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Correction: If you printed this recipe on July 5, there was a mistake in the ingredients for the blue cheese salad dressing. It is corrected today, July 6. Thanks and apologies.

Mid-summer heat. I’m doing a slow burn while the garden is drooping perilously and the grass is being watered daily simply to survive. 4th of July is over and maybe you, like me, are burger-ed/brat-ed out. The thrill of the grill might be gone or at least waning. It’s the time that stretches between holidays without another one in sight until Halloween unless you count that last gasp of summer Labor Day BBQ. I kind of like that part.

It’s really too hot to bake unless you live in northern Canada or the Isle of Skye, though you can get up at 5am to make a birthday cake–which I do every year:

And even if you have to make strawberry jam or blueberry sauce, you might be too drippy to be truly happy about it.

Enter a thick juicy steak on crisp ice-cold vegetables, grilled Brussels Sprouts and mushrooms accented with freshly fried sweet potato chips and accompanied by the simplest of thick-thick ultra-blue cheese dressings. This is your July-easy take on steak-frites, and is garnished with nearly-burned shallots, happily named “frizzled.” You could switch out the steak for a meaty boneless pork chop or two or even a medium-rare pork tenderloin sliced into bite-sized coins if that suits your fancy. If you’ve cooked meat another night, consider adding one extra piece just to make this salad later.

One hefty strip steak (trim it after cooking, please–that strip needs the fat for flavor) will make enough salad for two or even three or four if you’re not big carnivores–depending on the size of the steak– and if you add extra vegetables.  My recipe is just right for two hungry people on a warm night outdoors at the patio table (eat outside while you can) or even on trays in front of a movie in the basement where it’s infinitely cooler and less buggy for those of you anywhere but where I live. Believe it or not, we can sleep outdoors under the stars as there are so few bugs and nearly no mosquitoes. Of course there are bears, coyotes, bobcats, and the occasional mountain lion instead.  (Right now, outside is some days questionable; we’re smoky, smoky due to 12 Colorado wildfires.)

below: a photo from last summer on our street

Need dessert? It’s time to maybe “drink your sweet” with my Strawberry Amaretto Ice Cream.

ICE CREAM MAKING TIPS: Stir your ice cream mixture up the night before and refrigerate so that it’s as cold as it can get by the time you make it. Check your freezer temperature; it needs to be 0 degrees F to freeze that bowl well. Don’t wash your ice cream freezer bowl until several hours/next morning after making ice cream. It should totally come back to room temperature first.

No grill? You can certainly use a heavy skillet (needn’t be cast iron) to brown the steak on each side and finish it in the oven if you can bear to turn it on–instructions here. But whether you’re grilling or turning on the stove, read and cook on, friends.

STEAK SALAD WITH FRIZZLED SHALLOTS, GRILLED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, AND SWEET POTATO CHIPS

serves 2

While this sounds a bit of a long run, everything cooks quickly and you’re ready to eat in no time. Swap the steps around to suit yourself-maybe you’d like to make the dressing first, for instance or grill everything at once if you’re an ace. Even divvy up the chores if there are two of you. By the way, I like to grind pepper over steak after it’s cooked so the pepper doesn’t burn. Try it.

