About My Dad & Grilled Steak & Potato Salad

Fathers’ Day is coming. A day to celebrate fatherhood, thank our dads and share some time, a few stories and jokes with them. My dad was in sales for years. I suspect that he is a born salesman. He wasn’t a disgruntled, down-on-his-luck, raggle-taggle salesman like Willy Loman. No, never, Dad was loaded with enthusiasm. He was energized, not just by the deal, but by the people he met along the way. You see, my dad is a people person. He is not only charming; he is completely genuine. Dad would never try to convince you that he’s interested in your story. He doesn’t have to; he really is interested in what you have to say.
No matter where he goes, Dad meets people. When we were little, he would roust us out of bed on winter Sunday mornings to get dressed, grab our skis and head to the mountain early. On the way to King Ridge, we would stop for the Sunday papers. We soon learned that if we let Dad disappear into the store to get the newspaper we would be stuck in the cold car for twenty minutes, or at least it seemed that long. As soon as he entered the building he would start talking to someone, anyone. It could have been an old friend or neighbor or the guy who built our house. It could have been a complete stranger. It didn’t matter. He always had at least a few words, more often several, for everyone.

And he still does it. About six weeks ago, I picked Mom and Dad up at the airport. They are snowbirds and were just getting back to New Hampshire. With a few hugs, howdy-dos and a flourish of activity, we loaded suitcases and golf clubs into the car. As we turned onto 93 to head north, I got the lowdown on their seatmates. Since they change planes in Baltimore, they make not one but two new friends.

In the space of an hour or two, Dad can learn a lot about a person and their life story. From take-off to touch-down, he learns about spouses, current, past and future. He gets the scoop on children and grandchildren (most of his seatmates are fellow retirees). By the time the plane lands, he knows where they live now and where they used to live. Maybe it goes without saying, but he’ll also know where their children and grandchildren live. He’ll have the rundown on what they do or used to do, not to mention what their children do. Schools, hobbies, any special interests are all fair game. If it interests you, Dad is delighted to hear about it. Almost without exception, he describes his seatmates as very interesting.

Maybe you’ve sat next to him. He’s that nice white haired man. If you have, you know all about me, my brother and sister. And their families. You know that my brother sells stuff that Dad doesn’t understand but it has something to do with telecommunications or software or something. You know that my sister runs a wonderful nursery school. You found out that their spouses and children are as talented as they are good looking. You know that I used to work for a big computer company and now I write and cook. He probably told you that I used to be Joe Nye’s daughter but now he is Susan Nye’s father. He’s not only a charmer; he is a proud poppa.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Bon appétit!

Grilled Tenderloin Tips  Potatoes with Roquefort Salad
My dad loves his salad with lots of blue cheese. This dish is loaded with steak, potatoes, greens and Roquefort; perfect for any dad on his day. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Bamboo skewers
1 1/2 – 2 pounds new potatoes, whole, halved or quartered depending on the size
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 – 2 pounds tenderloin tips

1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2 – 3 ounces Roquefort, crumbled
5 – 6 ounces mixed baby greens
Garnish: fresh chopped chives, parsley and more crumbled Roquefort

Prepare the potatoes and tenderloin tips.

Soak the bamboo skewers in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Fire should be medium hot.

Toss the potatoes in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes, turning once or twice, directly on the grill or in a grill basket (whichever is easiest for you) for about 10 minutes or until they are nicely browned and tender.

Drizzle the tenderloin tips with a little olive oil, toss to lightly coat. Thread the tenderloin onto skewers, season with salt and pepper. Grill the skewers, 2 to 4 minutes per side, depending on how you like it done. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the cucumber, tomatoes and onion in a medium bowl, add half of the Roquefort and a little vinaigrette, toss to combine. Put the greens, the remaining Roquefort and enough vinaigrette to coat in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To serve: put the greens on a large platter; arrange the tomatoes, cucumbers and onion around the edges of the greens. Arrange the warm potatoes and tenderloin tips in the center of the salad. Garnish with fresh chopped chives, parsley and more Roquefort.

Vinaigrette
3 cloves garlic
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients except the oil in a blender, process until well combined. Slowly add the olive oil and process until thick and emulsified.

