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July 5, 2008

Cold beef salad with preserved lemons and fresh basil
Posted by Teresa at 05:13 PM *

Here’s the setup: While working too fast in the kitchen late last night, put the plastic bag full of little individually-wrapped frozen beef tenderloins on top of the refrigerator. Forget it’s there. Find it this morning, still chilly but definitely defrosted. Cook all the tenderloins before making breakfast. Around lunchtime, contemplate the stack of cold cooked beef in the refrigerator.

5 cold cooked beef tenderloins, about 0.75” thick
1 entire package of mixed yuppie salad greens
a nearly equal quantity of small fresh spinach leaves
a good handful of fresh basil leaves
7 medium tomatoes
6 fat stalks of green onion, chopped
8-9 of those mutant dwarf sweet bell peppers
2/3 C. sun-dried tomatoes snipped into little bits
4 small salty French preserved lemons
olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper

Slice tenderloins in half along their horizontal axis, then cube the resulting half-thickness pieces. Put them in a bowl. Seed your lemons and chop them fine. Chop or snip your sun-dried tomatoes into bits. Snip the fresh basil into thin bits. Put the chopped lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil bits in with the beef, and toss gently. Stet.

Wash your greens, get the excess water off via your preferred method, and put them into a very large bowl. Chop the green onions. Cube the tomatoes. Cut up the mutant dwarf bell peppers. Toss them in with the greens. Snip some more basil leaves and toss those in too, if you feel like it.

Add the beef mixture to the main bowl and toss everything together gently. Dress it with a good olive oil (the cloudy greenish sorts work well with this) and some balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat happily.

Before I go any further: no, I have not become a spendthrift! The Fairway in Red Hook sells cut-price whole beef tenderloins. I de-sinew them (that’s the trickiest bit), slice them into individual servings, and wrap and freeze them myself. If they’re not the cheapest meat on the market, they’re also far from the most expensive.

The preserved lemons are from Fairway as well. They import them from France under their own “Campagne St Eugene” label. They’re small, salty, and intensely flavorful. The complete ingredients list is “lemons, water, salt, anti-oxidant F300, citric acid.” If you can’t get French lemons, use Moroccan preserved lemons instead.

I’m recording this one because it turns out there’s something alchemical about the combination of cold beef, preserved lemons, and fresh basil. It’s possible the alchemical effect depends on some of the other ingredients as well, but it’s the beef, lemon, and basil that rise up singing.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Cold beef salad with preserved lemons and fresh basil:
#1 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 06:19 PM:

Am suddenly immensely hungry. Wish I could come eat at your house.

#2 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 06:48 PM:

I'm going to try out that combo. Though it's got to have a different kind of lemon, since I don't do sodium. (Which complicates life considerably, but not doing sodium also improves life considerably, so there I be.)

Love, C.

#3 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:07 PM:

I don't do sodium either. Nor beef in large quantities. Could this be done with either pork or chicken?

#4 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Three years ago I made my own preserved lemons using this recipe on Epicurious. I am lazy: I didn't soak the lemons in advance and most days I forgot to shake the jar. I had to squeeze quite a few extra lemons to make sure there was enough juice to cover everything. It was, perhaps, rather larger a batch than necessary based on the fact that we are still working our way through them.

Occasionally I try store-bought preserved lemons to compare against my own as a sanity check. They look better (mine now have a dull brownish-yellow peel) but general consensus is that mine have a better and stronger flavour. I usually use a quarter of a lemon per person in salad recipes.

If you get a chance and you 'do sodium', I recommend making these yourself.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:42 PM:

(got curious first ...
anti-oxidant F300 seems to be ascorbic acid.)

The salad sounds wonderful (from here in once-more-baking southern CA).

#6 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:48 PM:

I've been making chicken lately with what I call a no-brainer recipe:

- One three-pound bag frozen chicken breast
- A bunch of canola oil
- One medium onion
- Four cloves garlic
- Salt to taste.

Dump the chicken into a pan with a quarter-inch canola oil; bake until thawed. Slice the onion, halve the garlic, toss it all in, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, bake some more.

Total time invested: ten minutes, feeds four hungry no-carb people twice, with a bit for the dog (removed before adding the onions.) The oil is for no-carb calories.

