Stir Fry Saturday: Beef With Peppers

This was a last minute recipe I found on Punkfork, my new favorite recipe aggregate. The site collects recipes from a good selection of national food blogs and aggregates them into a really pretty website with lots of nice tiled photos. You can search by ingredients or popularity. The following was from Pioneer Woman:

Beef with Peppers
Pioneer Woman
  • 1½ pound Flank Steak, Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain
  • ½ cups Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Sherry
  • 2 Tablespoons Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chile Paste (or A Few Dashes Red Chile Oil)
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Yellow Onion Sliced
  • 2 whole Red Bell Peppers, Cored And Sliced Into Rings
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Fresh Jalapeno (or 1 Teaspoon Dice Hot Pepper)
  • Red Pepper Flakes, For Sprinkling
  • Cilantro Leaves
  1. Mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and chili paste (or chili oil.) Place sliced beef in the mixture and toss to coat. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high to high heat. When it is very hot, throw in the onions and cook for less than a minute. Remove to a separate plate. Return skillet to flame, allow to reheat, and add bell peppers (and hot pepper/jalapeno if using.) Cook for a minute, tossing, until peppers have brown/black bits but are still firm. Remove to a plate.
  3. Return skillet to heat and allow to get hot. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture, evenly distributing over the surface of the skillet. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 seconds, then turn with tongs. Cook for another 30 seconds, then remove to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining meat until all brown.
  4. Reduce heat to low. Add all meat, onions, and peppers to the skillet and toss to combine. Pour in remaining sauce (the sauce the meat marinated in*) and stir. Allow to simmer on low for a few minutes. Sauce will slowly thicken. Turn off heat.


Perfect Weather for a Kabob Party

While August usually gets a bad rap for its weather, I actually enjoy the month because every now and then, you get those cool nights that remind you fall is on the way. After finding so many fun kabob recipes in this summer's Everyday Food, I decided to invite a few friends over and have a kabob sampler that included Shrimp, Beef, Pork, and Butternut Squash (recipes for all are below).

Kabob Rock Star

Tips for A Successful Kabob Party:
  • Skewer Ahead of Time. Because of the risk of cross contamination when it comes to raw meats, I chose to do all the hard-core assembly beforehand while saving the sauces for the party itself.
  • Have a Grilling Partner. You will be busy making sauces, entertaining friends, and prepping what is going on the grill next, so for the best outcome you should assign someone to the grill itself.
  • Always have a pineapple on hand. No sauces, no seasoning---just caramelization at work on a delicious fruit.

Beef with Veggies, Squash with Indian Spices
Flank Steak Kebabs with Peanut Sauce
Everyday Food
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 pound flank steak, cut against the grain into 1/2-inch slices (halved crosswise if long)
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch half-moons
  • 1 large bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 lime, quartered (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Place a small flameproof pot on grill; add peanut butter, coconut milk, chili sauce, and fish sauce and whisk until smooth and heated through. Transfer sauce to a serving bowl and top with peanuts.
  2. Alternately thread steak, zucchini, bell pepper, and lime onto four 8-inch skewers, beginning and ending with steak. Season with salt and pepper and grill, turning occasionally, until steak is browned and cooked medium and peppers are crisp-tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Serve with peanut sauce.
Indian Spiced Squash Kebabs
Cooking Light, June 2008
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound baby pattypan squash, cut in half crosswise
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves (Optional)
  1. Note: Due to the season, I was only able to secure a Butternut Squash. While the end result still ended up quite tasty, the squash took a lot longer to cook until tender (ending up charred), and it was hell getting them on to the skewers. If you are in the same boat, slice the pieces smaller to shorten the cooking time, or consider blanching them first to soften them up before placing them on the grill.
  2. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Thread squash and onion alternately onto each of 8 (10-inch) skewers. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until tender, turning frequently. Drizzle with juice. Sprinkle with mint.

