Category Archives: meat

Marinated Flank Steak

A mainstay at gatherings has always been the proverbial gargantuan chunk of meat. I’ve never been the one to cook it, however. When Mr. Martinez is in town the beef chores are always left to him. When I go to a picnic and such, it seems we are always doing beer brats or hamburgers. This got me thinking that I need to perfect the art of “the big meat.” For my birthday I bought myself a flank steak. So here’s my meat everyone. I hope you enjoy every inch of it.

2-3 lbs (1 kilo to 1.5 kilos) flank steak.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

I’m not sure anything could be easier than preparing the marinade. Mince that garlic then add all of the wet ingredients into a glass container or bowl. Mix in the garlic.

Now in a large bowl (I put mine in a resealable pyrex…and no that is not a euphemism for something) lay out the flank steak. About every inch score it with a knife across the grain so that the marinade gets all up in there like a cowboy into the farmer’s wife.

Place the steak into whatever vessel you’ve deem best and pour the marinade all over it. I like to flip the steak around in it to get it good and basted. Cover it and put it in the fridge.

Let it sit for about 2 hours or as long as overnight. I have tasted little difference based on the amount of time yet conventional knowledge dictates that the longer the better (evidently that is also “what she said”).

Once you’re ready to cook it, take it out of the vessel and lay it prone on a platter. Generously coat that beautiful bastard with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Cook for 4-6 minutes a side on a very hot gas grill with the lid closed. It will inevitably take longer than that but you will have to judge for your self. I think it is best served medium rare. The site where I found this recipe has a cool test I was taught years ago by a line cook to test the doneness of steak using your hand. Check it out! May I present: the finger test! All this time I thought the finger test was something else…moving along.

Once it is done slice that bad mama jama diagonally in thin strips.

Enjoy your long piece of hot meat.


There are very few times when a whole weekend comes together like a symphony of howler monkeys but when it does, well, you feel like a freshly shined nickel. The day before the day before Christmas this year we were blessed with the company of the incomparable Martinez family. As oft happens whenever we get together, we cooked. Barney, Mike’s father, gave us a little master class in making Albondigas, or Mexican meatballs, while Kathy, Mike’s mom and my mom, Barbara, provided the color commentary.  The result? Some dynamite Mexican food and an evening full of almost uncontrollable, heartfelt belly-laughter! Thank you to all.

I will never look at the church-key bottle opener the same way again, Kathy.

1 beef soup bone
1 and 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 TBSP finely minced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 TBSP olive oil
2 and 1/2 quarts of water
6oz can of tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots sliced
1 egg beaten
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 TBSP chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup long grain rice

First: Boil the soup bone in the 2 and 1/2 quarts of water for an hour.

When you’re cooking with two moms make sure they both have a full glass of wine. This is an important step because if the meatballs go wrong no one will notice.

Chop up the veggies! In a large saucepan cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until it is golden brown.

Add the soup bone broth you’ve been making for the last hour while one of the moms has been telling you a story about when she saw Led Zeppelin or went to Cuba or something. Then add in the tomato paste and salt to taste. Bring to a boil then add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer this burgeoning soup baby for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in meatball-making land combine egg, cilantro, mint leaves, ground beef, salt, pepper, and rice.Mix well. If the meat is cold this will suck. There is nothing for it, you are just going to freeze your hands.

One of the moms may help hold the bowl for you but be sure to tell her to go back to drinking wine and telling you about her safari in Zimbabwe.

Remember it’s all for the good of meatballs and your frozen-paw-sacrifice will not be in vain. Form the meat into 1 inch meatballs. Barney above demonstrates the rolling technique.

At this point everyone will be trying to talk over one and other. We found that instituting a “talking stick,” and story time limit helps with this. We used a church-key bottle opener. Kath may or may not have exceeded her time limit!

Add a few meatballs at a time to the simmering pot of awesome. There are some who use a ladle to lower them into the soup.
Mike simply drops them in with nature’s ladle, his hand. Watch out for collateral splash-age.

After adding the whole plate of meatballs, lower the heat on your pot, add the oregano, and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the meatballs and vegetables are done.

The meatballs should start to float and be firm-ish to the touch.

Mike also prepared a small plate of chopped cilantro, oregano and finely chopped onion as garnish.

Serve with fresh lemon, salsa, and a few crushed Mexican-style tortilla chips or heated corn tortillas and Mexican rice.

All and all this was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received. I love you guys and damn did we eat and laugh well!.

