Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday Dinner: Grilled Steak, Potatoes and Salad with Corn, Tomatoes and Avocadoes

Nothing new or difficult here (except that I added the final butter to the sauce too soon so it was a little 'broken' by the time we served), but just want to memorialize a fun dinner where everything tasted delicious from appetizers through the salad course.

Acme baguette slices spread with Heidi Swanson's, "Parmesan Cheese Spread" (left side of the plate) or misozuke tofu (right side of the plate) and garnished with sun dried tomato, quick preserved lemon, roasted red pepper, confit garlic and caper relish - this recipe is at the bottom of the post. It is delicious and could top anything from a baguette to fish or chicken.

Grilled steak with Marchand du Vin sauce, No-Name Potatoes garnished with creme fraiche. However you cook your steak, take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 (I prefer 60) minutes before  cooking. After patting them dry, we generously season with salt shortly before they go onto the grill or into a smoking hot pan on the stove top. Lynn reigns as the steak grilling chef supreme - she has the mojo.

Baby greens with grilled corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado and red onion, dressed in a red-wine vinaigrette.


 + Quick 'Preserved' Lemons
 + Confit Garlic

Makes: about 1 cup

If you use sun dried tomatoes preserved in oil, drain them well. If you used, as I did, sun dried tomatoes that are not preserved in oil, reconstitute them as you would dried mushrooms in nearly boiling water until they are softened, but not completely mushy - about 15 minutes, then drain and discard the water. This is best made a few hours or a day in advance.

Storage: This will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

  • 1/3 cup reconstituted (see above) or well-drained sun dried tomatoes packed in oil and cut in a large dice
  • 1/3 cup preserved or quick 'preserved' lemon (see below), cut in a large dice
  • 1 clove garlic confit (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 prepared (and drained, if canned, roasted red pepper, cut in a large dice
  • 1 tablespoon small (non-pareil) capers
  • Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
On a cutting board, combine and roughly chop the reconstituted sun dried tomatoes, preserved lemon, garlic confit, roasted red pepper and capers until the pieces are a little smaller than 1/4" - not so much that it becomes a paste. Add the chopped mixture, and any juice to a bowl and add the optional pinch of cayenne pepper and mix. Add a couple of grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Combine well and taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon and if you think it's necessary (and you didn't use sun dried tomatoes packed in oil) a splash of olive oil and stir to mix everything together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Remove from the refrigerator 30-ish minutes before you're ready to serve or use.


For this I used Mark Bittman's  Quick 'Preserved' Lemons recipe. Not a true preserved lemon, but a quick lemon pickle, when you've got a hankering or need them for a recipe. Three hours is all you need. I add them to sauteed greens, salads, baked chicken dishes, stews and sometimes I just dip a spoon into the jar for a taste of lemony, salty, spicy goodness.

Makes: up to 1 8-ounce jar

  • Two lemons, thoroughly washed + additional juice, if necessary.
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional:
    • 4 whole cloves
    • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, just slightly cracked with the bottom of a heavy skillet
    • 1 bay leaf (2 if small)
    • 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
  • 1 8-ounce glass canning jar fresh out of the dishwasher (completely dry) or sterilized as you would for canning.  

Dice the thoroughly washed lemons, removing the seeds. Put the lemons and their juice in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and sugar. If you are adding any of the optional ingredients, add them to the bowl now and toss well.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared canning jar, cover and let the mixture sit for at least 3 hours at room temperature, shaking periodically. Serve, use in a recipe or refrigerate for up to  1 week.

Garlic confit is a delicious treat to keep in your 'refrigerator pantry' and it's easy to make. To 'confit' something, it just means you've submerged it in a substance for flavor or preservation.The verb confire - to preserve, was first used in Medieval France to describe fruits cooked and preserved in sugar (Reference: Wikipedia).

Mash and slip some of the cloves under chicken skin before roasting, mix it in your mashed potatoes, mash with butter (or the olive oil in which you made it) and spread it on a toasted baguette slice - or any place where you would use roasted garlic. The world is your garlic clove.


Now don't freak out - but you must follow these rules for ANY infused oil preparation, including garlic confit. I make garlic confit in small batches - about 24 cloves garlic at a time and write the date I made it on a piece of painter's tape in Sharpie and stick it on the jar before it goes into the refrigerator. In 1989 the FDA mandated the addition of an acidifying agent to all commercial infused oil, or garlic-in-oil preparations and ordered the removal of products from store shelves that did not contain such an agent.
  • Wash all produce before adding it to an oil infusion or confit (homemade preparations)
  • Add an acidifying agent such as lemon juice or vinegar to the recipe as it is being prepared: 1 tablespoon per cup of oil (homemade preparations)
  • Store in an airtight container
  • Keep oil infusions or garlic confit refrigerated. Always. Olive oil generally thickens if refrigerated but that's not a bad thing. (homemade or commercial preparations)
  • Use a clean spoon or tongs to remove items from a confit (homemade or commercial preparations).
  • In the case of garlic confit, top off the jar with olive oil if any of the garlic is exposed. (homemade or commercial preparations)
  • Wipe the rim and lid with a clean paper towel after removing cloves from a garlic confit
  • Discard if the oil becomes cloudy, there are gas bubbles or it just doesn't smell right (homemade or commercial preparations)
  • When in doubt, throw it out. (homemade or commercial preparations)
(Reference: Colorado State University Extension)

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 24 fresh garlic cloves, peeled - they should all be about the same size
  • 1 8-ounce glass canning jar fresh out of the dishwasher (completely dry) or sterilized as you would for canning.  
 In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low. Add the garlic cloves and vinegar and cook at a very very, low heat for 40 minutes and up to one hour - checking frequently to make sure they are not browning. Remove any browned cloves and discard. Allow the garlic and olive mixture to cool in the pan for just a few minutes. Using a clean spoon, add the garlic cloves to the prepared jar and then pour the oil over to cover. Keep refrigerated. Use a clean spoon to remove the cloves from the jar and top off with olive oil to ensure that the cloves are always submerged, if necessary.

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