Carrots and Celery: A Colorful Spin on Steak House Sides

Steak, Roasted Carrots and Celery Salad
Summer hasn’t felt very summery until these past two weeks. The rains finally stopped and the heat finally reached into the upper 90’s and it’s starting to feel like Lubbock, again. We weren’t sure what to do with all that rain and all that…not watering our lawns, so we sorta forgot how. I was so used to my garden looking like Swamp Thing that I honestly forgot to keep watering about a week after it quit raining so heavily. Then when things started to wilt, I realized that everything might be thirsty. So I’m back in the swing of watering every other day and I’m enjoying seeing things grow. However, if we had to survive off of what I have growing in my garden, we’d have all died a few weeks ago. I want to be better and grow enough to sustain us year round, but I’m not there, yet. I grew up in a family of farmers but I am not one of them.

We benefit from families of farmers in this town, however, and one of those families is Holy Cow Beef, a family that produces amazing beef products right here in Lubbock, TX. They run an honest, humane, grass-fed beef corporation and their products are extremely high-quality. We bought a New York strip from them, among other cuts, when they were at the Lubbock Downtown Farmer’s Market last weekend and happily made this weeknight meal for our family last week. Matt seared the steak in butter on the stove and finished it in the oven – a favorite and classic way we like to cook a steak. The three of us ate dinner from just one portion!  I roasted orange and purple carrots along with parsnips and served that and the beef along with a blue cheese celery salad. Yes, this plate was served to our three-year-old (no short-order cooking around here) and here’s how it went:

“I only like the orange carrots.”
“I will only eat one celery.”
“More meat, please.”

So I’d highly recommend if you’re in this area, to stop by the farmer’s market on Saturdays and check out what Holy Cow Beef has to offer! We’ve been eating less meat in general, and so buying high quality products from local producers helps us value the days we do have meat a little more. Quality over quantity is a good idea, especially if you, like me, are a carnivore.

 

Blue Cheese Celery Salad
I wanted to share the recipe for the blue cheese and celery salad with you, today. It was so refreshing and different as a side for the steak. I think it would make an amazing topping for a burger, a different dish during football season, or as a side for BBQ!

Blue Cheese Celery Salad*
serves 4

¼ cup mayonnaise
4 cups celery, cut into ⅛-inch-thick half moons (about 8 stalks)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons chile oil
¼ cup celery leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

Spread the mayonnaise among 4 plates. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the celery with the orange juice and season generously with salt. Drizzle with the chile oil (you could also use olive oil and crushed red pepper), then toss in the celery leaves. Scatter the dressed celery on top of the mayonnaise, then top with the chives and lots of blue cheese, and serve.

*adapted from Tasting Table

 

Roasted Carrots
And instead of the classic fries or a baked potato that you typically see alongside a steak, I did a colorful trio of roasted carrots. I simply peeled and sliced three of each orange and purple carrots and parsnips and coated them in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and then roasted them at 400 until soft when pierced with a knife. Then I browned one tablespoon of butter and tossed them right before serving.

 

Blue Cheese Celery Salad with Seared Steak

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Crunchy Coconut Crusted Fish Tacos with Sriracha Mayo

crunchy coconut fish tacos with sirracha mayo
This was a fabulous meal last night.  I love the combination of coconut shrimp, but had no shrimp on hand and so I did the same crust on cut up fillets of tilapia and it worked perfectly.  We made our quick, crunchy cabbage slaw and srirracha mayo and it was the perfect combination: crunchy, sweet, spicy and satisfying! I did a different version of this with my corn slaw recipe, but the addition of the coconut has made it my new favorite! And Olive ate hers deconstructed (who cares) and gave the fish her “more, please” seal of approval.

