Sometime between November and December, the AZ desert jumped straight from early fall weather to drizzly winter rain and cooler temperatures. I’m always impressed by the desert’s ability to be 120 degrees in the summer and below freezing in the winter.
The cooler weather has me craving warm, starch heavy meals that stick to you and warm you as you eat them. This post is a mishmash of three such meals, all cooked within short succession of each other.
First up, a New York Strip steak, seared on a hot stove and finished in the oven, accompanied with a side of mashed potatoes and parsnips.
We don’t eat much beef in our household (and I’m laughing because two the meals featured in today’s post contain beef), which makes a traditional ‘steak dinner’ even more special. I put together a quick spice rub with salt, ground fresh pepper, a shallot-pepper spice mixture, a dash of paprika, and a very small pinch of fenugreek. Over medium-high heat, I seared the beef on both sides, until browned and caramelization begins, about 2 minutes (less if you are using more heat) on each side. Then I put the steak into a 400 degree oven. Depending on how you like your steak: about 5 minutes for rarer, 8 or so for a medium rare. I left mine in too long the first time around, on lower oven temperature. It was still delicious and tender; however slightly over cooked. Serve with a mash of potatoes and parsnips, mixed with butter, salt and pepper, and parsley.
The second meal this week was a heaping bowl of pasta, two ways. On a lazy Thursday work night, I opted for a modified spagetti ala carbona. Using a fresh bunch of parsley, some really rich parmesan, lemon zest and egg yolk, we whipped together a quick meal that paired well with a green salad and a glass of wine.
The trick here is to add the egg yolk to each shallow pasta bowl right before serving. The immediately toss the warm pasta and egg yolk together. Couldn’t be simpler! Of course, do be cognizant of your crowd – some people are averse to eating raw eggs, while some should avoid them. Just a little PSA 🙂
Finally, on Friday night, I took full advantage of my cooking vacation and surprised Casey with homemade meatballs and spaghetti. I used lean, grass-fed ground beef and mixed in panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley, onion, finely grated garlic (3 or more cloves). Then let the meatball mixture sit, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Once the meat has sat, I add an egg and beginning rolling out the meatballs from there. We place them on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375.
I made a simple tomato sauce using onions, celery, and carrots – all sautéed until glistening, then simmered them on the stove with two cans of diced tomatoes and about 1 cup to tomato sauce. The sauce was finished with balsamic vinegar, giving in a deep red color. Serve with shaved pecorino romano and some crusty bread (pictured: sun-dried tomato bread).