Our neighbor, Miriam, decided it'd be fun to have a progressive dinner. I volunteered for the entrée. She and John did the dessert. And, John and Mary next door did the salad and the appetizers. We invited Ernie and Shirley from across the street to join us. Now, what you don't know is the Ernie was the principal of my grade school. I have such wonderful memories from those years. Now, I get to know him as an adult and it's a truly wonderful thing.
Mary's salad was amazing. I want the recipe. A layered salad with lettuce and cauliflower and bacon. Yum, yum, yum. We did a rolled flank steak that's pretty much a bracciole, Mom's crunchy top potatoes and rolls with herb butter.
Since it was the weekend before Halloween, I decided I'd actually get the decorations out and gussy up the dining room. Thanks to being crazy busy at the office for the last few years, I've skipped the decorations. It was oodles of fun to see all my old friends. The biggest problem was that I didn't have any placemats that'd work with a Halloween theme. So, I started shopping online. The prices I found ranged from $16 to $4 each. So, I headed to Tuesday Morning. Yup, got eight for $10 total. If I've got to shop, that's the way I like to do it!
Here's what the dining room looks like with very low lights and all the candles:
Mom's crunchy topped potatoes were always such a treat when we were kids. Now, as an adult, I also appreciate the fact that other than the topping they're a fabulous make ahead dish.
Last, but not least, herbed dinner rolls. One of my colleagues in my banking days taught me the trick of making compound butter with loads of fresh herbs and a teeny, tiny bit of lemon juice and Tabasco. Then, you slather it on the cut rolls or bread, wrap it up and leave it in the fridge for the day. When you're ready, heat them up like normal. Here they are chilling out on the counter before I baked them:
Rolled Flank Steak
1 1/2 lb flank steak, butterflied
8 thin slices prosciutto
2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2" thick strips
salt and pepper
3 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 T dried basil
1 t dried thyme
Lay the flank steak flat on a cookie sheet and put it into the freezer for 20 minutes. While it's in the freezer, put a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until it's softened. Add the tomatoes and herbs. Simmer on medium low heat while you're preparing the flank steak.
Take the flank steak out of the freezer and put in on a large cutting board. VERY carefully, butterfly it.
Take each half and pound it to an equal thickness. Lay four slices of prosciutto on each half. Starting at the thin end, lay green pepper strips across the steak.
Roll up, tucking in green pepper strips. You'll used a whole green pepper for each half. Make sure the rolls are very tight so the green pepper doesn't squirm out. Use cooking bands or string and tie the rolls. Put the other two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Heat to shimmering. Salt and pepper the flank steak rolls. Add them to the skillet and brown well on all sides.
Once they're browned, put the rolls into the tomato sauce and simmer for at least an hour. Turn the rolls at least once and spoon the sauce over. This recipe is VERY flexible on time which is why I chose it for our entrée. I actually left the rolls simmering for two hours. The original recipe called for drained plum tomatoes. I chose to use undrained diced tomatoes so there'd be plenty of liquid for the additional cooking time.
Mom's Crunchy Topped Baked Potatoes
2 c mashed potatoes
1 T butter
1 small onion, finely diced
3/4 c milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
dash of cayenne pepper
2 T butter, melted
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 c Corn Flakes, crushed
Saute the onion in the tablespoon of butter. Once it's softened, mix it with the mashed potatoes, milk, egg and cayenne. Put the potato mixture into a baking casserole. When you're ready to bake it, top it with the grated Parmesan, crushed cornflakes and two tablespoons of melted butter. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.