Mealtimes around here have become more routine.  I don’t have as much time to plan out weekly menus or to be creative with new riffs on old classics.  I suppose you could say I’m just keeping us alive!  But I do make an effort to offer variety and color and make most meals, although there’s the very necessary trip to Torchy’s about once a week 🙂 I’ve learned to give myself a break from the demands of perfection (a struggle of mine) since this sweet baby came along in November.  I think with every child you have, you get one step further away from the possibility of having all your ducks in a constant, shiny row.  And I am kinda digging it.  I think everyone feels a little bit happier when I don’t consider frozen chicken nuggets to be some sort of personal failure.  😉

coconut fish tacos

Crunchy Coconut Crusted Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Sriracha Mayo

For the Fish:
3 Tilapia (or other white fish) fillets
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour

For the Slaw:
2 cups chopped purple cabbage
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
2 carrots, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro
1/3 cup mayo
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the fish into 1/2 inch strips and season with salt and pepper.  Set up three bowls: the first with flour, the second with the two beaten eggs and the third with the coconut/panko combination.  Dredge each piece of fish in flour, then egg, then coconut/panko and set on a paper towel to rest while you do the remaining pieces.  Heat up olive or coconut oil in a pan and fry the fish till they are golden on each side and place on a paper towel or baking rack to drain.  Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you get the rest of dinner prepared.

For the slaw: combine all the ingredients and adjust seasoning as you like.  More vinegar, salt or pepper.  For the Sriracha mayo, just add sriracha to mayo.  Duh.  Not much to it, but it’s amazing with these tacos.  I did about a 1/4 cup to 1 TBS ratio for ours.  Adjust based on your desired level of spiciness!  To serve, start with a good amount of the mayo on a tortilla, add two fish sticks and plenty of slaw.  Enjoy!

 

Savory Vegetable Souffles – Meatless Mondays Never Tasted So Good

Brussels Sprout and Cheddar Souffle Brussels Sprouts and Cheddar Souffle
Happy Monday After Daylight Savings Time!  This will be a hard week for many, getting used to the time change.  I love it once the adjustment takes place because I LOVE that it stays light outside till nearly 8:30 in the spring and nearly 10 in the summer.  We get to play later (it seems) and it’s important to not feel so closed in after months of the cold, dark evenings of winter.

I’ve been in a new, happy rut, lately.  On most Mondays lately, I’ve been making a vegetable souffle.  I hardly ever have my act together for dinner on Monday and I usually haven’t been to the store for the week (like today), but I nearly always have some sort of leftover veg in the fridge and (usually) four eggs.  Voila – this beautiful souffle, big enough for all of us to eat more than a big portion.  I’d say it would serve 4 as a side dish or 2.5 (like us) as a main. And it’s so versatile!Brussels Sprouts Souffle
The pics above were made with Brussels sprouts and cheddar and the pics below were spinach and gruyere.  I’ve done leftover broccoli with white cheddar, leek, and asparagus, too!  If you have eggs, cheese and some leftover vegetables, you have a meal!  And a really good one.  Every time I have made this, Olive has said, “this is a good meal, Mama.” Good enough for me!  It’s a wonderful vehicle for getting more vegetables into your little people, as well.
Spinach and Parmesan Souffle

Savory Vegetable Souffles

  • Servings: 4-6 as a side
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1/3 cup grated parmesan or fine bread crumbs
2 cups cooked vegetables, finely chopped.  Use boiled brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, asparagus, kale, whatever floats your boat!
5 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs, room temp and separated
1/2 cup grated hard cheese – cheddar, gruyere, gouda, romano, parm, etc

Heat the oven to 375F. Butter a 6-cup souffle dish or 6 one cup ramekins, if you want everyone to have a nice, neat side dish of their very own.  Coat the sides of the dish with cheese or breadcrumbs. Cook your vegetable in salted boiling water until tender.  Drain and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the 1/4 cup butter over medium heat, stir in the flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and cook until the sauce has thickened, whisking the entire time.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a splash more milk if it gets too thick (you want a thick gravy consistency).  Set aside off the heat.  Into your egg yolks, whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot cream sauce to warm them and then return them to the rest of the sauce and whisk to incorporate.  Stir in the cheese and when it’s melted, fold in the vegetables.

With a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff.  Stir a quarter of them into the souffle base and then fold in the remainder until no white streaks show.  Bake souffles on a rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven until risen and golden, 30-35 minutes.  The middle will be slightly wobbly if you’ve made it in one large dish.  Serve immediately!

