Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Voices in My Head

Allow me to invite you into my head for a bit.  No, it’s ok.  Come closer.


Scared yet?

So, I just thought I’d share a bit of the ‘journey’ I go through in coming up with a recipe.  Or a meal plan.  Whatever.
I’d say by and large my meal planning comes from either a recipe (or recipes) I’ve run across, or by pulling from old standards.  But there are times when I have this vague notion of what I’m looking for, and that’s usually when the voices in my head lead me down a meandering path.

Sunday I decided that I wanted to keep things pretty basic – steak and potatoes.  So there I was, clipping coupons (my Sunday afternoon ritual) and watching The Cooking Channel.
Cue the brain voices:

“So…  steak and potatoes.  But something more exciting than just mashed potatoes.  Maybe a root veggie mash?  Mmm, that would be tasty.  Oh, my gosh.  Is it REALLY almost March?  What the hell happened to FEBRUARY??  St. Patrick’s Day…  maybe a colcannon/root veggie mash?  Kale.  I really need to try kale.  I should make spinach more often.  Only 25¢ off on toilet paper?  Seriously??  Do these idiots have any idea what a package of toilet paper costs these days?  Oooh, what’s in the basket?  I could seriously compete on Chopped.  Well, unless they gave me cow’s tongue.  Not touching that stuff with a ten-foot pole.  Coconut, huh?  Wonder if I have coconut milk?  Hmm…  something a bit spicy in a sauce over steak.  With spinach.  I should try a root veggie mash with coconut milk.  Do I have any sweet potatoes?  I’m sure I don’t.  Ok, rice it is.”
And thus my steak and potatoes became a garlic/ginger marinated steak with sautéed spinach and garlic and a coconut sauce over coconut ginger rice.
The voices made me do it.

Garlic and Ginger Marinated Flank Steak
1 flank steak, trimmed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbs canola oil
½ cup soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper

Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Add steak and turn until covered in marinade.  Close bag and allow to sit in fridge for about an hour.  Remove and allow to come to room temperature.  Cook as desired (I cooked mine on the stove with my cast iron grill pan).  Allow to rest before cutting across the grain into strips.

Spicy Coconut Sauce
1 Tbs canola oil
1 shallot, finely minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced (leave seeds in for extra heat if you’d like)
½ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup coconut milk (use the rest of the can in your rice)
2 Tbs soy sauce
½ cup chicken stock
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional – found these in the spice aisle)

Heat oil over medium heat.  Add the shallot, garlic and peppers.  Sauté just until shallot and pepper are cooked through.  Add turmeric and continue to cook and stir another minute.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook about 5 to 10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken slightly.  Serve immediately.

* * *
I have a feeling I may have posted this recipe before.  And I swear, every time I make it, it’s like I have an epiphany that says, “Why don’t I make this more often”.  Obviously, it’s crazy good for you, takes almost no time to make, and is delicious.  Color me forgetful.

Garlicky Spinach
1 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cups fresh baby spinach (I used a 10 oz bag)
½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 Tbs soy sauce

Heat oils over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced garlic and sauté just until the garlic turns golden.  Add all of the spinach.  Using a pair of tongs, cook and turn the spinach until it is almost wilted.  Add the soy sauce and season with black pepper.

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