  • 1-inch thick strip steak–10-12 ounces at room temperature (do not trim before cooking)
  • Kosher salt
  • Canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 10-12 small Brussels sprouts (about 8 ounces), trimmed with outer leaves peeled as necessary
  • 4 ounces whole medium-large cremini mushrooms (about 1 cup), ends trimmed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 12 1/4-inch slices English cucumber (if using regular cucumber, peel well)
  • 2 cups fresh greens
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (approximately 1.5 ounces) plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup each sour cream and mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon grated horseradish
  • Hot sauce
  • 1/2 lemon
  1. PREP STEAK: Brush steak with oil on all sides and salt well. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  2. FRY SWEET POTATOES: Heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy, deep 10 or 12-inch skillet until very hot-about 360 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you put the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, it will bubble up all around the spoon if ready–or sizzle like mad with a piece of sweet potato in it.)  Cook sweet potatoes one layer at a time until browned on one side, watching very carefully; turn and brown on the other. Remove with a slotted spatula or spider to a rack placed on a paper towel-lined baking tray. Repeat as necessary. Salt and pepper well and set aside.
  3. FRIZZLE SHALLOTS: Heat a small skillet with 1/4 cup oil until very hot (oil should sizzle crazily if you add a bit of shallot to it) and add the sliced shallots.  Watching closely, let brown on one side and turning/stirring to brown the other side. Remove to a small paper-towel lined bowl or onto a small rack. Set aside.
  4. GRILL BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND MUSHROOMS: Heat grill to high. Toss Brussels sprouts and mushrooms with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill 5 minutes or until golden, turn, and grill until browned on second side. Remove to a bowl. Set aside. If Brussels sprouts aren’t tender, microwave covered for a minute or two.
  5. GRILL THE STEAK: about 4 minutes or so on one side until quite golden brown. Turn meat over, grind a little black pepper over it, and cook another 3 or 4 minutes for medium-rare (125 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer) or until done to your liking. Remove to a plate and let rest 5 minutes. Trim fat as desired. Slice thinly at a slant.
  6. MAKE THE DRESSING: Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese, and horseradish mashing up the cheese well. Season to taste with tiny bit of salt, pepper, and a shake or two of hot sauce. Set aside.
  7. ARRANGE THE VEGETABLES ON A PLATTER/TOP WITH STEAK: In the meantime, line a large platter with the greens, concentrating them at center; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts, tomatoes and cucumbers in small piles around perimeter of platter.  Squeeze lemon over all. Add sweet potato chips to two opposite corners. Top greens with steak and sprinkle with reserved frizzled shallots. Garnish with 2 small pieces of blue cheese at edges and serve with dressing either on the platter or in a pitcher/bowl with ladle at the table.

{printable recipe}


 

Wine: While blue cheese is difficult to pair with red wine, there are two routes to go. One is to skip the red and go with a California Chardonnay or a Viognier and figure you’re pairing the prep, not the protein. The other is to just do it:  pick the biggest possible red you can and run all over that blue cheese. Cheap date:  biggest Rhone you see at the shop. Hot date:  Chateâuneuf-du-Pape or top ticket Cabernet Sauvignon. Read about blue cheese and wine here.


WHAT ARE YOU READING/WATCHING?

It’s summer and I’m getting nowhere fast reading as there are so many other things to do.  Still, I may have mentioned this earlier, but I’m now well into Jon Meacham’s newest:  The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels–going a bit slowly, but an excellent, positive force to be reckoned with.  To balance that out, I’m into Martin Walker’s The Templars’ Last Secret: A Mystery of the French Countryside. I adore Martin Walker’s “Bruno” series. Very take me away type reading!  YOU??

We began ESCAPE TO THE CONTINENT–an excellent series a la armchair traveller featuring folks who want to escape permanently from the UK to some stellar place like southern France and so on. (Netflix)

Just watched RED SPARROW starring Jennifer Lawrence on amazon prime. Fine story and plot line if a bit graphically violent in a spot or two. Covering both my ears and eyes for a small part. Yikes.

We continue with MADAME SECRETARY, though we had to buy the latest season and no complaint there. We are attached, hook, line, and sinker. Love it so much that we string it out forever.


Dave and I spent the 4th cooking for homeless families from the program Family Promise (Interfaith Hospitality Network) here in the Springs. Great cookout for new friends, though a thunderstorm just about knocked out any chance for fireworks later on.

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Getting ready to travel next week for the wedding of a truly beautiful couple. I’ll keep you posted, but may miss a post or so. The doggies are going to Double D Ranch for a vacation week:

 

 

 

Grill on and stay cool,

Alyce