Chat Leftovers: Eye of Round Steak Creation, Meatless Farm Market Supper

Surf and Turf: I am having five couples over for Friday dinner. Am planning on steaming shrimp, chilling it and serving it with two different dipping sauces.

Want to use a five-pound eye of the round I have in the freezer, too. How long to thaw in the fridge? Also, any interesting way to cook? I guess I envision it sliced and served on a platter. Don't want a hot or heavy dinner.

Am rounding out the meal with a black bean/tomato/corn/avocado salad. Please help me with this roast and I would be so grateful.


Dear Surf and Turf: Some background on cow anatomy is in order before we get into dinner prep; the "round" offers the rear view of the cow, as in the rump or the big ol' behind. A boneless cylinder-like shape sandwiched between the heel and the rolled rump, the eye might look like a tenderloin, but tender it is not. In fact, the lean and muscular eye needs some coaxing in the kitchen, usually by way of moist heat (aka braising).

You could sear the eye on top of the stove and braise it in the oven with wine but because it's nearly August and you've requested something that isn't hot or heavy, I'm thinking grilling is your next best option -- albeit with a caveat. Don't just slap that eye on the grill with a little salt and pepper; it will need a marinade to coax those muscles into tender morsels. You need an acid -- wine, beer, mustard, fruit are all options -- and you need a wee bit of fat, at least 1 teaspoon salt per 1.5 pounds of meat and at least one flavor element (such as garlic, herbs or spices). For a five-pound cut of meat, you'll want about 1 cup of marinade and you'll want about 24 hours of thaw time in the fridge. Thin slices are key. In your shoes, I might whip up a kicky summery concoction of peaches, garlic, chiles and bourbon, which I think the eye of round would happily embrace.

Oh, one last thing: Forget about the performance aspect of the dinner party and remember instead to have fun!

complete loss..: Usually I am a pro at throwing together something for dinner and with the amount of fresh vegetables in my fridge from the farmers market I should have no problem tonight. But for the life of me I can't come up with something I want to make for dinner. Here is what I have: fresh corn, squash, zucchini, lima beans, peppers, tomatoes, fennel, goat cheese, feta cheese and a fully stocked pantry. So, any ideas? I would prefer if this was a meatless meal.

By the way, if anyone is looking for the absolute best farmer's market around and doesn't mind a drive... travel up to Baltimore on Sunday mornings for the Baltimore Farmers' Market. It is fabulous and you can find just about anything there... crabs, cheese, milk, fruit, veggies, meat, nuts, etc. I think there must be at least 40-50 vendors there.

Hey, we all have those days when inspiration is in short supply, which is why sometimes it takes a village to make supper.

I am so envious you have fresh lima beans in your midst! Do a quick parboil in salted water, then drain and cook in some butter until desired tenderness. I like them a little toothy, but you be the judge. I might even add a chopped onion here, which will lend some sweetness to those beans. They're wonderful all by themselves but could also be gorgeous paired with corn kernels cut off the cob, thrown into the skillet for a quick conversation with those limas. The color combination will be the stuff of paintings!

Then I might take one of those zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise, hollow it out a bit, stuff it with a tomato and pepper, a little garlic, bread crumbs and either one of those cheeses on top. Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender, and you've got the makings of a stylin' summer supper, my dear.

Editor's Note: Speaking of the Baltimore Farmers' Market, check out today's store from the Food section.

The whole enchilada: This week's What's Cooking transcript.

By Kim ODonnel |  July 29, 2008; 11:52 PM ET Chat Leftovers
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I love the taste of cider plank food. Other than salmon what can I do in the oven that will not burn my cedar if I have to cook it for a while.

Posted by: beeps | July 30, 2008 9:56 AM

Perfect! I picked up some zucchini and summer squash at the Falls Church farmer's market on Saturday with the intention to make ratatouille. Instead, we decided to roast the eggplant and have it on pizza and use the tomatoes for gazpacho. So, here I am left with a few pieces of nice summer produce but bereft of ideas.

