Sunday, Alexi was going to grill steaks, but it turned out we were out of charcoal. He prepared to cook them, instead, in a cast-iron skillet, while I put together a Caesar salad. For the first time in forever, it seemed, it wasn’t yet dark at five o'clock. I couldn’t believe how much the light seemed to have changed since the last time I had prepared dinner.
Also stirring me at this point in winter: Broiled grapefruit. Wearing my favorite sweaters. Dark red wine and chocolate cake. The way train whistles and rain sound in the dark. Getting caught up on the laundry.
I wish we would get snowed in, but that's not going to happen before this winter is over. The camellias are beginning to bud! If we want snow, it seems, we have to visit the mountains. We've been twice this month.
Best wishes for the rest of your January.
Steaks Cooked Inside
Adapted from A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus by Renee Erickson
If you don’t already have acclaimed chef Renee Erickson’s book, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It's a work of art, filled with simple, elegant recipes and seasonal menus.
2 bone-in, dry aged steaks (Erickson recommends rib-eye), 16 ounces each
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed gray sea salt
1 lemon, halved
Remove your steaks from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before you plan to cook them.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When the oven is hot, place an empty cast-iron skillet into it and let it heat up for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, smear your steaks with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, covering both sides of each steak, and season both sides of each with gray sea salt.
Place the hot skillet on the stovetop over high heat. Immediately swirl 3 tablespoons olive oil into the pan. Add the steaks, and cook for five minutes undisturbed. When the meat is well carmelized on the first side, turn the steaks and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes for medium rare. Finish cooking thicker steaks in a 450 degree oven. The steaks are done when they reach an internal temperature of 135°F. Add the lemon halves, cut side down, to the pan for the last minute or so.
Transfer the steaks to a platter and squeeze the juice of the lemons over them. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes before serving, half a steak per person. Smear each serving with butter (preferably whipped with chopped fresh thyme and lemon zest), and with freshly ground black pepper.
Yield: 4 servings