Seared balsamic-glazed flatiron steaks with spinach, lemon and olive oil

Balsamic Beef with Spinach

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new cookbook on the blog – not that we haven’t been cooking much lately, but a couple of recent & great cookbooks have been dominating the JK kitchen this Fall & Winter. The next few posts should help get us back on the track of going through the entire cookbook collection, though. This cookbook, How to Cook Meat, has been on my shelf for years and years. It’s a fun cookbook to flip through, more as a reference on which cuts of meat come from where (on various animals), and how the fat/muscle content changes how you can prepare that cut. I tend to read it more for background material, but it does have a ton of recipes, and the few that I’ve made over the years have been good (if not spectacular).

This recipe for balsamic-glazed beef, however, was both easy to make and really tasty. I have a special place in my heart for the beef and balsamic vinegar combination. When I was in college, dinner was usually two frozen corn dogs. If I was feeling particularly health-minded, I might grab a handful of salad mix from the bag and douse it in some sort of vinaigrette as a side dish. At some point a roommate got disgusted with my dinner regimen and dragged me over to the Barney’s Burgers by our house in North Berkeley. The special that night was a balsamic beef burger, and on a whim I ordered it. It had never occurred to me that a flavor that seemed so intrinsically related to salad could have any use in cooking meat. That burger was amazing though – just the right blend of tart and sweet to balance out the beef flavor. It was so good that to this day I always keep an eye out for recipes involving meat & balsamic vinegar – if it’s on the menu at restaurant Karin and I go to, there’s a good chance that’s what I’m getting.

So after the fold, we’ve got this quick recipe – reduce some balsamic vinegar, sugar and black pepper into a thick, dark sauce, pan-fry some quality steaks, and while the steaks are resting saute some spinach and garlic in the pan you used for the meat. One saucepan, one frying pan, very little time spent hovering over a stove or preparing ingredients yields a really tasty meal. That being said, the next time I make this dish I will add some potatoes or a grain to go with it – gotta have something to mop up the balsamic glaze with after you eat all the steak!

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Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Karin already talked about how awesome Claudia Roden’s cookbook Arabesque is here, so I won’t rehash all the nice things she had to say about it again. Suffice to say we are still enjoying it and cooking from it often.

A coworker of mine had a surplus of lemons, so when she brought a handful of them to work,  I thought I’d try my hand at a quick preserved lemon recipe in this cookbook. That turned out fairly well (recipe after the jump), but then I had a jar full of preserved lemons to use in the couple of weeks they were going to last for. I tried a handful of recipes in Roden’s book that called for them, going through about half the jar, and this was my favorite of the bunch. The sweetness of the preserved lemons balances out the saltiness of the green olives well and the whole thing comes together quickly enough to make it on a weeknight.

One note: The preserved lemons need to sit for up to four days before using them, so make sure you plan accordingly!

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