It's less foodie-oriented than your recipe, Teresa, but it sure is nice having chicken ready to eat whenever I want it. This is really good with cauliflower and curry, or with broccoli. We eat a lot of cauliflower and broccoli, and long for the day when we can start eating potatoes again. Or yautía.

#7 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 07:51 PM:

That sounds wonderful--I like the copy editor-recipe-detailing. You can make preserved lemons yourself and they are vastly better than the most of the commercial ones. Lemons+ lemon juice to cover, with the lemons quartered but not cut through - so that the quartered pieces remain in one whole piece. Put a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and whatever else strikes your fancy - maybe some garlic, Kosher salt in a glass jar. It takes a few weeks to cure and they are to die for, with a great and sweet perfume. This is from memory but it came from Paula Wolfert's great Moroccan cooking book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.

#8 ::: Jason B ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Most of that recipe sounds amazing. I'll have to try to adapt a veggie version. Tempeh, maybe? It would take a lot--or a serious conversion of amounts.

#9 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I just have to thank you for the use of "stet" in the context of a recipe. I can't stop giggling about it, and that is a very good thing.

I, too, am tempted to develop a vegetarian version of this, but was thinking of substituting seitan instead.

P.

#10 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 08:33 PM:

Fragano @3:: Could this be done with either pork or chicken?
I'm imagining here, but I think salmon, especially grilled, would pull this dish off beautifully if you wanted to substitute out the beef.

Michael Roberts @6::
Sounds like a great base for any chicken recipe! One masterful secret I picked up from a wonderful Indian chef - try marinating chicken with malt vinegar to give it a subtle but great flavor boost. I splash by eye so I'm not sure what the exact amount would be for 3 lbs of chicken, maybe start with 1/3-1/2 cup and bump up from there.

Oh, and the four cloves of garlic: that's per chicken breast, right?? :)

Jason B @8::
For a vegetarian spin, I'm thinking a combination of grilled tempeh cubes and portabello strips might be good. I'd use the tempeh for the texture and the mushroom for the deeper meat approximate flavor.

#11 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:52 PM:

Lance Weber (10):
Oh, and the four cloves of garlic: that's per chicken breast, right?? :)

Garlic is such a subtle spice, that's why you have to use so much of it.

(Pam: is that David's line, yours, or some other person's entirely?)

#12 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 09:57 PM:

This must be the day for "what the heck do I do with that?" With me, it was three leftover roasted ears of corn and two crabcakes found in the back of the fridge. Ended up making a sort of corn and crab stew with onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, multicolored peppers (thus cleaning out the leftover veggie bin), and a splash of sherry. Quite tasty actually, more than I deserved with the improvisational approach.

#13 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Lance - marinating obviates the ease-of-use mandate inherent in our lifestyle, unfortunately. We do manage to soak legumes, but soaking the chicken? The central point of my method is "thaw in the oven!" Very important.

Just had this chicken now, along with provolone and muenster, and almond-flour cheese bread. Tasty!

#14 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:06 AM:

Yum. Sounds lovely, and is making me crave larb or yum nuer/nua (however your local Thai friends transliterate the word for beef).

Thanks for sharing. And reminding me that I need to try preserving lemons again. My last two times have not turned out so well. But I'm going to keep on trying.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 01:18 AM:

Watch out. Next thing you know this'll turn up as a Cindy McCain Recipe.

#16 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 08:17 AM:

There's a Cambodian dish called Loc Lac that's close to this, beef in a basil and lime sauce. It's extremely delicious.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 10:55 AM:

I seem to recall that Claudia Roden has a recipe for preserved/pickled lemons that involves freezing lemon wedges first, making it faster and easier. It should be in A Book of Middle Eastern Food.

#18 ::: Carol ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 11:47 AM:

Preserved lemons are easy to do, and if you forget to move them around every day during the curing process, it doesn't make much difference. Obviously they cure a little more evenly if you do.

My favorite version uses bay leaves and cardamom layered in with the lemons and salt.

#19 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Question: Are the sun-dried tomatoes the "dry" sort (e.g., sold in cellophane-ish bags) or the kind in jars packed with olive oil? If the latter, might it be beneficial to the salad to use some of the sun-dried tomato oil with the olive oil in the dressing?

