For the Love of Tri-Tip

Feast or famine: Ain’t that always the way?

Not so long ago, my business was in famine mode with few clients or projects as the year wound down. I wasn’t too concerned about it, because that seems to be the case for me each year around that time, and sure enough, as January rolled around, things picked up to such a degree that I was always busy planning for or shooting a new project. Which is awesome! I love being in demand (and the money doesn’t hurt either), but it left me with little time or inclination for cooking.

So I’m working on finding balance in my life now and I’m rediscovering my love of cooking in the process. The fact that it’s grilling season doesn’t hurt.

Rummaging through the freezer a couple of weeks ago, I found a tri-tip from Lone Mountain Wagyu that was just begging to live in my belly:

Tri Tip with Rub | Amy Roth Photo

Preparation was simple; I followed the same steps I did when we last had tri-tip, except I opted for the Santa Maria Rub from Simply Recipes instead of the simple salt/pepper/garlic powder rub from the first time.  It was delicious — OF COURSE — though I’m not sure I needed to go to the extra effort of making the Santa Maria Rub. I mean, it had great flavor, but this wagyu tri-tip is a fabulous cut of meat that would shine in any circumstance, so it felt a little like gilding the lily. That said, I do love a good, vinegary chimichurri with fattier cuts of meat just for the bracing counterpoint. It’s a match made in heaven here, IMHO, so give it a try.

See the original ti-tip post here. Find the recipe for a fantastic chimichurri here. And enjoy grilling season. I know I will.

Season’s Grillings

Sitting at my computer with the windows open, a cool breeze occasionally lifting the scent of the charcoal grill from my top, I am a happy girl. My tailbone is still painful, but getting better everyday. If I can find anything to be thankful for in this situation, it’s that I’ve had to slow down. I’ll start a full-time summer job at my former company this Wednesday, so I’ve been shooting and designing freelance projects until I can’t anymore, then taking advantage of my few remaining days at home by taking naps when my body demands them. I’ll miss semi-retirement for the next few months.

I’m writing this Saturday, as Gil is preparing to leave for a business trip to Scotland. I thought he could use a good meal before his redeye flight, so I sent him off with grilled steak, garlic scapes and asparagus. And because I plan to cook more large meals on weekends to bring for lunch during the week, I used a small-yet-sizable flank steak bought from the Snoep Winkel Farm booth at the market this morning. There was no time to marinate the beef before lunch, so instead I relied on a dry rub plus grilled garlic scape purée to impart flavor.

Grilled Garlic Scapes | Minimally Invasive

Garlic scape pesto is really popular, but I’ve never really liked it. The flavor is just too overpowering for me, but I can eat my weight in grilled scapes, which turn mellow and smoky after spending time over hot coals. I thought it would be fine to pound them into a paste with a mortar and pestle, but quickly realized that I’d be in the kitchen all day if I relied only on my own power, so the food processor took over. But the stone mortar and pestle are so pretty, I had to continue styling with it.

Grilled Garlic Scape Mash | Minimally Invasive

The purée is really nothing more than garlic scapes, olive oil, salt, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, but it cut right through the tiny bit of fat in the grass-fed beef and gave each bite an extra hit of smokey goodness. Highly recommended, if you have access to scapes and a grill.

Grilled Flank Steak with Garlic Scape Purée

Serves 6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Garlic scapes are in season and so is grilling. Thank goodness grilled flank steak was made for garlic scape purée.

Ingredients

For the garlic scape purée

  • garlic scapes (a few handfuls)
  • olive oil, divided
  • Diamond kosher salt
  • lemon juice
  • red wine vinegar

For the flank steak

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 grass-fed flank steak (about two pounds)

Note

Instructions are for grass-fed beef, which tends to be a bit leaner than grain-fed, so you don't want to overcook it. This cooking time produced a medium-rare steak for me, but monitor your steak closely. Remember, you can always cook your steak longer, but you can't uncook it!

Directions

GARLIC SCAPE PURÉE
Heat gas grill to high or build a hot fire in a charcoal grill.
Wash and dry garlic scapes and trim off the thin tail end, just beyond where the bulb attaches to the stalk.
Toss scapes with a little olive oil to coat and sprinkle with salt.
Once charcoals have a layer of white ash on them, clean the grill with a wire brush. Add garlic scapes to the grill in one layer and cover with lid. Grill for a few minutes then flip.
Garlic scapes are done with both sides are blistered and blackened in spots and scapes are tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit before handling.
Chop garlic scapes and pulse in food processor until a paste forms. Scapes are fibrous, so it won't be smooth. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of red wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of olive oil and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
GRILLED FLANK STEAK
Combine sugar, black pepper, aleppo pepper, garlic powder and salt in a small ramekin. Sprinkle over both sides of flank steak and press into surface.
For medium-rare steak, grill over high heat for 3-4 minutes, then turn the steak 90° and grill for another 3-4 minutes. Flip steak over and grill for 3-4 minutes, then turn the steak 90° and grill for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and tent with foil for 5 minutes before slicing very thinly across the grain and serving with garlic scape purée.

