Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tuscan steak and salad

Steak in herb-infused olive oil, panzanella

I remember reading about Tuscan steak in the NY Times Magazine a few years back. You sear skirt steak for a few minutes on each side, throw it onto a metal plate, and then pour herb-infused olive oil over that. And I thought, yes, this is how I should eat all the time. THAT is a good idea. I made it with beef from my favorite butcher's shop, Staubitz, in Carroll Gardens. It sent me to heaven, but for some reason I haven't made it again until today.

There was no skirt steak at the coop, so I bought some top round steak and sliced it lengthwise to create a thinner cut. I heated some olive oil with a couple sprigs of rosemary and savory from my garden and some dried culinary lavender. After salting and peppering the meat I seared each side for a couple minutes, threw the cuts into a cast iron pan, and then poured the oil, herbs and all, right over that. I let it sit for a few minutes while I emptied the dishwasher and set the table. When I served the steak I pulled it out of the oil.

My panzanella is pretty simple. I cut some stale sourdough (I use whatever bread I have on hand) into cubes, added two large tomatoes cut into chunks about the same size, and then added some diced red onion. I tossed these together and let them sit for about half an hour or so. I added some fresh, torn basil and chives from my garden. And just before serving I drizzled olive oil and balsamic (a tiny amount. lest it upstage the other flavors) and lots of salt.

Both salad and steak made me very happy. The tomatoes I used were prime mid-summer beauties, fleshy and flavorful. And I added a lot of herbs, so everything just sang together. I loved the steak, too. I think if I were to do it again I would strain the oil before adding it to the steak, and then I would serve the steak still with the oil. I think one should make every effort to soak up as much of that oil as possible, but I'm a hedonist. Something to note -- the seared bits of steak soaked up more herbal flavor. I like my beef practically raw, and I believe this dish is supposed to be on the rare side. But maybe the next time I make it I'll cook the steak just a little bit longer.

After that I felt that a chocolate torte was in order. But alas, all I had on hand were Newman's O's. So I had two with some milk. You take what you can get.

Today Jasper and I went to Pier 25 near Battery Park City for its beach lite: a large sand box with sprinklers. The sand box is big enough for about 100 kids, and there's a shaded area with a few chairs for adults. The sprinklers are small and simple, definitely geared towards toddlers. Pier 25 also has a promising-looking hot dog stand, some mini golf, fishing, weird little sculpture garden, and batting cages. Anyway, the beach lite was pretty fun and we practically had it all to ourselves. I don't know if I'll make a habit of going out there all the time since we have great sand boxes and fountains here in the Slope. But it was a nice dress rehearsal for the beach. We came home, had lunch and naptime (I rearranged the furniture) and then went to our favorite playground before starting dinner. Jasper was in an especially good mood this evening, maybe because it's really cooled off here. He was just giggling and charming. AND he went to sleep quickly. Delicious dinner and a no-fuss bedtime. I really couldn't ask for more.

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