On my monthly Costco shop, I always buy a package of flap meat. It makes the best steak for the best price ($8-9 per pound - used to be $6!). It's a splurge but we get two "fancy" meals out of our $25 purchase. It comes in two pieces, so I put them in the freezer individually in gallon bags (I usually thaw by submersing the meat - still in the sealed bag - in a bowl of hot water for about twenty minutes).
To make this delicious steak, I heat up butter (or bacon fat) in our cast iron pan on medium high, turn on the fan, and cook it on one side for 5-7 minutes. I flip it and repeat. Sometimes I have to flip it one more time to get it perfectly medium to medium rare. I let it sit for a few minutes before slicing against the grain.
If I am cooking onions (usually red), I cook them in the (greased) pan for about 5-10 minutes and then add the steak, cooking them both together until the onions are nicely charred (I take them out before the steak). Sometimes I add mushrooms, but if I do that I usually cook it all before I make the steak, so as not to overcrowd the pan and because mushrooms are liquidy.
This is one of our favorite family dinners - steak, mashed potatoes, and salad (the kids don't have the onions and blue cheese - more for us!).
How I concocted last weekend’s Turkey Spinach Artichoke Chowder - definitely a rough draft (speaking as a writer), but it was delicious (husband raved) and I will be making a final version the next time I have turkey gravy (may be a while):
I wasn’t paying attention to amounts (I rarely do), but the base of this soup was leftover turkey gravy (from Christmas dinner) and chicken broth.
I made the meatballs out of ground turkey, frozen chopped spinach (defrosted in the microwave), parmesan (the canned stuff, I admit it), garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and - here’s the weird part - cream cheese. Next time I would soften the cream cheese and thoroughly mix it with the seasonings before adding it to the meat, but this time I got away with putting it in the mixture in random chunks (I tried to distribute evenly) and letting them melt into the soup.
So basically, I brought the base (gravy/broth) to a boil, added in roasted red potatoes I had frozen (you could use fresh, but just cook longer), reboiled, lowered to simmering, and added the meatballs (making them as I went - plop, plop, plop).
Then I added some quartered (or maybe it was halved) canned artichoke hearts (that I had frozen, but I don’t think that matters).
After ten minutes or so, I thickened it by adding potato starch and sour cream (next time I will dissolve the potato starch into the sour cream - or a cupful of soup - to avoid glops).
Cooked for another five minutes and it was done.
It rained for an hour this afternoon and that was all it took to put me in the mood for soup. I was on the countdown with the spinach from Costco (today is the "best use by" date) and my red potatoes have seen better days, so what better to marry them then a rich broth made from spicy sausage and cream (actually half and half)?
Potato Spinach Sausage Soup
1 T butter (I actually used bacon fat from pastured pigs)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 stalks celery, finely chopped (I used my mini-chopper)
1 1/2-2 lbs small red potatoes, quartered
4-6 cups spinach
1.5 pounds spicy sausage (or add spices to ground pork - I did a mixture of both, from pastured pigs)
4 cups water
1/2-1 cup half and half
1. Saute onion and celery in butter (or bacon fat) for five minutes in a stock pot.
2. Stir in garlic and saute for one minute.
3. Pour in water and add about a teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste).
4. Turn up the heat to high, add potatoes, seasonings (to taste) and bring to a boil.
5. Turn to down to a simmer, form the sausage into meatballs (about 1" in diameter), and drop them into the broth, one by one (or all at once, if you read this and decided to make the meatballs in advance, and then let them cook for a few minutes).
6. Pour the spinach on top, spreading it out across the pot, then gently stirring it (it's okay if the meatballs break up a little, or even if they totally crumble).
7. Simmer until meat is fully cooked and spinach is nicely wilted.
8. Stir in the half and half and simmer until heated through.
9. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, black pepper, and red pepper flakes at the table.
In the summer, one of my favorite ways to have tomatoes is Pan Am Tomaquet - much simpler than the name sounds, but just as grand tasting. This morning I decided to try a twist on the original. I added a fried egg and slices of tomato. It was delicious.
Egg Tomato Toast
1 garlic clove
1 slice of sourdough bread or French baguette
1. While the bread is toasting, fry an egg (I like mine with the yolk poked - gooey but not runny).
2. When the toast is done, rub the whole surface with a cut garlic clove.
3. Cut a tomato in half - cut one half into slices and set aside momentarily.
4. Press the other half into the toast all over the surface (like you're stamping), so the bread soaks up the juices.
5. Drizzle olive oil over the toast and sprinkle with salt.
6. Top with fried egg and tomato slices. Sprinkle with more salt (I used truffle salt).
Kale Artichoke Salad for Two
(picture next time!)
4 cups of Tuscan / Dinosaur Kale (preferably), chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts, water packed, halved
2 (or more) cloves of garlic, crushed
4-6 anchovies (canned kind), diced finely
3 T grated parmesan
3 T olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T melted butter
1 t lemon juice
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t honey
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t pepper
cooked chicken strips (optional)
1. Using your hands, "massage" salt into kale to release its natural liquid and "soften" it.
2. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Combine well.
3. Stir in anchovies, lemon juice, honey, and dijon mustard.
4. Top with cheese, pepper, and chicken (if using).
5. Pour in the butter and mix well.
Fry one large onion and a pound of chicken in butter w/s&p in cast iron pan. Move to baking pan. Add more butter to pan. Saute garlic, chard, mushrooms, potatoes, 1.5 cups rice, curry powder, garam masala, ginger, garlic powder, s&p, and chopped pickled jalapenos for a few minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth, bring to a simmer. Simmer with a lid for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, season chicken with all of the above spices. Mix veggie mixture in with chicken and add a cup of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake in oven at 450 for 20 minutes. Top with chopped cashews and broil for 3 minutes or until browned. (maybe you could skip the baking step if you simmered longer with more broth/water? or skip the simmering if you bake longer?). Posting for safe keeping - will post pics next time :)
I concocted this vivid green soup in an attempt to use up vegetables that were past their prime, and happily, it resulted in one of my best "cream of" soups to date. The best part was that my kids actually ate it...and were shocked to find out it what was in it! I rewarded them with the shocking pink antithesis to this :)
Creamy Asparagus Spinach Soup
1lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut in 1-inch pieces, tips reserved
4 cups spinach
1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped4 cups chicken stock4 T butter (divided in 1/2)
1 cup sour cream
2 T lemon juice
4 T butter (divided in half)
1/2 t granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 t granulated onion (or onion powder)
1. Saute scallions and asparagus pieces (not tips) in 2 T butter over medium heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add chicken stock and turn up heat to high.
3. When it boils, turn down to medium-low, add spinach and seasonings.
4. Simmer until asparagus is tender (about 10 minutes).
5. Turn down heat to low, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
6. Stir in reserved tips, remaining 2 T butter, sour cream, lemon juice, and heat through.
7. Serve with freshly cracked pepper and grated parmesan.
*Disclaimer: amounts are approximate - use less, taste, add more, repeat...