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The nice people at Olivia’s Organics (they sponsor my Eat Well – Do Good dinners) would like to offer all Around the Table readers a coupon good for $1.00 toward the purchase of their favorite Olivia’s product.

Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website  www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

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Hot off the Grill & Spicy Grilled Steak

May is National Barbeque Month, which seems a little early for me. Spring has just sprung, I still have daffodils in my yard and summer is at least a month way. To top it off a gale was blowing across the lake the other day. I took a walk anyway and almost ended up in Oz. I made it home safe but hardly of sound mind because I immediately began staining the new porch. I nearly froze. Yes, it’s the same porch that I was hoping would be done in time for Mothers’ Day. And no, it’s not finished. I guess that’s ok because it was too cold to eat outdoors. Instead of firing up the grill, I lit a fire in the fireplace and we had a warm and cozy celebration inside.

But back to barbeques. The Memorial Day Weekend is the more or less official start of summer in places warmer than northern New England. We wait until at least Flag Day or even the 4th of July. However, like the proverbial postal carrier, neither snow nor rain nor dark of night can keep us from our grills for too long.

With longer days and (hopefully soon) warmer evenings, grills are coming out of hibernation. Before you know it, the neighborhood will be filled with enticing aromas from multiple backyard barbeques. Or is it cookout? In New England, we generally call them cookouts, although a true aficionado will tell you that a cookout is not a barbeque. Direct heat, indirect heat, grilling or smoking, whichever you do and whatever you call it, a party under the stars has enormous appeal for any- and everyone. What’s not to love about a warm, relaxing evening outside with family and friends?

When it comes to the backyard barbeque, one size does not fit all. First, there are the indifferent cooks. The guys (yes, most outdoor chefs are male) who just like the camaraderie of a neighborhood get-together. They’ll dash out to the supermarket in the late afternoon, grab some burgers and dogs, a bag of chips and a jar of salsa, a quart or two of coleslaw, some beer and a box of popsicles. They call up everyone they know and bring them together for a jolly evening around the grill and picnic table. These parties may lack a little when it comes to unusual or gourmet flavor but they surely make up for it in spontaneity and good cheer. Besides no one goes home hungry.

Then there are the enthusiasts. They certainly know the difference between a barbeque and a cookout. These guys live to grill. The enthusiast is ready, willing and able to debate the pros and cons of different cuts of meat, gas versus charcoal, even Mary Ann versus Ginger. They take great pride in creating prefect pulled pork, smoky ribs or beer can chicken. Some even enter cook-offs. These guys can be fiercely loyal to a specific style of barbeque, be it Memphis or Tex-Mex, Kansas City or whatever.

Others take a more adventurous route; they mix it up a little. These backyard chefs get their inspiration from far and wide and around the world. They don’t ignore American grilling and barbeque traditions but they take additional cues from Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. They seek out secret spices and experiment with different flavors, sauces and rubs.

Whether staunch regionalist or wanderlust foodie, you may have an enthusiast in your neighbor or better yet, he may live with you. Maybe you are that guy. Count yourself lucky, you will be well fed throughout the fun-filled summer. I discovered long ago that good friends make a good party but adding a few, really good, really special dishes will make a good party great. Enjoy the long weekend and,

Bon appétit!

Spicy Grilled Steak
Looking for cookout ideas for Memorial Day Weekend? Try my Spicy Steak Rub. Interesting, flavorful food doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes all it takes is a few extra minutes and a little advanced planning. Add some spice to a simple steak; grill up a few vegetables and you’ll have your first taste of summer. Enjoy!
Serves 4

1 – 1 1/2 pounds New York strip steak (or cut of your choice), cut about 1 1/2 inches thick
2 – 3 teaspoons Spicy Rub (recipe follows)
Juice of 1/2 lime
4 cloves garlic, minced
Extra Virgin olive oil

Combine the spice mix, lime and garlic, in a shallow dish; add enough olive oil to create a smooth paste. Add the steak and coat it with the marinade. Rub the marinade into the meat. Let the steak marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. (If marinating in the refrigerator, bring the steak to room temperature before grilling.)