I'm too hungry now. Which is what I get for checking the Fluorosphere almost as soon as I get up, instead of hitting the kitchen first...

#20 ::: meteorplum ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 05:25 PM:

@Teresa: Fresh, uncooked tomatoes? Is the scare over or do you have a trustworthy source?

It also occurred to me (while listening to the tomato story on The NewsHour) that back in the home country, my people have used night soil to fertilize their crops for possibly thousands of years. Why were e. coli and the like not regular scourges? Then I realized that Chinese salads were invented in California around the time of Jimmy Carter. Stir frying for the win! Not that it won't keep me from trying out the recipe myself. Sounds yummy.

#21 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 05:26 PM:

John Houghton at #11 -- You'll have gotten the remark about garlic's being a subtle spice from David, certainly. He and Steve Brust had a lot of remarks about garlic and onion in common in the years all of us lived in Minneapolis, but I think that one is David's.

Unless the garlic is to be consumed raw, I always double or triple the amount called for in a recipe. I go through four heads of garlic a week, when I'm cooking. Yum.

P.

#22 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 05:41 PM:

I am laughing because all of us want to change the ingredients, starting with me. :) Classic in terms of providing a recipe, then users don't follow it, and wonder why their end result isn't the same.

Fragano -- It isn't very much beef, so once in a while you can do it. That's one reason this receipe is so appealing. I happen to have beef filet in the freezer.

Love, C.

#23 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2008, 08:07 PM:

meteorplum, #20, many sources of tomatoes have been declared safe and the stores are buying from those sources.

#24 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 12:17 PM:

I made this recipe last night and it was awesome, this is definitely a keeper Teresa!

I did end up tweaking it slightly, by substituting marinated grilled chicken for the beef, fresh limes for the preserved lemon, cilantro for the basil, jalapeno for the bell peppers, grilled sweet corn for the sun-dried tomato, and a chipotle ranch dressing for the balsamic vinegar, but I think the tastes and textures must be pretty close to the your original. I'd definitely make it again!

(Inspired by Constance :)

#25 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Re garlic: you know in that scene in _Last Man Standing_ (yeah, OK, but I liked it), where Bruce Willis eats with the Italian mob, and the guy says, "What? You don't like my mother's cooking!?", and Bruce Willis says, "(coff) Yeah, I like garlic."? I start getting hungry when I think of that scene. 'Cause I really like garlic.

When I made my chicken yesterday, just because garlic is so subtle, I put in five cloves.

I had an acquaintance back in my contract days at Eli Lilly, young guy fresh out of college. He wanted to cook spaghetti, and got a recipe, but didn't know what a "clove" of garlic was. Assuming it meant the purchased unit (and hey, why not?) he made some ... really spicy spaghetti.

#26 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2008, 02:37 PM:

#24 ::: Lance Weber

O, you made me laugh! Thank you. I've gotten a wee bit depressed over the events of this last weekend, which included bad news on several fronts simultaneously.

Your version sounds delicious too.

Love, C.

#27 ::: kathy ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2008, 12:29 AM:

I doubt anyone will read this, so far after the fact, but in the university (way back then), we restaurant management majors shared many classes with dietetic majors. And this one girl, a 4.0 vegetarian, ran 5 miles nearly every day, didn't know how to peel or chop garlic, how to peel carrots ( was using the dull side of a paring knife), there was something else that just blew my mind. My menu for my day as restaurant manager/owner was actually a vegetarian one, and she being a vegetarian I thought would be theeasiest to work with. I walked away wondering how any vegetarian could go through life without minced garlic & properly peeled carrots. THis was in south Louisiana, which is proudly infamously famous for adding flavor to foods. Maybe she really wasn't a southern girl after all?

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2009, 09:42 AM:

#27
I think my first question to her would have been 'Why are you here?' based on just the paring knife bit.
(Shouldn't knowing how to use one be part of the entrance qualifications? It's like a CS major not knowing how to program a computer.)

#29 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2009, 01:29 PM:

P J Evans @ 28 ...
It's like a CS major not knowing how to program a computer.

An unfortunately common happening, that.