I'll give a go for the baked zucchini & summer squash tonight.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | July 30, 2008 10:38 AM

I'm gonna go back to your last post (or "Kit" in Achenblog-speak) and recall my only serious cooking dream, which I recall from when I was about 5 or 6 years old, 40 years ago. I got out of bed, went to the closet, and found a secret door in the back wall. Passing through that door, I found myself in a vast, dark, hollow space, occupied only by a light aqua-colored mini-fridge (it was the color of the 60's, doncha know). In the fridge was a neat tray with a dozen eggs and there was some milk and other ingredients. I made egg nog. It was good. For years afterward, I would occasionally revisit this dream, I suppose to try to figure out how I had designed the refrigerator and where was the blender. When my sister and I switched our shared room with my parents so that it became their room and their closet, then I had to go upstairs to their room to get through the secret door in the back of the closet. Occasionally, there were also some Freudian sexual elements in the dream, but we don't need to go there.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | July 30, 2008 11:49 AM

C'Tim, the only possible reason for an aqua fridge is the 60s; and about the Freudian elements...ya think?

Posted by: LostInThought | July 30, 2008 12:18 PM

Thanks for pointing out the necessary thaw time. I think ignoring that rule is why I end up making soup with all meat that I take from the freezer.

The marinade sounds wonderful, will have to try that too.

Aqua fridge, pink bathtub? I'd miss those days but the bathtub is still upstairs.

Posted by: dbG | July 30, 2008 12:54 PM

Round steak is good for stir fry (I can't believe I had something to say about cooking!)

re: cooking dreams. I'm still nonplussed about the two mentions of shoehorns in the last article by Kim. Is that a Mighty Appetite insider reference?

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 30, 2008 12:57 PM

Regarding the meatless farm market supper article and when the writer had such nice fresh produce, it would have been appropriate to include a RAW food recipe rather than cooking anything.

Posted by: Carol, Raw Foodist | July 30, 2008 1:11 PM

Raw lima beans? RAW?

I'm with cooking lima beans al dente, I hate the musshy ones. I suggest cooking lima beans with tomatoes, or slight acid because that seems to help really firm 'em up.

I have a stock stirfry that I do for all veggies, but fennel is so flavorful it can be used as the major spice.

I prefer to stirfry fennel with watercress, fennel in first, cook, with oil, garlic, pepper, salt, not much else, add watercress in just enough to take the edge off the bitter and wilt it slightly, then serve. Zucchini in the stirfry itself would be fine, and Goat cheese (feta) would be good with this, I suppose.

One way to NOT cook raw vegetables would be to marinate them in the fridge for 12 hours-plus.

I grew up using an Italian-type marinate, but the key is acid and acid (a little salt and sugar too), so you can change the flavors as you like-- lime, lemon juice, etc. I personally like Balsamatic vingear a lot. You can find recipes out there for such, and play around with it.

As for raw foods, cooking was invented for vegetables for good reasons.

Cooking will decompose many bitter toxins in food; and infusions (teas or coffees) can capture much of the good water-soluble stuff from herbs without forcing ingestion of indigestible/toxic components. Just try eating a single raw coffee bean or tea leaf, willja? You'll get your digestion stopped pronto.

I recommend Larousse's "Encyclopedia Gastronomique" for a fascinating overview of the history of food preparation.

Also, I'm told by a professional chef that Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" is THE bible for anybody wanting to understand food science and how ingredients react with each other.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 30, 2008 2:24 PM

Joel hasn't even left the building and you are all over here drooling and swapping recipes. I'm ashamed of all of you.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 30, 2008 2:45 PM

Does Kim have italics or bold?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 2:46 PM

Posted by: yellojkt | July 30, 2008 2:47 PM

Tim, I thought you were going to share the bologna recipe from your childhood...

My CSA has got me up to my eyeballs in fruit. Last week was peaches, apricots, and white plums (added to a few apricots and red plums left from the week before). Added to the blueberries and grapes I bought at Wegman's. It's starting to remind me of the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where he gives his parents the Fruit of the Month Club. "What am I going to do with all this fruit? It's like a cult!"

Anybody have a plum recipe that isn't a dessert? (Still working on a blackberry pie from Sunday.)

Posted by: Raysmom | July 30, 2008 3:25 PM

Chez Frostbitten St.Paul is a mere block from the farmer's market. Basil should be in good supply by my next visit and I plan to make fresh pesto until the roof of my mouth is raw. However, I think I'll try Kim's lima bean suggestion. No need to waste a perfectly good farmers market buying just one thing.

Oh yeah, yello. What are you doing here?

