[item title=”First dinner: NY Strip Weiss au Poivre and Potatoes Anna”]

Begin making the potatoes rst, as the prep and cooking time take the longest.

For the potatoes:
6 Russet potatoes sliced into 1/8 to 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 stick salted butter, melted

Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into a cast-iron skillet. Begin layering potatoes, starting in the center and working them in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping each slice.
After one layer has been made, spread out a thin layer of onions. Evenly spoon 2 more tablespoons of butter over the top and sprinkle with salt. Repeat layering until you reach the edge of skillet.
Drizzle with any remaining butter. Cover with a lid or foil. Bake over direct heat or in an oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, checking doneness occasionally with a knife, until the potatoes feel so and fork tender.

For the steak:
4 1-1/2-inch-thick NY Strip steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and cracked pepper to taste

OE_0191For the sauce:
1 12-ounce can Weiss beer
1 cup half-and-half creamer
2 tablespoons mixed dried whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet to mid-high heat. Pat dry, cold steaks with paper towels before seasoning with a generous amount salt and pepper.
Once you begin to see whiffs of smoke, place two steaks at a time in the skillet. Cook each side about four minutes, turning just once, to achieve a medium-rare doneness and a deep-brown crust. (Add an additional minute per side for more doneness.) Remove steaks and let rest while you cook the next batch.
Once all of the meat is cooked, add an additional tablespoon of oil to the skillet as well as the peppercorns. Lower heat to mid-low. Cook for 1 minute to release the oils from the peppercorns; then pour in the beer. Cook out the alcohol and reduce by 1/4 (about 5 minutes). Adjust heat to a low simmer and pour in cream. Stir occasionally and reduce by 1/4 (about 2 minutes).
Right before removing from heat add butter and stir gently for 20 seconds. Pour equal amounts atop of rested steaks. Serve potatoes on the side by slicing into wedges and inverting onto each plate.

An easy salad that takes almost zero preparation time or eort is composed by coring and quartering a small head of Boston lettuce. Drizzle on your favorite store-bought blue cheese dressing. Add a sprinkling of packaged fried shallots followed by a few dashes of hot sauce.

[item title=”Breakfast: Braised Navy Beans and Tomato Ragout with Soft-Boiled Eggs and Pesto”]

Make the dish in this sequence for maximum efficiency.

OE_0503For the beans and tomato:
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 14-ounce cans navy beans, drained
1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 large eggs

Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onions begin to get color (about 5 minutes). Add beans and 1/2 cup water with salt to taste, and cook until thickened (about 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, heat up a cast-iron skillet and pour tomatoes in. Add basil, marjoram, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt if needed. Cook on low heat until the sauce thickens (about 10 minutes).

For the pesto:
Equal handfuls of both fresh basil and flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
a few pinches of salt

Place herbs, garlic, and salt on cutting board. Drizzle oil over the mixture. Use a large knife to chop even more finely. Take the side of the knife and press down on herbs to create a paste. Use extra salt if needed to create more abrasion. Set aside.

To make the eggs:
Fill a small saucepan with water until it reaches about 2/3 full. Heat until the water reaches a rolling boil. Remove from heat and immediately add egg. If you cook one at a time, set a timer for 4 minutes per egg, remembering to bring water to a boil each time. When the time is up, submerge egg in ice water and remove shell very gently.
Spoon a serving first of the tomato, then the beans. Place the soft egg over the top and split just before taking your first bite. Serve with pesto on the side and a liberal dusting of grated parmesan. Make sure to sop up the oozy yolk with a hunk of toasty bread.

[item title=”Lunch: Grilled H.A.M.C.A.B Sandwich”]

H.A.M.C.A.B. stands for Ham, Arugula, Mustard, Cheddar, and Apple Butter. This sandwich might sound like it doesn’t make sense, because it really doesn’t if you dissect the parts from the sum. Those flavors don’t stack up to logic. However, this sandwich, with the addition of sweet cinnamon raisin bread, will amaze. Whether you find yourself eating one in the woods or in front of the TV, after one bite you won’t question its existence further.

