A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Now I'm Cooking! — London Broil w/Vegs & Sesame Cole Slaw

Welcome to the new week!  I hope you all had a nice weekend.  I must have been in a traditional mood yesterday, because I decided to do the quintessential Sunday-evening dinner: Pot Roast w/Vegetables.  But I'm never TOO traditional — in this case, I served my meat & potatoes with a kicky Asian-inspired salad using red cabbage and daikon radish.

In this meal, I used several ingredients that are not usually in my [metaphorical] pantry.  Blogging about what I cook has gotten me thinking about expanding my culinary horizons.  Not that I tend to make boring food or typically American or New York or Voice-Teacher or Gay Food.  I have a pretty creative style all my own, which has emerged over 3 decades in the kitchen.  (Don't worry; I haven't been continuously in the kitchen for 30 years.)  But I am always interested in trying new things and not getting stuck in cooking habits.  (It's an Alexander Technique thing.  Check out my other blog if you don't know what that means.)

Anyhow, the non-habitual ingredients tonight are London Broil (a 0.8-pound slab of beef about an inch thick), daikon radish, and sesame oil.  These latter two items used to be habitual for me when I was in my Korean phase, but it's been a while since then.  So long, in fact, that the first bottle of sesame oil I opened today turned out to be slightly rancid.  Thanks to Peter for sniffing it suspiciously and discovering the "off" aroma.  Otherwise, I might have ruined a whole bowlful of delicious veggies by drizzling them with fetid oil.  (Peter has a preternatural ability to detect "off" flavors and smells that zip right past my radar.  He also claims that he can taste plastic wrap if food has been wrapped in it, but I don't notice this, probably because 78% of the food I consumed growing up had come into contact with la Wrappe du Saran at some point.  Does anyone else out there have a princess-and-the-pea aversion to plastic tastes — or does my Peter have a rare gift?  In any case, I'm very lucky to have him around.)

Let's get cooking. . .shall we start with the salad?

Sesame Red Cabbage Slaw w/Daikon Radish

I began by shredding a little piece of red cabbage — it's amazing what a big pile of strips emerge from just a little chunk of the vegetable!  I put the cabbage in a bowl with slices of daikon radish.  (I'd cut about half a large radish in 1/8" slices and then cut the slices into strips, stacking several slices at a time to make it go quicker.)  I salted the veggies with about a half teaspoon salt and then tossed them with my hands, rubbing the salt in as I did.  After about 30 minutes, I drained off the liquid which had accumulated.  The salt softens the vegetables, wilting them similarly to cooking.

Cabbage & Radish before salt-wilting
While the salt was working its magic, I assembled my ingredients to dress the slaw:

Black pepper, garlic, cayenne pepper, vinegar, toasted sesame oil
I would have used rice vinegar if I'd had it, by the way.  Make sure your sesame oil is from toasted seeds for this recipe; the raw kind doesn't have the same rich nutty flavor.  I also toasted about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and crushed then lightly in a mortar.  You don't have to crush them, but it does release a little more flavor and creates a nice texture as well.

Roasting the sesame seeds
Sesame seeds after crushing.  The yellow smear is turmeric left over from another project.   So report me to the hygiene police.
When I was ready to serve the salad, I added to the veggies a couple teaspoons of sesame oil, a teaspoon or so of vinegar, a little fresh ground pepper, a bit of cayenne pepper, and one crushed clove of garlic.  I tossed the ingredients thoroughly, then added the crushed roasted sesame seeds and tossed again.  Done!

Now here's how I prepared the beef.  The night before, I'd begun marinating the meat in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed garlic, and a bit of soy sauce.  Here's what it looked like today:

This pic will not win any awards for beauty
OK, not that pretty, but let's give it a chance to cook before we cast aspersions.   I put the meat in a baking dish and poured the remaining marinade along with some extra oil and a little salt over the vegetables, mixing it well and then dumping the whole mess over the meat in the baking dish.  The vegetables, by the way, were chunked potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms.

I set Connie's controls — Connie is my countertop convection oven, if you're just joining us — to 275 degrees and her maximum time of 1 hour and started the meat dish a-baking.  It's in there right now, and it's starting to smell pretty nice.  After 45 minutes, I noticed that everything was drying out a little, so I poured a little white wine over the top and continued to let it bake.  I'm going to let it bake for an hour and a half or so and then slice the meat thin to serve it, with the veggies on the side and a glass of a kick-ass Australian blended red wine called Marquis Philips 2007 Vintage Sarah's Blend.  I don't know what Sarah blended this stuff with, but it weighs in at an alcohol content of 15%, which is just about the highest I've ever seen in a non-dessert wine.  If I can still write after a glass of that, I'll let you know how the beef turns out. . . .