    Shrimp Boil Kebabs
    Shrimp-Boil Kebabs
    Everyday Food
    • 1/2 pound small new potatoes (Requires Precooking)
    • 2 small ears corn, cut into 1 1/2-inch rounds
    • 1/2 pound andouille, cut into 1-inch rounds
    • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 4 teaspoons hot-pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
    • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
    • Lemon wedges, for serving (Optional)  
    1. Note: Of all the kebabs I made, this was the only one where things were not cooking at the same time. Resist the urge to grill the shrimp and andouille on the same skewer, as the sausage will end up underdone. Instead, split the skewers so the shrimp cooks with the pre-cooked potatoes and the andouille is with the corn.
    2. In a medium pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water over medium-high. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 12 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Alternately thread potatoes, corn, andouille, and shrimp onto four 8-inch skewers.
    3. Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. In a small bowl, combine butter, hot-pepper sauce, and Old Bay Seasoning. Grill kebabs, turning and brushing with butter mixture occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout and corn is tender and beginning to char, about 8 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

    And of COURSE my famous Pork Kebabs with Hoisin Glaze
    Finally, we grilled the trusty, most amazingly sweet/savory kebab you will ever try, the Everyday Food recipe for Pork Kebabs with Ginger Hoisin Glaze. Still amazing.


    Le Creuset Passes the Earthquake Test!

    So we had an 5.9 earthquake here in DC today! While it was a odd 20 seconds, and my feet are still shaking 3 hours later, everyone seemed to come out of this historic event okay, with very little damage or injuries---including my kitchen!

    When I came home, it looked at though the only thing in our house that moved at all was my Le Creuset 7 qt. dutch oven. What always rests on top of our fridge was on the floor, and still in one piece:

    Exactly where it landed, from the top of the fridge
    While it might be luck, I'm still REALLY impressed the pan didn't even crack after it's fall. In a day where my friends and loved ones all came out of an earthquake safely and without injury, it's not the best part of the day, but more like icing on the cake. So happy everyone is safe!


    2941: A Celebratory Surprise

    I had heard a little about 2941, which is pretty much a constant on Washingtonian's Top 100, but I hadn't thought to try it yet for whatever reason. Boy was that a mistake. To think that this gourmet restaurant, healmed by Bertrand Chemel (who worked as Chef de Cuisine at Café Boulud in New York) was right around the corner from me in Falls Church for the past three years just makes me sad for all the missed opportunities.

    But first things first. The decor is awe-inspiring not only because everything from the pond and fountains outside to the jellyfish chandeliers inside are exquisite, but also because the sheer amount of open space is such a rare treat in DC. You don't realize the claustrophobia of most DC restaurants until you are in the presence of three-story windows that face a glowing pond and treeline. Amazing that this little Eden is within the beltway.  

    Chris and I after our feast
    Because our trip here was a double celebration for Chris and I (we've both had great news recently), there was really no choice but to get the tasting menu. While it was a little on the high side, $105 for six courses, there wasn't one thing on the menu that sounded familiar or easy to make. Each course promised a new experience and exciting combination, and we were blown away by everything. The sauces all stood out in amazing ways, and one of the best testaments to the chef was the way that the ingredients combined in your mouth to create a completely different, final, perfect flavor profile after you were finished.

    Below is our menu, although I'm told it changes constantly. I made a few notes on each course to give you an idea of the meal.
    • Amuse Bouche: Watermelon Martini. Watermelon in a pool of vanilla, lemon thyme, and vodka with cantaloupe and basil. The cantaloupe was a little salty, and the basil left a strong taste in your mouth, but the afterglow of the merged flavors in your mouth was a really amazing treat.
    • Big Eye Tuna: Lightly seared and served over a spiced date marmalade with fennel-yuzu and tuna tartare. The date marmalade was a standout in this dish.
    • Garganelle: Seafood pasta with Lobster, Maine sea urchin, sepia, little neck clam, sea trout caviar. The garganelle was black from squid ink, which was fun, and I ate something new in Sepia (which is a cuttlefish?). During dinner we couldn't figure it out, as it was in perfectly square cubes, but I guessed a firmer type of scallop as it had a similar taste. The liquid sauce was slightly salty, but that was masked by the other ingredients.
    • Grilled Pacific Monchong: Cocochas de bacalao, citrus cauliflower florets, mustard sauce. Chris' favorite. The fish, which had a similar texture to swordfish, was served over a mustard sauce that was truly exceptional.
    • Domestic Lamb Saddle: Kalamata olive, cumin, chick pea puree, fried ratatouille. Definitely my favorite with a Mediterranean feel. The ratatouille was fried in a springroll, and mixed with the lamb and puree was fantastic. There was some type of fruit, maybe a gooseberry, on top that was a great tart surprise with the mellowness of the rest of the dish. 
    • Athena Cantaloupe Pre-dessert: White sangria infusion, watermeon granite, lemon verbena. What I loved about this sorbet-like tasting was how they took the amuse at the beginning of the meal and turned it around in a completely different way. Really helped prepare us for the dessert.
    • Ricotta Gnocchi: Virginia blackberry jam, mascarpone cream, amaretti cookies. Another reason to get the tasting menu is that you will try desserts you would never think to try otherwise. Instead of serving something traditional as an afterthought, this has to be the most creative dessert I've had in awhile. Creamy cheese mixed with blackberries had a smooth taste, while the cookie gave it that punch of sugar to perfectly round out the meal.
    All in all, it was a fantastic dinner. Our server was new, and it was cute watching him muster his way through the course descriptions. I got the wine pairings, which were exceptional, but may be a little pricy considering it's almost as much as the meal itself. Although the explanation that went into each pairing far exceeded a normal experience and were fantastic compliments to each course. Two standout wines for us were the 2005 Odysseus Tinto-White Label Priorat from Spain, served with the lamb, and the 2009 Adesso, Cagnina di Romagna from Italy, served at the end with the dessert.

