Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Roadtrip, A Birthday Party and THE Best Marinade for Steak

The roadtrip was from Pittsburgh to Surf City, NJ. My two brothers and I decided we would all try to get together at the house where my parents spend a week each summer and surprise my dad with a surf and turf birthday celebration for his 75th birthday, which is actually today - Happy Birthday Dad! I just love watching the kids play at the water's edge. It was a bit chilly and windy and taking my advice, they didn't wear their bathing suits to the beach. But that didn't stop them from getting soaked. Kids don't care that it's freezing - it's just too much fun. So in the above photo, they are chasing the waves...

And now the waves are chasing them ! They could do this all day! All I have to do is sit in my chair and watch all the fun!

We borrowed my in-law's RV for the trip. The house my parents were staying in had one bath and two bedrooms (3 if you count the attic) and there were 16 of us. That RV was a lifesaver! It even had just enough room in the kitchen to assemble this Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Fudge Icing for my dad's birthday surprise.

The biggest conversation piece was how I cut the cake by cutting a circle into the middle and then slicing pieces all around. The cake is quite tall and cutting it this way makes the pieces more manageable and you don't have the wedges falling apart as you serve the pieces.

The surf and turf birthday menu included lobster, filet mignon, cajun-spiced corn-on-the-cob, baked potatoes with a cheese-broccoli sauce, and a complementary Pinot Giescheno. Don't look for this vintage in the wine shop - my brother made this wine himself and it was perfect. I was in charge of the steaks and turned to THE best marinade for steaks I've ever had. We use this marinade every time we cook steak and ALWAYS get ooohs and ahhhs from our guests and requests for the recipe. This time was no exception.

Use fresh herbs if you can and marinate the steak for at least an hour or two (longer is even better). Grill the steaks to your preferred doneness, a little bit of pink is perfect. The flavor is just incredible! You won't believe the difference it makes!

Garlic and Herb Marinade for Steaks
from Cook's Illustrated May 2003
Makes enough for 2 pounds of steaks
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Place the steaks in a zip top plastic bag and pour marinade over the steaks, making sure all the steaks are covered evenly with marinade. Marinate in the refigerator for at least an hour. Take the steaks out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before grilling to allow them to warm up a bit. Discard leftover marinade.


  1. This is how the pros cut cakes, Scott has had to step in on more than one wedding and cut the cake for the staff!

  2. Thanks! My family was so puzzled when I cut the cake this way!

  3. I have a question about the ingredients in the steak marinade... if you only use a tablespoon of the tomato paste, what do you suggest doing with the rest of it? Even out of the smallest can, that leaves a lot left... do you have a recipe for the next day that you can put that into?

    Chris Corcoran

  4. Chris, you can buy tomato paste in metal tubes kinda like toothpaste (they have it at Giant Eagle) and then you just use as much as you need and refrigerate the rest. It'll keep for a long time. Alternately, open a can of tomato paste, use what you need and transfer the rest to a small container, label it and freeze it. Defrost it just enough to dig out what you need and put it back in the freezer. My chili-mac recipe which I am posting next week calls for a little so don't throw it away! If you try the marinade, let me know how it turned out!

  5. I've been wanting to bake this vanilla buttermilk cake for ages. Hopefully for next weekend's bake sale at church I'll finally get around to it!

  6. It's Laura from Real Mom Kitchen. I thought the exact same thing about King Arthur's caramel apple post. I am so glad I found this recipe. It is perfect. Hope you like it too.

  7. ooohh......I can tell already we'll be having our steaks marinade in this the next time we fire up our Weber. What a fabulous Road trip.....tons of awesome memories!!!

  8. Oh...I want a steak for dinner. Maybe Monday Night Steaks just because it's ....Monday??



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