Beef : It’s What’s For Dinner

 

Beef Palace. My own personal heaven.

This butcher shop is a 42-year-old landmark, a beacon of all that is good and holy and bovine. I have a plethora of memories featuring a young me, straddling one of the life-sized plastic bulls out front, munching happily on a raw hot dog while my mom perused the glass cases for a Sunday dinner.

Now, this is an honest-to-god butcher. Cal runs a tight ship, employing eager boys from the nearby High School (my alma mater) to hoist carcasses, carve loins, and run the band-saw. This staff is bright, energetic, and beyond helpful. And in addition to a helpful gang behind the counter, what’s IN the counters is a glorious assortment of chicken, pork, sausage, beef, cured meats, specialty cheeses, spices, rubs, fresh baked breads, home-made jerky, and colossal pickles. Oh, and don’t forget to reach into the big ol’ bin by the antique register and grab a couple of free baking potatoes with your purchase!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is special place in my heart….and tummy….for filet mignon. When that craving begins to howl, I tell it to shut its mouth and I struggle to divert my attention to a plate of greens and veggies. No, it doesn’t work. But at least I give it shot, before swooping up my keys and driving to Beef Palace – walking straight to the back of the shop. Ignoring the pre-cut filets in the chilled cabinet, I kindly ask a young man to grab the whole loin and carve me a whopping piece. “A blade’s thickness good for you miss?” He asks. I narrow my eyes, throwing a stern glance, and he knowingly scoots the knife a little father down the loin and slices through. Behold!

 

A dinner is born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, such a fine specimen deserves to be treated well.

I always, always season my steaks simply : a bit of cracked pepper, salt, a smidge of garlic powder, and worcestershire sauce. Let them sit in the fridge for a bit, then before you grill them be sure that they’ve been at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes. This ensures (as with any protein) that it will cook evenly. Additionally, when I’m grilling hunks’o’meat, I like to season my sides in the same way I did my meat. It’s simple, rustic, and straightforward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made an excuse to use my new immersion blender! My mom suprised me this week with a brick-red Cuisinart beauty, and I’ve been itching to give it a go. So, I present to you: Autumn Char Steak Sauce! Using the last tricklings of summer produce, layers of spice dimension, and the tang of a good grainy mustard, this sauce is the perfect compliment to everything from steak to veggies!

 

 

 

 

Autumn Char Steak Sauce

2 bell peppers

½ c. cherry tomatoes (or one medium tomato)

1 tbsp Worchester

5 cloves garlic

1 tsp. Smoked paprika

1 tbsp. Chili flakes

¼ c. Orange juice

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. good mustard

Salt/pepper

 

 

Pre-heat your broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place your whole peppers and tomatoes on the sheet, then pop them in the oven. Cook them about 15 minutes, turning with tongs every so often, until they are charred on all sides. Don’t be afraid – you want these babies nice and charred, as it adds the best flavor!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, pull out the baking sheet and set aside until the peppers and tomatoes are cool enough to handle. Once cooled, remove the seeds and tops of the peppers leaving the skin on. Ifyou’re using an immersion blender (like I did), chop up the peppers and tomatoes and place them in a small sauce pan with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth, or until it reaches your desired consistency. If you do not have an immersion blender, you may use a food processor or a blender!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re done blending, taste the sauce – you may want to add a little more of this or a pinch more of that! Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, if you haven’t devoured it all on the first night like we did!

 

 

 

 

ENJOY!

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Old Vine Cafe

I can’t say enough about Old Vine Cafe. It has been a long-time favorite and the muse to epicurean daydreams. I have lunched and brunched and dined there with some of my favorite people, and on a few occasions, by myself. Chef/Owner Mark McDonald has created and continued to maintain a warm, unpretentious atmosphere heralding unique and unbelievably delicious dishes, undoubtedly inspired by his background in Southern Italian cooking.

In an attempt to convey my feelings about this hidden gem, Mike and I spent a long lunch there in an effort to capture the magic. I know, I know, it was a diffucult errand, but someone had to do it.

As per usual, The Camp was somewhat desolate but for a handful of weekend shoppers and a lone crooning musician posted up in the shade of a cabana. I browsed the gorgeous trinkets of my favorite shop, Seed, and Mike gazed longingly at the Patagonia flannels and beautiful Sorrel boots. There are old airstream campers, renovated into quaint garden shops selling potted succulents, or a miniature stationary flea market with fantastic vintage luggage. A flock of mailboxes presents the menus of The Camp’s eateries. Men and women drenched in sweat and toting rolled mats vacate a hot-yoga studio. A new restaurant specialising in bahn-mi has popped up since I was last there. There are campfires and hammocks strung between the sapling sequoia redwoods. Everything about The Camp oozes kitch and clever.

Rounding a corner into a small, shaded area, we arrived at Old Vine. Unsurprisingly, there was a gaggle of people waiting patiently outside. I signed my name on the wait-list and we scooted off next door to Ecco, happy to pass the time with a cold adult beverage. Ecco just so happens to offer a handful of crafty bloody marys, which is the cocktail of choice for Mike. I opted for a local red ale, served in a frosty glass.

Not too many minutes later, we were ushered to our table on the wee little patio – we settled in and eagerly flipped through the menus, which are mounted on hand-painted canvasses.