Check out this fine lookin’ group!
Until next time…



Oh, it’s on muthas! So the amazing and exciting Kim invited Rana and me over for wontons the other night. I was so excited because I haven’t made them since I was a wee one. When I was little my grandmother would talk about her friend Sally who was the mother of a famous bay area chef, Martin Yan, who had his own show on PBS called, “Yan Can Cook.” This show, that grandma and my brother and I watched religiously, was responsible for teaching me (with some assistance from the folks) how to chop vegetables. Every time I make Chinese food I think of Yan Can Cook and my grandma. The following is as close to Kim’s actual words as I could make it.

One package of Wonton wrappers

Da Filling:
500 gr (1lb) of ground beef or pork
4-5 scallions sliced
6oz (about a bag) of spinach boiled for 1 min just so it is wilted
2-3 inch chunk of fresh ginger grated
bit o salt
bit o pepper
bit o sesame oil
bit o soy sauce
pinch o brown sugar

Dipping sauce:
1 clove crushed garlic
4-5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp hot chili oil/siracha
2 tsp sesame oil

The first thing you need to do is mix everything under filling together in a bowl. I know it’s raw meat but get over yourself and just get in there.

Those of fainter heart use a spoon. However, my rule is if you can’t touch it, you shouldn’t eat it. Just sayin’.batterjunkie-1

batterjunkie-5      BRAINS!!! (I would not eat the raw meat lest you become a zombie)batterjunkie-2

Place a small spoonful of meat just smaller than a meatball in the middle of the wonton wrapper, then wrap it up, bitch! Below are pictures of how to wrap it. Basically, get a glass of water and wet your fingers. Slide them wantonlyover two edges of the squares. Perpendicular, yo.

Then with the care of sensual wonton-lover fold the squares over into triangles, sealing the meatball in its doughy prison.batterjunkie-3

Then fold over the tips so you have a little thing that looks like you have mail from the dough-fairy. Or as Rana says it looks like a little wonton hug!batterjunkie-6

Once you run out of meat you’re ready to boil those little babies! Boil them for about 3 min, they should be floating on the surface at that point. When they float you be done! Serve with rice…if you’ve been reading, you know I won’t teach you how to do rice. It’s just not worth a whole post.batterjunkie-7

If you have any left over meat you can simply fry it up and munch on it while you’re waiting.

Before you start boiling I would put together the dippin’ sauce. Just mix the ingredients in a bowl. If you can’t handle raw garlic (you insufferable wimp) then fry it in olive oil for about 1 minute before putting it in.

These are fast and fun and can be frozen for a later meal. If you plan to freeze them, do so before you boil them. Then when you’re hungry you just pot them into a boiling pot. Yeah, y’all. Go cook some Chinese!

Empanadas de Omaira

Empanadas are a Spanish, Portuguese and South American treat. They should not be missed by any means for any reason. The other night the beautiful and talented Omaira, a Venezuelan friend, made her mother’s recipe for us! Prepare to get quite hungry while reading this post. It’s just going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Empanada dough
white corn meal flour (Harina de Maiz Blanco)

Potatoes: 4 red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
Grated cheese
Beef: 225 grams (1/2 pound) ground beef
Your choice of spices for meat*
1/2 onion

Chicken: 225 grams (1/2 pound) chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion quartered
1/2 onion chopped

Other needed items
Saffola oil for frying
1 Large block of cheddar cheese

Think that’s about right but I’m doing this from memory and considerable amounts of wine were involved. Ok, so here’s how you make these lovelies.

We made 2 different kinds of empanadas because, well, we could. If you want you could put only one kind of thing inside. It is really up to you.

First start by peeling and boiling the potatoes (in that order). This is an important step with which to start because much like the pot pies the potatoes have to be done before you make the empanadas. Once they are boiled (about 20-30 minutes) drain them and mash those puppies up! While mashing, add salt and pepper to taste and a good amount of grated cheese. Set aside.

Next chop up an onion and divide it into two equal piles. In a fry pan brown the ground beef. (*I add about 2 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste). Once it has begun to brown, add in the onions. Once everything is cooked. Set aside.

In a small pot boil about 2 cups of chicken broth. Quarter half of an onion and add it to the broth. Toss in the chicken and allow it to boil until it is done (about 10 minutes). Once it has boiled and is done in the middle, remove from heat, throw away the broth and boiled onion, and toss the chicken in a bowl. With two forks, shred the chicken. In a fry pan add the remaining half of the chopped onion and toss in the chicken. Spice as you like. Set aside.

