(42-43) Steak Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Parmesan Pull-Aparts

May I tell you a secret?

Wait.  First I have to tell you that Aaron just pulled up the “Wonderwall” music video on YouTube, then looked over at me and laughed.  I don’t know why.

Let’s count that as a secret…

So, may I now tell you another secret?

I hate my food photographs. I used to think they were adequate, but then I started reading food blogs such as Joy the Baker and Cannelle et Vanille and Hungry Girl Por Vida.  Their photographs are so bright and airy and cheerful.  Granted, the author of Cannelle et Vanille is a professional food stylist and has a studio in her home where she photographs the food, but still.  So I’m basically going to go on a huge shopping spree to procure food styling props.  And I’m going to prepare all our dinners at 10:00AM so I can make proper use of that big skylight in our kitchen.

That’s right.  We have a skylight in our kitchen.  You’d never know, though, from the dim lighting in the photographs.  So I start dinner after sundown.  Whatevs.

Good news, though: Daylight Savings was last weekend.  Now, typically I detest Daylight Savings (why do I have to monkey around with my clocks and spend a week adjusting to a new time twice a year?!), but in this case it will give me more opportunity to cook & photograph in the daylight.  So here’s to hopin’ for better results.

And because the bread I made for this meal had to rise seventeen billion times, I was able to utilize that good ol’ sunshine for approximately two of the photographs.  Better than nothin’.

The parmesan pull-aparts were a slight disappointment.  They were good, but they weren’t what I was expecting.  I made a batch of herb-parmesan pull-aparts a couple of years ago, when Aaron and I were first married, and they were unbelievable– soft, yeasty, tasty goodness.  I thought I’d put the recipe in my recipe box, but alas, I could not find it, so I had to search for a replacement recipe.  These were not quite the soft, yeasty rolls I was hoping for.  They turned out to be a bit denser.  Still good, just didn’t meet expectations.


Steak Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1/2 pound green beans
2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and julienned
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ribeye steaks
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 large head romaine lettuce, torn
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
Parmesan-Peppercorn Ranch Dressing

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cook beans in boiling water for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain.  Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

Place sweet potatoes and onion in a large aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle potato mixture with 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Toss to coat.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until potatoes and onions are tender and golden.

[Husband grilled the steaks, so I didn’t have a chance to photograph them.]
Meanwhile, rub steaks with garlic and remaining oil, salt and pepper.  Grill to desired doneness.

Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, almonds and green beans.

Thinly slice steak and place on salad.  Serve with potato mixture and dressing.


Parmesan Pull-Aparts

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoon for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups grated (with a rasp) Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
1 tablespoon water

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)


Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed.


Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)  Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoon flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.


Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface.


Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion.


Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.


Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.


3 thoughts on “(42-43) Steak Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Parmesan Pull-Aparts

  1. cindy says:

    that salad looks amazing! i love dinner rolls, but find that a lot of them are too dense for my liking as well. i almost never make dinner before the sun goes down either(except in the middle of the summer of course), that’s probably why my blog is mostly desserts 🙂

  2. It is tough to photograph after dark. I have the same problem. Plus our kitchen is red, so most of the photos turn out with a red/yellow tinge.

    A high quality camera and lens is pricey, but will take in much more light than a point-and-shoot. But if a point-and-shoot is what you have to work with, try placing the food in the brightest area you have available and not using the flash.

    I’m generally anti-photo processing, but I’ve started at least using Picasa’s “I’m feeling lucky” feature and it has made a HUGE difference in the colour and contrast of my photos. They’re still not Joy the Baker or PW, but they’re better.

    • I’m photographing with a Nikon D3000, standard 18-55mm lens. And I usually edit them in Picasa :-P. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” option usually creates far too much contrast in my particular photographs, unless the light was pretty decent to begin with. Clearly it’s more an issue of user error than equipment :-/. At some vague point in the near or distant future, I’m going to try photographing in our Florida room. See if that makes a difference…

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