Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Peachy!

In the past I have tried to space out my specials that contained similar ingredients to keep each week new and different, but for the last two years the summer's treats have been delayed by about a month due to weather, and when that happens good ideas fall by the wayside, never to return if I put them off.

When I have leftover fruit like the peaches from last week's special I usually either cook it down or freeze it to be used for brunch smoothies, but they were so flavorful that I had to use them again. So since I had to cook them in order to keep them I went with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce made by quickly cooking the whole peaches in water and shocking them in ice water so I could peel the tannic skin before blending the sweet flesh with spices, soy sauce, Worcestershire, brown sugar, maple syrup and cider vinegar. To meld all of the flavors I threw it all in a pot and brought the sauce just to a simmer and allowed it to slowly cool.

I debated on adding chipotle - smoked jalapenos - to the sauce for spiciness to balance out the sweetness, but then I thought "what better way than to add that heat in the form of a dry rub on a steak?". Not only do dry rubs add flavor, but also what is called "bark", the charred crust that embodies great barbecue. I made mine with salt, brown sugar, chipotle powder, cumin, coriander and Chinese 5-spice.

Instead of some cut of meat that needs a long, slow cooking that's typical of barbecue, I went with something more indicative of summer, like a steak. Initially I wanted to use a flat iron steak due to it's flavor and consistent size and shape, but when I got to the store they were out, so I went with the next best thing - flank steak.

Flank steak comes from the region of the cow just below the strip loin and behind hanger and skirt steaks, so it's among great, flavorful cuts like the flat iron. The problem is that it's not always the same thickness or width, which only means more work for me and nothing to you!

To bring all of the flavors together and balance the dish to a zen-like perfection I made use of some local, organic dandelion greens for their fresh, vibrant and bitter attributes.


Yes, like what grows in your yard, and, no, not at all like what grows in your yard.

I used to serve a wonderful dandelion greens salad with a honey-shallot vinaigrette at a previous restaurant that at some point I want to revive, but for this dish I wanted to lightly saute them in butter, onion and garlic until just wilted to act as a bed for the steak and a barrier for the sauce so that you, the diner can combine as much or as little of each flavor components as you wish.

As much as I love coming up with new ideas for both dinner and drink specials, it's refreshing when one of our own steps up to help with the creativity.

A couple of weeks ago one of our servers, Justin, and I were talking about what we could do for a drink special, and we bounced around the idea of using pineapple in a margarita, which led to infusing chopped pineapple into tequila over time as well as muddling it to get it on both fronts, and a joint idea was born.

Two weeks later the tequila was ready, and once strained, it was added to muddled fresh pineapple pieces and lime wedges with a splash of sweet and sour mix, yielding a powerful concoction of fresh flavors with high octane!!

With Love,