Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flat Iron Steak

It's been a long, long time since beef has made an appearance on our table. We're talking somewhere in the neighborhood of ten years. We both came to the relationship on a very little beef sort of diet, and together we just avoided it altogether. We would eat it periodically if it popped up on a chef's choice menu or if someone served it, but we hadn't personally prepared in ages.

Tonight all that changed. The reason for the change is several-fold, but part of it is certainly that we've found a source of meat that we're really comfortable with. We've been buying meat, mostly pork and goat (yes, goat), from Thundering Hooves for about a year. This week, we decided to take the plunge into beef and bought a flat iron steak. Then I spent three days looking for recipes for flank steak, because my brain apparently disconnected and I forgot what I had bought. This morning, I finally realized that I had flat iron steak and found a recipe for Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce. I would absolutely make this again.

I served this with roasted purple potatoes, which are absolutely one of my favorite ways to have potatoes. They're so simple and yet so good; the outside is crisp and pleasantly crackly and the inside is soft and comforting. And the asparagus! Don't forget the asparagus with sauteed onions and prosciutto.

This was a happy dinner.

Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce, from here, adapted slightly to tweak proportions.
Serves 4
2 medium flat iron steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 T cup tomato paste
3/4 cups red wine

Turn the grill to medium-high and give it a few minutes to heat up. Salt and pepper the steaks and drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Grill about 7 minutes per side for medium. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small 1/2-inch chunks and whisk in the sauce a little at a time. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the steaks across the grain. Divide the steak slices among 4 plates. Drizzle the sauce over the steak and serve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hearty Green Curry

Winter fairly begs for warm, toasty curries, soups, and comfort food. We've had quite a few grey days in a row and this morning I had some trouble dragging myself out of bed. A long day later, and comfort food sounded lovely.

I managed to cut all the vegetables without cutting myself, though it was touch and go there for a second.

When it all came together, it looked delicious. And happy. And yummy. And curry-y.

Simple, good food like this makes the end of the day a little happier.

Hearty Green Curry
Serves 4
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 inches ginger, peeled and diced
3/4 c crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 c green beans
1/2 c white wine, chicken stock, or water
2 T olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1-3 teaspoons green curry paste, depending on your spice tolerance
Soba noodles

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the squash. Cook for 10 minutes, until nearly tender. Remove the squash with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and boil for 4-5 minuutes, until nearly tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the soba noodles to the water and cook until done; 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmery and add the onion and mushroom to the pan. Sautee 5 minutes, until tender and slightly golden. Add the ginger and cook an additional 2 minutes, until fragrant and lovely.
Add the squash to the pan with the onions and reduce heat slightly. Cook 5-7 minutes, until the squash is slightly caramelized. Pour in the wine or stock to deglaze the pan.
Add the cauliflower and the green beans and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, combine 1-3 teaspoons of green curry paste with 2 T of the coconut milk and stir out any lumps. Add the mix to the vegetables and simmer for 3-4 minutes to toast the spices. Add the remaining coconut milk and stir. Simmer 5-7 minutes to heat it through.
Serve over soba.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Manly Quilt

Part of the reason that my posting has been so lackluster through November and December is that I spent a large chunk of my time trying frantically to finish a quilt. And finally, after what seemed like forever, I did finish it in time for the holidays. More specifically, I finished it with enough time to mail it across the country in time for the holidays.
And here it is.

I started this quilt an embarrassingly long time ago. May, to be specific. I am very, very good about doing chunks of quilting at a time. I'll do a bunch of work one weekend, and then not touch it again for a month and a half. End result: a quilt that takes seven months to finish.

I'll admit that I love this quilt - to the point that we contemplated "forgetting" to mail it to the intended recipient and keeping it for ourselves. It looked really nice with our new chair, you see. In the end, we mailed it, because we're (mostly) good people.

The back of the quilt is grey and happy and shows the quilting patterns in fun ways. Please ignore the bag of mulch on the porch behind the quilt. Just pretend it's not there. Please. Thank you.

AND! AND! One of the fabrics has a deer head in it!

So why is this a manly quilt? It was a gift for my brother, who probably wouldn't be too excited to get a girly quilt. I was very pleased by how it turned out, and it was well-received, which is really all you can ask.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Peanut Chicken Soup

Do you, too, have sniffles? A winter cold? You need chicken soup. Chicken soup cures almost all ills, and doubly so when the peanut sauce you happen to add in has a touch of spice to it.

This soup got very high reviews from Clive, though that may be in part because he was out in today's chilly rain for a few hours on the his bike. Whatever the reason, the soup is happy and good and good for you.

