Every year, Jasper attends a pair of conventions in Las Vegas and I like to tag along. He attends lectures while I lounge by the pool, indulge in a spa, or go shopping. Afterwards, we meet up and head out to eat at one of Vegas's many excellent restaurants. I could write volumes about hotels and shows and sightseeing, but here it is all about the food.
I'll begin with the casual restaurants inside Caesar's Palace, where we stayed (and which I recommend - one of the best pools on the strip, the best spa, and some of the best shopping).
This bakery and pastry shop was my first stop of the day, every day. With a design that looks like Willy Wonka's factory and a clock that spits out free truffles every hour, this place is a chocolate lover's dream.
The pastry case is magnificent and filled with artful delicacies that are almost too pretty to eat... almost.
It's a short post this week, because we got the crate a day before we left for Las Vegas for a week (oh yes, there will be posts about that). So I only had one day to make, eat, and store what I could. That is also the reason that we will skip from week 11 to week 13 - I had a friend take our share while we were out of town.
In the crate this week:
Large and small tomatoes
Flank steak is an under-appreciated cut of beef - probably because it is very tough if you don't cook it the right way. It comes from the abdominal muscles of the cow and is long and flat, with a strong grain. I like it because it is cheap, flavorful, and the toughness is not a problem if you cut across the grain. One of the most common uses for flank steak is stir fry - in fact, when you buy "stir fry" beef at the grocery, it is probably sliced flank steak. I will demonstrate how to do a stir fry in my update on week 11 of the CSA. For now, I will give a couple of other examples of ways to use flank steak.
A spinach salad with bacon, potatoes, steak, and blue cheese dressing is delicious and filling, and perfect for summer. This dish makes me laugh, though, because I originally bought the steak to please my husband, who was getting tired of all the veg from the CSA. And what did I do with it? Put it in a salad! Poor Jasper, oh well.
Meanwhile, cook your flank steak to medium-rare in a skillet or on the grill. You can see the heavy grain I was talking about in this picture. Once the meat has had a chance to rest, slice it thinly against the grain.
My second dish is Asian inspired: hoisin glazed flank steak with scallion rice.
Start by preparing your steak (again, you can see the striated grain in this picture): brush the steak with hoisin sauce (add Sriracha if you are a spicy fan), and grill 2-3 minutes per side (I used a panini grill). Rest, and slice thinly.
Meanwhile, make the rice. Slice a few scallions (green and white parts) thinly. Cook jasmine rice according to directions, adding the scallion whites at the beginning. Stir in the scallion greens when the rice is finished cooking.
Serve the steak with the rice and some quick pickles.
Spinach Salad with Steak and Blue Cheese Dressing
adapted from Real Simple
4 oz sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-in pieces
8 oz Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-in pieces
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 1/2 lbs flank steak
3 oz blue cheese, crumbled (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 scallion, chopped
8 cups baby spinach, washed and drained
In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the potatoes to the bacon drippings, season with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly against the grain.
In a small bowl, mix together the blue cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, vinegar, scallion, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Divide the spinach among plates, top with the steak, bacon, and potatoes, and drizzle with the dressing.
Hoisin Grilled Steak with Scallion Rice
Adapted from Real Simple
2 cups jasmine rice
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
4 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp Sriracha or Asian chili-garlic sauce (optional)
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into 4 pieces
For an Asian quick pickle:
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)
Cook the rice according to the package directions, adding the scallion whites to the rice at the beginning, and the scallion greens at the end.
Meanwhile, heat grill to medium-high and brush with canola oil. In a small bowl, stir together the hoisin and Sriracha, if using. Brush the steak with half of the hoisin mixture and grill, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Brush again with the remaining hoisin mixture. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly against the grain.
In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with the vinegar, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the steak and rice and sprinkle with the peanuts, if using.