 

Field to Feast: Basil

As some of you know, I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with my kitchen for years. The minuscule corner butterfly sink, the cooktop with only two functional burners, and the narrow wall ovens that only operated one at a time were excellent clues that it was designed by someone who didn’t do much cooking. Since the cooktop and wall ovens were 25 years old, it wasn’t much of a shock when the ovens gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. In fact, I did a happy dance and promptly ordered the range I’d had my eye on! Unfortunately, one of the igniters clicks constantly when the stove is plugged in, so I’ve been lighting it manually until a service technician can make it out here next week. Not a big deal, and lord knows I don’t want to bake in the summer, so I’m ok with it for a few more days. Details to come if I’m pleased with the service (more so if I’m not). We’re working toward a full renovation in the future, so my kitchen looks a hot mess right now and will for some time to come, but it’s mostly functional now!

This is all to say that I’ve been doing a lot of grilling this week while things are getting settled in the kitchen. For this week’s Field to Feast basil post, I went with a classic summertime dish — grilled eggplant and tomato slices topped with basil pesto. Instead of traditional pesto, I worked on a to-be vegan version that had a savory element to it even without the Parmesan. Nutritional yeast is a popular cheese alternative, but I’m not a big fan of the flavor, so I went the miso route again. Since some pesto recipes call for adding a little butter for richness, I added the leftover roasted garlic-miso butter from last weekend to puréed basil, ground pine nuts, olive oil and salt to enrich it. There’s no recipe because I just tasted as I went along until I was pleased with the results. Now obviously, butter nixes the vegan objective, but it’s easily made vegan by using Earth Balance or something similar in place of the butter. The richness of the pesto offset the acidity of the tomatoes beautifully and with the roasted garlic, it was delicate enough not to overpower anything. Not too bad for cooking in a fraction of a kitchen!

Kasha turned out a beautiful pesto this week using chevre from Edgwick Farm tossed with fresh corn pasta. Brilliant idea and her photos are TDF!

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A few weeks ago, Bialas Farms had an open house, so we got to see where all of these glorious vegetables originate. Groups of us took tractor rides to get up close with the black dirt and do a little harvesting of our own. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from the day with you below. Have a great weekend and be sure to share any spectacular dishes you create with me; I’d love to hear about them!

Greenhouse | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms | Minimally Invasive

Rear view | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms cornfield | Minimally Invasive

Doris | Minimally Invasive

Pallets | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms storage | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms board | Minimally Invasive

Bialas Farms Market | Minimally Invasive

Field to Feast: Corn

Does anything say “Summer’s here!” better than corn? When I spied it at the Bialas Farms booth a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t believe my eyes — an early harvest! Apologies to the Christmas crowd, but I think this is the most wonderful time of the year, at least in the kitchen. (But if you can’t bear the thought of standing over a pot of water in this heat, please don’t miss Kasha’s brilliant idea to keep cool while cooking fresh corn. I can’t wait to try it.)

I like to get creative later in the season, when seeing corn at the market is hardly novel, but for the first ears of the year, I keep the preparation simple. That meant grilling it (in the husks, of course), heat wave be damned. Grilling in the husks is doubly beneficial: It keeps the kernels from getting too dry and leathery on the grill, plus there’s nothing like that smokey flavor you get from the charred husks to really turn corn into something special. Once it’s grilled, you can dress it any way you like; thankfully, changing the flavor profile is a pretty simple thing to do because it’s such a neutral base, which got me thinking…

Adding an umami flavor to corn is a popular way of dressing it up. Umami’s the savory “fifth primary taste” found in all sorts of foods — mushrooms, meats, anchovies, tomatoes, and aged cheeses, just to name a few. Kasha used this idea to delicious effect in her grilled corn with parsley-garlic butter and Parmesan recipe here, and Mexican grilled corn uses cotija cheese for a similar purpose, but I wanted something a little different. Then I hit upon miso, king of umami, and got to work on a couple of compound butters.