Peanut Chicken Soup
Serves 4

2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 chicken thighs, chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped
4 T peanut sauce, prepared
1 quart stock (chicken or turkey)
1 bunch udon noodles
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/3 c scallions, chopped
1 t pepper, or to taste

Heat a large dutch oven or soup pan over medium heat until warm. Add the olive oil and heat to just shy of simmering. Add the onions and sweat briefly; 2-3 minutes.

Add the chopped chicken and cook for 5 minutes, until the chicken has started to cook through. As the chicken begins to cook, add the broccoli and the peanut sauce, stirring to coat all the ingredients with the peanut sauce. I used a prepared peanut sauce that has a little spice to it and right about this point, the house started to smell amazing.

Pour in the stock and stir to get any bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow the soup to come to a simmer, then throw in the udon. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or according to the package directions.

Stir in the cilantro and scallions and taste the soup. Add pepper to taste. Serve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catalonian Pizza

It seems I am relatively lackluster when it comes to posting. I have a good excuse, I'm sure. Somewhere.

Last night, I made pizza. It was delicious and everything pizza should be. The crust was thin and crisp and the cheese was melty and happy. I'm relatively picky about pizza, because with food that's simple, there's less of a margin for error. Translation: there's lots of bad pizza out there. This was very good pizza.

The recipe originally came from Wine Bar Food, which I constantly flip through looking for ideas and inspirations. My favorite so far is a recipe that basically amounts to grown up pizza rolls. This one is a close second. I did make one fairly substantial tweak to this recipe. The original recipe called for two pounds of manchego cheese. Two pounds. I love manchego; it's delicious and wonderful and reminds me of Spain. But two pounds? Depending on where you get it, manchego can cost you between $12 and $20 a pound. I may love pizza, but there's no way I'm dropping $40 on cheese for these bad boys. So say hello to mozzarella, which has a far more wallet-friendly price point:

Catalonian Pizza, adapted from Wine Bar Food to reduce the cheese by half and switch to mozzarella, which does not cost $40.
Serves 4
1 recipe pizza dough
6 oz chorizo
4 fresh tomatoes, sliced thin
12 oz mozzarella, grated
1/4 c cilantro

Preaheat the oven to 500° F.

Saute the chorizo until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any grease. Divide your pizza dough into four pieces. Roll each into a 12 inch square.

Move the dough to a baking sheet and top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella, then thinly sliced tomatoes, then the chorizo.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is browned. Remove and top with the cilantro.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Favorite Mashed Potatoes to Date

Mashed potatoes are surprisingly difficult to make really well. I'm not sure how many times I've messed them up. Not to the point that they were inedible, but definitely to the point that they were boring. Dry. Uninspiring.

These are not sad or dry or uninspiring. Unfortunately, they're not really that healthy, either, what with the butter and the heavy cream. I'd say make them once with the butter and the cream, and then amend the recipe to get a balance between flavor and instant arteriosclerosis.

Mashed Potatoes, adapted from Cooking from the Farmers' Market to reduce the butter and cream to less threatening levels.
Serves 4
1 1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled, core removed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c butter
3 T chives, chopped
1/2 t salt

Add the potatoes to one pot and the parsnips to a second pot. Add enough water to each pot to cover the vegetables by an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until you can pierce them with a knife.

Use a ricer or masher to mash the potatoes and parsnips into a bowl. Add the butter and stir to combine. Add the cream incrementally, stirring until your desired consistency is reached. Add the chives and salt.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Soft Tacos Are Awesome

I'm not sure why, but tacos aren't something that make it onto my radar very often. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that I tend to forget about them for months at a time. Today, though, I went grocery shopping after work and by the time I got home, tacos sounded better than anything else on the menu. Speaking of shopping, have you noticed that the stores almost seem MORE crowded after work than they do on weekend afternoons?

These originally were going to be vegetarian tacos, but I ended up having a little more chicken than I needed for the Chicken and Broccoli, so I ended up adding the chicken to this.

They may look like regular tacos, but they're yummier. You'll have to trust me on that one.

It was a good move.

Chicken Soft Tacos
Serves 4
3 T olive oil
3 chicken thighs, trimmed
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/2 t fennel
1/4 t chili powder
3 green chilis
1/2 c onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/4 c tomato, diced
1 T orange juice
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 1/2 t oregano

Sour Cream

In a small sauce pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. When it's warm, add the cumin and oregano and stir until fragrant, about a minute. Add the diced onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and 1/4 c water. Simmer to meld the flavors, about 20 minutes. Periodically mash some of the beans so they break open. Stir in the orange juice and simmer 5 minute more.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, fennel, cumin, salt, chili powder, and allow the chicken to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cover. Reduce the heat and cook through, 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pan and dice; return to the pan with diced chiles, salt to taste, and a splash of orange juice.

Serve with warm tortillas and the toppings of your choice.