On a very restrictive diet, it's easy to fixate on what you can't have, on all the verboten treats and favorites you've given up. Right now, I'm turning my frown upside-down, finding the silver lining in the cloud, making a silk purse out of the sow's ear, ac-cent-tu-ate-ing the positive...OK, I'm out of cliches. Sometimes, it's good to get jolted out of your cooking rut, is all. I'm pulling cookbooks out that have languished for a couple of years, learning to bake decent bread, and refocusing on canning and preserving. I'm cooking again and feeling more confident, after giving up on it and myself for a couple of years.
All the cookbook searching is paying off, yielding recipes that I will continue making post-scan. Last night's dinner was a riff on Swiss Steak, that old cafeteria favorite, using Moroccan/Middle Eastern spicing from the cuisines I've been researching. I had made it before, using a recipe from my trusty Fannie Farmer cookbook (12th edition, 1979). Onions, garlic, stewed tomatoes...it was OK. This time, inspired by a box of couscous, I thought of adding warm spices like coriander & cinnamon, and a splash of honey to round the flavors. It was delicious, and the kids scarfed it up and asked for seconds. It's earned a spot in the dinner rotation.
Heather's low-iodine Swiss Steak
1 1/2 lb. cubed steak
1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground coriander
2 t honey
2 15-oz cans whole tomatoes, no salt added, crushed & juice reserved
1/4 c. red wine
flour & kosher salt for dredging meat
1 T Olive oil or canola oil
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
Heat oil in a large skillet or electric frying pan over medium heat. Lightly salt the cubed steak, let stand for a minute, then dredge in flour. Add steaks to the pan, and let sit undisturbed for at least 4 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side.
Remove meat from the pan to a large plate. Lower heat to medium-low, and add onions. Cook until softened slightly, then add garlic and stir until it becomes fragrant. Sprinkle in cinnamon, coriander, and ginger, stir to coat the onions in the spices. Pour in red wine and honey and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, and mix everything together. Add the steaks back into the pan, nestling them in the sauce and scooping some of the tomato mixture on each. Turn heat to low, cover the pan, and let everything simmer gently until the meat is fork-tender, about 30-40 minutes. Stir the sauce, turn meat over once, and watch it carefully to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Taste for seasoning, and add more kosher salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over plain couscous prepared with kosher salt & olive oil, and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro