Cooking for just yourself is one of life’s REAL pleasures. You get to cook exactly what you feel like eating, no one judges you if you open a bottle of wine as soon as you start cooking, you can listen to the same album over and over and no one says “sorry, no more Florence + the Machine, it’s been 438 times in a row”, you can cook with no pants on if you feel like it. You can eat as slowly as you want and no one starts cleaning up while you’re still eating (Susie Dubeck, you know what I’m saying). It’s glorious. This recipe is a perfect example of what I make when I’m alone and can pick whatever I want: meat and vegetables. And wine.
Apparently, and I’ve just become aware of this, some people look at being alone for dinner and think: fantastic! I don’t have to cook! I’m ordering a pizza immediately. But I like the ritual of cooking dinner. It slows me down. Cooking and eating are physical acts, they require that I focus on movements and tangible things. I look at a computer screen all day and live in my head, like we all do, and I like to cut and stir and move food around with my hands every day. I find it brings a fitting opposition to the rest of my life.
I would also like to note that I made up this dressing recipe. It’s delicious.
Steak Salad with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
Steaks – I used a NY strip, which I ate approximately 1/3 of. Cook as many steaks as you’ll need for the people you’re serving. Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides, and let them come to room temperature 30 minutes before you want to cook them.
1 onion, sliced
1 package white mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
crumbled goat cheese – I used goat cheese with peppadew peppers, because they had it, and it sounded AWESOME
1 package cherry tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled but kept whole
4 tbsp olive oil, 2 for drizzling over the tomatoes while they cook, two for putting in the dressing itself
2 tbsp red wine vinegar, or apple cider, or white
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Turn your oven on broil, and put the tomatoes, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper in some kind of metal pan (I used an 8 inch metal cake pan, because I sure as shit don’t use it to bake cakes). Put the pan on a low rack in the oven, so the tomatoes cook quickly but don’t burn from being RIGHT under the broiler. Shake the pan around every few minutes, cooking until the tomatoes are all split open and browned, and there’s a bit of bubbly juice in the pan, probably 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan and set it aside to cool while you cook the steak.
Put a cast iron or metal (NOT nonstick) pan on high heat, and heat it up for a few minutes, until you can flick water into the pan and it sizzles violently. Assuming you’re using a relatively thick steak like a NY strip, sit the steak in the pan and let it stay there for 3 minutes without moving it. After 3 minutes, flip the thing and cook another 2-3 minutes, which will yield you a rare steak. If you want to cook it more, do 4 minutes a side. If you want it cooked more than that, read someone else’s blog. Remove the steak to a plate, tent with foil and let it sit there while you fix everything else.
In the same pan, toss in the 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil, and then put in the onions and mushrooms. Turn the heat down to medium. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the mushrooms are nicely browned, probably 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
While that is happening, put your tomato/garlic mixture in a food processor with all the other dressing ingredients- the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Take a minute to admire how pretty it is.
When the onions and mushrooms are ready, slice the steak against the grain. Make a big pile of spinach on a plate, top that with onions and mushrooms, crumble some goat cheese over it, lay some steak on top of that, and drizzle the lot with dressing. You could serve it with some crusty bread, but what would be the point? Bread just takes up stomach room you could save for dessert. Or wine!