Roasted Garlic | Minimally Invasive

Sticking with the simplicity theme, I didn’t go crazy with ingredients. In fact, all of the ingredients are spelled out in the names: Roasted Garlic-Miso Butter and Gochujang Butter. I thought the corn looked unfinished once it was slathered with the butter, so I sprinkled the ears with toasted nori flakes (another umami-bomb).

Aaaand done. So simple and so rewarding.

Grilled Corn with Gochujang Butter | Minimally Invasive

And if this isn’t enough for you, check out a few of my favorites from previous summers:

Grilled Corn with Harissa & Honey | Minimally Invasive

Grilled corn with Harissa and Honey

Corn Chowder with Crispy Duck Skin | Minimally Invasive

Smoked Corn Chowder with Crispy Duck Skin

Shrimp with Sweet Curry & Coconut Creamed Corn | Minimally Invasive

Shrimp with Sweet Curry & Coconut Creamed Corn

Sweet Corn Frozen Yogurt | Minimally Invasive

And for dessert, how about some Sweet Corn Frozen Yogurt?

Recipes

Grilled Corn in the Husks

Remove the very outer layer of husks from your corn and set them aside, then peel back the remaining husks without breaking them off. Strip silks from the cob. Season corn however you like (with olive oil, salt, a spice rub, etc.) or just leave it plain if you plan to use a compound butter later. Re-cover the corn with the attached husks, then use a strip of one of the detached ones you set aside to tie them off at the top. Roast over a hot charcoal fire for about 20 minutes, turning as the husks start to char. The outer husks will turn black and fall away while infusing the corn with the smokiness of the grill, but the inner ones will still protect the corn from the direct heat, so don’t worry. Once the corn is done, strip the ears bare and rub with compound butter, if using.

Roasted Garlic-Miso Compound Butter makes enough for six ears of corn

1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 medium head roasted garlic (or more, if you like)
1 sheet nori

Mash miso, butter and garlic together with a fork and slather on freshly grilled corn while it’s still hot. Toast nori briefly over an open flame, then grind in a food processor. Sift, then sprinkle the buttered corn with the sifted flakes to season.

Gochujang Compound Butter makes enough for four ears of corn

To make your own gluten-free gochujang, follow the simple recipe here. If you’re ok with wheat, it’s easily found at any Korean grocery.

1 tablespoon gochujang
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 sheet nori

Mash gochujang and butter together with a fork and slather on freshly grilled corn while it’s still hot. Toast nori briefly over an open flame, then grind in a food processor. Sift, then sprinkle the buttered corn with the sifted flakes to season.

From the Pinterest Files: Bun Cha

With gorgeous weather expected in the area this weekend (and not at ALL next week), I’ll be grilling as much as possible while I can. If that’s your plan, too, I have a great recipe for you. Instead of slapping another steak or some burgers on the grill, how about trying bun cha (Vietnamese pork meatball and noodle salad) for a light and refreshing, but still fire-kissed, meal?

I pinned the recipe from Saveur a while back, but promptly lost it in the morass of my Pinterest recipe board, which admittedly could use some culling. (Do you have the same problem?) But it popped up again when I did a quick search of my board a couple of weeks ago for something Vietnamese. Hey, I had a craving. Because a well-stocked pantry always helps, I had everything but the main ingredient on hand. Picking up a package of ground pork from Snoep Winkel Farm took all of two minutes, then I was back in the kitchen prepping the meal, which took almost no time at all apart from marinating the meat.

And the meat, oh, the meat! As soon as the meatballs hit the grill, I was blasted with a smell that turned me into a slobber machine on a par with Otis when we promise treaties; it couldn’t have been more embarrassingly textbook Pavlovian, really.

So if you’re still gathering meal ideas for this weekend, give this one a try. I couldn’t ask for a better summer (finally, summer!) meal and think you might just feel the same.

Winner, Winner, Tri-Tip Dinner

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weather last week (Seriously, Spring, make up your melon.) gave way to meteorological perfection for Memorial Day, which was the clearest sign imaginable that I was meant to break out the grill. Our freezer has no shortage of candidates for such an endeavor, but I decided something special was in order to pay proper tribute to grilling season, so out came the Wagyu tri-tip I’d been saving for the right occasion.

Tri-tip is a thick, nicely marbled cut popular in California, but isn’t something you normally see around here. I had the opportunity to buy one from Lone Mountain Wagyu when it was featured in a Blackboard Eats email and believe me, I jumped on that deal with both feet! Something new to me and Wagyu, to boot? I’m almost certain I placed the first order after the special went live.

Then I waited. And waited some more. Sure, I could have cooked it in the kitchen à la Bittman at any time over the past few months, but our hood drowns out noise more effectively than it removes smoke, so holding out for “summer” gave me the opportunity to practice patience each time I opened the freezer door. Oh, but the waiting is the hardest part.

