Steak and potatoes, upgrade

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I’ve never really been one to sit down and watch the Oscars. Yeah I love criticizing everyone’s outfits, jewelry, and hair, but sometimes the whole show is just a bit much. On that particular Sunday, however, I felt like cooking a good meal, so instead of bothering with the gym or anything else pressing, I decided to take a night off and spend it watching the Oscars with my husband.

We bought the flank steak early in the day and marinated it in some also recently-bought marinade sauce. We cooked it by starting it off on a really hot grill pan, then finished it off in the oven. (We’ve used this technique before and it always works well.) Recently we’ve been strapped for cash, which is why we bought flank steak rather than, say, filets or prime rib, but the marinade was really, really good, even if the meat wasn’t the most tender thing ever.

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The gnocchi were very fun to make, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a very long time. I didn’t have a gnocchi board, so I had to attempt to shape them on the back of a fork. It didn’t work as well as I would have like–partially I think the potatoes were a little too chunky because I also did not have a potato ricer and had to just mash them–but in the end the shape wasn’t that important. The lemon in the gnocchi was delicate yet noticeable and was a fun difference.

Personally, I really liked the eggplant, but I think we timed the cooking wrong, so the eggplant sat around for a little too long and wasn’t really hot enough by the time we sat down to eat. Nevertheless, they were flavored with a good combination of spices and I would be willing to make the recipe again.

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Meyer Lemon Gnocchi
(original recipe March 2008 Food & Wine)
Note: I only used regular lemons and the gnocchi still tasted great. I also did not have a ricer, nor a gnocchi board, so the texture in mine might have been a little off, but again, the taste was great.

Ingredients
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt
Snipped chives, for garnish

Method
1. In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan; shake over moderately high heat until dry.

2. Working over a large rimmed baking sheet, rice the hot potatoes in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the salt and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the flour over the potatoes and stir gently just until a dough forms.

3. Gently roll the dough into four 1/2-inch-thick ropes. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

4. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 1 stick of butter, a few pieces at a time, until the sauce is creamy. Warm the sauce on low heat if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt.

5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then cook them for 1 minute longer. Gently drain the gnocchi, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet until cool.

6. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add half of the gnocchi and cook in a single layer over high heat until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and gnocchi.

7. Reheat the sauce; pour it over the gnocchi and fold gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated. Transfer to a platter and garnish with the chives. Serve.

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Sauteed Eggplant with Cumin and Garlic
(original recipe The New Best Recipe)

Ingredients
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Method
Place the eggplant cubes on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the cubes with the salt, tossing to coat them evenly. Let the eggplant stand for at least 30 minutes. Using additional paper towels, gently press any excess moisture from the eggplant. [Note: we didn’t have time for this step so we skipped it. I think the eggplant might have been less watery if we did this step.]

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium high-heat until shimmering. Add the cumin and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the eggplant cubes and cook until they begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sugar. Cook to blend the flavors, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the parsely. Serve immediately. [Note: it’s important to serve this hot, or else the texture gets a little off]

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