America. America. Land that I love, O say can you see the amber waves of grain? Land of thy pilgrim’s pride, from sea to shining sea, should auld acquaintance be forgot, it’s a fucking grand old flag!
OK, I got that out of the way.
Swiss Steak has nothing to do with Switzerland (a lovely country). ‘Swissing’ is a term used to describe the process of pounding/rolling meat and then braising it. So don’t give me guff for not making an ‘American’ meal on her birthday. An aside: is America a she? Like a boat?
Anyway, my parents were visiting over the holiday weekend so I decided to give them the full DiS! Experience. The reason that I chose this meal in particular is because it of its festive seventies-ness and that it includes a gelatin and a dessert that is lit on fire. Fun, eh?
The plan for the 4th was my mum and dad arriving at 3-ish and DiS! happening at 7pm.
I started #36 on the 3rd by preparing the Jellied Perfection Salad, which, in essence, is Cole slaw ensconced in lemon Jell-O. Wrap your head around that one, kiddies. Sounds gross. But Jell-O screams America! When I had it all assembled it looked like a shiny, confetti-filled golden star. Doesn’t it?
Speaking of shiny and confetti and stars, I have kinda gotten sucked into Toddlers & Tiaras. Why? Because it is one of those shows that just happens to be on when I get home from work. And it features girls shrieking “WE’RE LATE FOR DIVA DAY!!!” while wearing pink leopard print (Jesus, why aren’t the Guidice girls on this show yet?).
My new favorite crazy person on the planet (sorry, Charlie Sheen) might be MaKenzie from Toddlers & Tiaras. She is whiny, demanding, erratic, violent, and sometimes seems possessed. I don’t know if she has a mood disorder or if that’s just what the age of 4 looks like. She screams for her “ni-ni” (pacifier) the way that I imagine someone going into heroin withdrawal would, already sounds like she smokes 2 packs of Virginia Slims a day, and has no discernible talent whatsoever. She is the American Dream.
I promise that I will now focus on #36.
The day before the 4th, when I made the Jellied Perfection Salad, I also made an ice cream mold for my Cherries Jubilee. Now, the recipe that I used (Paula Deen’s) didn’t call for an ice cream mold, but #36 did. It says there under “early in the day or day before…” so molded it was!
Now for the meat. I bought the meat on Thursday so as to miss the holiday grocery shopping rush, and dinner was on Monday. The meat was fine, but it looked a bit, um, grey. Just from oxidation and such. It was fine! I swear! No one got the e-coli or the plague. But thanks to the ‘Swissing,’ you’d never know that it looked a little funky because it’s dredged in flour (in this case corn starch because my mum is gluten-intolerant) and then pounded and rolled into submission.
And now the countdown to the 4th of July Spectacular Spectacular!!!
- 3:15 The steak was coated and pounded and in the fridge and I had sliced the onion. I then did a bit of entertaining, served drinks to my guests, and had a bit of wine myself (I am happy to report that they restocked Twin Vines Vinho Verde at the Discount Liquors).
- 3:40 I put the oven on to heat and I browned the pieces of steak. I had to do this in batches because the meat took up a lot more real estate once flattened.I took the meat out of the pan and then cooked the canned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce in the steak drippings and the coating that stuck to the pan.
- 4:20 The steak, covered in onions and tomatoes, goes into the preheated oven along with the potatoes that will eventually be stuffed. What was nice about #36 is that there was a lot of downtime so I got to hang out with my ‘rents and Cleve. The potatoes took a loooong time, though.
- 5:25 The potatoes still had a way to go. So at 5:30 I got the mixed veggies (peas, carrots, Brussels sprouts) into a saucepan on the back burner of the stove, sans liquid and heat.
- 6:05 Would you believe that the potatoes still weren’t soft enough? Damn taters.
- 6:15 The potatoes were done! With the assistance of my mum, we cut them in half, scooped the insides out of the skins, and whipped them with butter, pepper, sour cream and garlic salt.
- 6:30 The potatoes were stuffed, topped with Parmesan cheese and a healthy sprinkling of Paprika, and put into the broiler. While my mum was tackling the taters, I got the mixed veg heated up with some margarine and salt and
- A tad before 7pm, hovering right where we wanted #36 to be…
The twice-baked potatoes were delicious. I suspect that might have something to do with the fact that my mum was supervising the potatoes. The woman knows how to work a potato.
The mixed veg was just that–mixed frozen veg with some margarine. Pretty standard fare. It’s difficult to destroy frozen vegetables.
SURPRISE! Jellied Perfection Salad was a show stopper. Who knew that it was possible for vegetables suspended in gelatin to be at all appealing? Seriously. Cole Slaw. In lemon Jell-O. WINNING!
I wasn’t too happy with this photographic effort (admit it, the Swiss Steak looks sad), but I think that I redeemed myself with the climax of #36, The Cherries Jubilee! This is a Spectacular Spectacular! A dessert that goes up in flames? Yes, please!!!
This recipe is easy enough. Drain cherries, mix corn starch and sugar, add cherry juice, add brandy, set aflame, mix in cherries.
Yeah, everything went like gangbusters until the grande finale–the flambe portion of the program. With a wee Bic lighter, Cleve gingerly lit the brandy-fied mixture. But instead of a beautiful, undulating wave of blue flame on cherry, it was just a blip. It was a tiny, blue fart. That’s the only way to describe it. And once you light the brandy, you can’t light it again, so that was it. A tiny, blue fart.
Flaming or not, Cherries Jubilee tastes pretty rad. Ice cream, cherries, and brandy? America, fuck yeah!
Here, in all its glory, is my Spectacular Spectacular Patriotic Cherries Jubilee:
BAM! POW! ROMAN CANDLE! BOTTLE ROCKET! SPARKLERS! SMOKE BOMB! WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE!
It tasted better than it looked, and I think it looked divine.
To end my 4th of July Spectacular Spectacular, I give you sequins. Just not on a toddler.
I present to you the best patriotic song ever by one of the most excellent people on the planet (and my soul mate*)…Mr. Neil Diamond!!!!!
Suck it, Lee Greenwood. “Proud to Be an American” makes me want to vom.
*Way back in the day when I was in Jr. High me and my Jr. High bf, Kevin, were at Showcase Cinemas in the North Hills and there was some sort of compatibility computer. My celebrity soul mate was Neil Diamond. His was Jamie Lee Curtis.