MIL had spent last week in utah with FIL, since it was their anniversary week, and when they landed on friday evening, i got a phone call.
"we're hungry, where do you guys feel like eating?"
i just happened to be perusing my book, so i flipped through and blurted out the first thing i saw: "how about
and half an hour later, that's exactly where we were.
since i'd taken advantage of call-ahead seating, the ILs were already settled at a table when we arrived. hugs all around, and then i got to work.
i'd decided to use the marinated steak recipe out of the book, and so i chose a simple entree - the "outback special." the waitress apologized for not bringing bread over right away and explained that she was just waiting for it to come out of the oven. and i remembered seeing the recipe for that in the book, too, so i decided to add that to my restaurant challenge.
funny though, while the bread was just as chewy and sweet as it usually is, it sure wasn't hot. it was barely warm - so much for her "we're baking some right now" excuse. hmph.
my pictures aren't fabulous - it was dark in there, but i hate using flash. so this is as good as it gets.
while the steak had great flavor, that shit was like chewing a tire. it was so tough and rubbery, i decided right then and there that i was going to use a much better cut of meat.
but this made up for it - their signature "chocolate thunder from down under." the bean, FIL and i happily dug our spoons into this.
it was quite a busy weekend, and the only time i had to make my outback copycat dinner was sunday night, after i got home from a day at the spa (more to follow on that, of course). i flipped the book open, checked out both recipes, and found that the steaks were to soak in beer for an hour before seasoning.
after i'd covered the pan with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge, i set about gathering ingredients for the bread:
i hadn't imagined that there might be cocoa and coffee in the bread, but i went with it.
the recipe gave directions for using a breadmaker, but the only one of those in my house is ME. so i just adapted the instructions based upon what little i already knew from my breadmaking extravaganzas of late. i warmed water in the microwave, stirred in the yeast and sugar, and let it sit till it looked like this:
i combined all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then poured honey and the foamy yeast in. just as described in the recipe, it formed quite a sticky dough.i covered the bowl with a damp towel, consulted the book again, and pulled out the stuff to make the rub for the meat.
we were serving this at the grandparents', so we trucked it all downstairs and into the car and headed over to meet up with the bean, who'd gone over there after watching the angels game with the hub and the ILs.
my bread dough had only risen slightly after the first hour, which worried me a little. we were already behind schedule (the grandparents are true earlybird diners - they generally have dinner on the table by 6, and it was already that), and i still needed to let it rise a second time, plus season the meat. and then that had to sit for half an hour before it could go on the grill! ugh. talk about being under the gun.
i divided the dough into eight portions, but it was so sticky that i couldn't form them into the proper loaf shapes. fuck it. nobody would care as long as it tasted good. and i fervently hoped that would be the case. i sprinkled the tops with cornmeal, covered them with plastic, and set them aside to rise again.
i was a little worried about how late it was getting, so i resorted to an old trick i'd read about somewhere a long time ago. i turned the oven on to 200 degrees, pulled the plastic off the "loaves," stuck the pans in there and shut the oven off again. this is supposed to fool the yeast into activating quickly, and after 15 minutes, i pulled them out and turned the oven back on to 350 to bake. they still hadn't risen as much as i thought they should have, but i forged ahead.
and when it had reached the right temperature, back in they went for 20 minutes to bake. i'd already rubbed the meat with my seasoning mixture and it was time, so i handed the pan to FIL so he could take it outside and work his magic on the grill.
in the meantime, i was thrilled to peek into the oven and see that the bread was rising nicely after all. i'd forgotten that it continues to rise as it bakes, and it looked and smelled heavenly.
the steaks were cooked to perfection, as usual, and you'll notice that i used bacon-wrapped filets instead of regular old top sirloin. come ON, you knew i had to work bacon in there somewhere!