Teriyaki Steak

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This is the time of year when I'm willing to spend ages making a dish if I think it's going to come out well, and the time of year when my resolutions about food ('I'll cook dinner every night of the week!' or 'I'll start meal-planning!' or 'I'll start remembering to marinate things overnight the day before I want to cook them!') are coming so fast and furious that I know it's only a matter of time until something falls off the table... hopefully not literally. But while I'm determined to remember to marinate things (surely I'm not the only one who hates this process? The night after I remember to do it, I love it: a delicious dinner with little prep and few dishes... but the night before, when I have to have already done the grocery shopping AND remember to make a marinade AFTER I've already dealt with a different dinner? I usually just can't be bothered), I decided to give this a whirl. My hopes were not high, and when you're dealing with steak that you're pretty sure you're going to ruin, it's easy to get discouraged.

So imagine my surprise when I seared this steak evvvvvver so briefly and it came out delicious! Pink in the middle, tender and juicy with a unique (and very non-teriyaki-ish) flavour, this steak is a perfect dish to make next time you're trying to talk yourself out of ordering takeout again because it's embarrassing that the Deliveroo driver is starting to ask about your family and become friends with your dog. The soy sauce tenderises the meat until it's ready to melt-in-your-mouth, and the wine gives it just enough of a fruity edge to keep the saltiness from being overpowering.

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If you can be bothered to remember to marinate it the night before, this cooks up in less than 5 minutes, start to finish (and if you can't be bothered to marinate it overnight, it's fine to marinate it for only a few hours). We served it with Momofuku's Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette- seriously my favourite side dish to go with Asian flavours, and it was so nice I'm already watching out for the next time this wafer-thin steak goes on sale.

I've eaten enough Asian food in my life to be pretty confident that teriyaki sauce does not usually include golden syrup, but this one does (perhaps contributing to that non-teriyaki-ish flavour I mentioned above). If teriyaki is usually made from soy sauce, mirin and sugar, what we have here is a version substituting white wine for mirin (I would have had to make this substitution anyway because evidently there is not a single shop in Edinburgh- including the rich people grocery store- that sells mirin) and golden syrup/corn syrup for sugar. I'm not complaining; it may not be authentically teriyaki, but it was delicious.

The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. This was really tasty, but I have a feeling a large part of this was the specific cut of steak that I purchased, so I'm knocking off a spoon in case it doesn't work so well on other cuts.

ONE YEAR AGO: TOLL HOUSE MARBLE SQUARES
TWO YEARS AGO: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

the recipe:

Teriyaki Steak

the directions:

Mix together all ingredients except steak, making sure to blend golden syrup into mixture as much as possible.
Pour over steak and marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
When ready to cook, heat a cast-iron skillet until it's screaming hot.
Cook steak, a few pieces at a time, making sure not to crowd them in the pan.
After 30 seconds, flip steak and allow to cook for a further 30 seconds on the other side.
Check for doneness and serve.

the ingredients:

1/3 c (2.5 oz) soy sauce
1/3 c (2.5 oz) white wine
¼ c (2 oz) golden syrup (light corn syrup in the US)
½ tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 lbs (1 kilo) lean steak, sliced very thin

Cheesy Meatballs*

You'll have more meatballs than this- i just forgot to take a picture until they were already snacked on.

You'll have more meatballs than this- i just forgot to take a picture until they were already snacked on.

We don't really eat a lot of meat around here in the Recipe Box kitchen- partly because it just doesn't occur to me to cook it all that often and partly because meat in Scotland is loads more expensive than vegetables and grains, and since I don't mind a lack of meat and I'm the one who does most of the meal planning and cooking, here we are. And when we have a party? The only meat I usually bother with is charcuterie.

When it comes to ground beef, I probably only eat it four times a year when it's chili season or I'm somewhere with top-notch beef tartare (fun fact: I was a vegetarian for five years, and didn't eat ground beef for probably another three after that). Even as a kid, I didn't like meatballs (or spaghetti), but luckily I've outgrown that. So when we threw a party recently, I knew I had to make these cheesy meatballs- the perfect hot snack during a dreary Scottish winter.

They're easy, delicious, bite-size (so they're easy to eat standing up at a party) and if you manage to have any leftover, they reheat like a dream so you can snack on them late at night when your guests have all made it into their cabs and headed home. If you're cooking for people with dietary restrictions, though, a word of warning: these contain meat (obviously), dairy, gluten, wheat AND eggs... so nearly anyone with allergies or other restrictions is going to have to pass.

