Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flat-iron steak

Flat-iron steak is my new religion. As tender as a fillet, as flavorful as a hanger steak, and priced like a cheap braising cut (don't tell anyone!). Just make sure to grill it rare or medium-rare.

Here served with mushed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and green onions.

Pork three ways

This winter seems to last forever. Heavy storms come every other day. The market is all cabbages and root vegetables. Oh, well. Cabbages. Actually, this red cabbage I got last week was super pretty. And I had meats to go with it.

So I sauteed cubes of pork loin, chunks of my home-cured bacon, and my Italian sausages with onion and garlic, added chopped cabbage, and braised the whole thing with thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, black pepper and juniper berries, in red wine.
Added a handfull of prunes halfway through cooking, as an afterthought. It turned out to be a good idea - the sweetness of the prunes balanced the salt of the meats and the wine's acidity, and
I didn't have to add any sugar to adjust the flavor.
It looks like a glorious mess, but that's part of it's charm as a comfort dinner at home on a rainy day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Duck breast "prosciutto"

In my previous charcuterie post I mentioned cured duck breasts hanged to dry in the outside laundry closet. With the rains and fog we had almost constantly, it took them two weeks instead of one to dry, but they are finally done (and almost all eaten).

I followed the recipe is from the Charcuterie book; here's what I did:
- split a large Pekin duck breast, skin on, trimmed, washed, dried with paper towels, covered completely with salt on all sides, and refrigerated for a day
- rinsed off the salt, dried with paper towels
- seasoned the breast halves with freshly ground white pepper
- wrapped them in cheesecloth, tied with a string, and hung them to dry in a spot protected from the sun (irrelevant in this weather) and rain - the outside closet with the door open
- checked them every other day to see if they feel firm and dry
- after about 10 days I got nervious and thought that I may have to bring out a fan to help them dry, but the rain stopped then, and in a few more days they felt just right
- brought them into the kitchen, unwrapped, sliced thin at an angle across the grain, and served them as a part of our late-night cheese and wine course.

The duck breasts are delicious, they have prosciutto-like texture and the gamey, slightly sweet duck flavor. They will be a part of our cheese and wine course forever. See how this will work in a regular California weather.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oysters for Valentine's day

Oysters are erotic, local, and in season. No need to make reservations two month in advance in order to take your sweetie out for perfect Valentine's day food. Just pack the oyster knife, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, glasses, plates, and lots of napkins, a lemon or two, and drive to the oyster farm.

Last Sunday the weather was good, for a change, and we enjoyed the drive across the emerald green hills, dotted with cows and sheep, and through the redwoods, with the car top down, very much. I would have enjoyed it even better without a cop on my tail all the way from San Rafael to Point Reyes Station. With the cop, no place for me to stop or for him to pass, and the speed limit of 35 mph, it was a very slow scenic drive.

Since the last time we were there, Tomales Bay Oyster Company has put out new nice picnic tables, and lots of them, so even on a busy Sunday there is a good chance to find a spot.

By the time we got there, our friends found a table and got a hundred of extra-small oysters.
When we started opening them we were surprised by how plump and fat these oysters were. On the outside, they looked like regular extra-smalls, about 3 inches across, but the inside of the shell was filled completely with white, very sweet and delicate meat.

It appears that the unusual weather of this winter, colder then most years and with a lot of rain, is the oysters' paradise.

With a squeeze of lemon juice, a spoonful of mignonette sauce (white wine, minced shallot, salt and white pepper), or both, they were absolutely the best oysters I had in years.

We had trouble finishing a hundred of them between the six of us, just because we got so much more food then we expected, but we couldn't leave any, so we finally got them all. I wasn't hungry for two more days.
It's cold and raining again, and the wonderful oysters are growing fatter by the minute. I cannot wait for the next clear day to go to the farm. Next time we'll just get one dozen per person.