Steak Tartare.

It’s the eve of my first day of graduate school, and what better way to prepare than eat a simple meal and write about it? So much better than starting on some accounting homework due in a week.

I don’t have much in the refrigerator and don’t plan on stocking up any time soon since USC is providing all my meals next week. Hey – if I’m tired, stressed, and in debt, at least I’m well-fed. So for my “last supper” of sorts, I decided to make steak tartare. Quick and easy.

BAM!

It turned out to be way too much for one. I’ll turn the leftovers into a burger for a midnight snack.

Good to know I can still prepare food for myself after having the fattiest summer in Maui and NYC.

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¡Tapas!

Earlier this month I was introduced to Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica. Why I haven’t gone out to eat on the westside more often – I don’t know. But that’s what friends are for (or at least partially for). Needless to say, everything I sampled just put a smile on my face. My hands-down favorite item of the menu was their sobrasada con tronchon. Right after we left the restaurant I began thinking of how I could replicate this wonderful, tasty morsel.

Fast forward a week or two to Allan’s wine & cheese party. Cheese you say? That obviously means a visit to the awesome Cheese Store of Silverlake! Along with the cheese we brought to the party, I was able to score some tronchon.

As fate would have it, my USC Young Alumni trip to Spain got canceled. However, my dad’s travel agent (and guess she’s now also my travel agent) was able to book me a new and even longer trip for July. My hearts a-poundin’ in anticipation. So what must I do in preparation? Make some tapas!

Unfortunately, my local Ralph’s doesn’t carry sobrasada, but I was able to use Portuguese linguica instead.

Linguica con Tronchon

Linguica, thinly sliced

Tronchon, thinly sliced

Honey

French baguette, thinly sliced

Preheat oven at 350° F. Place bread slices onto baking sheet and toast 5-10 minutes. Place sliced linguica on the toasted bread, then the tronchon. Drizzle with honey. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy warm.

My army of yumminess, pre-oven melting. I had to use an olive loaf (La Brea Bakery) since all the French baguettes were sold out. I definitely could taste the olive, but it didn’t detract from the taste of the meat & cheese.

A bite of heaven. Seriously.

To continue with the tapas theme, and to fill my stomach, I also made albondigas en salsa de tomate. I had these almost a year ago at a friend’s place, but he uses the most wonderful salsa española. All three recipes are from The Cuisines of Spain cookbook. I wasn’t really in the mood for onion and carrots, but the salsa de tomate recipe that’s found on the same page sounded delicious. Verdict? The salsa de tomate is a winner. I guess when paired with balls-o-meat, nothing can lose.

Albondigas en Salsa de Tomate

1 slice white country-style bread

1/3 cup milk

1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 egg

2 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp salt

all-purpose flour, as needed

olive oil, for frying

3 cups Salsa de Tomate (below)

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread and milk and let soak for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine the beef, garlic, and onion and mix thoroughly. Add the soaked bread and any remaining milk, the egg, parsley, and salt to the meat mixture and mix well.

Roll meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) then lightly roll and coat with flour. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry, turning frequently, until cooked. Serve in salsa de tomate.

Salsa de Tomate

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more if needed

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring often, until golden (about 15-20 minutes). If you need more olive oil to cover the onions while cooking, add more but try to use as little as possible. Add the tomatoes with their juice, water, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until very soft.

Remove sauce from heat and let cool slightly. Blend briefly with immersion blender or regular blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

BBQ

Today/last night, I finally decided to make pulled pork. Wow, it was amazing. I always imagined that home-made BBQ would be difficult to make, especially something like pulled pork, which can come out dried out an flat. Not this recipe – no-sir-ee. It was pull-apart tender and juicy, and the sauce (Carolina-style) pulled everything together. The actual process was simple – I just need to plan out making this. I used 5 lbs of meat (bone-in), and that fed 8 people (tri-tip and other fixins were available). I can’t wait to make this again.

Pulled Pork

Ingredients

6-8 lbs Boston butt/pork shoulder

Brine:
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup salt
2 quarts bottled water
Dry Rub:
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredient for brine in large container. Set meat in brine, fat-side faced downwards. Leave in brine for 8-12 hours.
  2. Pat pork shoulder dry. Sprinkle dry rub all over meat and massage onto all areas. (It helps to wear latex gloves.)
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  4. Let rest for 1 hour, then shred with forks.

BBQ Sauce


Ingredients

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup ketchup

3 tbsp packed dark brown sugar

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1 tbsp molasses

1 tsp salt

Cayenne pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and whisk well to dissolve sugar.