*This also doubles as a great nickname for whatever pet you might own!

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The verdict:

4 spoons out of five. These are perfect party food and look especially nice served in the skillet they were cooked in, if you have an attractive one. I'm only knocking off a spoon because the cheese got so melty when they cooked that I had to drain off the juices before I served them, which was unexpected but not the end of the world.

One year ago: crazy crust apple pie
two years ago: Happy New Year!

the recipe:

Cheesy Meatballs

the directions:

If cooking immediately, preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Combine all ingredients and mix well (using your hands works best).
Shape into small balls (approx. 1-inch round).
At this point, you can store them for up to 48 hours before using in the refrigerator, covered tightly in plastic wrap, which makes them a perfect make-ahead party food.
When ready to cook, place the meatballs in a cast-iron skillet or other oven-safe serveware (a decorative pie plate works well) and bake 10-12 minutes until very brown and cooked through.
May be served directly from the skillet.

Yields approximately 36 bite-size meatballs.

the ingredients:

1 lb (500g) ground beef
1 c (114g) cheddar cheese, grated
¼ c (30g) dry bread crumbs
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp minced onion (or ½ tsp onion powder)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 egg

Leg of Lamb with White Wine and Herbs

This week marks four years since Judson and I got married, and seven years since we first met, so we are off celebrating in Tenerife (an Spanish island in the Atlantic) all week long!

But I would never leave you without some celebratory recipes, so here’s a lovely fancy lamb recipe to make next time you have (a lot of) extra cash and some (very fancy) company coming over. Here’s the thing: I was trying to get this made during February, which, over here in the UK is Lamb Lovers’ Month. I thought this would be the perfect dish to make in honour of that… but then I went to the butcher shop and realised how expensive a butterflied, de-boned leg of lamb is.

The answer: very.

Last year to celebrate our anniversary, I made prime rib and the world’s most complicated key lime pie recipe. They were both amazing, and I was so proud of myself for how delicious (and easy!) the prime rib ended up being. I rationalised it in my head because the cost of the prime rib was much lower than the cost of two people going out for dinner… but that is most definitely not the case here. I never had any idea how pricey lamb was, so as soon as I realised how expensive it is, I immediately realised this would have to be our anniversary dinner. And man, was that expense worth it.

I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for this recipe: Judson and I are both marginal lamb fans at best (though I have made some pretty awesome lamb recipes over the past year), and the marinade was just kind of basic (I thought), AND the biggest problem? This is meant to be cooked on a grill, which I obviously do not have access to in a country that rarely crests 20 degrees Celsius. So I thought we’d mess it up (and I’m lumping Judson in here because you’d better believe he got involved once I found out how expensive this meat was).

But I was totally wrong.

You know how usually when you marinate something, it might become more tender, or it might become saltier or sweeter or something, but you usually can’t taste each individual ingredient in the marinade in the final product? (No? Just me?) Not so in this recipe: the marinade imparted a strong rosemary flavour and an amazing level of bitter-sweetness from the wine. Plus, the oil created a delicious crust and helped to seal in all the moisture. This lamb tasted like a perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned steak, and I think if I had been blindfolded there is no way I would have identified it as lamb.

The only downside to this recipe is that you have to procure for yourself a deboned, butterflied leg of lamb—but your butcher will be able to help you out there, and though the original recipe calls for a 4-6 pound piece of meat, we scaled down based on the butcher’s recommendation for two people (and still got two meals each out of it!). The marinade is easy and if you have an upcoming celebration, I’d encourage you to give this a shot. It is, without a doubt, the best lamb I’ve ever tasted—and definitely the best I’ve ever made!

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. It was worth the price to try this, and hands down worth the ease with which we made it. I’m already hungry just thinking about the leftovers.

New! One year ago: Prime Rib of Beef

The recipe:

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

The directions:

Mix together all ingredients except for lamb.
Place lamb in a shallow dish and pour marinade over it.
Cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Drain marinade and place meat in a large oven-proof dish.
Preheat broiler to medium, then place lamb approximately 6 inches from element.
Cook lamb in 10 minute increments, basting with additional wine in between.
Cook 40-45 minutes until lamb is pink in the middle but warmed throughout.
Allow to rest 5-10 minutes, then carve and enjoy.

The ingredients:

½ c vegetable oil
¼ c white wine + additional ½ c for basting
2 tbsp parsley, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp rosemary, chopped coarsely
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 tsp salt
1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied