Maybe cooking is

Polenta and Steak, San Francisco & Red Thai Curry Beef

Posted on: November 26, 2010

A lot of food has happened since the last post.

Surprisingly, Martha Stewart disappointed me.  Her recipes, organized by season, in Everyday Food: Great Food Fast just didn’t resemble the pictures I took.  Mostly because the garnish turned out lime green.

The basics, according to Martha Stewart, take some serious time to cook.

Corn polenta with freshly grated parmesan cheese and melting unsalted butter.

I made the corn polenta (p. 381) with mushrooms and top sirloin with a parsley garnish (p. 46).

I also found it necessary to add some liquid to the mushrooms to keep them from burning.

Naturally, I chose red wine.

But good news came from this meal: the maiden voyage for my Oster blender impressed me – it can grind parsley leaves!

The final meal: polenta with mushrooms, top sirloin and parsley garnish, white wine.

Don't you want some?

Not sure if I’d make exactly this dish again, but I’d check back with Martha to try some more seasonal recipes.

San Francisco

San Fran is a long flight away from the Midwest, but worth the few hours of cramped leg space for the food, the shopping, and the nightlife.

Cako cupcake bakery in Union Square.

Natalie and me at Cako on O’Farrell Street (at Powell).

Check out the tats on the guy's arm serving the cupcakes; even the hardest can go soft for food.

I tried the red velvet (cheesecake-based icing) and a chocolate cupcake with white (buttercream) frosting for $3 each.  A tasty momentary indulgence, the cake wasn’t moist enough to touch the top spots on my cupcake list.

Another restaurant worth the venture was Masala Indian Cuisine in the cute neighborhood Inner Sunset near Golden Gate Park.  Very authentic, the place blasts Bollywood soundtracks and has great deals for large lunches (but no buffet).  An affordable authentic Italian place back near Union Square is L’Ottavo Ristorante on Sutter Street.  I had the delicious lobster ravioli in a shrimp and spinach cream sauce.

To fully take advantage of the amazing Asian cuisine available, friends and I also hit up a la carte dim sum at Hang Ah Tea Room.  In business since the 1920s and located off of one of Chinatown’s alleys, everything from Hang Ah’s kitchen was delicious.  In particular, I recommend the pork and shrimp shu mei and Chinese broccoli in brown sauce.  The Old Siam Thai Restaurant on the border of the Tenderloin district is worth visiting at any time for the freshness of ingredients and quality of meats.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from top of Buena Vista Park.

If you get a chance to visit San Fran on a nice night, consider spending time at the Rogue Ales Public House beer garden in North Beach.  If you play trivia there, you have the chance to win Rogue dollars!  Rye bar, created and owned by two graphic designers and tended by mixologists, captures the fashionable bar scene.  I couldn’t get enough of their basil vodka gimlets.  The bartender told me the trick is to clap the basil between your palms to open up the flavor.  You’re welcome.

I also tasted this yummy Lynchburg Lemonade:

  • 1 part Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part sour mix
  • 4 parts lemon-lime soda
  • lemon slice
  • cherries

Mix the first three ingredients, then add to the fourth and garnish with the lemon slice and cherries.  I’m finding my niche for cocktail flavors – lime is a big component of those that I find delectable.

Slow Cooker Thai Beef

There’s an Asian grocery a few steps from my door.  It looks like a crack house you’d find in a city from the exterior: no windows, a door bought self-installed with two locking door knobs, next to an alley.  Which is of course why I went in.

And characteristic of an Asian grocery in the Chinatown part of a city, it has an excellent array of products for Korean and Japanese cooking, but also for Indian and Thai cuisine as well.  It also isn’t organized well for outsiders.  I spent an especially long time searching for sliced bamboo shoots on my grocery list, but the workers are helpful and even pointed out when I was about to buy the wrong fish sauce.

This is an exact copy of the Red Thai Curry Beef recipe in Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooker cookbook.  First, sear the beef with salt and pepper to seal in the moisture and flavor; cut into 1.5 inch chunks and place in crockpot.  Second, sauté the onions and garlic, then add in coconut milk, brown sugar and lime juice and bring to a boil.  Third, pour the mixture into the crockpot on top of the beef and let it sit for 3 hours on high.  Start cooking jasmine rice about 30 minutes before it’s finished.  Add bamboo shoots to the crockpot about 15 minutes before it’s finished.  Pretty easy, in retrospect.

When finished, I removed the beef to a separate plate to cut it because I forgot to slice it before placing it into the crockpot. Separately, I also generally want to minimize grease intake in my meals.  So I spooned the orange-colored grease (which floats to the top) into an empty coconut milk can.

  • Main: Beef in a red curry sauce with onions and bamboo shoots
  • Side: Francine mangos from Haiti
  • Drink: Fat Tire and Blue Moon beer

Mango side + red Thai curry beef over jasmine rice and garnished with mint.

So good.

I was skeptical about the fresh mint, but the contrast accentuated the beef and curry flavors nicely in this meal.  Almost to the point that you can’t have it without the mint.  Something to consider for overall success.  Definitely recommended.

With that, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Thought for the week: “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.” – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)


1 Response to "Polenta and Steak, San Francisco & Red Thai Curry Beef"

Guess who got a crock pot on sale during Black Friday?! I just might try making the beef. Was it spicy? I’ve also been wanting to make polenta for a while and have some cornmeal in the cupboard – I’m inspired.

In other news, Cooking Light never made it to my mailbox 😦

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