black garlic

Rebecca Black’s Flank Steak Marinade

A shower of recipe cards fell on my head last night...

That’s how this story started. I never finished it because it just never seemed the right moment...

...I opened that cabinet we use for things we seldom use. You know the one. Every kitchen has one.

It was one of those days and I might’ve gotten upset when the recipe card file opened and rained 3x5 cards all over the kitchen.

But down came Diane’s cornbread, Marcelline’s Lemony Buttery Bar Cookies, Yissakar’s beets, Genia’s Lemon cake, Jim’s Paella, Kate’s Truffles, Jean’s biscuits, and one (porotos granados) written in Spanish on spiral notebook paper by the housekeeper of my friend…I should have translated that one while my Spanish was a little more current. I remember that it was for a simple bean dish, she was perplexed why I would want the recipe for it. But a simple home cooked meal is a thing of beauty. Others reminded me of marriages, divorces, Holocaust, Diaspora, family and friends, gone.

So much history, so much life, in a pile of 3x5 cards.

I noticed I was sitting amongst a pile of memories, a tangle of connections. Each card has a story I remember, every time I pull it out. Who survived cancer, whose marriage survived cultural taboos, religious traditions, new holiday traditions I've built on these foundations. All the stories shared when the recipes were given, they are the reason I've kept all these old cards, they're artifacts of important lives and more than that, my connection to their owners is represented, often in the handwriting of the one passing it on.

Today's Story and Recipe

I found the reason to pick up this story and finish it. I’ve witnessed such generosity lately, new friends giving me gifts of homemade jams or confiture, bread, homemade macarons. I’ve witnessed a revolution of sorts, really a return to some old food ways.  Along with our growing interest in the origins of our foods, getting to know our growers, producers, fishermen and farmers, we’ve also been experiencing one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression. You may have noticed.

What happens when farm-to-table love meets severe economic downturn? Welcome to the Canvolution. Friends old and new have connected me to some wonderful old recipes and old food preservation techniques. In addition to learning, or re-learning canning, or "putting up" fresh fruits and vegetables while in season, we're looking for inexpensive ways to enjoy meat-centered meals.

Researching the new trend in old butchering skills (see New Butchers, Old Cuts: Recipes of our Mothers Nourish on a Budget) I was reminded of flank steak and the decidedly downscale but delicious recipe of a mother of a friend in college. It involved jarred chili sauce. I kept that recipe (it was good) but haven’t made it in years. Flank steak has the distinction of being the only steak of a beef carcass containing one entire large muscle. This is why the fibers all run in one direction. Because of this unique cut's characteristics, it's best suited to marination and quick grilling.

A new friend made an off-hand comment about her Mom’s “secret recipe for flank steak" and I had to ask: Any chance she’d share it? She did! I even have permission to share it here. I added some black garlic and tomatoes from my in-laws' garden and the result was an incredibly savory and delicious meal. Flank steak makes it economical, the recipe and technique make it wonderful. Serve it sliced over salad for a summer meal that goes far, and serve the leftovers in the gravy from the reduced marinade.










Rebecca Black’s Flank Steak Marinade With special thanks to Rebecca’s daughter Rachel for sharing the once-secret recipe

  • 1 cup tomato or v8 juice (I used V8)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Tamari)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or veg. oil
  • two chopped fresh tomatoes*
  • two teaspoons black garlic paste*
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic cloves, sliced
  1. Score steak lightly on both sides in diamond pattern.
  2. Mix up marinade and cover steak, add salt and pepper.
  3. Keep at room temp at least an hour before grilling.

The recipe is marvelous but the technique is important to understand. What you have is a flavorful but very fibrous muscle. The tomato juice has acid that breaks the tissues down. The oil helps carry the flavors into the meat. Black garlic, fresh garlic and tomatoes all are rich with umami the fifth taste also known as savory.

We grilled the flank steak after marinating a few hours. We grilled it quickly then boiled down a bit of the marinade as a sauce.

Finally, one of the most important thing about flank steak, after a good marinade, is to slice it on the bias.

When we think it's gotten too hard to get by, often we can learn from those who came before us. Their skills, their stories, and their recipes can help us make it through tough times and not just survive them, but savor them. Don't overlook those gems in your old recipe files or those recipes your old friends will be happy to share. rebeccasflanksteak



Hummus two ways

Hummus is more versatile and easier to make than many of us know. It's so easy to find in the grocery store now, that many of us simply pick up a container of it. Like so many convenience foods, you really can taste the difference when you make it at home. Here is a recipe for homemade hummus which combines standard elements with the new Black Garlic Paste I picked up at the fancy food shows.

Black Garlic Hummus

  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, mashed with salt
  • 1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup of tahini (roasted, not raw)
  • juice of two small lemons
  • 2 - 4 TSP of black garlic paste (optional)
  • Olive oil drizzled in to thin
  • Garnish with chopped parsley drizzled olive oil, sprinkle with sumac, cumin, za'atar.

Place drained and rinsed garbanzo beans in the bowl of a food processor. Add tahini, and alternate lemon juice (fresh squeezed) and olive oil to balance each other out. I add bit by bit, tasting as I go. You may thin with water if you like but I like mine thick.

For the batch in this picture, Hummus Two Ways: hummus two ways








I added all the ingredients but the black garlic, scooped out half, then added about 2 tsps of black garlic paste to the hummus remaining in the food processor. I wanted to have them side by side to compare color and taste.

Notes and Tips:

  • Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice that is deep red, with a lemony flavor. It's a lovely note to add here or to chopped salad, to fish, anywhere you'd like a lemon accent.
  • Za'atar is a blend of spices that often contains sesame seeds and salt along with cumin, oregano, coriander, marjoram, mint, fennel, sage...I use Ana Sortun's version which you can find at the Siena Farms booth at Copley Place Farmer's Market.
  • Another great use for Za'atar is to make crackers, or pita toasts into something special. Try brushing either pita or crackers with orange or lemon olive oil (Like Pasolivo's beautiful award-winning oils) then running them under a broiler for a quick minute or two. It's so simple and delicious and tough to stop munching.
  • Tahini is ground sesame seeds. I prefer the roasted version, it has much better flavor. Like peanut butter it will separate in the fridge. This is one of the very best uses for your immersion blender. I once scoffed at this silly appliance but am a convert. I can use it to smooth out sauces right in the pan. But it's real triumph is remixing Tahini. I tell you - miraculous!
  • Cumin you can add to the main recipe and skip the sumac or za'atar if you like. I wanted to garnish with a bit of each and a drizzle of oil so I kept it back.

Black Garlic:

Click on the photo to go to the Black Garlic site.

cloves paste juiceYou can see the whole fermented heads, the cloves and paste and in the back, a juice pack. This booth was mobbed and just before I took this shot, there was a roving camera crew from NBC there. Black Garlic is definitely an ingredient that people are eager to know more about.

In the hummus above, I found the black garlic paste gave the hummus a deeper, richer flavor. Definitely some umami going on there. The Black Garlic Hummus with carrot sticks is a really satisfying, healthy snack.