Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best of Diva: Steak Edition

Happy Beach Eats Anniversary ... I'm one year old today!

Even after a full year of cooking and writing, this post is one of my favorites. Who doesn't enjoy a good steak now and then? The recipe continues to be a Diva favorite as well, my preferred method for serving steak. Sadly, the "cattle herd" mentioned here remains in full effect. Some things never change - especially not in this real estate market!

Bon Appetit!

On Carnivores and Cattle Herds: June 9, 2008

I'm tired today. You can thank my upstairs neighbors and the herd of cattle they lovingly refer to as their "children". I haven't met them but I'm pretty sure their shoes are welded to their feet and I suspect they each have an extra set of legs. How else to account for the thundering din that rolls from one end of the apartment to the other long about 6:30 a.m. every day? If you've ever spent a night in my guest-room, you know exactly what I mean.

Being tired and dieting is not always a fortuitous combination. I find that the more tired I am, the more likely I am to think about popping open a box of mac and cheese and calling it dinner. It helps to have a strategy for such times and a couple of quick and easy recipes that require little thought and even less preparation.

The Diva is married to a major carnivore. Left to his own devices, he'd happily exist on a diet of raw beef and a side of lamb chops. I don't particularly share his zest for the red stuff and I'm not a great fan of steak. Oddly enough I prefer the more pedestrian varieties of beef: meatballs, burgers and cheesesteaks. ~swoon~

That being said, I have on occasion really enjoyed a meal of Bistecca a la Fiorentina - or steak in the style of the Florentines. Not surprisingly, one of the most memorable versions I've had was in a charming restaurant in Florence. We dined outside on the piazza, under a canopy of umbrellas in the pouring rain, and both the food and the experience were nothing short of magical.

Fortunately for us the dish is easily replicated at home and goes a long way toward satisfying both a carnivorous husband and a weary Diva.

Bistecca a la Fiorentina:
  • two sirloin strip steaks, or New York Strips
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 thick wedges of fresh lemon
  • a dusting of chopped fresh parsley
Rub the steaks with a bit of olive oil on each side, not much, probably a teaspoon each or so. Doesn't really matter. Season the steaks on both sides with the salt and pepper - to taste, but you can be generous here if you like.

Pre-heat your grill, or in my case a grill pan, to blazing hot and grill the steaks. You'll want a nice char on the outside, and length of cooking is up to you. The husband likes his still moo-ing, I prefer mine crisp and done. All the way done. (Sorry, I'm Irish!)

* Cooking tip from the husband - if your strips are 1 1/2 thick, grill them for 4 minutes per side for a perfect rare. I like my steak to be about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick, and if he cooks mine for the same time it works out perfectly - one rare, one well-done.*

As soon as you pull the steaks from the grill, rub them with the cut halves of garlic on both sides, give them a liberal squeeze of the fresh lemon, hit it with the chopped parsley, serve and enjoy. You may add a slice of lemon to the plates to refresh the acid balance as desired.

In Italy, there are varying schools of thought on adding the olive oil, or whether or not one should salt the meat prior to cooking or just at the end. This is my version of the dish and I like it just the way I've written it. Feel free to experiment and let me know the results. I like to serve it with one of my all time favorite summer sides:

Broiled Summer Squash:
  • one medium zucchini
  • one medium yellow summer squash
  • one half of a Vidalia onion, sliced thin
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • dried or fresh basil, to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Wash and trim the squash. Cut them in half, lengthwise, and then into 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Bring a medium size pot of water to the boil and season it with a bit of Kosher salt. Add the squash and onions, let the water return to the boil and blanch the vegetables for one to two minutes. Drain into a strainer and refresh under cold, running water for 30 seconds or so. You want the squash to retain its color, so don't over-cook it and don't skip this step.

Pre-heat your broiler.

Arrange the squash and onions in an even layer in a heat-safe glass or Pyrex pie dish. Sprinkle on a grating of fresh nutmeg and season with a bit of the dried basil, or fresh if you have it, or whatever herbs you favor. Top the mixture with the shredded Parmesan cheese to taste. I don't use much, just enough to coat the dish. Be sure to use fresh Parm., not the powdered stuff - otherwise it will not broil properly.

Place the dish under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling hot and slightly browned. Serve and enjoy!


words...words...words... said...

Congrats on one year! Judging by the first year, your blog will be around until it's old enough to participate in Thirsty Thursdays :)

(Nice shout out for cheesesteaks, too!)

Heavenly Housewife said...

Happy Birthday to your wonderful blog!
I love steaks, but I'm not the best at cooking them. I never really know if they r cooked the way I want till I cut it open, and usually I get a nasty surprise lol.

