Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eat: The Beach Picnic

Earlier this summer, my husband took a week long class and I spent the week hanging out with the girls. For many mothers all this alone time with the kids is status quo, but I am spoiled by being married to a fellow teacher and so am used to having adult company all summer.

For some reason spending this first week of summer with the girls while he was off learning about globalizing education or some such made me think of Liz Lemon, Tina Fey's character on 30 Rock. She aspires to be like Ina Garten, Food Network's Barefoot Contessa, who, according to Liz, sees her husband only on weekends and spends the rest of the time eating and drinking with her gay friends. Our trip to the zoo and our doughnuts on the beach lacked the understated Hamptons elegance of  Ina's weekdays and my companions weren't nearly as fashionable as hers. Nonetheless, I was inspired.

To celebrate my husband's last day of class the girls and I put together a beach picnic dinner, which seemed very much like something Ina would spend an episode on in eager anticipation of husband Jeffrey's return. We didn't pack a linen tablecloth like I'm sure Ina would have and we burnt the cookies, but we did manage a very tasty steak sandwich and a variation on my old favorite, watermelon salad.

Seared Steak Sandwich with Arugula and Parmesan

2 New York Strip Steaks
Salt and Pepper
About 3 cups of baby arugula
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano (you won't use the whole thing)
loaf of french bread

Preheat the oven to 450.

Pat the steaks dry on all sides and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Once it is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on its surface, add the steaks and sear them for two minutes on each side.

Once you've done this, put the steaks in the heated oven for about 4 minutes.  Remove them from the pan and allow them to rest on a carving board.

Meanwhile, whisk together the oil and vinegar in the bottom of a medium bowl, then add the arugula and toss until it's coated.

Slice the steak on the diagonal into 1/4 inch thick slices, pouring any juices that are released back over the sliced steak.

Cut the bread to the desired size for your sandwiches and pile it with dressed arugula followed by slices of steak.

Finally, use a vegetable peeler along the side of the parmigiano-reggiano to create extremely thin slices to top the steak.

Watermelon with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

1/4 watermelon, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 oz. goat cheese
1 cup of shelled pistachios

Prepare individual salads by dividing the watermelon among four containers. The Barefoot Contessa would use little Mason jars or something equally tasteful; I went for disposable faux-Tupperware.

Crumble goat cheese over the watermelon.

Coarsely chop the pistachios and sprinkle them over the salads.

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