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Posts Tagged ‘steak’

We could have taken our Fourth of July picnic up to a table on our building’s roof garden, but it was still ghastly hot and humid that evening, and since the elevators don’t go up to the roof, we’d have had to shlep food, drink, and all their accouterments up a sweltering stairwell. So our foursome picnicked in the dining room in air-conditioned comfort.

Tom created a dandy little hors d’oeuvre for the occasion – a sort of micro-mini ballpark hot dog. He fried two slices of sandwich bread in butter, spread them with yellow mustard, cut them in one-inch squares, and laid a chunk of frankfurter on each. Half of them received a round of homemade bread-and-butter pickle under the frank, and the other half were topped with a piece of cornichon. Both were very tasty, but we all agreed the bread-and-butter-pickle version had the edge.

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The main event opened rather elegantly with Galatoire’s Crabmeat Maison. A few years ago I wrote a post about making this specialty of the famous New Orleans restaurant. It’s a luscious dish and always a favorite.
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After that came the more traditional picnic-y foods.

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My potato salad, made with the season’s first new potatoes, thinly sliced, a little red onion, olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and homemade mayonnaise.
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Tom’s macaroni salad, with bits of celery, bell pepper, red onion, and tomato; dressed with olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and the same mayonnaise.
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A broiled flank steak with Tom’s minimal barbecue sauce: his own seasoned ketchup, Worcestershire, and chipotle Cholula. It makes a light coating, penetrating the meat just enough to liven up its own flavor.
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There was also corn on the cob – white corn, first of the season, wonderfully fresh and sweet – chunked heirloom tomatoes, and a crusty baguette; all set out family style and attacked with enthusiasm and old-fashioned boardinghouse reach.
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To finish the meal we had a nectarine cake, which I make from a Joy of Cooking recipe called Plum Cake Cockayne. It’s a regular summer dessert of mine, sweet, easy, and good with any stone fruit. It was consumed with alacrity, even though everyone protested how full they already were. That’s the magic of fruit desserts.
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Post-Hurricane T-Bone Steak

Hurricane Sandy put the lights out in Greenwich Village from Monday evening, October 29, to 4:30 Saturday morning, November 3, leaving Tom and me on the 16th floor of our apartment building with no power, heat, or water. I tell you, it’s no fun to cook by candlelight. Nor are candlelight dinners charming when compulsory. We stuck it out until Thursday afternoon, then escaped to stay with friends uptown, where everything was functional.

As soon as the power came back on, we came home, half expecting a sticky flood in the kitchen from defrosted food fluids leaking out of the freezer. Mercifully, the kitchen floor was dry; and, since the freezer – unopened all through the outage – had been very full and the apartment had gotten very chilly, much of the food seemed all right. We had to discard quite a few things, but there were others we carefully sniffed and decided to try cooking. We knew that bacteria would have been growing, but human digestive tracts have had to deal with bacterial spoilage since humanity’s earliest beginnings, and we had faith in ours.

The handsomest questionable item was a thick T-bone steak. It was still slightly frozen (or had started refreezing; the electricity had been back on for five hours by the time we got home), it looked good, it smelled fine, and we couldn’t bear to throw it out.

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Besides, we needed to have a dinner that night. Appropriately, we remembered that what set Christopher Columbus off on the journey that eventually stumbled on America was the search for spices, whose primary use in the fifteenth century was to disguise the rancidity of the meats that people often had to eat, there being no electricity ever back then. With that in mind, I thought I’d better do something other than just broil that steak.

Over the years, I’ve evolved my own recipe for Rumsteak Amoureuse à la Dijonnaise, based on one attributed to the elegant Pré aux Clercs restaurant in Dijon. It’s a nicely sauced but not over-the-top dish, which was just what we needed: something simple but elegant to raise our spirits and defy the fates.

I pressed coarsely ground pepper into the steak and sauteed it in butter and oil, adding and softening minced shallots when it was almost done. Then I flamed it with cognac

and transferred it to a warm oven while I made a pan sauce. This was white wine to deglaze, followed by a bit more butter, Dijon mustard, and heavy cream. (Local grocery stores had already started restocking, so I’d been able to buy cream that afternoon.) Here’s the result, and very good it was:

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Not so good were the fully defrosted peas and green beans we’d hoped to rescue and have with the steak: soggy and flavorless they remained, despite our best efforts. But the steak sauce went well on a pair of baked potatoes. In keeping with the evening’s damn-the-torpedoes attitude, Tom pulled out a lovely wine to accompany both the steak and the cheese to follow, a Robiola that had also survived the power outage in our refrigerator. The wine was a 2006 Montevetrano, about which Tom writes in his post-Sandy blog.

And so back to near normality for us, with gratitude for escaping the worst effects of the hurricane and great sorrow for all those who didn’t – thousands of whom are still suffering the loss not just of light, heat, and water, but also the very roof over their heads.

Except that a big Nor’easter is now bearing down on us, bringing dire warnings about new power outages and flooding in the already-battered areas. We count our blessings and cross our fingers.

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