Late afternoon, 12/30/2010

When it’s nice and cold, 
I can hold my baby closer to me–
and collect the kisses that are due me.
I love the winter weather 
’cause I’ve got my love to keep me warm….

Today, Emi and I ran out to get a video game, hit Whole Foods and King Sooper’s.  In the middle, we just had to have lunch together.  As we sat by the window of the restaurant, I looked outside and said, “We’ve got to get home.”   There’s just this look in the skies and about the air when all hell’s about to break loose.  The snow began to fly as we drove south, but it let up by the time we got to the grocery store.  I ran in the liquor store to grab a little Cotes du Rhone to round off the bean soup and wienies for dinner, while she got started on the grocery list.  Five minutes later, I walked in to find no carts at all.  I knew we were in trouble.  It was us and everybody else in Colorado Springs.  All at King Sooper’s.  Together.  The bread aisle was slim indeed and I was thanking God I got my bread earlier at Great Harvest.  Milk?  Same story, but thanks be I only needed heavy cream for a horseradish sauce for a friend’s New Year’s Eve tenderloin.   The lines were 6 deep, but all of registers were open.  Thanks for good planning, store manager.  Emi said, “This is how the store where I live is all the time… and people are not happy in line.  No one talks or smiles.  New Jersey, ugh.”  I seldom wait for more than one or two people in front of me; often I’m first.  Wow.

By the time we got out to the car, visibility was zero.  Snow was flying in all directions, mostly sideways.  The wind had picked up to an amazing pitch and the temperature had dropped ten degrees.  Two inches of snow were on the ground and it was a freezing mess to just open the trunk door and throw the bags in.  We felt our way home behind a crawling car in front of us and were very grateful to see the little grey, wooden house coming up on the right…finally.   It was about 2pm and it was obvious it would be dark early, which it is.


Thanks, God, for a warm house, heat, hot water, loving family, a working stove (where the bean soup bubbles) and a lovely fireplace where we’ll roast wienies tonight.  Why not?

If you don’t cook in the fireplace, try it sometime.  Fun, fun.  This pic if one I took last spring when the menu was the same as tonight.


Meantime, I thought I’d leave you with a great New Year’s Eve dinner that you might really like to make–either now or later.  But I think it’d be a wonderful celebration for 6-8.  Not a tenderloin and not the price, this time-taking (yes) prep is made with flank steak.  Cool thing is, it braises slowly in the oven while you share a bubbly or two with your friends and put your feet up on the coffee table.  Once the prep’s done, the work is nearly done.  


Here’s what it looks like from nearly the beginning to end….  I like some skinny green beans cooked in the microwave, a great baguette, and some fresh pasta with it.  You could make do with a salad and bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Beef Braciole (Tyler Florence)-Alyce’s altitude/seasoning adjustments in italics 
   Note:  do not try and get this tender in the amount of time allotted if you’re at altitude
 Ingredients

For the Braciole:

  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup buffalo mozzarella bocconcini balls, sliced in half if large size
  • 1/2 cup store-bought, drained and roughly chopped roasted red peppers
  • 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-pound piece flank steak
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered lengthwise

For the Braising ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, gently smashed
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 c red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
  • 8 vine-ripened tomatoes, separated from vine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions

To make the Braciole: Toast the panko bread crumbs in a dry skillet with a little olive oil over low heat, until golden. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the anchovy, garlic, bocconcini, red peppers, parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper, to taste. Stir together until well combined.
Set the flank steak on a piece of plastic wrap. Make a deep horizontal slice along the steak almost all the way through and fan open like a book. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, gently flatten the steak until about 1/2-inch thick; take care not to tear. Discard the top sheet of plastic wrap; rub the surface with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the stuffing evenly over the meat, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Arrange the eggs lengthwise down the center of the meat and roll up like a jelly roll log, using the plastic wrap as support. Tie the roll with kitchen twine in 4 to 5 places to secure – this will help hold the shape and keep the filling from falling out.  Season outside of roll very well indeed with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a roasting pan across 2 burners and heat over medium heat. Add a 3-count of olive oil and add the thyme and garlic. Cook for about a minute until fragrant. Carefully add the braciole and sear until evenly browned all over, approximately 2 minutes each side.
Add the sliced onions and bay leaves, then stir in the beef broth to deglaze. Add the canned tomatoes over the top, then nestle in the whole vine tomatoes around the braciole. Bring to a simmer, then cover with foil and put in the oven to braise for 45 to 60 minutes.   Add 20-30 minutes if at altitude…serve when tender. When done, remove the foil and remove the braciole to a carving board to rest. Carefully remove the whole vine tomatoes, with a slotted spoon, to a plate. Let the sauce cool for about 5 minutes. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaf, then add the sauce to a blender and puree. Pour the sauce back into the pan and set over medium heat to bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the balsamic vinegar. Remove the kitchen twine from the beef and cut into 1-inch thick “pin-wheel” slices. Arrange the slices on a platter and arrange the whole vine tomatoes around the beef. Pour the sauce over the top, garnish with
chopped parsley and serve.

Haricots Verts with Lemon

1.5 # haricots verts
1 t freshly grated lemon rind 
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, microwave proof bowl, place beans with 1/4 cup water.  Cover tightly and cook in microwave at full power for about five minutes.  Test for doneness.  Drain and place in serving bowl.  Dust with lemon rind, salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Pasta

Here in the Springs, I buy pasta (linguine for this) at Mollica’s on Garden of the Gods.  Two pounds for 8 people is plenty and will cost you about $11.   Call ahead to make sure they have some; you can order some a few days ahead to make sure.  Bring 10 qts of water, well salted and peppered, to a boil and gently place raw pasta into the water… you’ll need to carefully separate the strands of linguine. Cook until al dente…perhaps five or six minutes.  Remove from water  or drain and, after placing in a serving bowl, add 1T olive oil and  1/4 c chopped fresh parsley.

Wine

We liked a Barbera ($) or a Barolo ($$) with this. Vintages Wine on Tejon has some  lovely choices.

Baguette

Get your baguette at Marigold or La Baguette.

Starters

I like a little sparkler and some spiced nuts…not much more.  This is a big meal.  Gruet (New Mexico) makes a sweet sparkler that’s not overly priced and is nearly local.   Otherwise, grab some prosecco and be glad. 

Stay warm,  be happy in 2011.  You will be if you eat this for New Year’s Eve.
Alyce      
 

If you live in the Springs, I’m thinking you should have bought New Year’s Eve dinner already.