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Fire should be medium hot. Grill the steak, about 4 minutes per side for rare and 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Spicy Mix
1 tablespoon each ground cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cumin and kosher salt
1 teaspoon each thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper and freshly ground pepper
Combine all the spices in a clean jar. Shake to combine.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2009

Celebrate the Planet & Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak & Asparagus

What will you do on Earth Day? Celebrated every year on April 22nd, Earth Day is a reminder that our planet’s resources while bountiful are far from infinite. The first Earth Day was held in 1970. It was a turbulent time with too many lows and not enough highs. It was a time of protest, with movements for and against a seemingly endless array of issues. There were demonstrations in New Haven, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and everywhere in between. Is there any wonder that Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the year’s number one hit?

Reuse, Reduce and Recycle were not yet entrenched in our psyches and we were a long way away from our current widespread interest in Going Green. We were a prosperous, throwaway nation. We drove big sedans, huge station wagons and powerful muscle cars. We guzzled 36-cent-a-gallon gas without a care in the world. Factories were belching clouds of thick smoke and spewing sludge into once-clean rivers. The environment was hardly a concern and was rarely covered on the evening news.

Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin changed all that. An oil spill off Santa Barbara motivated him to launch the first Earth Day. In an era of demonstrations, he proposed the first nationwide environmental protest “to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda.” Americans heard the call and on the first Earth Day, 20 million took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. The issue was recognized across the nation and rallies were held coast-to-coast.

Different groups had been fighting a wide variety of environmental concerns, from pollution, toxic dumps and pesticides to oil spills, dwindling wilderness and endangered wildlife. These groups were fragmented and disconnected. Earth Day brought them together as diverse pieces in one common cause.

Earth Day 1970 was indeed a rarity in American politics. Nelson was able to achieve support and alignment across party lines, from both rich and poor, city slickers and country folks, management and labor. Since that first Earth Day, tremendous progress has been made. Recycling is now commonplace. Most of us are trying to find ways to reduce the amount of trash we throw away and find new uses for the old stuff we used to consider junk. We can breathe a little easier with cleaner air and water and once endangered species like the bald eagle are thriving. But we still have a long way to go.

As we begin the countdown to four decades of going green, the thirty-ninth Earth Day will be commemorated and celebrated on the Mall in Washington and in cities and towns across the country. Earth Day is a wonderful way to greet spring and prepare for summer. Why not attend a rally and learn about new initiatives in your town, across the State and in Washington.

Prefer to spend the day active and outdoors? Make it a festive day with family and friends. Gather up a group of volunteers to help clean up your town or neighborhood. Head to a community park to pick up trash, plant trees and tend gardens. If you live near the water, spend the day at the beach cleaning up winter debris. The snow has melted leaving layers of litter on the roadside. Grab a trash bag and take a cleanup walk around your neighborhood. When the work is done, reward yourselves with a festive, potluck feast.

However you spend Earth Day, enjoy the changing seasons while you celebrate the planet and all things green!

Dandelion Salad with Grilled Steak & Asparagus
A big, bountiful salad is a delicious way to welcome spring and Earth Day. This one dish supper may look complicated but it’s really very easy. (Especially if you use leftovers!). Enjoy!
Serves 4

1/2 – 1 pound asparagus, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
1 – 1 1/2 pound New York strip steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
2 cups mixed greens
2 cups chopped dandelion or arugula
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
8 grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
Vinaigrette(recipe follows)
2 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Garnish: fresh chopped chives and parsley

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Fire should be medium hot.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak, about 4 minutes per side for rare and 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

Toss the asparagus with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, turning once, until tender about 1 minute per side.

Put the greens, dandelion, cucumber, tomatoes and scallions in a large bowl. Add a little vinaigrette and toss to combine. Arrange the salad on a large platter, sprinkle with about half of the Gorgonzola and walnuts.

Slice the steak. Chop the asparagus. Top the salad with steak and asparagus. Garnish with the remaining Gorgonzola, chives and parsley.

You can prepare the steak and asparagus ahead of time or use leftovers. Remove the meat and vegetables from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to bring them to room temperature.  

When shopping for dandelion, look for young, tender leaves. If you decide to harvest your own, make sure the area has not been sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers.

Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece red onion
1  teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the garlic, mustard and vinegars in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process to combine and chop the garlic and onion. With the motor run, slowly add the olive oil and process until smooth and emulsified.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. 

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week. 

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website at www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good.  ©Susan W. Nye, 2010