Handy loves pepper. Not a dish arrives at table by his hand that isn’t sprinkled, dusted, seasoned or infused with freshly ground peppercorns. It’s been an adjustment for me because I don’t love pepper with Handy’s same passion. My mother, Dr. Helen, raised her warning flag over black pepper back in the 80’s when she read an article alleging it might be carcinogenic. It was banned from her dinner table and forever shunned.
Long live Dr. Helen!
I’m grown up now and can make my own decisions about pepper, but the notion that it might be contributing to an early decline is always lurking in the back of my mind. After all, Dr. Helen is my mother and some say “mother knows best.”
Handy? He’s a bon vivant and he’s not going to let a little peppercorn get in the way of his gastronomic pleasure. And I love steak, so when he asked if I wanted steak au poivre Sunday night, I decided to let my fearful hair down and tag along.
I had read about the dish and I had a vague notion that flaming cognac was involved. I made twice-baked potatoes in ramekins with the spuds I grew in Uncle Bob’s garden and then found a few last cucumbers and tomatoes for a salad. Handy showed up with his pepper stash and went to work coating the steak and preparing the cast iron skillet. He explained that once he started cooking, the steak would be ready in about ten minutes. I rushed around the kitchen, setting the table and putting a serving spoon in the salad. Everything would be “just so” when the steak was ready.
Handy seared and cooked the steak and when it was done, he put it on a covered plate. He reached for the cognac. I was a little nervous about flaming things in the kitchen, but since Handy has never once knowingly put my life in danger, I stood back with folded hands as he put the match to the liquor.
It was exciting (and frightening) as the flames reached up to the range hood for just an instant and then subsided. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it on this blog, but I do have a little fear of fire.
It all worked out with the exception of the screaming smoke alarm. The steak was so delicious I closed my eyes to savor the flavor as I ate it. Handy was pleased with his “handy-work” too. He took a picture and said “there’s a blog here.”
Did I mention that Sunday was a picture-perfect late summer day?
Handy was right. Voila, blog post for today. And one for Friday, too, when I write about the steak au poivre-induced dream I had once I fell asleep last night. Yep, stay tuned for kitchen fires, police cruisers, and highway bedlam.
Until then, live your life…with pepper!