19 teens and 20s. It shows the design for a govenors mansion -complete with plane landing on a lake and garden structures! Maybe this weekend if I can take some clear photos.

GRAYSONFAVOUR said...

Although I have had cooking disasters, non quite as exciting as yours. At least there is some humor involved
and the meal was a success (sort of).
Next time you come to visit Grant we will try not to fry anything at all.
Sally

home before dark said...

Hysterical! Agree that in you apartment ramen noodles would taste exotic. Here's my tip for steaks: small rub of olive oil to coat steaks on both sides and then salt and pepper (steak should be at room temp). Heat skillet (dry) add steaks and sear a couple of minutes on each side. (I use cast iron for this.) Place steaks in a preheated oven (350) and cook to desired doneness. NOW THE BUTTER. Place butter (you say how much) on top steaks. The butter will quickly melt or you could return to oven if you like that idea better. And if you are going to butter anything check out Plugra! YUM! YUM!

Bob said...

Surely an evening you will never forget! The memory of the almost disaster will provide you with many fines stories to tell in the future, and the laughter from the stories will take center stage over the days of clearing the smoke out of your condo, Mr. S.

Some "architects" and developers just don't get it that some of us cook and entertain. Vent-A-Hoods of any make are a necessity I see few of in new "luxo" condos.

Mel said...

Butter really is wonderful for cooking, but you have to watch it like a hawk or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

And my verification word for this comment - as appropriate as it is ironic - is "cater".

Kerry said...

How embarrassing! You clearly handled it with all the grace possible. I love the table.
It seems your heat was too high and the poster that recommended a drop of veg oil is right.
If you had come to my house for dinner last week you could have had chicken with a sundried tomato cream sauce. The only problem was that the chicken was Undercooked! We had to throw it all away. These cooking disasters happen to everyone.