Autumn Prelude – Steak and Potatoes

It was Beethoven who said that “when the ideas are good, the elaboration is not of such great importance.”  I think this attitude is equally important in the kitchen.  Take last night’s dinner, for example steak and potatoes.

As I said in my first post, you won’t find earth shatteringly new ways to cook here, just tasty ones.  The skirt steak was marinated very simply in olive oil and salt.  Why?  We were out of pepper and I was too lazy to shop for some.  (But I will shop for some tomorrow at the new North Market Spices.)

The idea for the potatoes originated from the Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cookbook by Andreas Viestad.  The original recipe called for dill.  My neighbors with gardens and I will tell you sadly that the dill this year was terrible.  So what to do?  Being the first of September, the sage was growing gloriously, waving at me through the kitchen window, begging to be picked.  And tucked close by were some ridiculously long chives.  Add in a couple of cloves of garlic, some mushrooms and it was a beautiful dinner on the table in 20 minutes.

Whenever you are approaching a recipe, think about it like a musician thinks about a musical score.  Or a method actor thinks about building a character.  Ground your decisions in your experience. When you taste something fantastic, think about why it tastes fantastic.   What’s in it that’s makes it taste good?  The more often you do this, the more comfortable you’ll become in the kitchen, cooking with a recipe or (gasp!) cooking without.

Potatoes with Shitake Mushrooms

4 or 5 red skinned potatoes

1 or 2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms

1T. butter

1 or two cloves of garlic, minced

5 or 6 stalks of chives chopped

5 sage leaves, chopped

Salt, olive oil, Tabasco (optional)

Cube and rinse the potatoes, cover them with water and a copious amount of salt and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or just until tender.  While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small sauté pan, and add the mushrooms and a bit of salt.  Just before the potatoes are done, add in the garlic to the mushrooms.  When the potatoes are tender, drain and mix in the mushrooms, the chopped herbs, drizzle with olive oil and taste for seasoning.  Add additional salt and/or a few dashes of Tabasco (or pepper, if you weren’t out like we were).

This serves nicely with a piece of flank steak that has marinated in olive oil and then been grilled.  Heat up a grill pan when the potatoes go in, sear the meat well (4 to 6 minutes per side) then let it rest while you assemble the potatoes.

Playlist included Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 57 “Appassionata.”


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