Steak Two Ways

I did mention on Sunday that the weekend was busy and the week wasn’t looking any better. When I got home from the soccer tournament I made my list and set to work. 


By the time I got to the grocery checkout it was already 5:30, but we still sat down to eat with my in-laws at 6:45. My MIL agreed to bring salad, bread, and dessert, so I set to work on the meal. When making my list I knew that it would need to be quick, and once I landed on steak I knew that it would also cover two meals. 

When I cook grilled steak, I like to cook the entire meal on the grill so that I can watch it all and make sure nothing over cooks. At the grocery store, the steak, asparagus, and potatoes, became flat-iron steak, baby zucchini, and baby redskins, along with all my other shopping. 

As soon as I got home I set to trimming the steak and I also made sure to pound on it with a meat mallet a bit to make sure it was even. I prefer to let flat iron and flank steak marinate for 24 hours, but with only an hour I rubbed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a blend from our local market and allowed it to sit at room temperature (yes this is safe!).


Then I moved onto the potatoes and after washing them I drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and white vinegar. 


Lastly, I clean the zucchini, trimmed the ends and again drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. (Sense a theme here? Simple seasoning is wonderful and allows the flavor of the food to come through.)


The potatoes take the longest time to cook (about 30 minutes on med-high) so those went on the grill first at 6:10. 


After turning the potatoes a few times I put the zucchini and steak on at 6:30. 


Everything came off of the grill at 6:40 and I put it under my UV lamp to keep it warm while we had our salad. 


After salad, I sliced the steak, drizzled it with balsamic glaze and served. 


I knew that Wednesday was no less crazy so I packed up the rest of the steak. On Wednesday I cut it into small pieces and tossed it in a hot skillet with a bit of olive oil, chili powder, and cumin for tacos. 

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Tournament Lunch

Earlier in the week our team manager suggested that we bring snacks for the boys to eat between our two Saturday games so that we wouldn’t have to deal with the traffic back and forth to the hotel which was a little further away than typical. My favorite thing to make for soccer potlucks is Sally’s Mac & Cheese, but being almost 4 hours from home and without access to an oven I had to be think of something more portable. One of our favorite quick sandwiches, Turkey Apple Wraps, is originally from Disney’s Family Cookbook: Irresistible Recipes for You and Your Kids originally published in 1996 (it is one of the cookbooks that started me thinking about food differently). I was able to scale it for the team and do most of the prep at home. It’s a forgiving recipe; I didn’t measure anything, rather I just approximated the amounts.

Once you mix it up it’s good for a few days in the fridge so I brought the ingredients here in separate containers with a large bowl for mixing. The turkey and parsley went in first. (For different flavors other types of turkey are good. I really like peppered or blackened in this, but for boys I don’t normally feed I selected a simple smoked variety.)

After that I added in the mayo and a bit of salt and pepper.


Then I started on the apples.


Granny Smith apples stay firm in this and add tartness. It’s one apple per ½ lb. of turkey.

And finally stirring in dried cherries.
With the temp in the mid-40s we found a recipe center to duck into, warm up, and eat.


Turkey Apple Salad Wrap

Poultry, Quick Meals, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 servings ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Disney’s Family Cookbook, 1996

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound turkey breast, cooked and cubed
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise, rounded
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, freshly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Tortillas or wraps

DIRECTIONS

Combine turkey, mayo, and vinegar; then mix in remaining ingredients. Pile on a tortilla or wrap and roll.

With nicer weather it would have been perfect.

Make-ahead Sandwich

Once again, I considered writing up Sunday dinner, but I have to go to a specialty shop to find tamarind paste, so I thought it would be a better option to talk about the other meal that I made this weekend. While most of us are familiar with making sandwiches the night before for school lunches, it’s good to know that there are some sandwiches that get better if you make them in advance instead of just soggy. 

During soccer and lacrosse seasons we thrive on sandwiches that can be prepped in advance in some way. This particular sandwich is one that is better if you make it the day before and it is equally good served cold and room temperature. 

The ingredients are fairly simple, and for a shortcut you can purchase an artichoke tapenade in addition to the olive tapenade or you can make your own olive tapenade for a complete home-made taste. 

On Sunday, I mixed it up a bit based on what I had onhand. I started with the artichoke spread.  

  

The ingredients are chopped in order and then mixed well together in a bowl.   
 And the olive tapenade; I made a few extra sandwiches so I mixed Kat Kora’s tapenade with my own. (My tapenade is a mix of olives (some garlic-stuffed), a sun dried tomato, basil, oregano, and red-wine vinegar.)     

   And then I sliced the fresh mozzarella; it’s best to let it drain.     

 
From here I moved to sandwich prep. I used rolls that were ~4×4″ today, but I’ve also used small loaves and large loaves.   

Each of these gets about a ½ cup of the artichoke spread.    
Which is topped with mozzarella.  
And then salami and the olive tapenade (~2T.). 
  
