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Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri, Elote Corn on the Cob, and Jalapeño Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

There are so many variations on meat and potatoes, it doesn’t even compare to Bubba listing different types of shrimp preparation in Forrest Gump.  With Cinco de Mayo fast approaching, we’re doing a nod to Mexican flavors with elotes y chimichurri.  Okay, to be honest, elotes are Mexican but chimichurri, derived from tximitxurri, is Basque for “a little of this, a little of that.”  Many Hispanic cultures have adopted the word chimichurri to describe a sauce that usually has garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and a combination of fresh herbs.  August tried making chimichurri once in 2007; it was that memorable because it took her two hours to mince all the ingredients without a food processor!

Serves 4 as per the recipes (but we only did 2 corn ears for ourselves)

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• For the mashed potatoes:

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, washed

1/2 to 3/4 cup of fat free milk, depending on desired consistency

1/2 cup of shredded Rumiano mild cheddar cheese

1 jalapeño pepper

4 tbs. of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Over an open heat source like a stove top burner, hold the pepper over the heat until the skin blackens and the pepper slightly softens.  Put in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap to steam for 10 minutes.  This will help cook it further, and make the skin very easy to remove; remove the skin once it’s cool enough to touch.  Split in half and discard the seeds.  Dice up the pepper and set aside.

In a medium pot, boil the potatoes in about 12-16 cups of water, or at least so they are covered by water.  Cook low heat to achieve a slow boil so that the potatoes don’t break apart.  Boil for about 45 minutes or until a thin, sharp knife easily sinks in.

Drain potatoes in a strainer.  Add the milk and butter to the potato pot, then transfer the potatoes back in along with all other ingredients; Chef Zach recommends to start with about 2 tsp. of salt.  That might sound like a lot of salt to some people, but potatoes need a lot of it.  Mix with a hand mixer on low speed until thoroughly mixed.

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• For the avocado butter:

1 medium-size avocado

2 oz. of softened butter

A pinch of salt

avocado butter

avocado butter

Mash the avocado with a fork, then add the butter and salt and thoroughly incorporate.

• For the corn:

4 ears of corn (although we did 2)

Avocado butter

1/4 cup of crumbled queso fresco

1/2 of one lime

Paprika for dusting

Shuck and clean the corn.  Grill on a barbecue or open grill for 10-12 minutes, or until the corn just starts to brown.  Not every single kernel has to be brown (notice the pictures throughout the article).

Spread the ears with avocado butter, squeeze the lime for juice, dust paprika, and evenly sprinkle the queso fresco.

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• For the steak’s chimichurri sauce:

1 cup of lightly packed flat leaf parsley

1 cup of lightly packed cilantro

3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 shallot

4 garlic cloves

3 tbs. of red wine vinegar

2 tbs. of fresh lime juice

1 tsp. of salt

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Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor.  Pulse the food processor about 15 times to break down the herbs but not completely liquify them.  Turn the food processor to ON and slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream.

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Once all the oil has been added and mixed in, set aside until serving.

•For the flank steak:

1 1/2 lbs. of pasture-raised beef flank steak

1 tbs. of paprika

1 tbs. of kosher salt

1 tsp. of ground cumin

1 tsp. of garlic powder

1 tsp. of onion powder

1/2 tsp. of ground white pepper

Mix all the dry ingredients to make a rub.  With your hands, work the rub all over all surfaces of the flank steak.  Let sit in on a sheet pan the refrigerator for an hour, covered with plastic wrap.

guest appearance by bea

guest appearance by our dog bea

If you’re following this recipe and good with your timing, the grill will already be on for the elotes.  Grill the flank steak on each side for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.  Don’t fidget with the steak; the only times you should touch it are when you put it on the grill, flip it, and remove it.

Slice on the bias, against the grain, for thin strips.  Garnish with chimichurri (and serve in Arakawa Pottery).

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A Valentine’s Seafood Array

Zach’s present to August for Valentine’s Day this year was a day of flavors.  It began with home made cinnamon rolls, and ended with a variety of light yet rich seafood.

king crab leg

alaskan king crab leg

In California, it is nearly impossible to find raw Alaskan king crab.  It comes precooked and flash frozen.

To prepare: thaw overnight in the refrigerator in a sealed container (or something covered with plastic wrap), but put a rack on the bottom of the container so that the crab doesn’t sit in its own juice and melted ice water sludge.  When ready to serve, cut the shell with small cooking scissors and carefully peel away.  Remove the tendons by gently pulling the shell around the joint areas.  Serve with half a lemon; other options are garlic butter and caper aioli if you want something richer.

(A future post will be a detailed how-to on removing the shell of a crab.)

mussels and mussels alive, alive oh!

mussels and mussels alive, alive oh!

The mussels weren’t alive when eaten.  However, they must be kept alive right up until the point of preparation.  Before any cooking there are some cleaning procedures:

 

Discard of any cracked or unusually heavy mussels, as these may be too full of sand and will be too difficult to clean.

Soak mussels in a bowl with water and 1 tbs. of salt for 20 minutes, and as they breathe they naturally filter the fresh water through their systems so as to expel debris.

Remove the byssal thread from each mussel.  Grasping the shell firmly with a towel, yank the thread sharply towards the shell’s hinge.  If you yank towards the shell’s opening, you might kill the mussel.  Discard the threads and put the mussels in a separate bowl.

Add cold water to this new bowl, and let the mussels soak for another 10 minutes.  Then brush each mussel to clean off any remaining debris.  Rinse off with cool water and dry with a towel.

To cook:

3 dozen mussels

1/2 cup of white wine

1/4 cup of fine chopped garlic

1/4 cup of butter

Chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

Pepper to taste

In an extra large saute pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes until the garlic is very lightly browned.  Add mussels, but make sure the pan is large enough for the mussels to take up a single layer and not be on top of each other; the mussels on the bottom might not pop open if there are mussels on top to weigh them down.  Add the white wine and cover with a lid for 4 minutes to steam the mussels.  Remove mussels from pan, put in a bowl, and pour remaining butter-garlic-wine juice over the mussels.  Garnish with parsley.

dill salmon

seared dill salmon filet

Fresh Atlantic salmon is fairly abundant.  It’s always best to buy fresh fish if you can, and a thick filet will surely impress your better half for a Valentinian meal.  Try to get deboned salmon because it’s too much work as a preparer or an eater.  We got ours with the skin on – this is better for thicker filets during the cooking process.

2 salmon filets, about 1″ thick

1 tbs. of butter

1 tsp. of dried dill

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh lemon to squeeze

Heat a large saute pan and melt the butter over medium heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the filets and sprinkle dill on the skinless side.

Place both filets in the pan skin-side down, with about 15 seconds in between each so that you don’t cool down the pan too quickly.  Cook for 6-7 minutes on the skin side before flipping over; cook for an additional 4 minutes with the skin facing up.  Remove from heat, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the filets, and serve immediately.