A Fancy Supper: Rosemary Flank Steak with Balsamic Glazed Onions

By: Alan Meincke

One thing every modern man needs to have in his arsenal of skills is cooking a fine meal for the lady in his life. As I try and discover good recipes, I hope to contribute my recommendations here on a regular basis.

Now that the weather has begun to warm up, it’s time again to bring out the grill! I cooked the following recipe on the grill and used a vegetable/fish basket to hold the onions with pretty good luck. You’ll definitely want to grab a fairly full-bodied red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon to cut the tang of the balsamic vinegar and sweetness of the onions.

For sides, grab some asparagus and throw it on the grill for 2-3 minutes with salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice and roast some red potatoes, diced, in the oven for 45 minutes at 325°F with some leftover rosemary leaves and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

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The only photo I snagged…halfway through the meal because I was starving.

 

Serves: Serves 4-6 or 2-3 really hungry people

Prep Time: 15 minutes active, 2-3 hours inactive

Cook Time: Allow 20 minutes for grill time once preheated 

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds flank steak, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, plus whole sprigs for garnish
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black peppercorns
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar, divided [pro tip: real balsamic vinegar is expensive, but really, really good. Look for a bottle with grape must as the primary ingredient and avoid anything with wine vinegar as an ingredient.]
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Kitchen gadgetry:

  • Cutting board, large
  •  6”+ Chef knife
  • Grilling tools & grill
  • Vegetable grilling basket
  • Rolling pin
  • Small bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Glass flat-bottomed dish for marinating steak
  • Silicone basting brush
  • Aluminum foil
  • Optional: this OXO mandolin is pretty cheap and works great for slicing the onions

Procedure:

Crush the rosemary leaves lightly with a rolling pin to release their oils. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary with ¼ cup of the olive oil, the garlic, cracked peppercorns, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Place the flank steak in a shallow non-reactive dish and pour the marinade over it. Turn the steak to coat both sides, pressing the spices onto the steak. Marinate for a few hours, as this is a fairly tough piece of meat.

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Preheat the grill to medium heat. Clean the grill grates with a stiff brush, then oil liberally to prevent sticking. Remove the steak from the marinade. Brush off any garlic or spices clinging to the steak and season both sides well with salt and pepper. Place the steak on the prepared grill and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Then, without turning the steak over, rotate it 90 degrees and place back on the grill or grill pan; this will produce those traditional brown crosshatch grill marks. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Slather the top of the steak with balsamic vinegar using the brush. Turn the steak over and repeat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, then rotate the steak 90 degrees; cook to an internal temperature of 125°F for medium rare, about 2 to 3 minutes or to 135°F for medium, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and tent loosely with foil.

Clean and re-oil the grill grates. Brush the onion slices on both sides with olive oil; season well with salt and pepper. Load up your veggie basket. Grill the onions approximately 2 minutes on each side. Brush the onions with the remaining balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

Slice the flank steak on the bias into thin slices, cutting across the grain. Arrange the slices on a serving platter; pour over any juices that collected on the platter where the steak was held. Place the grilled balsamic onions on the platter with the steak. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve immediately.

*Steak recipe adapted from surlatable.com.

Bonus for leftovers: Breakfast the next morning – chop up leftover steak slices and heat in oil or butter in a cast iron skillet with leftover potatoes. Crack 2-3 eggs over the contents and scramble.

- Alan lets his wife cook most of the time, but he’ll jump in for Saturday breakfast or a fancy dinner night.

Pairs Well With: Your Weekend Conversation and Drinking Guide

By: Jason Smith

This is a new weekly installment from BBT where we give you suggestions for things to sip and things to talk about while you do. We do all this not because we think we know more than you but because having great drinks and great conversations is part of what it means to have a great life. And we like that. Cheers.

This is a drawing of Plato’s Symposium. A symposium in the Ancient Greek tradition was a party where everyone got really tipsy and gave speeches about a pre-determined topic. The topic the night of Plato’s Symposium was Love. In one of the funnier moments in Plato, everyone has finished giving their grand speak on Love when Alcibiades, an famous General and Politician in Athens, crashes into the party uproariously drunk and insists on giving his own speech after challenges Socrates to a drinking contest. Philosophy rules.

 

This is a new experiment for me (Jason). I’m going to try and make this both fun to read and (hopefully) something you might actually consider doing. Here’s the basic idea: I’m going to give you some suggestions for drinks that I’ve either made this week and really love or have already tried. Then I’m going to give a conversation topic that I think “pairs well with” that particular drink. Get it? GET IT?….. do you get it?

