Sunday, July 13, 2008

Steak Berbere with celery remoulade and panmolle

...or Perfect Summer Dinner v2.0

Today is (hey shorty, it's; we're gonna party like it's;) my birthday! The hubz, some homies and I decided to let me cook last night instead of going out - I know that sounds like Opposite Day, but I was really feelin' it, so we rolled with it.

Look at these brontosaurus steaks! I initially had been planning on making some African chicken stew and collards (I'm really into the Naija thing right now), but cooking stew didn't sound good when it's so hot in the house. So I made some Ethiopian berbere spice, which is basically two ingredients away from my secret rub (the two other ingredients are fenugreek and dried onion). I'll do my African post next week, I have something up my sleeve.

Bottom round is a slightly chewy cut, but where it lacks in tenderness it more than compensates in flavor. And isn't that what it's really all about? I smeared the berbere into those thick-ass steaks with a bit of salt and let them sit for awhile while I prepped the sides.

I really can't get enough tomatoes this time of year, but talk to me in a month, when all ten of my tomato plants are fruiting and I'm scrambling to get them into everything we eat (I tried to stagger my plantings with varieties that fruit at different times, but a cold spring really fucked that all up). I picked up a tub of perlini mozzarella and made a simple vinaigrette of good red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced thyme, basil and oregano, some lemon zest and S&P. Toss the perlini with cubed heirloom tomatoes and let it sit and marinate in the dressing for an hour or so. Serve over thinly-sliced, grilled levain for a sort of deconstructed panmolle.

I had some celery root that needed eating, and decided to keep it classic instead of coming up with some precious reinvention of the wheel (as is my wont). But tragedy! Just as I had my heart set on celery root remoulade, I realized that the celery root in my fridge was spongy and slightly lignified (i.e., not tasty). I tried to score some more at the store, but they only had two tiny ones. I supplemented the celery root with some shaved tender, white inner celery ribs and leaves. The ribs were an ideal, refreshing accoutrement to the dense, earthy root, and added a bit of crisp, mineral salinity to cut through the rich remoulade.

Remoulade, by the by, is just an emulsion of egg yolk, white wine vinegar and/or lemon juice and olive oil, whisked with a bit of Dijon and grainy mustard. It sounds fussy to make homemade mayo until you realize that it's perfectly acceptable to use your immersion blender to do the heavy lifting (fuck sake, you're making homemade mayo - you really got something to prove, whisking that shit by hand?). Add some chopped cornichon, shallot and capers, and some minced tarragon and parsley. I added some minced fennel flowers for a nice touch of anetholic sweetness - they taste like fresh Good & Plenty candies in flower form (the nectar was in full production), and compliment the tarragon perfectly.

Corn on the cob went on the grill and took a slather of compound butter. The only thing better than fresh, grilled corn on the cob is receiving a neck rub, or possibly a foot massage. Just shuck (but don't jive) it right over the compost heap, and wash it with the garden hose. Brush with a little olive oil (help flare up the coals a bit), and cook until golden brown and chewy.

The perfect summer meal, good enough to cook on one's birthday.

We enjoyed this with a precocious Walla Walla cab, a gift from Norm for Scott's birthday. I intended to make a simple dessert of grilled peaches and mango nectarines with a sliver of brie, but it was getting dark and I was getting buzzed - but this is on the List! I also grilled the back of my pinky fucking with the corn, and decided that I'd had about enough of standing in front of a hot grill anyways.

Yay, birthday!


Jen said...

No way! It's mine, too! Happy, happy B'day! I *knew* there was a reason I liked you. ;-)

(I, however, am being taken out. ;-)

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

Secret rub? Spill, baby! ;)

Great food, great company. . .what more can you ask for on your birthday? Best wishes!

glamah16 said...

Happy Birthday darling! Way to celebrate. I love Berbere. As usual the whole dish is right up my alley!Cant wait to see your African post.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Another b'day! (I just saw it was Kalofagas's as well)...All the best Heather and as usual you come up with a mighty feast! "Anethole" is my new word and perfectly suited to the remoulade...can't wait for the African post and the "secret Herbs".

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

What time is dinner - I'll bring some kick ass Wine to go with that Kick ass Meal!!!

WOW that looks great -


Syd said...

Fuckin' A, Heather. Now, *that* is a birthday feast!

(thank God she's over the gay food)

giz said...

Yayyy birthday for real. How generous of you to do the cooking for your own celebration. At least one thing is for sure - you know you'll eat your own cooking.


Peter M said...

Hey, Happy B-day to you too, my fellow Cancerian and all that shit.

Pink is my favourite colour, Berbere takes to never=never land...hope the hangover wasn't too bad.

Manggy said...

Happy birthday Heather! :) Those are some mighty delicious steaks. Sigh, I hope to one day actually see a celery root-- they don't exist here. The remoulade sounds refreshing.

Emily said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Yay! Hope you had a great day.

The steak looks so good! Perfectly cooked - it makes me want to cry.
The mozzarella salad sounds great too.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Happy Birthday! Good move on adding celery to the remoulade - it can be so heavy with just celeriac.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...


Bottom round? Secret rub? We are talking cooking here, right?

Happy Birthday. Get drunk.

Heather said...

Jen - Whoa! Happy birthday to you too! Hope you had a nice time out.

JS - Never!! (I have actually posted it a few times, but you'll have to hunt.) ;)

Coco - I wish I could see the look on your face when I post stew and rice with fufu.

Petah - Anethole sounds like something you call someone who just cut you off in traffic, yeah?