Omaira attempts to teach Devon “the way.”

Now we’re cooking with gas. All you have to do is make the dough and you’re ready to go!
In a large bowl pour about 1-2 cups of water. Add in about 2 cups of corn meal flour and a tsp or so of salt. Mix it around with your hands. It should form a light not-quite-wet dough. This is a bit tricky so don’t be frustrated. I had an expert to teach me!

Once your dough is ready, roll it into balls roughly the size of a clementine. Then get out some plastic wrap and place it on a flat surface. Add a little Saffola to your hands (or whatever oil you’re using) and add some to the plastic wrap as well. This will keep it from sticking. Then, grab your balls!

Press the ball down with your hands onto the plastic wrap making a flat disc. Push in the sides to avoid cracks. Once the disc is about 1/4 inch thick you are ready to fill it.

Stick your meat on one side of the disc making sure not to add too much. I think you know where we are going. It must be a small enough amount of meat so the empanada can close. Add some cheese. Once your meat is in place, use the plastic wrap to fold up so the other half of the disc, without meat,  over the half with meat. Like this:

Through the plastic wrap press down on the edges so that the empanada seals. It should now look like a little half moon. Using a small cereal bowl or really any kind of bowl you might have around, press along the edge of the empanada (through the plastic) with the edge of the bowl, to create a nice edge. Repeat until you have used all of the dough.

We put the beef by itself most of the time and paired up the chicken filling with the potato. Yumtastic.

In about a half an inch of Saffola oil fry each empanada on each side for about 4-5 minutes.

Rana looks on as Devon attempts his first solo empanada.

That’s about it. These are one of those labors of love. Once you know how to make them, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it all of your life.

An excited group of empanada eaters!

A huge thanks to Omaira Borges, our amazing friend who shared her family recipe with us! Until next time, Enjoy!

Labels: Venezuelan, dinner, main, meat

Karnıyarık Turkish meat stuffed eggplant

Karni Yarik (Pronounced Carny Yar-ruk) is a much beloved dish in every region of Turkey. I had the distinct pleasure of having it for the first time with a one Ali San, International Turkish Man of Mystery, and Rana’s Daddy.

Warning if you make this recipe for someone they will never leave you alone until you make if for them again. You’ll have a trail of foodie followers longer than the Pied Piper.

6 medium eggplants (called baby eggplants in the US)
1 onion (chopped)
2 green peppers (chopped)
2 tomatoes
300 gr ground beef (1/2 pound)
2 green peppers (whole)
1-2 cloves garlic
sunflower or any vegetable oil
2 cups hot salted water

Cut off the tops of the eggplants. Peel a strip of down the middle of each one like a little racing stripe. Peel them all the way around.

This will allow the eggplant to sit flat and the cutting board. Slice one side down the middle, lengthwise. Start the cut about one inch from the end and finish the cut about one inch from the other end. The slit should go a little more than halfway through the eggplant. When you’re done it should look like this:

I am aware that this is starting to look more than a little sexual but wait until we get to the end. Place these little fertility symbols into salted water for about 30 minutes. While you’re waiting for them to soak you can make the filling!

Peel your tomatoes and slice six rounds off of one (for topping). Remove seeds from the rest and chop finely. In a fry pan cook your beef in about 2 Tbsp olive oil, until all juices have evaporated. Then add the onions and green peppers, cooking them for about 1-2 minutes. Toss in your tomatoes bits and sauté until cooked. Then remove from stove and add salt, black pepper, red pepper, and diced garlic to your mixture.

Wash and dry off your eggplants. Pour a solid amount of oil into a small fry pan making sure that it is at least one inch deep. Fry these guys on both sides on medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes, until they start to become brown. They should be a little squishy by now. Once you’re done with all of the eggplants toss the peppers into the oil for about one minute to blister and brown them a little.
Place your fried eggplants on a baking pan with the slit side facing up. Use two spoons to open the slit (shown below). At this point you’re ready to fill your fecund vessels with meat (I told you it got naughtier). Hang in there, you’re going to love the taste!

Once they are filled, top them with a tomato slice and your whole green peppers.

Pour 2 cups hot, salted water over eggplants and bake at 205 C (400 F) for about 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and serve!

Enjoy this amazing gift from Turkey!

Labels:  dinner, main, meat, Turkish