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With my parents coming over for dinner, the first step was to decide on a menu. Since the weather was particularly balmy 25 degrees, unusual for March, I decided to barbeque some extra thick (inch and a half) USDA prime striploin steaks and top them with a mouth-watering mushroom and whiskey sauce. Not only delicious, but something that would put my father in a good mood, since he is literally a steak and potatoes guy, or sometimes breaded porkchops instead of steak.

I served up some Caesar salad in my Crate & Barrel acacia wooden bowls, which are great because that way everyone gets their own individual bowl, and the steak and salad stays separate. Everyone also got their own baked potato, and I used a new recipe I found on the foodnetwork.com. This potato recipe, by Alton Brown makes the potatoes skin crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. You can find the recipe and link below.

The almost summer weather outside inspired me to create a vibrant and fresh table setting. First I put down some bright orange round placemats and energetic purple patterned napkins from Crate & Barrel. Next, I made a grass lawn centerpiece using a long rectangular glass vase and pet grass, which I got, from a flower shop on Avenue and Davenport in downtown Toronto. The pet grass cost me $6 and I used 3 pots of it to fill the entire vase. This was a really great price, compared to loose plants resembling grass costing $3.99 a bunch, of which I would have needed at least 20 to fill the entire vase. Added bonus, if you have a cat, they can eat the grass when you’re done using it as a centrepiece!

It wasn’t just steak and potatoes though, for dessert, I baked a brioche pudding with blackberries and served it with fresh Dominican Republic coffee fresh from my French press. For those who don’t like coffee, I served up some “creamy nut oolong” loose-leaf tea from Teaopia. I used a ready to steep tea pitcher to serve up the oolong. The pitcher is great because the high temperature resistant acrylic can be used for both hot tea and the iced kind.

Dinner was a lot of fun and a delicious success, especially since everyone left with their tummies full of tasty summer food!

Here’s the recipe for the baked potato. For the steak with whiskey sauce and brioche pudding, those are in Ross Dobson’s cookbooks “Grillhouse Gastropub” and “Market Vegetarian”.  Keep in mind that Ross recommends using filet mignon, but my husband decided to go with striploin, he said it just turns out juicier.


Baked Potato – Crispy on the Outside, Soft on the Inside!


  • 1 large russet potato (If it looks like Mr. Potato Head(r), you’ve got the right one.)
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt



  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds.
  2. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
  3. Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

NOTE: If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.


Link:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/good-eats/the-baked-potato-recipe/index.html