My basic hope is that you’ll use these articles to do the only two things it takes to have a great weekend: have a great drink and have a great conversation with someone you care about or want to get to know more deeply.

Ok then, ONWARD TO ALCOHOL.

The Drink: The Vesper Martini

If I had a gun to my head and someone was making me get one drink and only one drink for the rest of my life it would probably be this drink. This is the original James Bond martini, i.e. the one he orders in the very first Bond book Casino Royale. 

It is extremely good but also EXTREMELY powerful. Do not go for multiple installations of this drink. Ye be warned.

Recipe:

Ok, the problem is there are two variants on this drink. The original James Bond ‘get hella drunk’ recipe and the sensible recipe. I’m going to give you the original but just know that a normal recipe of this drink would probably half these proportions. Enjoy.

– 3 oz. Gin

– 1 oz. Vodka

– 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc (this is a wine apertif much like Vermouth. But what I love about it is it doesn’t taste as off-putting as Vermouth does. In other words, it is worth driving to a fancy liquor store to make sure you have this and not Vermouth.)

– Lemon twist, a big one.

Shake all the ingredients (yes, ‘shaken not stirred’ haha we get it) in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (or old-fashioned glass if you don’t have a cocktail glass) and garnish with a lemon twist. You can add a dash of orange bitters if you’re feeling adventurous.

Pairs Well With: James Bond

If you’re having a martini you might as well talk about James Bond, but obviously not in the whole “Did you like Casino Royale or Skyfall better?” sort of way.

[It was Skyfall. No, shut up. The emotional connection between James Bond and M was brought to its highest level which was more organic to the Bond arc-narrative than anything to do with Vesper Lynn and I WILL FIGHT YOU OVER THIS.]

To take things a bit deeper than just movie rankings (though swim there if that’s your comfort zone) let’s talk about when you can make a traditionally white character black and vice versa.

Turns out former Bond Roger Moore, doesn’t think Idris Elba, the actor who is universally thought to be set to take over for Daniel Craig after Spectre, can play James Bond because he isn’t “English English.” Elba is both English (unlike several former Bonds) and also happens to be black.

Most people think this is kinda racist.

So talk about this:

– When is it cool to change the race of a character?

– Should that even matter, really? Is race a part of what makes a character a character in the ultimate sense?

– If the race of a character does matter to you then, why?

– What are sorts of new possibilities open up for traditional characters if they were a different race?

Drink #2: Scotch

For all the talk about Bourbon on this site we don’t talk nearly enough about my personal favorite whiskey: SCOTCH.

Good Scotch is awesome. A great scotch is a transcendental experience. A really awful scotch is basically cheap tasting sugar-water that also tastes like a mulch bag took a crap in your glass.

Here are some brands I’d recommend to avoid this experience:

The Low Price – The Ardmore, actually a single malt and really good, just over $30 in most places. [Also don’t you dare buy freaking Dewars unless you plan to cut it with LOTS of other things.]

The Mid-Range – Glenmorangie, Laphroaig (my personal fav), Glenfidditch

The Ride of Your Life – Caol Ila, Oban, Lagavulin

Recipe:

– Pour your scotch into a nice, heavy glass

– (Optional, but recommended) place a few drops of water into said scotch.

– Swirl and Sniff

– Drink

Don’t make it more complicated than that and for the love of God don’t put your scotch on the rocks. But still, do you… if you must.

Pairs Well With: FREEEEEEDDDDDDDOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

This joke works on two levels. One, Williams Wallace was a scotsman and Mel Gibson played him and he isn’t Scottish (see previous convo). Also he yelled this word really loud that one time. Second, Scotland also just voted down a measure to declare their independence from England, a vote not without its share of controversy.

Since I’m going to assume that, like me, you know very little about the domestic politics of Scotland we’ll take this to a deeper level. You are drinking Scotch after all.

So talk about this:

– What does freedom mean to you and why is it important to you?

– Do you believe in Fate? In other words, do you think that no one decides what you do or that some other factor (biological, chemical, social, theological) forces you to act thusly?

– How does your social context (class, race, gender, etc.) affect how free you are?

– Finally, if you believe in God, how is it that your actions are free and yet God is in control of everything that happens? If you need a starter on this last one I’ve written about this a bit here.

Happy weekend! Happy drinking! Happy talking!