Wagyu-Tri-Tip-@-Minimally-Invasive

I decided to go for the simplest Santa Maria-style preparation imaginable, rubbing the steak with nothing more than one part garlic powder to two parts each salt and pepper. That blend tasted right to me, though you may want to change things up a bit. Next time around (and there will be a next time), I’ll try the blend recommended at Simply Recipes. I wanted to keep things very basic for my first time out, though, to really taste the beef without much interference.

Wagyu-Tri-Tip-Rub-@-Minimally-Invasive

I seasoned it pretty aggressively because it’s such a thick cut of meat — a roast, really, more than a steak. As recommended at Simply Recipes, I seared it over high heat on all sides, then covered the grill and cooked over low heat, flipping every five minutes or so, until the interior temperature registered 125-130 degrees. (I like my meat a little bloody.) I took it off the grill and loosely tented it with foil while I made a big Greek salad that let us pretend we were eating with health in mind. To cut through what I knew would be a very rich experience, I made my standard chimichurri with shallots subbed for onions and without the red bell pepper.

I feel I’m stating the obvious, but it was an i n s a n e l y good meal. I’m no stranger to grilled meats, but this might be the best I’ve turned out yet, all thanks to Lone Mountain Wagyu. Do check them out if you’re feeling indulgent or are looking for something amazing to serve your friends at a summer cookout. Their animals are treated humanely and pasture-raised, so the only guilt I felt at this meal was caloric. But even then, it was only a small twinge, easily ignored in the face of such beauty.

Wagyu-Tri-Tip-Close-Up-@-Minimally-Invasive

From the Market: This & That Edition

I realized there were a lot of half-finished posts in my folder that didn’t quite meet the mark individually, but worked together as a summertime pot luck, so that’s what you get today. Hope you don’t mind leftovers!

To blame my recent lack of cooking and posting on the lazy, hazy days of summer wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but wouldn’t be the whole story, either. Now that I don’t have those killer workdays anymore, I find myself wanting to take it a little easier. We wake up at 6:30am now instead of 5, which is a lovely thing. After walking the dogs, I have a strenuous-for-me yoga workout, then start my day after Gil goes to work. Our house is the cleanest it’s ever been — not as easy as it sounds with perpetual shedding machines underfoot — plus I’ve gotten my portfolio and billing system in order. (There are a few projects on the horizon, but no contracts in hand yet, so I’m taking advantage of this down time while it lasts.) You’d think I’d want to spend at least part of my day making a big production in the kitchen, but that just hasn’t been the case. While we’re swimming in beautiful, local produce, going overboard isn’t necessary at all.

gluten-free

Grilling’s another story since it doesn’t heat up the house and takes so little time to accomplish great things. For the bastardized bi bim bap above, I salted and grilled a nice grass-fed steak for about three minutes per side then brushed it with a mixture of equal parts miso, Dijon mustard and melted butter* and cooked it for an additional minute on each side. After the steak rested for a few minutes, I sliced it up and served it over rice with some vegetables I had in the fridge — carrots, asparagus, and shredded spinach and arugula — and thinned out a little of my homemade gochujang with water to make a simple dressing. An over-easy egg would not be a bad idea on top, but this was more than enough food for me.

* Since I first read about the miso-mustard-butter blend on the always-excellent Cookblog, I’ve been obsessed. We went through a stretch of eating it a few times a week as I experimented. I can report that it’s gorgeous with salt-roasted root vegetables and welcomes maple syrup with open arms.

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A few days later, our friend Mark paid a visit. I love having him over, not just because of the great conversation and incredible stories (check out the Virtual Memories podcast he recorded with my husband), but also because he really knows how to make a cook feel appreciated. Planning a menu is a lot of fun when you know someone will get a kick out of it. The main course was smoked chicken, so I started us off with a simple appetizer to eat while the chicken was cooking low and slow. It took advantage of the massive amount of beautiful English peas we had in the market at the time.

I wanted the flavor of the peas to shine through, so after shelling and blanching them, I kept the rest of the preparation minimal.

gluten-free

Peas, sweet onion, avocado, a little fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I whirred it to taste in a food processor with some salt and fresh thyme, and had a silky dip perfect for crudités or spreading on toast or crackers.

gluten-free

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The idea here was to make a spaghetti-like dish using julienned zucchini and yellow squash in place of the pasta, because I don’t like to be weighed down by all those carbs when it’s blazing outside. For the sauce, I smoked some roma tomatoes in my Cameron’s Stovetop Smoker, then blended them with a little olive oil, some lemon, garlic, onion, thyme and goat’s milk ricotta. Salted & peppered to taste and topped off with a sprinkling of Parmesan. This dish was awfully good with a crisp rosé…

Local produce from Bialas Farms. Grass-fed steak from Snoep Winkel Farm. Ricotta from Edgwick Farm.

