Lemon Butter Steak and Mashed Faux-tatoes
Last week Harris was teaching in Houston. Because it’s a location he can drive to, I often go along for the ride. It used to be that these trips were an every-five-weeks occurrence, but lately Harris’s trips have been an airplane’s ride or two away: Bogota, Edmonton, San Antonio. Most people would look forward to travel or the idea of it, especially for work, but truly it’s not that much fun. For the most part he flies into a city the day before a class, teaches all day, tries to find something decent to eat that’s close by and fairly quick and leaves at the end of the week never having seen or done anything the city has to offer.
You have to get to used a bed that’s not yours, sounds in a hotel (like people congregating around the pool below your window carrying on a loud conversation), and not being able to do the things at home that need doing and that you just enjoy. When I get to travel with Harris, at least I feel that I can make things a little more pleasant for him. When these trips happened constantly (the driving ones) we pretty much always stayed at hotel with a kitchenette: fridge, two burners, and a motley assortment of kitchen ware and dishes. I’d shop for the week, pack a large cooler for the four-hour drive and bring all the stuff I needed that I knew wouldn’t be in the room: olive oil, seasonings, knives, a couple of pots or pans. I was stranded for the week and didn’t have a vehicle, so I had to bring everything. Thank goodness for decent wifi!
We’d eat out one time during the week, and I’d cook the rest of the nights. Road food can be hard on your system, plus in Houston the traffic is so awful a 15-minute trip takes 45 minutes during the long evening rush hour. This time, Harris was staying in a part of Houston (near the Galleria) where he could walk to class and I had our vehicle. And there was a Whole Foods less than five minutes away. I decided to wing it and take nothing (which was a huge relief for Harris because dragging all that stuff around is a pain). I’d thought about eating out every night at the many paleo-friendly restaurants in the area, but I could tell Harris wasn’t into it and decided to see what I could come up with. We stayed at a Residence Inn—with a kitchenette. And I got a new macro lens for my camera and wanted to experiment with it. Despite not having my usual arsenal of gear, I was able to make several homey meals and even invited Harris’s boss over one night.
The first night we just picked up Whole Foods prepared items like this barbecue brisket and collards:
The night Randy dined with us I made spaghetti and meatballs (with grassfed beef) and rice pasta:
And another night I made chicken with mushrooms and broccoli and Whole Foods had sweet potato “noodles” that didn’t retain their shape after I bashed and stirred them, but they were good anyway. I’d already cut into the chicken when I remembered to get the camera:
One night we did try to go to a Vietnamese restaurant that had rave reviews, but the traffic was so bad we ditched the idea. We wound up at a neighborhood Asian place that was less than stellar. Ah well.
We were nearby the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Harris finished up mid-morning on Friday. So we decided to actually do something fun! We spent about three hours in the museum and it was like taking a sip from a fire hose. What an amazing place!! From the butterfly house to the 50-plus full-sized dinosaur bones to the Native American exhibit to the Egyptian display, it was phenomenal. You could spend three full days here and not repeat anything. I took a few photos:
So recipes? Do we have recipes? We do!
I was looking back at a Tumblr blog I started a few years ago and saw a recipe that earned me $500 in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine contest. I changed it up and bit and added another recipe from back in the day: Mashed Faux-tatoes. Made from a purée of the paleo-standby cauliflower, it’s ramped up with the addition of carrots and turnips. Three veg, a bit of carb, but not too much and a nice creamy side for the steak. You can use any cut of steak you like, and the lemon really punches up the flavor. Add a green vegetable if you want. Fire up Spotify, dance around the stove and let the merriment begin!
- 1 1/2 lbs. flank steak or any cut of your choice
- 1/2 cup cilantro minced, or any herb of your choice
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemongrass minced, optional
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic or shallot minced
- salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 2 tbsp lemongrass minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro minced or herb from steak marinade
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
Place steak in a shallow dish. Add cilantro, half of the olive oil, the lemongrass, lemon zest and juice, garlic or shallot, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, and the red pepper. Turn steak to coat. Cover; chill 30 minutes to 1-½ hours.
Make the Lemon Butter and set aside. In a 12-inch skillet or grill pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Remove steak from marinade, pat dry with paper towels; discard marinade. Cook steak 7-8 minutes and flip to the other side, cook an additional 7-8 minutes or to desired doneness. For best result check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer: 125 for medium rare, 130 for medium. Remove from pan, cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Thinly slice against the grain and top with Lemon Butter.
- 1 medium turnip peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups cauliflower florets cut in half or quarters, depending on size
- 2 medium carrots peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth preferably homemade
- 3 tbsp heavy cream or coconut cream
- 3 tbsp cream cheese optional
- salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
Add all ingredients except cream cheese to medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain liquid from vegetables and reserve liquid. Add vegetables back to saucepan or to food processor. Add the cream cheese, if desired. Use a stick blender or potato masher if using saucepan method or pulse in food processor, combining vegetables to desired consistency. It can be as chunky or smooth as you like. Add reserved cooking liquid if needed to thin.