Saturday, January 9, 2010

Green Goddess

Becky's Thai beef salad was a hit at battle beef, and not just because it was the one veggie-laden course of the day. The fresh, bright flavors of the dressing are a knockout.

Thai Beef Salad

  • ½ lb filet mignon
  • 4 cups torn lettuce leaves (you can use a spring mix, but avoid bitter greens)
  • 1 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • ½ of chopped jicama
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of a fresh minced hot chili or red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons of Thai salad dressing (see below for recipe)
  • One package of Thai glass noodles

Follow the instructions on the noodles package to cook noodles. Once they are cooked, put them in a bath of cool water to chill. Season the beef with salt and pepper and grill to rare (an outside grill is best but a grill pan will work as well). While the beef is grilling, combine the lettuce, mint, cilantro, onion, jicama, tomato and chili (or pepper flakes) in a large bowl. When the beef is rare, take it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then slice it into 1/8” thick slices.

To assemble the salad, dress the lettuce mixture with the Thai salad dressing. Put a small helping of the noodles on each plate as the bottom layer, then add a handful of salad and place 2 –to 3 slices of beef on top. Garnish with additional mint and cilantro if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 6 small appetizer-size servings.

Thai salad dressing (makes enough for the salad recipe above)

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons thin-sliced tender center of a lemongrass stalk

In a bowl, mix ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Battle Beef

The first battle of 2010 was in a new venue—Boston! The snow came down and temperature dropped, but the new crew of Boston-based judges figured the whole thing out pretty quickly and the contestants luxuriated in the perks of playing in a suburban kitchen. Team 1 was Brian and Chris; Team 2 were their wives, Sherri and Becky. So, on January 2, 2010, it was boys against girls in Boston... here are the results.

Team 1, Dish #1: Cow Jumped Over the Moon
An ode to the boys' years in Pennsylvania, Chris cooked homemade beef scrapple, a Pennsylvania Dutch treat, and cut it into cow shapes. It had a crunchy exterior and a smooth, livery inside. His "moon"? Scrambled eggs. The judges weren't sure what to make of the "scrabble" since some had never had it before—"It's pâté-like," one said. "That's what I like about it!" countered another. In the first of the beer pairings, they served a breakfast-y Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale.

Dish #2: Marrow with Brioche Toast and Fig Jam

The marrow bones were roasted, then sprinkled with sea salt. The brioche was toasted, and the not-too-sweet fig jam, a mix of mission figs, caramelized onions, and balsamic vinegar, was a homemade hit. "I would eat this jam on anything," Judge Sam declared. The beer pairing: Unibroue's Trader Joe's 2009 Vintage Ale. "You know what I don't like?" said Judge Reuven, "The beer pairing. It's too Christmasy."

Dish #3: South-of-the-Border Chipotle Sliders with Sweet Potato Fries

Topped with queso fresco, cilantro, and red onion, these burgers had a flavor all their own, with chipotle chillies mixed into the meat. "The spices are dancing on my tongue," declared Judge Austin. The beer pairing: Mexican Sol served with a wedge of lime.

Team 1, Dish #4: Beef Sundae

A creative visual play on a dessert sundae, this dish was actually made up of steamed white rice topped with Korean bulgogi-style beef, scallions, sesame seeds, and a roasted cherry tomato. With heat and flavor, the dish was a crowd pleaser. The beer pairing: Korean brew Hite.

Team 2, Dish #1: Jamaican Beef patties with scotch bonnet sauce

These empanada-shaped treats were served with proper Caribbean hot sauce. The judges said "Water, please!" And then the cooks remembered they had brought Jamaican ginger beer to cool the fiery heat. Oops. But the judges were glad to have it, even though it came late.

Dish #2: Thai beef salad

A refreshing treat after five courses of serious beef, this salad was served over glass noodles and laced with mint and cilantro. The filet mignon was sliced thin, and the dressing was a tangy mixture of Thai-style fish sauce and lime juice. The result: a real hit.

Dish #3: Texas-style Barbecue Brisket with garlicky Texas toast and homemade barbecue sauce

Another hearty beef dish, this one didn't benefit from the lengthy cooking time it usually gets, but made up for it was a tasty sauce. The beef was served "wet" —which means fatty in barbecue speak. "It's repulsive how much I like fat," declared Judge Reuven.

Dish #4: Chinese orange beef lollipops

Served on popsicle sticks stuck in clementines, these fried chunks of beef were arranged with grilled orange slices. On the side, Becky served a tart and tasty hoisin-orange sauce, and a fortune cookie for good luck in the new year.

So who won this first game of 2010? The girls! It was a close one, once again. (This time, there was also a little bitterness "I've lost three times! I'm taking my legos and my transformers and I'm going home—I'm not playing again."

Next month, it's back to Brooklyn for Battle Breakfast!