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Mr. X Saves the Day

July 26, 2007

Steak and Toast

I only wish I had a better picture of last night’s dinner, and maybe some video of its super speedy preparation, of Mr. X jumping into action in the hippy mart when I realized they were out (OUT!?) of chicken breasts and that all my carefully orchestrated dinner plans were crashing down around me, my brain too addled to think of anything else to cook. I wish I had a picture of the nearly bare meat aisle of the aforementioned hippy mart. I mean, it was barren, bereft. It was so empty it brought me to near rage, because I am just so, so tired of having to shop at the hippy mart and deal constantly with its uselessness and overpricedness. But that is a rant for another time. Today, I have to share with you how awesome it was to watch Mr. X save dinner last night.

I am sure he will insist it was really no big deal, but he has that kind of gift that I am still lacking, after seven months of intensive kitchen time: He can look at a random pile of ingredients and figure out how to do something awesome with them, and in record time. He’s my own personal iron chef, and he swooped in in the nick of time last night, as my hippy-mart-inspired anger was blocking the neurons from firing properly and figuring out what to do about dinner.

I suppose part of the reason I found his feats of culinary prowess so astounding is that not only was the hippy mart empty, so was my house. We recently had a meal moth infestation that forced me to throw away nearly every food product in the pantry. All the pasta, flour, rice, cornmeal, couscous, cereal, every dried good had to go. And frankly, the discovery of the infestation has made me a bit wary of, well, eating, so there hasn’t been much in the way of vegetables or fruit in the house, either. We bought what we could at the hippy mart, and found a few random staples buried in the back of the refrigerator, and Mr. X pulled of a delicious, albeit not very summery, dinner that made me very happy. And seriously, watching this guy work…it took all of about 15 minutes. Amazing.

So what were these random iron chef ingredients? We managed to find some scallions, mushrooms, chopped up steak bits, and a lime at the market. I unearthed some tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes, and the remnants of a not-so-great bottle of red wine. A little bit of butter and voila: dinner.

I was put in mind a bit of something my parents made a few times when I was a kid. I recall it being poverty food–what we ate when the money was running tight. And I recall my parents calling it chipped beef on toast, or some other kind of beef that rhymed with chipped and was a bad word I wasn’t allowed to say. Thankfully, last night’s dinner wasn’t shit beef at all.

Mr X.’s miracle dinner of tomatoey beefy saucy stuff on toast

  • a few glugs of olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 a chopped white onion
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • about a pound of sliced beef, or steak tips, or stir-fry beef, whatever your market calls it
  • salt and pepper
  • a few scallions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 T. tomato paste
  • 1/3 c. red wine
  • a few sprinkles of soy sauce
  • juice from half a lime
  • 2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I had the kind in oil.)
  • 1 T. butter

Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet. When it’s nice and hot, add the chopped mushrooms and let them cook for about five minutes. Stir ’em around a bit and let them cook for another minute or so, then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and let them rest on a paper towel.

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic to the oil in the skillet. Let them cook until they just barely start to brown, then add the steak bits. Toss it all about and let it cook for a minute or two before adding the scallions. Keep cooking and tossing until the steak is browned, but still pink on the inside. Add the red wine and tomato paste, and stir it around to break up the tomato paste and mix it around with the wine. Add a few splashes of soy sauce and the lime juice, and turn up the heat a little to cook it all until the sauce thickens. Then add the mushrooms back in, with the sun-dried tomatoes  and add the butter at the end, stirring it all around until the butter melts. And yes, you have dinner.

We ate it over toast, with a lovely minty salad on the side, but I think it would be great over egg noodles, too.

There is a possibility I’ve forgotten something here, but hopefully Mr. X will remind me what it might be. I will just be sitting over here, dreamily contemplating how awesome my boyfriend is. And how much the hippy mart sucks.

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