OE_0788To make the sandwich for you and three friends, you’ll need:
1 pound of thick-sliced country ham
1 bunch of baby arugula
1 jar of stone-ground mustard
6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 jar of apple butter
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread

Assemble by smearing a good layer of mustard on one slice of bread and apple butter on the other. Place a small amount of arugula, then the ham, on the mustard side. Follow by placing
cheese on the apple butter side. Then marry the two together. Heat a skillet to medium-low, adding 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Place sandwich directly on melted butter, cheese end down, and spread another 1/2 tablespoon of butter on the top of the sandwich. Cover and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Flip and cover for an additional 5 minutes. Serve your best friend first.

[item title=”Second dinner: Fire-Roasted Lamb with Dried-Cherry”]

OE_11353-1/2 pound semi-boneless leg of lamb loin
1/2 cup red wine
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Place all ingredients in a gallon-size resealable storage bag, evenly incorporating herbs around the meat. Marinate at for least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Heat fire or grill to 400 degrees. Remove lamb from marinade, then place it directly on the hottest area and mark all sides (about 2 minutes per side). Once marked, place the lamb over indirect heat for 1 hour 15 minutes, up to 1-1/2 hours, or until the thickest part of the loin reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Cooking time will vary based on your heat source.

To make cherry verjus:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup red wine
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups beef stock
2/3 cup dried cherries

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, warm oil with onion until it begins to caramelize (about 10 minutes). Add herbs and a few pinches of salt, and cook for an additional minute. Deglaze with the red wine; then add the vinegar. Let liquid reduce by half before pouring in the beef stock. Again, cook until liquid reduces by half. Add cherries and cook, continually adding small amounts of salt if necessary, until they are plump and reconstituted. To serve, place the lamb on a large serving platter or butcher block, carving thin slices. Spoon sauce over lamb that is lying on a bed of warm polenta.

OE_1155For the mascarpone polenta with candied pistachios:
1-1/4 cups plain yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons salted butter
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 cup candied pistachios*

Heat 5 cups of water in a Dutch oven or large saucepan until it reaches a roiling boil. Slowly whisk a gradual stream of cornmeal into the water. Lower heat to a slow simmer and continue cooking an additional 10-15 minutes, constantly stirring to guard against lumps. Keep extra water on hand if the meal gets too thick. Just before serving, add butter and mascarpone, and whip until it’s incorporated. Season with a touch of salt and pepper. Serve individually in a shallow bowl or on a dinner plate. Sprinkle candied pistachios over polenta just before eating.

*Candied pistachios can be easily made by combining 2 tablespoons of butter with 1/8 cup honey on medium heat in a small saucepan. Constantly stir until the honey begins to darken; then add 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios. Lower heat and pan roast an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread mixture across the bottom part of a castiron skillet, letting it cool at least 15 minutes. Break apart candy so that each nut is separated. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

[item title=”Dessert: Shortbread Cookie S’Mores”]

This isn’t really a recipe as much as a new way of considering what a S’more actually is. We took all of the main components (crispy cookie/cracker, marshmallow, chocolate) and expanded the realm of possibilities to include some easily accessible yet slightly sophisticated flavors that would appeal to a fresh young adventurer or the grizzled survivalist just the same.
You can find rectangular or circle-shaped shortbread cookies at just about any grocery store. Or you can make your own. The same goes for marshmallows. They’re both much easier to create than we thought, and the ingredients are relatively inexpensive compared to store-bought versions.

OE_1197To make 12 S’mores our way, you’ll need:
24 shortbread cookies of equal size
12 marshmallows
1 jar chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 jar apricot preserves
a few palmetto fronds or long, thin sticks shaped into skewers

Start by coating one side of a shortbread cookie with the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Take another cookie and spread across a layer of the apricot preserves. Toast a marshmallow over an open fire until it begins to melt and it starts to show a hint of dark color, catching fire just a tad. Don’t let it stay on fire for too long. I don’t really need to tell you how to put together a S’more from this point, do I? Do I?!