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.

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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.

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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.

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Another Hanukkah, Another Macaroon

Hanukkah treat

I’m heading to Louisiana tomorrow for an extra-long (and warm-weathered) Christmas visit with my family! (Cue happy dance.) Gil has to work this week, so he’ll join us after spending a few days alone with the dogfaces. Since I won’t be around for the start of Hanukkah, I thought I’d make Gil a batch of chocolate-drizzled macaroons to remember me by.

Hanukkah
I was still working on my drizzling technique with these first few, but they’re charming in a jolie laide sort of way, right?

Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it! Next up: something savory to balance all of the sugar I’ve been posting…

recipe after the jump

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No market for you!

I did very little cooking over the July 4th weekend, as we were invited to two parties and I brought booze to one of them. There was plenty of eating and even more relaxing, though, so it all worked out well for me despite the lack of quality time spent with my kitchen.

Our friends John & Liz invited us to a get-together at their place on the 3rd. Between parties up there I always manage to convince myself that it couldn’t possibly be as perfect as it seems in retrospect. “Surely the haze of good times has clouded my memory!” says I. Nope. This time, I brought back photographic proof of the sheer goodness:

more after the jump

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Herbal profusion

The past month’s deluge has been my basil plant’s mortal enemy, but a true friend to my rosemary, thyme and sage plants — they’ve gone into overdrive, growing lush and flavorful from the extended soak. With the herbs spilling from the pot, I’ve been working them into as many dishes as possible. They’ve been a great addition to marinades and add a lot to grilled dishes and salad dressings, but I also revisited an old favorite last weekend and ended up with a delicious jar of rosemary-thyme syrup.

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It’s been wonderful spooned over fresh blueberries (or as an old reliable topping for couche-couche), but I wanted to do a little more with it this time around. Drinks seemed like a natural pairing with the syrup, so I muddled some fresh cherries with it, added a lemon slice, and topped off the glass with cold club soda. (It was too early in the day for Prosecco, but I’ll give it a try for brunch sometime.)

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Inspired by this success, my thoughts turned toward dessert. We had a few bordering-on-overripe peaches in the fridge that, when cooked down with about 1/2 cup of the syrup and frozen in my ice cream machine, became my new go-to sorbet.

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If the sun we’ve had for the past few days holds (fingers crossed!), I may not need to experiment quite so much with my herbs next weekend, but I’m glad I was able to use the dreary weather to my advantage.

Rufus and recipes after the jump

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The final countdooooowwnnnn

(OK, there’s nothing final — I hope — about tonight’s countdown. We’ve just been watching more Arrested Development this week.)

We’ll be ringing in the new year with blini, sour cream & caviar and toasting with prosecco. A bit of a culture clash, I’ll admit, but our movie marathon this year will be the great American saga The Godfather (parts I & II only), so you could say we’re into the melting pot thing. Though the cultures did clash terribly for Kay & Michael … hmm, maybe this is less a celebration of melting pot-ness than one of capitalism. The caviar is from Trader Joe’s, after all.

Because buckwheat just doesn’t do it for me, I made these blini with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Because I’m lazy, I searched for a recipe that didn’t involve yeast. Don’t worry if you’ve never made blini; if you can make pancakes, you can make these. It’s only slightly more tedious measuring out the batter in tablespoon increments, but they cook so much faster than a full-sized pancake, you won’t really notice the extra effort.

As for new year’s resolutions, I try to avoid making them, but think it would be a very good thing if I could manage to worry less and enjoy things a bit more. How about you? Any resolutions this year?

Have a safe and happy turning of the page. See you all in 2009!

recipe after the jump

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