#30 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2009, 06:47 PM:

Re 'peeling carrots' @27, 28: if not successfully scrubbed with the kitchen scourer kept for food preparation, carrot skin is scraped off with the back of a knife if it's thick or still dirty. That's been my method for 30 years.

#31 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2009, 11:16 PM:

xeger: Why should a dietician be required to have all the skills of a restaurant worker? I should prefer they enjoy food, but the details of it's manufacture don't seem essential for them to know.

#32 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 02:16 AM:

Terry Karney @ 31 ...
I'm not sure if that was intended to be pointed in my direction, but I'd expect that a dietician should have a reasonable grasp on how to prepare food (including hands-on work), if they expect to be able to advise about diet and nutrition.

If (for the sake of argument) artichokes and plums had the same nutritional value, then I'd expect a dietician to be able to factor in preparation, palatability and plausibility, all of which would be a challenge in the absence of any familiarity with cooking basics, like peeling/chopping garlic. The paring knife... I usually use a sturdy scrub brush, and don't bother peeling carrots at all... but it's not for lack of knowing how to peel carrots.

#33 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 02:54 AM:

xeger: Becuase I screwed up, that was meant for P.J.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 11:22 AM:

I'd expect that someone who's taking restaurant management classes would at least have some idea of what they're doing in the kitchen, since the manager might, in a pinch, have to work in the kitchen.

I learned it as wash carrots, then slice or peel and cut up as appropriate. (For soup, peeling isn't as important.)
The paring knife is one of the most important tools in my kitchen: it gets used for almost everything short of chopping stuff.

#35 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 12:42 PM:

kathy @ 27

It seems to me that one of the big problems in higher education these days is dietetic majors that don't have a lot of nutritional value. It means carnivores like me have to eat a lot more students to stay healthy.

#36 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 05:37 PM:

P.J.: What I saw was the probability the dieticians were taking courses they were required to take. I saw lots of people taking required courses, which they had no interest in.

Maia was required (in the course of a Large Animal Science degree) to take a quarter on butchery. There were lots of people in the same boat. They wanted to be horse farm managers, but it's an Ag school, so they had to learn how to dress pigs, and beef and chickens.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 05:44 PM:

I can see where someone in animal science might end up going sideways into a career where learning how to, um, disassemble critters could be useful. But not generally so. (Of course, those required courses can lead you to changing your major into something more interesting, too.)

(CS students were, at one time, required to take hardware classes. As in building simple circuits from standard parts, and using test equipment. It helps a lot if you go in liking lab classes.)

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 06:01 PM:

And some of them are useful, even if they aren't immediately relevant. My journalism school required everyone to take Photo 10.

It was one of those things where majors in journalism could borrow cameras (which wasn't an option for someone who was taking the class from outside the dept. The dept. didn't keep loaners, but some were handed down through the photo-staff. We looked after our own).

But even those who barely passed got an understanding of what couldn't be asked of the shooters. That was worth keeping a couple of old Pentax and Olympus SLRs in the cabinet.

#39 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 07:03 PM:

PJ Evans @#37:

CS students were, at one time, required to take hardware classes. As in building simple circuits from standard parts, and using test equipment.

And what's wrong with that? There's nothing like reading bits off actual wires to give a sense of the underlying Tao of computers, and (by comparision) of the scale of complexity to which they've evolved.

#40 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 08:32 PM:

David Harmon #39 wrote "There's nothing like reading bits off actual wires to give a sense of the underlying Tao of computers, and (by comparision) of the scale of complexity to which they've evolved."

The computer that you do not construct is not the true computer.

#41 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 08:43 PM:

Building flipflops? (Which worked, maybe.)
Actually, this was in the early 80s, and it was more useful then.

#42 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 10:04 PM:

Michael @ 25:

He wanted to cook spaghetti, and got a recipe, but didn't know what a "clove" of garlic was. Assuming it meant the purchased unit (and hey, why not?) he made some ... really spicy spaghetti.

Be careful, you are getting close to my Secret Chili Recipe, to be defended to the death and never written down.

My first attempt at scratch chili was about 30 years ago for a group of friends. I worked from a restaurant recipe, and somehow became confused about the relationship of 1 clove vs. 1 head of garlic. It got rave reviews, especially when reheated the next day. It continues to be a central feature, allowing a lot of punch whithout cranking up the heat too much. I also makes for great burps.

