Saturday, April 16, 2011

Red Meat

Josh, Sam and I took a little trip to Orcas Island a couple weeks ago. We had a right lovely time, even though it rained all weekend. We still paddled out in the kayak, threw rocks in the water (Sam's new favorite), and got in the hot tub.

True to form, I was the event planner. That meant that among my packing duties for Sam and I, were also the duties of kitchen supplies. I almost packed pans and tongs and the whole nine yards, but decided against going that far. I went with simply foodstuffs and a roll of foil. Turns out there was lots of foil there already.
In my effort to use up the remainder of our steer (so that I can get another one this fall AND a pig ... and maybe a couple of ducks), I planned some red meat meals. First was sirloin steaks with quinoa and spring vegetables. The quinoa dish doesn't look like much, but it was quite tasty. I'll put the recipe below.

I was quite distraught because the steaks were not searing. The barbecue was fancy, and was a combination of wood and gas. That meant I could set the temperature and still have wood flavor. Josh noted that it was set up for smoking. I didn't really understand what that meant until I cut into my steak. I should have taken a photo of the inside. I cooked them, by the miracles of my bbq timing sensibility, to a perfect medium. With nothing but salt and pepper and the smoke from that strange barbecue, the steaks were imbued with flavor.

I took my searing and temperature lesson from the first night and applied it to burger night. Again, all that went into the burgers themselves was salt, pepper, and celery seed. I put the burgers on rolls with melted havarti and tapenade. Delicious! I thought I was not a big fan of tapenade, but accompanying the burger and the cheese, it was perfect.

Sam's meals were less amazing: macaroni and cheese with strawberries. Since he doesn't eat vegetables, except for the occasional raw carrot, I figure fruit is better than nothing. I keep thinking and hoping that three will be the miracle age where he will relish in trying new things. How weary I am of hearing the phrase "I don't like that."

Quinoa and Vegetables
1.5 cups quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
5T fresh mint leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
3T butter
1 large leek, halved and thinly sliced (just white and light green parts)
3/4 cup sliced shallots
8oz mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

(If you can't find quinoa, couscous is a good substitute. The couscous to liquid ratio in a 1:2, or 1:1.5, depending on how dry and separated you want your grains.) Bring 2.5 cups water to boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and 1 tsp. salt; bring back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until quinoa is tender, 15-17 minutes.

Puree broth, 1 cup peas, 4T mint, and garlic clove until smooth.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leek and shallots; saute until soft and light brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, until just beginning to get tender; then add asparagus for 3-5 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Mix in puree and the leftover peas; stir until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Serve vegetable mixture over quinoa and garnish with leftover mint.

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