Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beef, It's Whats For Dinner.

Flank steak is the best part of the cow.  There I said it.  No going back now.  Cooked properly (marinated and grilled 2 minutes each side until medium rare) it is so freaking tender and mouthwatering.  Growing up in a mostly Cuban household we didn't do much beef.  The holy pig was out beast of choice and with the exception of my Mom's famous Hamburger Helper and mi Abuela's rabo encendido (ox tail stew) we never ate steak.  Oh, and once in while my French Canadian father cooked up a mean burger and charred a couple hot dogs on special occasions.  I remember the first steak I had ever eaten.  I was in in my teens and the whole family went to one of those cheesy chain steak restaurants (I think it was an Outback Steakhouse because I vaguely remember my deep fried onion explosion).  It was probably from some corporate factory farm where the juiced up super cows are pumped full of growth hormones and stacked into cramped cow towers while getting fatted up for my consumption.  It was a tasty steak though.  I think it was injected with MSG and braised in cocaine butter and I remember orgasmically seeing the light like I had just been invited into Heaven or Valhalla no questions asked.  I was now a steak fiend.  I needed it to survive.  Steak had become my air, my water.  I asked for steak every meal.  A couple of months later I became a vegetarian for 11 years.  All it took was a PETA video and a few Youth of Today songs (okay, actually the girl I was crushed out on was a vegetarian).  I eat meat now like my life depended on it now.  Being vegetarian is about where you draw the line.  As I got older I decided that my line would be drawn a little higher up the food chain.  I just choose to buy my meat from more humane and healthy places.  I try to be an educated eater and that's good enough for me.

I made Spicy Marinated Flank Steak and Queso Oaxaca Quesadillas with Cilantro and Almond Salsa.  I marinated the flank steak in chipotles in adobo, cumin, oregano, hot piménton, garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil for about 2 hours.  In a hot grill pan I seared the steaks for about 2 minutes each side and then took them off the heat and let them rest for 15 minutes.  Quesadillas are one of the easiest things ever.  Tortilla, cheese, tortilla.  Heat in a lightly oiled skillet, both sides until slightly crispy.  Cut into quarters.  For the sauce I pureed cilantro, parsley, olive oil, toasted almonds, garlic, scallions, cumin, salt, pepper, lime juice, hot sauce.  On a plate lay down the quesadillas, top with the sliced steak (sliced against the grain), and drizzle with the salsa.  Garnish with cilantro, parsley, and coitja cheese.  Yum.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Soup That Squashes The Rest.

It's no secret, I am not a big squash fan.  In fact it's one of my least favorite vegetables.  My CSA (local farm fresh veggies delivered weekly to your door) sent me yet another trillion apples and a giant butternut squash.  Instead of crying about it I decided to make it a challenge.  Make squash that I like.  You can trick yourself into anything I thought to myself.  Remember when I tricked myself into thinking those crunchy Japanese Squid Snacks were in fact pork rinds.  Yup, it worked for a minute until the oily over fishy taste came through.  I suppose a lot of people would be just as disgusted by pork rinds.  To them I say this "you are joyless and have no class".  Anyways, I was determined to make a squash dish that didn't make me cringe.

The end result was Curried Butternut Squash and Jonagold Apple Soup with Bacon, Fresh Thyme, and Peppered Rye Croutons.  I roasted the squash and a couple of jonagold apples with butter, salt, and pepper until nice and caramelized and soft.  I removed the skins and seeds and threw the flesh into a blender.  In the meantime I rendered the fat out of a couple slices of bacon and cut some dark rye bread into cubes.  I set aside the bacon on a paper towel lined plate and then I seasoned the croutons with salt and fresh ground pepper and tossed them in the bacon fat until crispy.  I heated up 4 cups of homemade veggie stock (so easy and way better than the canned stuff) and added a few ladles full into the blender with the squash and apple flesh.  Season with salt, pepper, 1 Tbsp curry powder, and a 1/2 Tbsp of fresh thyme.  Blend until smooth, strain and add the liquid gold to the rest of the veg stock.  Simmer until it thickens.  Garnish with the rye croutons, bacon, and fresh thyme.

I was surprised how delicious this soup was.  It's a serious stick to your ribs, make you feel all cozy kind of soup.  I could see eating eating a small bowl of this with a grilled apple and brie grilled cheese.  While I don't see myself eating roasted squash anytime soon, I do see myself making this soup again.  And again, and again.  Yum yum.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Lone Star Treat.

I just wanted to say thank you Texas.  Aside from your generally scary politics and unforgiving, dirty, hot summers you created something I can really get behind.  You make some awesome food.  BBQ, yes Ma'am.  Amazing beef, check.  Mexican food, well not really your invention but I'll thank you for just being in proximity to delicious Mexico.  Frito Pie, Hell yes.  Wait, please don't tell me you've never heard of Frito pie.  Let's get you back to the School of Deliciousness.  Food you can't live without 101.  Frito pie is simple.  Make a yummy chili.  Open a bag of Fritos.  Pour chili over Fritos.  Top with and ungodly amount of bright orange cheese.  If you're fancy add scallions, cilantro, and sour cream.  This is an Austin TX specialty.  Austin is my favorite part of Texas.  It's where aging Seattle punk rockers go to grow old and eat their oatmeal.  No offense to all my lovely Austin friends, you know it's true.

Anywho, I just used my recipe for Buckeye Chili and omitted the cinnamon.  Buy a bag of plain Fritos.  Cover with a ladle of chili.  A friendly handful of cheddar jack cheese.  Sliced scallions and chopped cilantro because I am in fact fancy.  Eat with a fork and lots of napkins.  Oh, and don't wear white unless you want your outfit to look like a Jackson Pollock chili painting.  A cute way to serve a bunch of Frito Pies is to buy the little individual bags of Fritos and just split them open and serve them in the bag.  Very cool.  Pop in a DVD of Pee Wee's Big Adventure (the Alamo doesn't have a basement, dummy!) or snuggle up with the new wacky crime novel by G.W. Bush and crunch away.