Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pepper Steak

This is, perhaps, my favorite faux-oriental dish, and my method recalls how Mom used to make it. I usually use sirloin steak, but for whatever reason decided to try flank steak this time - and it was rather good. I'll probably make it with flank steak from now on.

Anyway, the ingredients: steak, garlic, green pepper, tomato, bean sprouts, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar. Cornstarch as a thickening agent. The normal recipe I work from calls for green onions as a garnish, but I was out - so I used a little white onion sliced very thin. Oh, and short-grain white rice of course.

Mise en place: slice the steak very thin (it helps to put it in the freezer for about an hour first, even if you have a very sharp knife), mince the garlic, slice the green pepper, dice the tomato, and add a bit of water to the cornstarch. Here I've also sliced my white-onion garnish; if I were using green onions I'd just chop them up.

Start the rice. These specialized rice-washing things you can get at Asian supermarkets work quite well. Note how there's a matrix of nubs in the bottom and another matrix of slots in a pour spout on the side - the nubs are for scrubbing the rice, and the slots are for draining the water out.

Anyway, you throw the rice in...

Add some water, and scrub a bit...

And pour the water off. Repeat once or twice if you like, but that's it!

The rice water will look kind of milky. Don't drink this. It won't hurt you, of course, but it's not really very good.

Anyway, once you've washed the rice, add it to the rice cooker with the appropriate amount of cooking water - or, if you're old-school, steam it on the stove top.

Now, then; on to the main course. First, get your wok rocket-hot - or just use a skillet or a large sauté pan, but preferably one without a nonstick coating that you can get nice and hot.


Throw in the steak and sear it. Let it get good and brown on one side before stirring it around.

After the steak is done, season it with some salt and pepper, and add the sugar and soy sauce:

And the vegetables:

Cover and allow to steam gently for about 15 minutes.

By this time the rice should be done:

The steaming of the meat and vegetables should have created a fair amount of sauce.

Stir the cornstarch and water together and use that to thicken it up:

And that's it! Serve it up in a bowl and garnish with green onions (or, in this instance, sliced white onion):

Plate it over the rice, and enjoy....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Meyer Lemon Sidecar

A sidecar is brandy, triple sec, and lemon juice - sort of a weird snooty cousin to the margarita, and certainly not as popular these days. It's not really clear where and how the cocktail originated, but one version has it that it was a favorite of a US Army Captain in Paris during WWI, and named for the motorcycle sidecar he was driven to and from the bar in. Who knows....

Meyer lemons, which are kind of like a hybrid of oranges and lemons, make a sidecar just a bit more fun. They can be kind of hard to find, and they don't last very long in the refrigerator, so take advantage of them whenever you can.


Squeeze and strain your Meyer lemon (they're quite seedy and pulpy), and shake one part juice very well with one part Cointreau and two parts brandy. (I was out of brandy, so I used this pretty nice cognac someone gave me a few years ago.) Serve it straight up in chilled stemware with a sugar rim.

A fine cocktail - one of my personal favorites. Not too tart, not too sweet, and the hint of orange is really nice. I don't remember where I originally found this recipe - probably on some food blog here or there - but I'm glad I did.