Next Time, It Will Be the Food

It worked.

I'm now the proud owner of two new stents--the best drug-eluting stents money can buy says my cardiologist--and two newly cleaned stents, which he did while he was in the neighborhood. Good for another 100,000 miles, or so I quip to the inquisitive. The artery, it turns out, was 100 percent blocked. That's what usually causes a heart attack and at times, death. I barely had twinges. So instead of looking for my insurance policies, Maureen is busy planning a champagne and cake get together for this evening to celebrate my son's engagement to our future daughter-in-law.

It's been a busy week.

He proposed last night, dramatically on bended knee in the middle of our favorite romatic restaurant, The Old Warsaw, the grande dame of the ever-changing Dallas restaurant scene. He had originally planned to ask her after dinner at The Mansion--home of small portions of Southwest cuisine on large plates and one of the city's see-and-be-seen gathering spots.

We talked him out of the Mansion and into the Warsaw.

The Mansion, we said, would relegate him--even in his medal-bedecked Class A's--to the outer regions where the not-so-glittery gawk at the glittery. The Old Warsaw's outer edges are reserved for romantic moments. And, I told him, the Old Warsaw is one of Ross Perot's favorite places.

That fact did little to impress him until--swear to god--the former independent presidential candidate and Saturday Night Live staple, sat down with him and Wendy, jokingly claiming they were at his table, and drew Brian out about his experiences fighting the Mahadi army in Sadr City. Brian tells us he was as easy to talk to and attentive as a long-time friend. And, on his way out, he picked up the tab, his way of thanking our soldiers one at a time.

He'll get my vote if he ever decides to run. Unless he's running against Kinky Freedman. That would be a tough call.

All of this has nothing (or everything) to do with food. But when Maureen and I go to The Old Warsaw, I like to start with steak tartare (hmmm, angioplasty and steak tartare... I may need to rethink). I don't have the Old Warsaw's recipe, but here's one you can make as you listen to your arteries clog.

According to legend, the dish was invented by the Tartare tribes, who were so busy pillaging and looting as they moved west out of Central Asia, that they didn’t have time to stop and cook their food. They just kept raw meat under their saddles where it was tenderized, and later spiced and eaten on the go. When they got to Germany, the local decided they liked the tenderized meat, but liked it even better cooked, creating in the process the world’s first hamburger. But that's another story.

This recipe is best uncooked.

Steak Tartare
Serves Four

A 16 ounce filet steak, ground or chopped to a hamburger-like consistency. Use a meat grinder, a food processor or, if you’re good with a knife, dice the meat until its near the consistency of hamburger.
1 egg
½ cup of diced onions or shallots
½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce or more to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together, roll the mixture into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so to allow the flavors to blend. (You can adjust the seasonings to taste.)

Divide into four portions, surround with extra chopped onions, capers and parsley (or not) and serve with toast points. Remember, ground meat that reaches room temperature becomes a Petri dish for bacteria, particularly when it’s mixed with a raw egg. So don’t dawdle.


Petra said…
I stumbled across your blog a few entries ago. I have enjoyed your stories, and hope to at some time enjoy your recipes. I tend toward make it in 20 minutes dishes. But someday...
Brian Cummings said…

I have another cookbook in the works, this one with recipes that are a bit easier. The working title is "Gourmet Real Simple." I'll post a few recipes from it shortly so you can give them a try.


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