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 10:32 PM:

Michael @#25, Claude Muncey:

"spicy"? I consider garlic a vegetable, right next to the four kinds of onions I keep handy! ;-)

#44 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2009, 10:43 PM:

My mother made great tomato sauce by putting in, along with the onions and garlic, green chilis and a quarter spoonful of panch phoron (Bengali five spice.) It's so good, I've never been able to like the tomato sauce they serve in Vancouver pasta places.

#45 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 12:03 AM:

Oh, I've scraped, rather than peeled, carrots on occasion. Particularly if they're young and thin, where the peeler would end up taking off too much carrot meat.

#46 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 05:51 AM:

I worked from a restaurant recipe, and somehow became confused about the relationship of 1 clove vs. 1 head of garlic.

I was present when someone got similarly confused between a stick of plastic explosive and a case. (Eight sticks to the case). That was... impressive. No injuries, but debris everywhere and a lot of rather surprised people.

#47 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 10:45 AM:

ajay @ 46:

"Think ya used enough C4 there, Butch?"

#48 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 11:33 AM:

ajay:

I was present when someone got similarly confused between a stick of plastic explosive and a case. (Eight sticks to the case). That was... impressive. No injuries, but debris everywhere and a lot of rather surprised people.

And how long did you work for the Oregon State Department of Transportation?

#49 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 01:43 PM:

Bruce @ 48: I'll bet that was a whale of an error.

#50 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 03:04 PM:

Ginger:

By all accounts the ODOT managed to do something I've never thought possible. There were no seagulls on the beach or in the area afterwards. This Doesn't Happen.

#51 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 03:12 PM:

David Harmon #39:

PJ Evans @#37: CS students were, at one time, required to take hardware classes. As in building simple circuits from standard parts, and using test equipment.

And what's wrong with that? There's nothing like reading bits off actual wires to give a sense of the underlying Tao of computers, and (by comparision) of the scale of complexity to which they've evolved.

I dunno, as I get older my fingers seem to get fatter and fatter. I can't seem to manage to hook a probe on an ALU carry bit anymore. </crusty curmudgeon>

#52 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Bruce @ 50: I guess this means there are some things even seagulls won't tolerate.

#53 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 04:51 PM:

Crossthreading:

Mephistopheles (looks up at blubber raining from the sky): Why this is the whale, nor am I out of it.

#54 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 07:03 PM:

PJ Evans #37:

In my case the process, involving a required course for CS majors taught by the EE dept, which was in the Engineering School instead of the College of Natural Sciences, had some interesting lessons not directly connected with circuit design.

First, that hardware does not necessarily always work even if correctly designed; whatever building blocks you use inevitably have a short or a loose connector in them somewhere. You *will* learn hardware debugging skills.

Second, that hardware TAs (in the EE dept) were considerably less tolerant (at least in the late 70s) of females than were TAs in my own department, which even had a female as chairman.

Valuable lessons, both.

#55 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 08:02 PM:

joann, the programming class I took from the EEs was taught by a woman professor.
Of course, that was in the 80s, but I can't say as I ever got any flak in my classes - I think it was more like 'you're here and playing by the same rules as the guys, so you're okay'. (I liked the lab classes. All of them. Doing things is much more fun than listening to someone else telling you about them.)

#56 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2009, 09:16 PM:

Bruce @ 53: Combining your cross-threaded topics leads me to the great lines from ST:TVH, where Mr. Spock says, "They like you very much but they are not the hell 'your' whales."

Gillian: "I suppose they told you that?"

Spock: "The hell they did."

#57 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2012, 07:16 PM:

I'm making this again right now. Additions: three small Persian cucumbers, sliced. Also, about 1/3 C. blanched slivered almonds, which I lightly browned in the pan drippings left over from cooking the beef.

#58 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 01:13 AM:

I still remember with such delight eating this when you made it. Shivers of pleasure, it brought. You're right about it being alchemical.

#59 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2012, 10:31 AM:

This has become one of my all-time favorite recipes, and one of the first things I think of when we finally have good tomatoes in the summer.

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