Posted by: frostbitten | July 30, 2008 3:30 PM

Cooked or raw?

ttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/20/health/nutrition/20well.html?scp=5&sq=raw%20and%20cooked%20vegetables&st=cse

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 30, 2008 3:30 PM

Before our house went vegetarian, I used sweet squishy fruits like plums and cherries and such for flavoring poultry. I liked popping a few into the cavity during roasting, and used the injector tip on my basting syringe to slurp up the fruity juices and inject them under the skin of the breast and the drumsticks. Cook down some of the fruit with some sugar and some brandy to make a fruity syrup and pour it atop the bird. I sometimes like to toss some orange or lemon peel into the syrup. It also helps to describe it all in French. Canard au Cerises is so much better than Duck with Cherries. I don't recall the French word for plum. I am sure, of course, that there is a proper way to cook poultry with fruit -- I just kinda winged it. As it were.

However, I think we're getting off the original topic.

I like recipes from Moosewood and the Vegetarian Epicure (Book Two) when I need to find something to do with large supplies of random vegetables, especially if they are on the verge of funkiness and need to be cooked soon. My "More Recipes from Moosewood" is good because it has a lengthy section of stews. It doesn't matter that your vegetables have become unsightly if you cook'em in a stew.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | July 30, 2008 3:58 PM

I understand the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients and how wonderful that makes everything. Well, that's great, but I find that creativity is very helpful when facing the prospect of cooking as a coping strategy. How do I deal with all the food I have that didn't get cooked while it was still dewy-fresh, but I have to eat and I have to do something with that food, anyway? That's your true test -- making the near-compost into food that is not merely tolerable, but desirable.

Posted by: CulinaryTim | July 30, 2008 4:02 PM

Raysmom, I have a decent recipe somewhere for pork chops with plums and apricots. I seem to remember it taking a few tablespoons of either apple or orange juice as well. I'll keep an eye out for it (moving time, much is not in its usual spot).

Posted by: LostInThought | July 30, 2008 4:31 PM

fb,
Just figuring out where the party is. As I mentioned on the mothership, this is homecooking for the college kid week. Lasagna on Monday, cha gio yesterday. Today I think is Omaha steaks with homemade mac and cheese. I was saying that my son needs to go off to school every week.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 30, 2008 4:40 PM

Interestingly, Babelfish says plum is "la prune".

Continuing with the obvious follow-up question, prune is "la pruneau".

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 30, 2008 4:44 PM

I don't know if I can tolerate a fortnight of cooking. I posted an alternative to dreams on the previous cooking "kit" only to later realize I was on the wrong page. The heat in here may be too much for me and I will consider taking Harry Truman's advice seriously.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 30, 2008 4:58 PM

Plum recipe? The Panabasis blog had a bit on Slivovitz recently. That is the blog that has italics and diacriticals.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 30, 2008 5:02 PM

Panabasis? Where is that? That is a fabulous name. I haven't gotten around to reading my copy of "Anabasis". I have to do that some time.

Posted by: PlainTim | July 30, 2008 5:29 PM

Good news from Joel: there will be a guest kit soon, and the ladies of the previous fallow time will return on Monday.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 30, 2008 5:36 PM

Anabasis is Xenophon's best, Tim, and it's not a cookbook.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 30, 2008 5:40 PM

Achenblogger here: Hi Folks.

I ate some barbacoa accidentally today when visited Chipotle. This shredded beef is exactly what passes for BBQ in Montana, say, circa 1950-78. I understand now that other BBQ theologies are now popular there.

Anybody care to swap secrets on how to make this SANS a huge roaster (oil drum style) and fresh beeves on the hoof and assorted cowboys and cookies and chow wranglers around? "Cooky is cowpoke-speak for cook.

Can I go to Chipotle and simply order up a pan of said barbacoa? Any restaurant ideas? (DC-gal, now).

Posted by: College Parkian | July 30, 2008 6:02 PM

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 30, 2008 6:11 PM

The peaches, they will make the guests salivate when included on the sheesh-ka-babs.

Posted by: Clouseau | July 30, 2008 7:19 PM

Plums?

I'd saute them in a little oil with ginger and garlic, pulse it all in a Cuisinart and call it barbecue sauce.

Posted by: dbG | July 30, 2008 8:19 PM

Exactly, dbG, my recipe for any leftover fruit or veg., although I go light on ginger and heavier on cilantro. Past prime banana, however, does not work.

Posted by: Shiloh | July 30, 2008 8:44 PM

resistance is futile

Posted by: boodleborg | July 31, 2008 10:28 AM

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