Mmmmmmmm — that was delicious!  And that isn't just the wine talking.  The wine was big and jammy, by the way, no subtle flavors, but quite pleasant nonetheless.  There's still about half the meat and veggies left; they're now in the fridge, soaking in the remaining marinade/white wine.  I expect that they'll be even more delicious upon reheating, probably tomorrow.  (I teach until 8, and who wants to start cooking then?)

Now if only I'd thought about dessert. . . .


  1. Looks fantastic and makes me want some. I love pot roast, but my husband does not eat red meat. SO I will live vicariously through you for today.

  2. I just happen to have a new-ish London Broil in the freezer and a son who loves Pot Roast. But it's not one of my favorite meals done in the traditional way. I think I'll have to try Pot Roast in the oven instead of the crock pot. But this comment aside, *do* get a crock pot (saw your comment last post) - they rock for tossing stuff in in the morning and having a meal all ready to go by dinnertime. I love mine for soups and chilis.

    And what exactly is Gay Food? ;-) Or Voice-Teacher food for that matter?

    How was the Met?

  3. Tosca was maybe the best thing I've ever seen at the Met. All 3 leads were wonderful singers and actors. There was a thrilling surprise at the end, when Tosca leaps off the parapet. This normally happens in an upstage direction, and you just know she's landing on a big pile of mattresses behind the set. In this production, she leaps out towards the audience and the set goes immediately black. Wow!

    @Sassy: It must be a challenge when people in a household have differing dietary preferences. I am very lucky that Peter and I share a similar philosophy of eating.

  4. Sounds wonderful Michael, I might have to try something similar soon. Your earlier posts have also inspired my wife and I to discover and sign up with a CSA right here in Los Angeles! Thank you for that, we had no idea such a thing could exist in the big city.

  5. I'm confused with Debbie. I thought Gay Food was pretty much the same as Straight Food, depending upon the pickiness of the Food Consumer. Seriously, 2 or 3 London Broils and I'll be good to go here! As for fast dessert, well, I have a great Orange Mousse type thing that gets done in the blender in about 3 minutes, and your most exotic ingredient is frozen orange juice concentrate. Let me know if you want it.

    PS: I don't call the hygiene police. Some things are just more important than washing out your mortar perfectly.

  6. @R/C: I am so happy that I inspired you to try out a CSA! I think you're going to love it...when does the season start in L.A.? Or are you lucky enough to have year-round CSA's out there? Let me know how you like it.

    @everyone who was confused by my apparently impenetrable humor: There is no such thing as gay food. Or voice-teacher food. I was just trying to convey that my personal cooking style does not fall into any particular pre-defined categories, along ethnic or any other lines of demarcation. But, don't you see, that's just not funny, stated like that.

    Back to the drawing board......

  7. @Margie: Around here, frozen OJ concentrate is a *very* exotic ingredient. We rarely drink juice, unless we are juicing veggies. (Which doesn't happen as often as I'd like because I HATE to clean that dang machine after use.) But I'm intrigued.....please post the recipe!

  8. Oh, I knew it was a joke. Mine was too. Guess we both failed. ;-) But don't stop trying. I think you're pretty funny.

  9. I will give you the greatest compliment one can give to a foodie, after seeing the pics and the description - I am really hungry. :)

  10. I've just discovered on Another Blog that National Pie Day is coming soon! Can we have a pie recipe competition? Can we have International Pie Day, so Australians can send in meat pie recipes? We need a prize- for example, you could cook/blog the winning recipe!

  11. @saro: That IS a good compliment — thanks! If only I could convey the smells of cooking in words. . .you would really have salivated if you'd inhaled the aroma emanating from my convection oven when she was cooking those veggies and meat.

    @Mae: Have you been reading my mind? I have been thinking about doing a special feature on pies — but I'm not going to have my act together by Jan 23, which is Nat'l Pie Die (according to Google) — highlighting my Mom's pie crust, which is the world's best. (No, really, I'm not biased.) I want to at least interview her about her technique, but what I am hoping to do is shoot a video of her preparing the crust.

    Maybe the contest could be to come up with the best sweet or savory filling for one of Mom's crusts. Stay tuned!