The Diva on a Diet said...

words words words - Thank you!!! I haven't been to Philly in ages and I'm simply dying for a cheesesteak fix!

HH - Thank you too!!! I have a quick fix for your steak dilemma ... let your hubby cook them. Works for me! ;)

My sincere thanks to you both for the anniversary wishes!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, nice way to say happy bday...steak!

pixelgal said...

To the tune of London Bridge:
Happy Blogoversary, versary, versary
Happy Blogoversary my best Diva.

Thanks for all the good you've done, good you've done, good you've done;
Keeping folks from weighing tons
My fair Diva.

Congrats and may the fabulous famous foodies smile upon you and adopt you as their own so that next year at this time we'll see your name in lights!

Jill said...

Congratulations chica! One year is a milestone. This recipe sounds great...we are two carnivores, so I'm sure we will love it!

Pam said...

Congrats on your one year! This meal looks wonderful.

doggybloggy said...

have some paper on me - isnt the first anniversary - paper? congrats and keep it up...

The Diva on a Diet said...

Duo - you're right, steak does fit the bill for any celebration. Bring it on!

Pixelgal - aw, I loved that! Thank you ... love you a million times!!

Jill - Welcome! And thanks so much for your lovely comment. This meal will satisfy any carnivore for sure. :)

Pam - Thanks a bunch to you too! :)

doggybloggy - oooh, you're good! Yes, the first anniversary is paper ... I'll take mine in the form of 20's. ;) Kidding! Many thanks to you too, my friend. :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a year anniversary! Bistecca a la Fiorentina sounds wonderful! I would love to try this preparation with the bison sirloins that we regularly get.

Anonymous said...

Wow, one year. You rock. This is my favorite way to do steak, except I so naughtily melt blue cheese on the top at the last minute to add to the fat, but OHHH so good.

Anonymous said...

I thought your blog was much longer established! Good for you for creating such a lovely community in such a short time!

Deb said...

Happy Happy Happy Anniversary Dear Diva and many more!

As to the steak - alas I am not a carnivore - when the family wants moo they must dine out and take me along. LOL! But ah Florence - any food would be amazing served al fresco in that wonderful city.

May you blog until your fingers are too old to blog anymore and then you'll dictate it to your personal assistant (you'll need one to mamage your fame and fortune).


Diet said...

thanks, your article is very informative.

Daniel said...

I'm so happy for you Diva! Congrats on birthday number one and here's to many many more. Keep up the great work here!

Casual Kitchen

Astra Libris said...

Congratulations on your blog's birthday!! I always delight in reading your wonderful posts, this one included - I love how you've revisited some of your historic favorite posts! Oh my, does your steak recipe sound glorious...

Regarding your question about the rice cooker, the rice it produces isn't dramatically different from stovetop rice, but I do find that it tends to be less gooey - more preciesely al dente without being dry or soggy. Also, it cooks around 5 to 10 minutes faster, and keeps the rice nice and warm on the "warm" feature until serving time... :-)

Congratulations again!! You and your blog are awesome!! I'm so glad we've "met" in blog land! :-)

Tangled Noodle said...

Happy Anniversary to the most divine Diva to ever hit the blogsphere! I knew I'd love your work the moment I saw your Diva biscotti entry in the 'eating your words' challenge.

Thanks so much for bringing back this gem! Mr. Noodle and I will enjoy Bistecca a la Fiorentina - minus the 'cattle herd' (who, after a year, must be even more thunderous than before). Wishing you many, many more days and years of wonderful blogging!

The Diva on a Diet said...

5 Star - my husband is a big fan of bison and used this recipe for the bison steaks ... they turned out great! Thanks, and hope you'll enjoy it too!

Danazia - everything's better with cheese! This is a universal truth. :) Thank you!

Dana - aw, thanks so much for your lovely words! Truly!

Deb - all this time and I never knew you weren't a fan of moo! I think I'm surprised. LOL I'm not much of a red meat eater either, but I do love this steak. Thank you so much for ... everything! As I said yesterday, you have such a special place in my heart. :)

Daniel - thanks so much for all of your kind words and encouragement! So glad we've been introduced via our blogs. :)

Astra - I'm very intrigued by the rice maker, and thank you for the additional info. I do eat a lot of brown rice and it would be nice to cut down on the cooking time. Thanks also for your lovely comments and the support! I agree, so glad to have "met" you too!! :)

Tangled Noodle - I absolutely recommend enjoying it without the cattle herd. Good thinking! LOL

And many thanks to you as well for your sweet words! I'm delighted to have "met" you and your amazing blog too! :)