Cathy - Now we just need someone to bring the dessert! :)

Syd - You really love red meat, don't you. :P

Giz - Heh, thanks! I really just felt like hanging around the house, s'all.

Peter the Greek - The hangover wasn't too bad at all. Yours?

Mark - Thank you! Celery root is pretty good, but I'd rather have all the tropical fruit you have. :)

Em - Thanks! I had a great day - went to brunch, then swimming in the Sandy River. Good times.

Foodycat - I know, right? The celery did brighten it right up.

Sketti - I got buzzed, got drunk, got crunk, got fuuucked up. Just kidding, I just like that song.

cookiecrumb said...

Great job. Happy birthday, and thanks for teaching me two neat things: perlini mozzarella (must find), and "anethole," which is a precursor to ecstasy.

Brittany said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Please plan on coming over for my birthday and making this exact dish. thanks:)

michael, claudia and sierra said...

in my next life i am coming back with your cooking accumen

you kill me. i always read your posts and feel like a total culinary plebian.


my b'day was july 3. went to babbo and it kinda mostly sucked. but i'm an understanding kinda gal and would so go back...

Norm Schoen said...

Hey there,
Thanks for the nod on the wine. I am glad you cracked that out for your birthday. My winemaking buddies and I actually entered our 2006 Pinot Noir, 2005 Syrah and 2006 Cab in the Oregon State Fair.
If we win a ribbon I will post the story.
Cheers! (oh, and Happy Birthday!)

Heather said...

Cookie - Trader Joe's has the perlini, I don't have a source for pure anethole. :)

Brittany - I missed the boat on Your Taurus-ness' birthday, but next year!

Claudia - Babbo, eh? Well kiss my grits! I did get the four-star brunch, so I'm pretty happy. Happy belated birthday to you!

Norm - That cab is really the best wine I've tasted since the spendy Burgundy at our wedding. Thank you again!

Laura Paterson said...

I'm a couple of days late - but happy birthday girlie!!

Nice way to celebrate - you know your food is going to be better than what you could get eating out anyway... What a fabulous colour you've got on that meat.

Looking forward to the African post!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Happy birthday. You and I are *almost* twins. ;-)

Everything on this entry looks so good I could just eat the computer screen btw.

Jeff said...

Looks like an awesome way to celebrate your birthday.

MrOrph said...

Now that's grubbin'!

I'm still looking for my

Happy birthday BTW!

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

Yes, yes, happy belated. What are you, eight now? :)

The celery..slaw? it looks really good. I can't wait to see some African food from you. Every night is African night in my house. I think I'll post some stuff tomorrow...thanks for reminding me...

Leigh said...

great stuff, couldnt agree more on the corn - happy b'day!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Happy Belated Birthday Heather!!! Wow...July is just packed full of birthdays!!! SOunds like it was a great one!

Núria said...

Happy Birthday Sweetie!!! Oh, I'm sorry I'm late! But the wish is still the same :D. I see that the food was no problem, quite the contrary! What a spread, knowing it in advance can I book myself a seat in your table for next year?

Feliz Cumpleaños Guapísima! Hugs and Kisses from Barcelona♥

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! That steak looks absolutely perfect - the bigger the better in my opinion.

Brooke said...

That steak looks killer. God I love red meat. And where do you live that you can grow copious amounts of tomatoes? I'm jealous.

Brooke said...


Heather said...

Kittie - Thank you! Africa post is coming tomorrow. :)

Rachel - Are the good twin, or the evil twin? :D (I suspect you're the good one.)

Jeff - Meat and booze is a good time in my book!

Donald - You so crazy, didn't you get my smoke signals?

Nikki - You have African food every night? I'm jealous. :) I'm 13.

Leigh - Corn definitely tastes good with some caramelization on it. :)

Judy - Must be a grain of truth to the rumors that Cancerians love food and cooking. :)

Núria - Gracias! You are always welcome at my table, birthday or not.

Helen - It's true, meat is one area where more is more.

Brooke - I live near a store that sells amazing tomatoes. ;) I'll have some soon, but until then, I'm hittin' New Seasons.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Happy belated birthday Heather. I have been celebrating my birthday for days so haven't been visiting like I should. It sounds like you had a delicious meal to rival anything you could have found at a restaurant:D In fact better than most:D

Thistlemoon said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER! I would totally cook on my birthday, especially if I were you, because your food rocks! I love me some berbere. I have Ethiopian night coming up soon! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! Looks like you celebrated well--yay for cooking in.

Anonymous said...

The celery looks completely awesome. Great job! Happy birthday!

Emily said...


Julia said...

My goodness that steak looks absolutely drool-worthy.

Belated happy birthday!

peter said...

Happy birthday (late, but I've been away.)

Lookeeng goooood...

Brittany said...

happy belated birthday girl! Mine was on the 3rd- isn't july the best birthday month?

And dude- make that dessert. It sounds f'ing fabulous.

Anonymous said...

AHHH! happy birthday! i missed it the other day. holla on the Ethiopian food, well, spice. we will be doing lots of ethiopian recipes in the fall. it've recently become obsessed with it. HAPPY bday- belated.

Allison Jones said...

Oh, I hear you on the tomatoes. I start getting these mad cravings for really simple tomato sandwiches in May, and can't stop eating them from the farmer's market - until ALL of my plants fruit at once and I start throwing them at people. Literally.

I was way too ambitious this year, six plants and a few more adopted seedlings. Here's to finding a secret trove of tomato recipes, or a magic fairy godmother who will do some canning.