  

And the best part, I wrap them in Saran wrap and eat them later. My husband and I split one, but the boys eat a whole sandwich after all of their activities. They pack well in coolers and are truly best the next day.  

Artichoke, Fresh Mozzarella, And Salami Sandwiches

Entrées, Sandwiches, Tested and Approved!

Makes 4 sandwiches ∙ Difficulty Easy ∙ Source Bon Appétit | August 2003

INGREDIENTS

  • 28 ounces artichoke hearts, drained, chopped (2 cans of 8-10 hearts)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, packed in EVOO, chopped, drained (oil reserved)
  • 3/8 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/8 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup basil, freshly chopped (large bunch – this is the quantity of chopped basil)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, from tomatoes
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, split in half lengthwise
  • 12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella, water packed, drained, sliced
  • 8 ounces peppered salami, thinly sliced
  • 8 Tbsp olive tapenade (green or black), (Kat Kora’s is good!)

DIRECTIONS

Chop artichoke hearts and tomatoes with oil in food processor; transfer to bowl. In same processor bowl, chop basil, then add to artichoke mixture. Mix in cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Divide artichoke mixture among bottom halves of rolls. Top with cheese, then salami. Spread top half of each roll with 2 tablespoons tapenade. Place atop salami. Press sandwiches lightly to compact and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Weeknight Pasta

I considered writing up Sunday dinner; it was really good, but I think it’s important that everyone know how to prepare a spaghetti sauce from scratch as I did this evening. I was recently discussing this with a friend who is switching to a lower salt diet, I suggested to her how to make a basic tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes. 

I don’t use a recipe for sauce, I just tend to start cooking. The basics are of course garlic and tomatoes – where you go from there is up to you. 

For tonight’s dinner I also picked up some fresh sweet Italian sausage that I started on the stovetop, with a simmer in red wine and water, once the water was mostly reduced I put the whole pan in the oven to brown up the sausages.      

  While they were simmering I started my sauce. I decided on a kicked up vodka sauce based on the ingredients I had on hand. In addition to the garlic, I included dried porcini mushrooms, proscuitto, and a shallot.   

         
    

I always start my olive oil first, and make sure it’s hot (shimmering, but not smoking) before I add any ingredients. I typically start with garlic but bacon, or in this case proscuitto, comes first.  

   And then the garlic with a healthy dose of pepper flakes (I ended up adding more) followed by the shallots and mushrooms.         
   

 

Once those had a yummy scent I added crushed tomatoes.     
     

And vodka (4 oz. per 28 oz. can of tomatoes).  And after a quick stir I let it simmer. Ultimately, I stirred in cream (2 oz. per 28 oz. can of tomatoes) and Parmesan into the sauce, made penne pasta, sliced up the sausages, and stirred it all together with the sauce (adding just as much as needed/desired).  

   
      







Dinner is served, I have lunches for the week, and extra sauce for another use. With a Caesar salad and a glass of wine – perfect. 
    
   

Snow in April = Stew and Soup

As I watched flurries outside the window this weekend (grr) and viewed my parents posts from warm beaches (grr) I decided that the only positive thing I could do was to warm us all up from the inside. As I prepared my menu for the week on Saturday, I decided on a stew for Sunday and a soup for Monday; both could easily be made on Sunday. As an added bonus I had meat in my freezer which I could use for the effort.

A soccer game for my eldest on Sunday provided the motivation for an early start to the day. As soon as I got back I started making broth for Monday’s Chicken and Mushroom Soup. This is one of the first recipes I learned from my MIL and although I continue to play with it, the core recipe remains and it is a household favorite. It calls for chicken broth, which you can buy, but I prefer to make my own. Whenever I have leftovers from a roasted chicken that I’m not going to use, it goes into the freezer. When I checked on Sunday, I had parts from about 4 chickens and they all went into my largest stock pot. I then filled the pan with water until the chicken was just covered, brought it to a boil, and then covered and simmered for 2 hours. I scooped out the chicken and stripped off all of the good meat onto a plate.

I then strained the broth into containers for freezing, I ended up with ~27 cups! 6 containers of 4 cups each into the fridge and I set the remaining ~3 cups aside for the soup.

I’ll return to the soup later, but my next focus was Sunday dinner, Beer, Beef, and Onions. The easiest way to start is by getting out all of the ingredients. 

 Although after taking the picture I realized the beer I grabbed was an IPA (too bitter) so I swapped it for a fairly basic home brew. 

 There are a lot of onions in this recipe, which are sweet and caramelized by the time you serve them. They cook 30 minutes before anything else even goes in the pot. 

 The recipe calls for a chuck roast (which works very well in the recipe), but among my freezer findings were the trimmings of beef tenderloin (Remember waste not, want not… Rather than buy filet for special occasions, I normally opt for the whole tenderloin which is usually half the price or less. I cut the steaks and then freeze the ends and other chunks.) I had about 3 lbs. of these trimmings which I cut into large chunks, dried well with paper towels, and then seasoned well with salt and pepper. 