Finding it too hard to decide between literally everything the menu had to offer, we settled on the pre-set lunch menu. Three courses for $20 was difficult to pass up! We were soon presented with our choices for the first course: imported burrata with grape tomatoes and delicate flash-fried arugula, dressed in citrus infused olive oil – and the Old Vine salad; a crisp fresh toss of dark organic greens with tomatoes, tangy kalamata olives, and shaved pecorino cheese.

As our “main”, we both opted for a version each of their outstanding panini. I delved into my quattro fromaggi panino, oozing with provolone, gruyere, and pecorino, an earthy addition of shitake mushroom, and the peppery bite of baby arugula. Dipped into their home-made pomodoro sauce….it was pure heaven.

Mike’s reuben panino was also incredibly satisfying – I bartered for a little section of it before his plate was licked clean. The layers of flavor were classic reuben – all natural pastrami, the pickle-tang of saurkraut, rich gruyere cheese, and “russian dressing” for dunking.

Our bellies growing full, we asked for just one of the deserts to be served, and the other to be packed up – sure to be a midnight snack. And so, as we nursed the remaining sips of our chilled rose, a final plate was set down between us. “Grandma’s Cheesecake” is surpisingly thin – we thought, but where is the rest of it? Silly us, making presumptions before swooping a forkfull. Thin though it may be, this cheesecake is lacking nothing. It’s comforting and soft and whipped and cream-cheesey, with the most fantastic cinnamon spice crust. Swiped through a drizzle of wild berry puree, with a little sliver of fig or dried apricot, I was left speechless. The second slice, boxed up, is waiting patiently in the fridge…and I’m impatient as ever for this sequel.

My point is as simple as this: Old Vine Cafe will always remain a firm favorite in my heart. And you should go.

Chipotle Black Bean Taquitos

Ever find yourself staring blankly into your pantry, locking eyes with one of these?

A can of black beans. Seems harmless enough, right? Well if you’re anything like me, you may have recently trekked through your local Costco warehouse and thought it would be a fabulous idea to buy an enormous flat of them. It’s such a good deal, this Costco place you might have thought as you shlepped the cans into your shopping cart the size of a clydesdale. Little did I know that purchasing this apocolypse-preparatory amount of canned black beans would morph into a challenge. A challenge to do more with them than toss ’em with some rice and call it a Mexican side dish. NO! (That’s Spanish for “no”). I would revolutionize the black bean! Or I’d just make some taquitos. Either way.

So, grab your can’o’beans. You may need to walk, bike, canoe, or cartwheel over to the store to pick up the rest of the supplies:

1 small can of chipotle sauce

olive oil

garlic

salt, pepper

corn tortillas

shredded cheese

 

 

Firstly, drain and thouroughly rinse your beans. Pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees.

 

 

Now, finely mince up some garlic and toss that in a skillet with 2 tbsp of chipotle sauce, over medium heat. Let this simmer away for a few minutes, allowing the garlic to cook. Next, go ahead and add your black beans, stirring to mix in with the sauce. As you stir, use the back of your spatula to smash the beans. Mix and smash, stir and smash…until they resemble the consistency of refried beans. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, and set aside.

 

 

Assemble a few tortillas on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides of the tortillas with olive oil, and pop them in your already-warm oven for a minute or two. When you bring them out, they should be heated through and much more pliable for rolling.

 

 

Spread about a spoonfull of the bean mixture onto each tortilla, and sprinkle some cheese too. Now, gently roll them up and place them seam side down on the parchment. Give each taquito one more brush of olive oil, and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy!

 

 

 

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or sour cream. Or all three!

Wyatt prefers salsa, apparently.

 

 

Little Latergrams

Pardon, but where did the weekend go?

Well, it’s back to another monday. The click-clack of a keyboard and bad coffee from the breakroom. Blaring phones and frigid air conditioning. To salvage my sanity, I keep the front door open so I get a full view of the sunlit magnolia tree just outside. She’s gorgeous.

It was a weekend jam-packed with wiltingly hot temperatures, steak grilling, dining out and cocktails, sleeping in, a few errands, a new music studio for my man, the discovery of a fantastic wine depot tucked away in a stripmall, chilled bottles of rose, mounds of pasta at an italian place we’ve meant to dine at forever, and unfortunately my camera remained stowed throughout it all!  My trusty iPhone, however, never fails to snap a few shots here and there!

I have grand plans to share some scrumptious little nibbles this week, and even a crafty DIY! Until then, a glimpse of the weekend and past few weeks from my Instagram lense will have to suffice. Latergrams, so to speak. Little square snippets of latergrams.

 

 

If you haven’t already, come take a peek and follow my Instagram account: hourglassandbloom

xo

 

 

Prosecco + Friday = Magic

(Then came the afore-mentioned heaps of pasta)

Goodwill has become one of my absolute favorite activities. Ask anyone, I seem to have a knack for treasure hunting!

MINE! Too bad I have to exercise patience and wait until my birthday…………..

 

Girls night with my best! I made a very simple “salad” of spicy chicken sausage, fresh basil, and heirloom tomatoes…………..maybe a blog post on this one soon, it was SO delicious!

Date night!

 

Election season puts my Dad in an even MORE patriotic spirit than usual. And I love it.

Hourglass&Bloom gets mail! A very generous package from the people of High West in Utah. Hand blown sippin’ glasses!!

 

 

A manhattan with vanilla, caramel, and bacon dust! Ummmmmmm YES please.

 

 

Did you all have a fun weekend? What did you do?