*recipe adapted from The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone cookbook, which is completely fantastic so far.  Hasn’t steered us wrong, yet!

 

 

 

Spinach and Parmesan Souffles

Crunchy Cornslaw – a new twist on the same ol’ slaw

Crunchy Corn Slaw Fish Tacos with Corn Slaw
This weekend we had a cookout with some of our friends from church and decided we’d bring a good coleslaw to go with the bbq type meats everyone would be cooking.  So we decided to do a punny version of coleslaw and bring cornslaw.  I started dreaming it up because every summer for the past four or five years, Matt and I have inadvertently gravitated toward a Corn Dish of the Summer.  A few years ago it was an amazing creamed corn, a year after that it was Esquites (a bowl full of the equivalent of Mexican street corn) and last year it was this amazing miso buttered corn with scallions and bacon, a la Momofuku.

Now, I’m not saying this is THE corn dish of the summer of 2014, but it’s a start.  We really like it.  To compliment the sweetness of the corn, I added a Granny Smith apple and poppyseeds.  To offset the sweetness, I added plenty of purple cabbage and red onion and fresh poblano peppers – everything diced the same size (that’s important).  Then, I made my own mayo because we had just run out and I didn’t remember it the TWO times I’d been to the grocery store that day.  I was not going back.  So, homemade mayo with a little dijon and brown sugar and sherry vinegar – the perfect sauce for our perfect summer slaw!

Corn Cole Slaw
This stuff was fantastic as a side for smokey sausages on the grill (and grilled bread, of course!)  Tonight, I made fish tacos and made a little Srirracha mayo with the leftover batch of mayo from the slaw and topped our tacos with the still-crunchy slaw.  Amazing!  Welcome to summer, my friends!

Fish Tacos with Corn Slaw and Srirracha Mayo

Crunchy Cornslaw

4 large ears of corn
1/2 head purple cabbage, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 TBS poppyseeds
1 cup of mayo (homemade or not – just don’t buy something fake or low fat or “miracle”)
2 TBS dijon mustard
2 TBS sherry vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, cut all the corn from the cobs directly into the bowl.  Add cabbage, peppers, onion, carrots, apple and poppyseeds and stir to combine.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar and brown sugar and fold into the corn mixture until everything is coated.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper.  If you want to make your own mayo, I’ll give you our super easy recipe below!  Happy cooking!

Homemade Mayo *
makes about 2 cups

2 large eggs
4 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups non-flavored oil like canola, grapeseed, vegetable

Add the eggs, mustard, vinegar and salt to a large cup and add the oil (if using an immersion blender). Start processing as you gradually lift the immersion blender up, letting the oil get sucked under in a steady stream.  If using a food processor, add everything except the oil to the processor or blender and blend for 30 seconds.  While running, slowly drizzle the oil in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added and the mixture is smooth.

*adapted from Spike Mendelsohn’s awesome book, The Good Stuff

 

Fish Tacos 

2 fresh cod fillets or other firm, white fish
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
salt and pepper
olive oil for pan frying

Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels and season each side with salt and pepper.  Cut into fish-stick sizes (mine were about 3-4″ sticks) by cutting the fillet across it’s width.  Put the beaten egg in a large bowl and the panko and seasoning mixed together in a separate bowl. Dip each stick into the beaten egg and then roll in the panko/Old Bay mixture and pat on all sides to fully coat.  Lay the coated fish sticks on a clean paper towel while you finish the others.

In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add about 4 TBS of olive oil and let it heat till it shimmers.  Add the fish sticks without crowding (I had to do two batches) and fry till golden brown on each side.  Keep warm and crisp in a 250F oven until ready to assemble the tacos.

For assembly:

Dollop some srirracha mayo (there’s no recipe here – just add srirracha or any hot sauce to mayo and mix it up till it’s a heat level you like!  Mine was about 2 TBS per cup of mayo) along the center of a soft-taco sized tortilla.  Lay two fish sticks on top of the mayo and then top with the cornslaw.  Enjoy!