 Rather than add the flour all at once it works best to sprinkle on a little bit, stir it in, and then repeat until all of the pieces are coated. 

   
By this time the onions were happy and I stirred in the garlic (6 for us, we love garlic). 

 The next step is to brown the meat, (don’t try to crowd the pan, it cooks better in batches) and then move the browned cubes on top of the onions. 

    
 The other ingredients go in EXCEPT the beer and brown sugar and you stir to combine. 

   
Then the beer, just enough to cover the meat and then put it in the oven for 2 hours, stirring in the brown sugar halfway through. 

   
On to dessert and a new set of ingredients for a Rhubarb Almond Cake. 

 I was intrigued because it’s made in a tart pan, as I expected from that simple fact, it doesn’t rise much and remains a dense, moist delicious cake. 

   
Cream the soft butter, vanilla bean, and sugar in one bowl. And process the almonds, flour, salt, and baking powder. 

   
(P.S. – When a recipe says reserve the pod for another use – my favorite is vanilla sugar. It’s perfect for making vanilla ice cream. or even coffee.) 

 After adding the eggs, and then the dry ingredients you have a very thick batter and the rhubarb is folded in. 

   
Once it’s in the pan, the topping is strips of rhubarb and sugar and then I popped it in the oven with the stew. 

 I also started boiling some redskins for mashed potatoes. 

   
Back to the soup…it calls for 1 lb. of mixed mushrooms. You should use what you like and know that anywhere between 1-1½ lbs. will work. I used to make it with just white mushrooms now it depends on what looks good and what I’m in the mood to eat. For this meal, it had dried morels (reconstituted), baby bellas, white, and shiitake, in total closer to the 1½ lbs.  

  I reserve the “broth” from the reconstituted dried mushrooms after filtering out the silt. 

 The caps are cooked first in butter and lemon juice. 

 After setting those aside, the stems go in with the onion until they are soft. I also tend to start adding pepper here so that the flavor is throughout the soup. 

    
   

  After stirring in the flour the broth (chicken and mushroom) is added slowly to form a thick broth. 

    
   
 Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and blend it with an immersion blender until it’s smooth. Since I wasn’t serving until Monday, I let it cool at this point and then stirred in the mushroom caps, cream, and chicken. When I was ready to serve it on Monday I brought it to a boil and then reduced the temp to keep it warm. 

  

I then started to sear diced red onions and added in the green beans when they were crispy, seasoning well with salt and pepper. 

   
And I mashed the potatoes with about a ½ stick of butter, the remaining Greek yogurt from the cake, a bit of heavy cream, and salt and pepper.  

  

  Beer Beef And Onions

Beef and Lamb, Entrées, Tested and Approved!
Prep 2 hours ∙ Cook 3 hours ∙ Makes Makes 6 To 8 Servings ∙ Difficulty Medium ∙ Source Shannon Stacey

INGREDIENTS

  • 2½ pounds onions, sliced
  • ½ cup canola oil, divided
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast, boneless, cut in 1½” cubes
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp steak sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, dried
  • 18-24 ounces beer, bottled, not dark
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cook onions in 2T. oil in a a 6-8 quart oven-proof pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned (~30 minutes). Add garlic, stir and cook 5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pat beef dry then toss with flour. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef in batches then add to onions as done (add additional oil to skillet if necessary.

Add all remaining ingredients except beer and sugar and stir to mix. Add beer until it just covers beef and onions. Bring to a simmer then braise in the oven for 2 hours. After 1 hour add brown sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.  

Rhubarb-Almond Cake

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Desserts

Prep 40 minutes ∙ Cook 2 hours ∙ Makes Yield 8 servings ∙ Source Epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Special equipment:
  • One 11×8″ tart pan or one 9″-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces. Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup

Entrées, Poultry, Soups Stews etc., Tested and Approved!

Cook 35 to 40 minutes ∙ Difficulty Medium

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 pounds chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, small, sliced thinly (or 1 leek)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound mushrooms , white is delicious, add morels or others for a twist
  • 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Trim tough stems of mushrooms; remove stems and set aside. Slice mushroom caps thinly.

In a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot butter, cook sliced mushrooms and lemon juice until mushrooms are just tender, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low; with a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms to a bowl.

In the same pan, cook onion and stems until onion is tender. Stir in flour until blended; cook 1 minute stirring the mixture constantly. Gradually stir in broth and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened.

With an immersion blender, blend until smooth and then stir in salt, pepper, cream, shredded chicken, and mushroom slices; reheat until soup is boiling. 

  
NOTES

This recipe is best if you have leftovers on a roasted chicken. Boil it for broth and strip the chicken.

If not, use 2 whole breasts, just cover with water to cook the chicken and reserve the broth. If using this method add enough water (and bouillon) to the broth at the end to make 3½ cups.

If an immersion blender is not available, a traditional blender can be used, but it is necessary to do it in 2 batches.