The Prudent Foodie has been on a long hiatus - I've been working really hard and had no time or energy for much in the way of creative cooking, or for blogging. One of my colleagues expressed resentment a while back that I somehow found time to be DeeDee, and blog on food once a week - something that depressed me, but today I feel like squeezing it in even though I spent most of the day writing proposals. So, it's strawberry time here in Ann Arbor - a week and a half ago there were just a few very pricey ones, but 10 days of hot weather and two inches of rain has them busting out all over. As a result, I got a couple quarts quite reasonably at the farmers market yesterday, and got inspired last night by them and the peas that are coming in my garden. Give me a moment here to brag on the fact that I have peas in my garden before there are any in the market! I started them in early March in my cold frame, and am enjoying the early effort. Thomas Jefferson competed with him neighbors to have the first peas of the spring, and tasting them crisp off the bush, it's easy to see why.
You might think first of oriental food when you combine beef and peas, and especially when you add strawberries, but I wanted a more mediterranean flavor profile, so I got daring and came up with this. Strawberries, like tomatoes, are both sweet and tart, and this produces a creamy sauce which is really good with the beef. The recipe makes enough for two people - easily increased for many more!
1 cup ripe strawberries
3 or 4 spring onions, or 1 small yellow onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, minced
Leaves (and flowers if in bloom) from 8 to 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 lb beef skirt steak (or flank steak)
1 cup or more of fresh snow peas or snap peas, with the ends and stringy tops trimmed
1/2 cup cream or sour cream
1 cup polenta
Double Boiler Polenta
Set up your double boiler if you have one - if not a smaller sauce pan inside a large one works great - I have been doing it that way for over 30 years :- ) Put one cup of polenta in the pan, and add 4 cups of boiling water. Keep the heat under the pan of water very low. Stir everything well when you add the water, then stir occasionally while you make the rest of the meal. Add olive oil, butter, salt and pepper to taste to the polenta immediately before serving.
Beef with Strawberries and Fresh Pea Pods
Dice about 3/4 cup of the strawberries, and cut the rest of them into larger chunks. Put the diced strawberries, onion, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix, while mashing the strawberries a bit. Reserve the strawberry chunks. Slice the skirt steak or flank steak into strips 1/4 inch wide and 2-3 inches long. Add to the marinade and rest for a few hours at room temperature or a couple days (refrigerate if you do this!). Remove the beef strips, reserve the marinade, and put the meat in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet at medium high temperature to which you have added a Tb of olive oil. Saute the beef to brown it, and then add the marinade and simmer for a few minutes to slightly reduce the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. While you are doing this, microwave the peas for 90 seconds or two minutes - until they are a bit tender, but not limp (unless you prefer them limp, of course). When the polenta is ready, and the sauce is reduced, add the cream or sour cream to the beef and sauce, stir and simmer a few moments longer to bring to temperature. Add the pea pods and stir. Put a scoop of polenta into a bowl, and ladle over it some of the beef and pea pods. Sprinkle some of the strawberry chunks over the top, and add some shredded parmesan cheese if you choose. Serve it forth and celebrate the season! DeeDee