LEMONGRASS BEEF AND SCALLION ROLLS
This dish is an easy version of the Japanese dish beef negimaki. Roll them ahead, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge until you’re ready to grill and serve. You’ll find lemongrass stalks in Asian markets.
• 1½ pounds top round steak
• 4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, pounded and minced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 2 teaspoons or soy sauce
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 6 scallions
• Toasted crushed sesame seeds, for serving
Place meat in freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, then slice as thinly as possible against the grain.
Combine lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, honey, soy sauce and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add beef and toss to combine. Let beef marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature, or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Trim scallions and cut crosswise into halves or thirds, so that they are a bit longer than the width of the slices of beef. Bring 1 inch water to a simmer in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and blanch just until their color deepens, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain.
Preheat an outdoor grill, stovetop grill or panini press.
Roll each piece of beef around 1 or 2 pieces of scallion, and brush the excess marinade on outside of each roll. If desired, thread rolls onto wooden skewers or toothpicks that have been soaked in water.
Grill until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot.
Makes four to eight servings.
— “Paleo Planet: Primal Foods From the Global Kitchen” by Becky Winkler (Harvard Common Press, November 2015, $24.95)
WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEDDAR DIP
This warm dip for the holidays is totally unexpected but totally delicious. It features all the tastes of the season, plus cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?
• Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling and greasing
• 1 large butternut squash (about 3½ pounds)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (½ stick), plus more if needed
• 20 sage leaves
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced
• 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
• 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
• ½ cup sour cream
• 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
• Crackers or pita chips, to dip
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Grease a small baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
Peel, seed, and dice the squash into 1-inch cubes. Alternatively, use the microwave: Poke holes all over the squash with a fork or make shallow slits in the skin with a knife. Microwave squash for 3 minutes or until the skin and flesh have softened slightly. Peel squash and cut into cubes. Discard seeds.
Place squash cubes on the prepared sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast squash until fork-tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry in butter until lightly crisped and beginning to darken slightly. Remove pan from heat and remove sage leaves using a slotted spoon. Set aside.
Return pan to heat, add onion, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion has caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add more butter if onion begins to stick to pan. Stir in garlic at the very end and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Place roasted squash, caramelized onion mixture, and about 2/3 of the crispy sage leaves into the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Add cream cheese and sour cream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer squash mixture to prepared baking dish and mix in half of the cheddar cheese throughout. Top with remaining half of cheese. (At this point, the dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking and serving.)
When ready to serve, bake dip at 400 degrees until cheese is entirely melted and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Top with remaining crispy sage leaves and serve warm with pita chips or crackers for dipping.
CANDIED JALAPEÑOS (COWBOY CANDY)
One popular, and easy, appetizer you see on a lot of holiday party tables is cream cheese topped with some sort of spicy jelly. This year, dress the dish up with a lip-tingling jar of “cowboy candy,” or candied jalapeño. It’s easy to make and very pretty; for added holiday cheer, use a mix of green and red peppers. Be forewarned: These are totally addictive.
• 3 pounds fresh jalapeño peppers, washed
• 2 cups cider vinegar
• 6 cups white granulated sugar
• ½ teaspoon turmeric
• ½ teaspoon celery seed
• 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
• 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Wearing gloves, remove and discard stems from all of the jalapeño peppers. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-¼ inch rounds. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within ¼ inch of the top rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeño slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp paper towel and fix on new two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
If eating right away, place jars in refrigerator. To can, place jars in a canner and cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth, then label.
To serve, spoon candied jalapeños on top of cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Makes 4 (8 ounce) jars.