We are always busy during the academic year, but the past week has been busier than usual, with outreach programs on many subjects for many audiences. Still, we eat dinner at home almost every night. Readers of this blog will know that we are not "box food" people, and will not be surprised that we do our best to avoid fast food, especially if we are at home. (We do sometime cheat and order a pizza, and did so once during the past week.)
Knowing the hectic schedule, we made a simple plan for quick dinners this week, and that plan involved Fresh Catch in Mansfield, a choice we find ourselves making a bit more frequently since this project began. Oddly enough, we visit this meat and fish store as part of our effort to reduce our consumption of meat, both for our own health and that of the planet. We sometimes skip meat for days or weeks (Pam does not eat it with breakfast at all), but we do not see ourselves giving it up altogether. We have decided to make it count when we do have it, which is why this blog from a low-meat family has a lot of good meat recipes on it.
On Tuesday I picked up locally-caught cod (real cod, not "scrod") for quick, simple, and delicious pan-fried fillets. I simply dipped the cod in a mixture of egg, milk, and Tabasco and then dredged it in a mixture of flour, corn meal, and Old Bay. At the same time, I got two small, thick sirloin steaks, with the intention of using a recent gift from my mother -- Cowboy Blend with Coffee Steak Rub from Rancher's Reserve (a private label of Safeway).
Between classes, advising, and our huge Kony 2012 event last night, there was just enough time to steam some frozen green beans -- the last item from our 2011 Colchester farm box -- and prepare the steaks. This was simple -- just brush on olive oil and rub in the mix. A grill would have been nice, but starting with high heat and reducing to medium-high, these steaks were done very nicely in about ten minutes. I err on the side of well-done, and I did not give these the rest time that they deserve. But for stove-to-plate timing, this was quite savory, and sustained me through a bit of a hectic evening in the public arena.
I had prepared coffee steak in the past, trying to replicate something the former chef at Westport Rivers had demonstrated when she hosted a special dinner with Equal Exchange. That evening a few years ago, she used very dark coffee and black pepper, and I believe the steak was paired with a stainless-steel Chardonnay. On my previous attempt, I used too much pepper, partially curing the meat before grilling, so it was very dry. This time the commercial rub was more sweet than spicy, and the coffee not nearly so dark. Still, we paired it with the biggest red we had in the house, a 2010 Pinot Noir we purchased last year at Travessia in New Bedford. This region is not known for reds, as the growing season is too short, but this one has reasonably good body and complexity, and paired nicely with the mildly spicy and sweet steak.
What to do at the end of a hectic week? At the time of this writing, there is no plan. As she left the house to celebration National Library Week in Boston, Pam said something that we almost never say around here: "There is almost no food in this house." We are grateful that this was not literally true, of course, but it does mean that dinner tonight will require some quick thinking -- or a bit more cheating!
A bit of wine haiku by Marco Montez appears on the Pinot label:
Parker sips my red
light body low alcohol
spits, screams: fifty points!