Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sarah Moulton Gets Me

sara moulton is the food editor of gourmet magazine. sara moulton gets me. she is accessible, a working mom and she loves what she does. you can tell. i don't know if i learn from her as much as i go with her. there's nothing she does that makes me wonder "why the hell am i bothering with you when i could do that myself?" absolutely nothing. even if she's talking about things i know, i do, i have attempted, i still am intrigued by her. that's how i feel about nigella lawson, also. there's really nothing she does that gives me an "ah, ha!" moment, but everything she does is of interest to me. there's a committed passion that comes through them in everything they do -- in different ways, of course. i mean, nigella lawson is this lusty, richly life eating diva of british italian sensuality. she's a bit like the two fat ladies rolled into one with a little sophia loren thrown in. sara moulton is more of the nice home ec teacher who lets you get away with things, is married to the track coach and wears white keds with little white socks when she's being casual. whether any of that is true or not is really unimportant. it's more an observation than a truth, of course. but all of that is to say, sara moulton gets me and, so, i love cooking from her cookbook, SARA'S SECRETS FOR WEEKNIGHT MEALS. the dish we made this particular night is KOREAN STYLE BEEF WITH SPICY CABBAGE. let me just say that this is quick, easy and totally yum. oh, man. i'm not even gonna have you wait for the report card from us, cuz it was too good to hold back. really.

3 tbs soy sauce
2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs dark brown sugar
2 tsps finely grated ginger
1 1/2 tsps toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 tsp)
1 pound skirt steak
kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
4 tbs vegetable oil
4 cups thinly shredded napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
1/4 pound snow peas, halved diagonally
1 tsp red pepper flakes

what to do:
1. whisk together the soy sauce, scallions, vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, sesame oil and garlic and set aside. season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides. cut into pieces, if necessary, in order to fit it all into the skillet
2. heat 2 tbs of the oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot; add the meat. sear the steak on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare (which i, personally, prefer).
3. transfer the meat to a platter, cover loosely with foil, then let rest while you cook the cabbage. discard the fat in the skillet; heat the remaining 2 tbs oil in the same skillet over high heat until hot. reduce the heat to medium and add the cabbage and snow peas. saute for 3 minutes or until the cabbage is crisp-tender. add the snow peas, red pepper flakes and salt to taste; saute just until peas are hot, about 30 seconds.
4. to serve, slice the steak thin, against the grain, at an angle. add any juices from the platter to the soy sauce mixture and toss the meat with the sauce in the bowl. arrange a mound of cabbage on four plates; top with the meat and the sauce.

what we did:

first off, let me just tell you that this is a night when we got really into a show called DINNER: IMPOSSIBLE, for which i have a deep, nostalgic appreciation whenever i see it. brandon decided he was going to give me a test and it was this: he gave me three hours to put together an entree and an appetizer using two different meats. go. now, three hours SOUNDS like a lot of time, but when you don't have the meat thawed, it lowers your time considerably. so what i did was make this with some boneless short ribs (took 30 minutes to thaw) and for our appetizer i worked up a quick little dealy-bob with some leftover croutons i bad made for thanksgiving and really thinly sliced lamb. what i did was THAW THE FREAKIN' LAMB (i love my deep freezer, but geez) and, as it was still firm, thinly sliced it easily. and i mean REALLY thinly sliced it. i then seasoned it with some good kosher salt, some turns from the pepper mill, a little crushed, dried rosemary and garlic. i minced the garlic and sauteed it lightly in a pan of about 1 tbs olive oil then added the lamb and sauteed that for about 1 minute on each side (told you it was thin). then i rubbed the croutons with garlic, spread a very thin dollop of tomato paste on top, placed a leaf of basil on it, then the lamb (one slice, curled prettily), then a thin slice of fresh mozzarella and another dollop of the tomato paste. i put together about twelve of these little suckers, placed them in the oven for about 2 minutes (just until the cheese was melting) then took it out and served it. nicholas and brandon just about had a hissy fit of delight over this, so we have added it to our repertoire (and it will be repeated for christmas).

as for what we did with the Korean-Style Beef, well, we made it as it suggested, but without the snow peas (didn't have 'em) and, oh man, was it delectable. such amazing flavors and so quick and easy. really. honest. so quick. i've made this three times since that night and each time the boys devour it. they even like the cabbage enough to eat it all off their plate. no small feat, i'll tell you that.

i know my love of cooking helps in jumping into all of these, so the margin for error is pretty small. but it doesn't matter. even if we come across a recipe that LOOKS good, but TASTES yikes, i'll always adore this kind of dance in the kitchen. it's amazing. i had a great time doing my challenge (i won with 10 minutes to spare, by the way). we have fun with it and, ya know, that's the part of cooking i really appreciate. the delight of it all and the way my sons get completely into it, because of that.


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