Friday Night Dinner, Writer’s Block and a Cookbook

Last week was busy and I had so many ideas for a blog topic that I had trouble deciding, delaying my post.  My mind was swirling with thoughts of fajitas, steak with roasted root vegetables, clam chowder, crostini for the Holidays and Thanksgiving side dishes – none seemed to inspire me.  I recently discovered that if the meal idea doesn’t resonate with me at the moment and spark those creative writing juices, then I am doomed to self-doubt of how I am going to inspire my readers, and myself.  It’s all a silly merry-go-round of writer’s block and fear of disappointment.  I fell back on a tried and true method: grill some sort of meat and roast vegetables to caramelize their flavor.  There was flat iron steak in the refrigerator and lots of vegetables so I was able to pull it all together: Herb and garlic marinated flat iron steak with a creamy horseradish sauce and roasted vegetables.

I was also busy with a re-shoot for my cookbook.  I’m lucky to have a friend who is a professional food photographer and she’s helping me achieve my dream of publishing a cookbook, and honing my skills as a food stylist.  We have been working on the project for over a year and just wrapped up the last of the photos.  Teri  has a sophisticated eye and is able to capture her subjects with stunning beauty; we can all see the beauty with our naked eyes, but translating that through a camera lens is another feat, one that I am still stumbling through.  We use only natural light and our normal set-up wasn’t working. We had to change gears and move the operations to my front entry, using my coffee table as a background; here is Teri working her magic, wearing one of my hats to shield her eyes from the glaring sun.

Now back to the Friday dinner, flat iron steak is cut from the shoulder and is also known as top blade steak (click here and here for more info).  It is a tender and flavorful cut that is great for grilling – tri-tip is another fantastic alternative.  It cooks quickly, works well with marinades and is best served medium rare.  For added flavor, I marinated the steak with a mixture of olive oil, fresh garlic and dried herbs and let them all mingle for about 4 hours.  Rather than running to the store (a 30 minute round-trip trek) for fresh herbs, which I prefer for their brighter flavors, I gave myself a break and used the dried herbs in my spice drawer.  If you have leftover meat, make a sandwich: spread the horseradish sauce on the bread, add sliced steak along with some crispy lettuce and enjoy.

I made extra marinade and tossed it with the vegetables (carrots, sweet white onions and fingerling potatoes) before roasting, which added another layer of delicious flavor.  To ensure even cooking, be sure to cut the vegetables about the same size.  I also made an easy creamy horseradish sauce made from a generous dollop of horseradish, some mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, salt and pepper.   It was a perfect Friday night dinner and the writer’s block is gone, for now.
Eat well and share the love!

Flat Iron Steak with Creamy Horseradish Sauce & Roasted Vegetables
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serve two foodies, plus leftovers

Steak & Marinade
1 pound flat iron steak
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (or ¾ teaspoon dried )
1 teaspoon fresh chopped tarragon (or ½ teaspoon dried)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Roasted Vegetables
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick diagonal pieces
1 medium sweet onion, halved and cut into slices and halved again
12 to 15 fingerling potatoes, cut into thirds or half depending upon size
Creamy Horseradish Sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish
 ½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of fresh-cracked pepper

Marinate and grill the steak:
Add the olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices to a small bowl and mix well. Place the steak on a large plate or dish and pour 2 tablespoons of the marinade on the steak (coat both sides) and rub into meat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Heat the grill to high, season the meat well with salt and pepper and grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice and serve with the roasted vegetables and creamy horseradish sauce.

Roast vegetables:
Add the cut vegetables to a large bowl and pour the rest of the marinade over the vegetables.  Toss well to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour in the refrigerator. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Transfer the vegetables (drain extra marinade) to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a 9 x 12 casserole dish, cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes until potatoes are just tender.  Remove foil, increase temperature to 425 degrees F and continue roasting until vegetables are soft and golden, about 10 minutes.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce
Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir well.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Sauce will keep in the refrigerator (covered) for 1 week.

  • Timing: when the foil is removed from the vegetables, start grilling the meat
  • Marinade: Fresh herbs provide brighter, more concentrated flavors that penetrate the meat more than dried herbs.  Rosemary is also a nice addition.
  • Tri-tip steak is a great substitution
  • Leftover meat?  Make a sandwich: Spread the horseradish sauce on the bread, add sliced meat and crispy lettuce.

12 responses to “Friday Night Dinner, Writer’s Block and a Cookbook

  1. Yum, Yum. I love anything with horseradish. Great photos.

  2. We have the ingredients for the your roasted veggie recipe so we will make it tonight! Quack!

  3. I was salivating reading about this wonderful dinner. Off to the store I go. Your duck is cute.

  4. I have never seen a recipe for flat iron steak that looked interesting to me…until now!! Thanks, Melissa!! You know your posts inspire me quite often when I am wishing for something different for dinner 😉

  5. Cheryl Hogate Johns

    We already have dinner planned for tonight otherwise this would be on the menu! When I got to the roasted veggies and then read about the horseradish sauce I was salivating!! This is definitely a must try! Love your duck….;-)

  6. Oh man that makes me hungry!

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