Friday, May 31, 2013

Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Spinach

Only 2 recipe posts so far this month, and one of those wasn't even a meal, it was a cocktail.  Albeit a delicious cocktail, but just a libation after all, which is not the point of this blog.  I'm squeezing this one in on the last day of Spring.  The days of BLT having time to post 4 or 5 recipes a month are most likely over.  Fini.  Caput.  Dunzo.  Some authors of my favorite food blogs (listed to the right) have jobs and kids and spouses/partners and other demands on their life too, and they still have the time for awesome recipes and amazing pictures.  Like twice a week.  Kudos to them, I'm not sure how they manage to do that and still get at least 6 or 7 hours (If they get 8, I'd be real jealous) of sleep per night.  What you get less of in quantity, however, I'll try and make up for in quality.

This one year old is demanding more of my free time, which this Daddy will gladly oblige.

This garden is demanding more of my free time, which provided all of the arugula, spinach, and green onion for this meal.  

The beauty of this recipe is that it is highly personable.  You don't like raw onion?  Omit it, or try soaking the thin slices in the vinegar and lemon juice, which will lessen the pungent bite.  Me, I can eat a raw onion like an apple.  At one point in my life I considered getting an onion tattoo before every chef from Next to Golden Nugget got foodie ink.  My mom got over the skydiving thing, but she probably wouldn't get over an onion tattoo.  You want to add some sliced mushrooms? That would be awesome with steak, I just didn't have any.  Want to swap the blue cheese for some chunky shavings of parmigiano reggiano?  Okay by me.  If you'd like to use just spinach or only arugula, I won't complain.  It's your steak salad.  Can't find skirt steak but you see flank steak instead?  That is very fungible.  Don't have homemade croutons for some crunch?  That sucks.  Maybe you need a recipe for homemade croutons??  Gimme a couple weeks. 

Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Arugula and Spinach
4 servings

1 lb skirt steak, room temp
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 lb baby arugula
1/4 lb spinach
4 oz blue cheese, the good stuff
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 green onion, chopped in 1/2" pieces

for the vinaigrette-
1 TB coarse dijon mustard
2 TB white wine vinegar
2 ts freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ts Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ts honey
1/3 C EVOO, the good stuff
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fire up your outdoor grill or a grill pan to high heat.  Your skirt steak should be out of the fridge for 20-30 minutes to bring to room temp.  Season liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and coat both sides with a touch of EVOO or canola/vegetable oil.  

Turn down the grill to just under high heat, about 475-500°F.  Grill the steak for 5 minutes on one side, then 4 minutes on the flip for medium/medium rare, depending on the thickness and heat.  Tent loosely with foil on a cutting board for at least 8 minutes while you assemble the salad.

Combine the arugula and spinach in a large bowl and toss evenly.  Distribute among 4 dinner plates.  Add the tomatoes, onion, blue cheese, and croutons.

To make the vinaigrette, add all ingredients except the oil to a small boil or glass measuring cup.  Whisk in the oil slowly.  Season to taste with S&P and add more vinegar/mustard if desired.  Or, throw everything together and zap with a stick blender, which is well worth the $29.99.

When the protein has rested, cut in half and then thinly slice against the grain.  Add the sliced steak to your salad plates and then dress with the vinaigrette, and bring on the croutons if you got em.   

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grilled Meatloaf

If you live in a temperate climate, you might not understand the excitement.  Or you have those 'we grill all year around!' people.  They also aren't as giddy as I when the cover gets taken off the grill for the first time each spring.  Sure...I'll fire up a batch of wings on the grill once or twice during the winter, but for the most part, the cold season is a needed break from cooking outdoors.  When the warmth finally arrives each year, a dominant amount of dinners for the next 5 months are prepared on my trusty Weber 3-burner gas grill, or the little Weber charcoal guy when I really want do it right.  No animal or vegetable is safe from May through October.  But before we break out the usual steaks, brats, potatoes, asparagus and brined chops, here is a meal everyone has enjoyed with a unique twist on the preparation.  You may have seen my previous recipe for this classic comfort food, now let's take it outside.
Sometimes grilling is just like cooking in the oven, as in this recipe, only it's not underneath your roof.  During the dog days of August we rely on the grill almost every night so we don't heat up a kitchen that's already conditioned to remove excess heat and moisture, two things a gas oven yields.

While this tasty protein denatures on your grill, you've got about 45 minutes to mow the lawn, pull some weeds, plant some flowers, sand an old table, wash your ride, clean the gutters, or maybe just pull out the lawn furniture and pop a squat.  Don't forget to order those cedar planks you'll need this summer to prepare this delicious meal.   
Grilled Meatloaf
serves 4, plus a 1 yr old if you have one
1 large or 2 small-medium yellow onions, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef, 80-85% lean
1 lb ground pork
2 TB chopped cilantro
2 large eggs
3/4 C panko bread crumbs
1 ts Kosher salt
1/4 ts freshly cracked black pepper
Sweat the onion in a skillet over low heat with some extra virgin olive oil for about 6-8 minutes, until soft but not browned.  Sweating=low heat, you shouldn't hear a loud sizzle, that's sauteing.  To sweat is to just remove the moisture from the vegetable.  Add in the garlic for the last minute or two.  Set aside to let cool.

Fire up your grill to medium heat, 375°F. 
In a large mixing bowl, beat two eggs.  Add the bread crumbs, cilantro, salt and pepper, and the beef and pork.  Mix thoroughly but gently with your clean hands.
Take a large sheet of tinfoil and spray lightly with pam or brush with some olive oil.  Place the mixture on top and shape into a loaf, mine was 9X4X2.  That's inches.  Wrap the meatloaf with the foil.  Place another piece of foil on the top and wrap around the bottom and sides, so the loaf is double-wrapped. 

Place the loaf on your grill and cook for about 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  The loaf is done when the internal temp reaches 170°F.  Let rest for 5-10 minutes before unwrapping and slicing.  Serve with your favorite bbq sauce and garnish with cilantro. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Mint Julep

It's a good weekend if you wanna do some day drinking.  I won't be, as air-powered nails guns and alcohol are not a good combo, unlike the pretzel and pizza flavor.  But I sure will be looking forward to one (or two) of these when I'm done putting in the new hardwood floors.  I'd say a good 10% of the mint grown in the garden is muddled in bourbon drinks.  After a Saturday's hard house/yard work in the summer, standard protocol is an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, 2 ounces of good bourbon, a shake of Peychaud's bitters, a couple mint sprigs smashed in the palm, retreat to the back deck and enjoy 20 minutes of peaceful cocktail time.  

This weekend though, you need to fancy up that drink for the most famous race involving small grown men riding horses in a big circle as they whip them to entice the animals to speed up.  I enjoy the local racetrack on a warm sunny day, I just wish I knew more about betting.  Usually, I go with the trifecta and whichever horse takes the biggest dump before the race is my bet to win.  It's all about physics from my scientific perspective.

The Mint Julep
serves 1, increase as needed

First you need to make a simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water.  I'd start with a cup of each, depending on how many you are serving.  Any leftover will keep for future cocktails.  Warm up the water on the stovetop, microwave, or campfire, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add a couple inches of lemon zest and cool completely. 

In an old-fashioned or highball glass, muddle about 6 medium leaves of mint with a muddler or wooden spoon.  Fill with good, large ice cubes.  (traditionally, use crushed ice, but I simply serve on the rocks, your choice)  Pour in one half ounce of simple syrup and two ounces of your preferred bourbon.  Stir well and garnish with a sprig or two of mint.  Good luck with your bets!