    Will I return? Most definitely. I'm excited to see what a full entree feels like here, and I want to come earlier when we can still enjoy the scenery outside. Plus they gave us a loaf of French bread as we left---what hospitatlity!

    I will leave you with this. Restaurant Week starts on the 15th, and while dinners have already been snapped up, there are still plenty of lunch reservations open and the menu looks quite good. Will you give it a shot?


    More Cassis Prettiness for my Kitchen

    More Le Creuset!
    So everyone knows how happy I was when I got my very first Le Creuset. It was a life goal for me, and long before I ever thought I would, one landed in my lap thanks to a lot of votes from my friends. Well, my friends have helped me again, specifically my very good friend Robin. I helped her out with some design work for her wedding, and she went WAY over the top to thank me with a plethora of Le Creuset cookware.

    In a complete surprise package, I got the above casserole dishes and a multi-function pot, with a small frying pan that doubles as a lid for the larger pot. Because I'm cooking for two-three people at most, I love the small size of the casserole dishes, and the space saved by the two-pots-in-one. The latter came with a booklet of recipes to try, so look for those coming up.

    What made getting the Le Creuset even better was the fact that Chris returned last week from Japan with some really cool gifts for me. He brought back a fun sake set, and some painted serving bowls that are just gorgeous. Both are below.

    sake set

    Japanese Bowls


    Star Power Pasta

    So I have to stop making fun of the fact Gwyneth Paltrow put out a cookbook. This recipe was amazing:
    Doesn't that look tasty...
    I could go on and on about how amazing this pasta is, but really you can take the above picture as proof that you need to try this out. While you may be weary of anchovies---trust me---mixing a little bit of the breaded, baked, anchovy with some of the sweet, roasted tomatoes is just a perfectly, salty-sweet bite. This even has Chris' approval—Mr. "I hate tomatoes" had seconds!

    Roasting the Tomatoes
    The anchovies are underneath, but can be separated pretty easily with a knife.

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Oreganata Pasta
    Bon Appetit  
    Note: I removed a lot of the salt from this recipe because the anchovies gave you plenty...season lightly throughout to your own preference. You can also cut the oil in this recipe in half, just add in more pasta liquid at the end.
    • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, divided
    • 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Or less)
    • 1/4 cup unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
    • Large pinch dried oregano
    • 16 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained and flat
    • 12 ounces spaghetti
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • Small handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
    1. Preheat oven to 200°. Place 2 cups tomatoes on a baking dish and sprinkle with oil. Roast, stirring occasionally, until they start to shrivel up but haven't dried out (3-4 hrs.) The outsides should be chewy, but the insides still juicy.
    2. Increase oven temperature to 400°. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Place breadcrumbs and herbs in a small bowl. Drizzle oil over and stir until mixture resembles damp sand. Lay anchovies about 1/4" apart on prepared sheet. Evenly pack breadcrumb mixture over; drizzle with more oil. Bake until golden brown, 3-5 minutes; set aside.
    3. Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
    4. Meanwhile, place remaining 2 cups tomatoes in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands. Heat 2-3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until juices thicken, 6-7 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes.
    5. Add drained spaghetti to skillet; toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water by 1/4-cupfuls if dry. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Divide among bowls. Top each with 1/4 of the anchovy oreganata and Parmesan.