Saturday, February 14, 2009

game night

So i decided to cook last night. It had been a busy week filled with silliness and derby as usual, and i really missed cooking Sunday dinner as i usually do… I was "helping" at the dominon/baltimore/rcr scrimmage Sunday night- so i didn't really get a chance to do my usual routine. I know it seems very traditionalist of me (I know you’re shocked!), but i really enjoy cooking sunday dinner for my “family”- which usually includes a couple standard guests and some derby people. Cooking Sunday dinner gives me a chance to show my friends how much i appreciate them- and when I finish, i get to relax with my friends and have a good time. Lately I’ve been working on getting to know my roommate better- which is something I'm really keen on doing. I'm happy living with Sara. She’s an easygoing roomie, with a great humor about her and wisdom beyond her years. I really envy her capacity for compassion, patience and charity towards others. She adores pepper, and I think we’re a pretty good match.....So i e-mailed a couple friends and got excited to finally cook. It ended up being Ram Jam, Aaron, Kfed, A-Damn, Sara and Myself. Even Regular Mike was maybe going to come at some point- but didn’t in the end. I have to say- it still makes me nervous to cook for people that i never have before. For those who don't know me too well, cooking for me--is very personal. A lot of thought goes into what I’m cooking- and for whom, since it’s a crap shoot whether or not they'll like it-- or for some, a challenge to even eat it.....

No reservations (my favorite show) had a new episode coming on at 10. Anthony was in the Azores- a place that I’ve read about many times and is most definitely on my list of places to go before i die. From what i know about Azorean food- they do a lot of meat and cheeses- a lot of stews and slow food, sometimes cooking on crags in the volcanic rock that make up 90% of the archipelagos. I read once, that the natives dig a hole in the ground - put a crock pot in between layers of banana leaf and burlap over and over- bury it in the ground for 4-6 hours, and let the hot lava flowing underneath do the cooking. This apparently imparts a subtle sulfurus taste and a tenderness that is unmatched. I think that this is both magical and ingenious and it makes me feel the wonderment i first felt when my grandmother first showed me how to make jello.....In my opinion- Azorean cuisine is very similar to Portuguese/Spanish food- although i'm sure the natives would tell you otherwise.

I decided to make pan roasted flat iron steak with roasted red peppers and smoked red pepper puree, with a side of green "antipasto" salad, and lemon infused basmati rice. Someone gave me some really nice tequila- and since I don’t really drink very often- I decided to make it a special occasion, and made “growed’ up lemonade.”....The green antipasto is a combination of asparagus, haricot vert, cippolini onions, prosciutto, oil cured olives and garlic all roasted together with salt and pepper and olive oil. Then i made a balsamic and anchovy reduction, which i then mixed with olive oil, and white burgundy mustard. I served it well mixed and still warm- and it was perfect. The saltiness of the prosciutto mixed well with the different variations of saltiness of the balsamic and the anchovy- and it made this really rich and buttery sauce over these little crispy green asparagus and green beans. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, and outshined the steak a little bit.

The steak was satisfying with this incredibly colored reddish orange sauce that bled into the rice and looked suspiciously like my favorite Indian dish. The steak was juicy and tender and the acidity of the rice was a nice compliment to the rich sweetness of the smoked red pepper sauce. A-Damn also made really nice Portuguese green beans- which were peppery little green beans in a garlicky and sweet tomato and onion sauce. I had some romano in the fridge- so we shaved some over the top and it was yummy! I’ll ask him for the recipe. ....

“Sunday Dinner”
....Dedicated to Anthony Bourdain who tells me to drink more and eat more and travel more on a weekly basis.....
double red pepper steak
2 flat iron steaks or 1 skirt steak
1 12 ounce jar of Spanish or Portuguese smoked red peppers in water (not oil)
1 12 ounce jar or roasted red peppers (or roast your own- equal to 1 big pepper or 2 small)
2 garlic cloves (roasted preferably)salt and pepper ( i used med sea salt flake, and dalmatian pepper- which is a combo of white and black pepper from penzy's)
olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 (for the steaks and the antipasto salad)....The flat iron steak is seasoned with salt and pepper only- and in this case i used 2 non coated pans with oven proof handles- heated to medium high. I cut the steak in half width wise, & seared the steaks on both sides-2 to a pan, and stuck them in the oven until their internal temperature was about 135/140. remove steaks from pan- and set aside. reserve juices.....drain a 14 ounce jar of smoked red peppers (available in either the Italian or Spanish side of the grocery store) and add contents to a blender.

in the blender add 1/3 cup meat juices and garlic. Blend until pureed. Set aside.finely chop roasted red peppers and set on a dish. Once the steak has rested at least 5 minutes, cut into thin strips- across the grain of the meat, and set over peppers. Pour red pepper puree over meat and serve over the lemon rice.....“Antipasto” saladbunch asparagus1/2- 1 lb fresh green beans1/2 lb cippolini onions, or a 1/2 of a large yellow/white onionhand full chopped/pitted olives1 anchovy- don't get scared yet.1 tbs nice mustard1/4 cup balsamic, reduced to a syrup (2 tbls)1/4 lb prosciutto or nice hamsalt and pepperolive oilremove ends of asparagus and beans (already washed). cut asparagus stalks in to thirds- or just break them. beans are halved. put on a heavy duty cookie pan or roasting pan. chop onions into small strips, leave garlic, pitted olives or medley from olive station, and anchovy whole. Toss together with olive oil, salt and pepper. roast at 400- shaking pan every 10-15 minutes for even brownness until beans/asparagus is fork tender but with a little crunch left.
chop prosciutto into bits. set aside
Chop anchovy and roasted garlic very small. in a large oven safe bowl- combine balsamic syrup, mustard, and anchovy/garlic mixture together, drizzle in enough olive oil to make a tight/thick dressing. add a tsp or so of honey or sugar if mixture is too acidic or salty. add salt or pepper to taste- but it shouldn't need much. add prosciutto & hot vegetables and toss well. cover with foil and set on top of a hot stove or in the oven if needed. Serve still warm- tossing occasionally
basmati rice,
2 tbls salt (kosher or table)
2 tbl olive oil1 lemon, juiced.
make rice according to manufactures directions- adding salt and olive oil to water and also add 1/2 of lemon juice and include 1/2 of the already juiced lemon. once rice is done cooking- fluff with a fork and pour over rest of lemon juice and remove lemon half
.....Growed' up lemonade
(makes one serving)
lemons, sugar, warm water, tequila, ice. cut a lemon in 1/2 lengthwise
cut the 1/2 lemon length wise again and then into 3rds, making small wedges.....In a glass put 2 tbls (or more!) sugar over mini lemon wedges. with the back of a wooden spoon- or a cocktail muddler, crush wedges and sugar together well. add about a 1/3 cup of really warm water to mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. add 1 ounce nice tequila- ice cubes and stir.

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