A Brooklyn “Girls’ Night In”

Updates: Thank you all so much for your kind words and encouragement for my running or lack thereof inspired by this post. Tuesday was Chocolate and Chiles busiest day yet and I am happy to say that Tuesday I made it out for another 3-miler in my neighborhood (there was decidedly less profanity involved). I am thinking of a entering a few races in the coming months and taking suggestions if there are any cool races you have run in the city. Thanks again for the support.

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Let’s face it – as much as I love New York with all its hustle and bustle, culture and superb nighttime activities such as theater, movies, clubs, restaurants and concerts, New York nightlife is expensive, crowded and not very conducive to 8 hours of beauty sleep. Sometimes what a girl needs is a night in with a gal pal drinking mojitos, watching Top Chef (or was it Chopped?), surfing fashion websites and of course, cooking up a storm.

There were a few choices for Friday night’s menu. We talked about doing chicken wings, bone marrow, mac’n’cheese and a soup from La Tartine Gourmande (recipe here) and to be honest they all sounded delicious. However, what stuck out most to me was a dish from Michael Symon – steak tacos. Aside from the overall deliciousness of the entire “steak taco” phrase, I have to say I had other motives for craving this dish. Since I have been back from India I have been craving two things. Eggs (which you can read my profession of love for here) and red meat. RED MEAT. While this is not totally out of the ordinary for me – as the daughter of an avid hunter/fisher/cattleman I grew up in a “meat and potatoes” household – I definitely favor less meat in my diet these days. Give me a dish of barbecue ribs and a bowl of kale salad and I would eat both with equal fervor. So what gives?

India. Ashram living is incredibly healthy and completely vegetarian – whole grains, vegetables and legumes galore and fresh-from-the-farm milk, yogurt and cheese. For the latter, SRA keeps their own cows – I have lost track of how many – and a great mid-day activity is to take the kids on the “loop” which encompasses walking past the mango and guava trees, around past Reika Mommie’s house, a stop at the cows to feed them grass, then back around to visit the puppies before de-camping in the courtyard for milk or snacks or a squeeze from Rashmi didi. But let’s get back to the cows. Starting at about week 2 at SRA, be it from jet lag or an iron deficiency or sleep deprivation, the cows starting looking really good. Like in a “you would be delicious topped with a little A1 Sauce and some frites” or the more common “I need some cheese and a bun and fries and some ketchup stat!” kind of way. What is wrong with me?!?! I am in the most tranquil place in the world looking at arguably the most sacred animal on the planet and all I can think of is the appropriate condiment and potato side dish to serve along with it?

And so that is how I got to a Friday night in Brooklyn, drinking cheap beer and chowing down on these delicious steak tacos with Katie. And if three tacos (plus nibbling) slathered with lime crema and pickled onions weren’t enough to satiate my craving, the steak hash with eggs I made for Jason and I the next morning certainly did. For now. It certainly beat any night on the town I can think of. Enjoy!

Kitchen Kitty waiting patiently for her taste

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Grilled Flank Steak with Homemade Corn Tortillas, Grilled Tomatillo Salsa, and Cilantro

I subbed in flank steak for skirt steak (what the original recipe called for) because I like the flavor better and it was the only strip-type of steak they had at Trader Joe’s. I suspect any kind of quick-cooking steak would work here, so long as it’s about 24 ounces. Also, Katie and I DID NOT make our own tortillas. I am sure that my Mexican Nana would have some very unkind things to say about this but truth be told we were tired and didn’t have a tortilla press and Katie had some perfectly good corn tortillas on-hand. I included the tortilla directions in case you decide you need to have homemade tortillas. You can also view the original recipe here. Katie also had some particularly yummy looking pickled onions left over from this Michael Symon recipe which we thought would be delicious as a garnish for the tacos. The recipe is below.
Recipe Adapted from Michael Symon
Serves 8
Grilled Flank Steak
  • 1 whole flank steak, fat trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
Tomatillo Salsa
  • 1 shallot, halved
  • 5 tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 garlic head, halved
  • 2 jalapenos
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup freshly picked cilantro leaves
Lime Creme Fraiche
  • 1 cup (8 oz) creme fraiche
  • 2 limes, juiced and zest of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Corn Tortillas (or use store bought if you have on hand)
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 3 tablespoons lard, plus more for cooking
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
For plating the “build your own taco”
  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1 skirt steak, cut in half and sliced on the bias
  • 2 tablespoons tomatillo salsa
  • 2 tablespoons lime creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup freshly picked cilantro leaves
  • Pickled onions cut into 2 inch strips
For the steak:
40 minutes before you want to eat, season both sides of the steak with salt, sugar, cayenne, sweet paprika, coriander seeds and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Rub into the steak and set aside to come to room temperature.
Preheat a grill or frying pan over high heat. Put the seasoned steak onto the hotter part of the grill and sear for about 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill to a cutting board and set aside to rest.
For the tomatillo salsa:
Add the tomatillos, shallot, garlic head, jalapenos, extra-virgin olive oil and salt, to taste, to a bowl. Toss to combine and put them onto the grill or a broiler to char, about 5 minutes. Flip and continue to char on the other side, another 3-5 minutes. Remove them from the grill back to the bowl. Once cool enough to handle, remove the garlic cloves from its husk. Add some olive oil, lime zest and juice, and cilantro leaves and toss to combine. Set aside until cool to room temperature. Add the mixture to a blender and puree until slightly chunky. Taste and season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.
For the Lime Creme Fraiche:
To a small bowl, add the creme fraiche, lime zest and juice, and salt and pepper, to taste, and whisk to combine. Taste and season, if needed. Set aside.
For the corn tortillas:
To a medium bowl, add the masa harina, lard, and water. Stir until the mixture forms a ball. Set aside to rest briefly.
Put 2 pieces of waxed paper between a tortilla press. Put a small golf ball-sized piece of tortilla dough onto the waxed paper and press to flatten. Add a tablespoon of lard to a heated cast iron pan over medium heat and swirl to melt. Remove the tortilla from the waxed paper and add it to the pan. Allow it to cook until slightly toasted on the bottom and the edges start to curl. Flip and cook for a brief moment. Remove to a clean cloth lined with tin foil or a tortilla warmer. Repeat with remaining dough.
For plating:
For plating each of the “build your own taco” plate: Put 3 tortillas onto each plate. Add some of the sliced steak and top with some of the tomatillo salsa. Serve the lime creme fraiche, pickled onion and the cilantro leaves on the side.
Pickled Red Onions
    • 2 pounds red onions, sliced
    • White wine vinegar
    • Sugar
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds (omitted from Katie’s batch)
    • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 2 bay leaves
Pack the onions into 2 (1-quart) jars and cover with enough water to come within 1/2-inch of the rim. Pour the water out into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half of the water, and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons salt for every 3 cups of liquid.
Pour the vinegar mixture into a nonreactive saucepan, add the mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow the liquid to boil for 2 minutes, and then remove it from the heat.
Pour the hot liquid into the jars to cover the onions and screw on the lids. Refrigerate for up to 1-2 months.

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