The new thing, I hear, is "staycations" - vacations where you stay at home.
I present to you Blogcations: a thoroughly modern concept of vacationing where it's perfectly acceptable to check your email, update your Facebook status, and even catch up on the blogs you're too busy to write when you're not on vacation!
I am blogging right now from Ocean City, NJ. I'd love to qualify "Ocean City, NJ," with adjectives like "sunny," "balmy," and "gorgeous," but as I type, the wind is howling outside at speeds of 50 MPH (15 MPH faster than the speed limit anywhere on the island). Rain is pelting the windows of our beach house, and the ocean looks downright angry (as Ross would describe it, "Victory at sea").
A few photos of the Ocean City boardwalk below, before the weather became inclement:
Despite Mother Nature's blatant disregard for my ONLY vacation of the year, I present to you the first annual Ocean City Beach Vacation Blog, or: Ribeye Steaks with Papaya-Pear Sauce and Stuffed Bell Peppers.
There are two outstanding food stores on the island, Luna Sea, a natural foods and vitamin store, and the Super Fresh Superstore - a traditional grocery store with two enthusiastic "supers" in its name!
Ross is really excited about buying steak:
Ross wanted Ribeyes. At Luna Sea, they were about $13 each, so we decided to get our produce and a few other things there (we had heard from a friend that they got their produce in every Wednesday), and submit to traditional farming methods by buying the meat at Superfresh (it was, in fact, both super and fresh).
Since it is our beach vacation, and we were (ostensibly) going to be spending time in bikinis (especially Ross - he just loves to wear bikinis), I wanted to keep the side dish light, hence the brown-rice-stuffed bell peppers.
Without further ado:
3 ribeye steaks, at room temperature
salt-free herb rub (I used Organic brand Original Salt-free all-purpose rub)
1 bunch fresh parsley
olive oil for cooking the steaks in a pan
1 c. brown rice medley, uncooked
1 T. butter or olive oil for the rice mixture
1 small white or yellow onion
1 small can diced mild green chiles
2 green (or any kind) bell peppers
1 medium fresh tomato
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
1 small jar papaya chutney (or substitute another kind of chutney if you can't find papaya)
1 and 1/2 fresh red pears (or other pear variety)
About 3/4 c. wine
About 2/3 c. balsamic vinegar
dash red pepper flakes
splash of white wine (for the rice stuffing)
Preheat oven to 375. Cook rice according to package directions.
In a large bowl, mix diced onion, green chiles, and diced tomatoes. When rice is done cooking, stir into the bowl until well-mixed and add salt and pepper to taste.
Cut green peppers in half and remove seeds, stem, and ribs. Fill each half with the rice mixture and place in a baking dish. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, until onions become tender and green peppers begin to soften.
In a small saucepan, combine wine, balsamic vinegar, diced pears, papaya chutney, and a little salt, pepper, and dash of red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes, until pears begin to break down and sauce reduces and thickens to applesauce-ish thickness. Squeeze in the juice of a half a lemon and stir in before serving.
Preheat about a T. of olive oil in a grill pan or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and season both sides of the room-temperature steaks with salt, pepper, and salt-free seasoning. When the oil is hot, place steaks in the pan, cooking to desired doneness (about 3-4 minutes on each side for medium doneness, depending on the thickness of the steaks). Flip and cook on the other side.
Serve steaks with a stuffed pepper each, and spoon sauce over each steak (do this tableside, for a little flair, if you want). Top with a little fresh chopped parsley.
CONNIE: The steak is great. This is the best stuffed pepper I've ever had. I don't like when everything is stuffed too tight in there.
ROSS: It was a Rib-bulls-eye. Good job.
MY VOTE ON MY DISH: 8 stars. I always give myself props when I can not ruin steak. It's always heartbreaking to destroy something so delicious (and expensive), so when they're cooked to a perfect doneness, that earns stars. I liked the stuffed pepper. It's not the most fearless thing I've ever made, considering I've made many of them, although I did buy sundried tomatoes to put in them, and when I rehydrated them, I tasted one, and it tasted like I've always thought raccoon dung might taste (I know you're wondering how often I've ruminated about the taste of raccoon dung). I threw those out and used the fresh tomato we had on hand at the house. The peppers were a good, light complement to the steak, I thought.
Despite the uncooperative weather, a vacation is a vacation (a bad day at the beach is still better than a great day at the office), and it was nice to have time to indulge in a home-cooked meal.
Thanks to my guests/hosts!