Friday, November 6, 2009


M and I used to eat semi-regularly at this chain Argentine steakhouse that was just down the street from where we lived in LA. I'm not sure how authentic the food was but it was good, conveniently close by and very reasonably priced. Most of the stuff on their menu I bypassed in favor of something healthier (yowsers but do they like to deep fry! add a side of cheese with that too). One thing that we both really liked about that place was the dipping sauce they served with the basket of bread. I learned later that it's called chimichurri sauce and so easy to make.

I used this recipe following it more or less faithfully except for the bread part. I served the flank steak as the main course with the sauce on the side for additional drizzling or for dipping the bread (untoasted). Last night was the second time I made this dish and M couldn't stop talking about how much he enjoyed it. He even went as far as to say that it was the best meat dish I had ever made. Shazam.

I should note that I consider myself a mediocre (red) meat cook(er). I'm still learning how to work with red meat. I've overcooked it a few times and was so bummed that I tend to undercook meat most of the time figuring that it's easier to fix an undercooked piece of meat than an overcooked piece. Most nights I stick whatever I undercooked into the microwave for about a minute and a half and we're good to go. I'm sure there are chefs out there who would tear their hair out if they heard this, but shhh... let's just keep it between us, k?

I think that probably the problem is that I don't have optimum tools to work with (a grill, a stove top that sits level so my pans/oils/juices don't tilt/run all to one side) and also I need more practice cooking different cuts of red meat. But since we try not to eat too much of it I don't get the practice I need. Ah well. It's a learning curve.

With last night's meal I served the flank steak with mashed potatoes and I sauteed some kale in chopped garlic and olive oil with a teaspoon of chicken stock paste. At the last minute I added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and covered the pan to let the greens cook down to tenderness. It was really good! I've been sort of bored with my cooked greens lately. Feeling like they all sort of have the same drab but nutritionally good for you taste. I mean I love vegetables and greens, don't get me wrong. But I was getting bored. Last night's kale renewed my interest in leafy greens. I'll have to remember what I did with them.

Also I baked some bread to go with the chimichurri sauce. Had to or there'd be hell to pay. I've had some better luck with my bread baking. Although the very first half loaf I tried was the best and last night's would have taken a tepid second place. Let's not even discuss what happened with the second batch I tried to bake a week or two earlier.

I'm thinking though that bread baking is best done all in one go. I'd made up the dough the previous night letting it get one good rise before I'd punched it down and rolled it up and packed it in some plastic wrap for a sleepover in the fridge. I'd left my plastic bundle of doughy love to rest on top of the brita water filter and yesterday evening when I reached for the dough I found that it had overflowed out of the plastic and poured itself out over the filter and cascaded down next to a can of soda that was sitting behind the filter. It was kind of funny and amazing and grotesque. Go yeast! I guess. I had to pull out the filter, dough and can of soda all at once in order to carefully disengage everyone from each other. I set the clean dough aside on a baking tray after I shaped it so that it could have a second rise. But it seems that the dough had pretty much risen as much as it was interested in rising. I'll have to think about that and figure out where I went wrong.

The bread was good. But perhaps a little too doughy? And not crusty enough. The recipe I used instructs you to put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven while it's preheating and leave it in there while the bread bakes. I forgot to do that when I baked the best loaf. I remembered to do so last night and I think the crust suffered for it. Ah well. Learning curve I tell you.

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