 

xoxo

Jason

StarTrekLogo

Top 4 Star Trek Episodes

By: Andy Crawford

I have a confession. I’m a Star Trek fan.

It feels good to finally say it out loud.

By Star Trek fan I don’t mean that I attend conventions and have a set of pointy ears. I don’t speak Klingon, and I’m not a viewer of all the modern iterations, like Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I have, however, watched all of the episodes from the original series from the 1960s. But I’d be willing to venture that this doesn’t make me very exceptional.

Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, recently passed away. An overwhelming outpour of condolences and reflections came from celebrities, the President, and millions of others, causing his death to trend worldwide on Twitter. Seeing as Mr. Nimoy is really only known for his role in the franchise, it’s safe to say a large amount of people are fans of the original Star Trek.

And why shouldn’t they be? Leonard Nimoy, along with William Shatner and DeForest Kelley (died 1999) headlined one of the best and most influential series of all time. Star Trek, on the surface, was a fun sci-fi show filled with action, humor, and romance set in exotic locales around the universe. Underneath this veneer, the episodes address philosophical questions about humanity’s purpose and place in Creation, as well as issues such as nuclear war, racism, and authoritarianism. Struggles played out among the leading triumvirate: Nimoy’s logical Spock; Kelley’s passionate Dr. McCoy; and Shatner’s moral Kirk.

Adding to this classic 60s entertainment are the poorly aged special effects. There are badly choreographed fights, obviously fake wounds, model ships flying through the air, and the cheap, plastic sets get crushed from time to time. All of this brings an extra level of humor for the 21st century viewer, in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 sense.

The original series’ episodes are available on Netflix and Amazon Video, and most of them are available on YouTube too. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy the series already beloved by so many.

So, as a way of remembering Leonard Nimoy I have compiled a list of what I consider to be the four best Star Trek episodes. Enjoy!

…And live long and prosper.

Amok Time- Season 2, Episode 1

This is perhaps Leonard Nimoy’s greatest episode. It begins with Spock in a fit of anger, harassing numerous members of the crew. Kirk, worried about the erratic behavior of his First Officer, learns from Spock that he is reverting to a highly volatile and aggressive state that requires him to return to his home planet, Vulcan, to fulfill an arranged marriage. I’ll spare you some complicated plot points, but the episode culminates in a fight to the death between our two favorite heroes, Kirk and an insensible Spock. Watching Spock, who is half human and half Vulcan, struggle with both his primal passions and loyalty to his friend is a worthy monument to Nimoy’s talent.

Balance of Terror- Season 1, Episode 14

The Enterprise enters the demilitarized neutral zone between the Federation (good guys) and the Romulans (bad guys). Captain Kirk is forced into a battle of wits and tactics with a superior Romulan vessel. This episode plays out like a submarine movie, but with photon torpedoes and the vacuum of space. It’s fun to watch the two commanders play cat and mouse as they anticipate the other’s moves, and ultimately earn each other’s respect. This episode also deals with bigotry among the crew for the pointed-eared Mr. Spock, whose appearance is similar to the Romulans.

The Trouble With Tribbles- Season 2, Episode 15

This is probably the most famous Star Trek episode, and undoubtedly the most humorous. The Enterprise is assigned to guard a grain shipment currently housed at a deep space station. While awaiting shipment, a vessel of Klingons docks at the station as well. Bar fights, espionage, insults, and general hilarity ensues. All of this happens amidst an outbreak of cute little furry monsters called tribbles, who reproduce at an amazing rate. If you’ve never watched Star Trek, this funny episode is an excellent place to start.

City on the Edge of Forever- Season 1, Episode 28

The Enterprise is on the edge of space investigating temporal disturbances when Dr. McCoy, driven temporarily mad from an accidental dose of a medicine, beams down to the planet. Spock and Kirk give chase, and discover a naturally occurring time portal. They chase McCoy through, and end up in Depression era New York. Stranded and still missing McCoy, Kirk and Spock assume fake identities. Naturally, Kirk falls in love with a beautiful 30s activist named Edith Keller.

Spock discovers that Dr. McCoy changed the future by saving the life of a woman who was about to be hit by a car. Since she lives, she will successfully lead a pacifist movement to keep America out of World War II. This leads to a German victory in the war, and erases the future of manned spaceflight. In order for the world to be put right the woman, Edith Keller, must die. It’s a deep episode, exploring principles of time travel, free will, and the philosophy of utilitarianism- all in less than an hour.