Snacktime Redux

Grilled Avocados with Herbs | Amy Roth Photo

In my ongoing to quest to get MOAR AVOCADO in my diet, I took advantage of an already-hot grill to make these luscious beauties that were inspired by a post on Love Life.

Grilled Avocados with Tomatoes and Herbs | Amy Roth Photo

To make them for yourself, just lightly oil the cut side of avocado and lemon halves then grill until the avocados have grill marks and are heated through, and the lemons are lightly charred and caramelized. Chop up whatever herbs you have on hand (parsley, thyme, lemon thyme, chives and basil in my case) then mix with a good olive oil and salt, toast some nuts (pine nuts here), and slice some cherry tomatoes. Top the avocado halves with the herbs, nuts and tomatoes, then give the caramelized lemons a good squeeze over the whole mess.

Grilled Avocados | Amy Roth Photo

Good luck limiting yourself to just one (half).

It looks like Food52 had avocado on the brain, too. Check out all of the scrumptious entries to their avocado contest here.

Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.

all good things

Grass-fed & -finished beef with red chimichurri over a raw kale salad. My Paleo lunch did not suck in any way. At all. Big thanks to the folks at Walnut Grove Farm who made this gorgeous bit of sirloin possible. (They’re only at the market once a month, so I’ll be stocking up next time I see them. They’re a good source for leaf lard, too, once I get through the three cups of rendered lard still sitting in my fridge. It’ll be a while.)

The steak was so juicy and beefy, it didn’t really need the chimichurri, but I’d already made it a couple of hours before, just in case. You never know. It’s really my favorite sauce for steak, with bold flavors that somehow don’t overpower (or get overpowered by) beef, but it’s great on potatoes, eggs and probably a lot of other dishes I haven’t yet thought of, too.

vegetables

Like many chimichurris, this one uses lots of parsley. I stopped my preparations to take a picture because, really, doesn’t this look like a bouquet? You could wrap the base in florist’s tape and ribbon and sell this to a bride for an outrageous price.

vegetarian breakfast/brunch

I was beginning to feel a little left out of the annual “What am I going to DO with all of this zucchini/squash?” discussion, so I picked up a metric shit-ton at the market. I already had plans for most of it, though — Summer Squash with Baked Eggs from The Kitchn. This is one of those recipes, like that amazing ratatouille from a few years ago, that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts, helped in no small measure by a liberal dose of smoked paprika. I plan to make this a regular feature for the next few weeks, while summer produce is still around.

Continue reading “Steak & vegetables. And more vegetables.”

Ready, Set, Grill!

It’s been too long since I last posted — a heady combination of travel, an insane work schedule and a cold that wouldn’t quit conspired to keep me from updating — but I had to kick off the Memorial! Day! Weekend! with something grilled, so here you go: Lamb burgers with gluten-free buns.

Atypically, I tried a new recipe for the burgers instead of going with the tried-and-true kofta concoction. It was as essentially burgery as you’d expect but I missed that depth and balance of flavor from spices thrown in by the handful, so I’ll likely stick with it next time. But I did love the toppings enough to keep them on future burgers — sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured black olives and arugula.

Normally, when we go out for burgers, I’ll order mine without the bun and be perfectly happy, but I wanted to give gluten-free buns a try this time around since I was doing the burgerizing myownself. As always, I turned to Gluten-Free Girl for the recipe and think it’ll be my go-to for the rest of the summer. That’s assuming the buns freeze well, anyway — they took forever and a day to prepare, but were so worth it (and most of the time was resting time for the dough). I was out of potato flour, so I substituted equal parts rice flour and sorghum flour, which might’ve made the buns a little heavy, but the buns were so yeasty and, dare I say, bread-like I ate one on its own.

But you can’t have a burger without fronsh fries (why, that’s un-American!), so I dug deep into the archives for my standard oven-baked garlic fries that I see no need to depart from.

So Happy Memorial Day Weekend and unofficial start to summer! Hope the weather’s as nice where you are as it (finally) is here, and you can take advantage of it with a little grilling.

Oh, and our weekly Ringwood Farmers’ Market starts again this weekend! So much to look forward to . . . fresh vegetables, organic fruits, and quality meats and eggs that only traveled a few miles to get here. Can’t get better than that.