There's something almost hypnotic about steak. Perhaps that's just my testosterone talking, but there is really nothing like a big, juicy ribeye every now and then, as pictured (mine's from The Meat House). But alas, this isn't the time or place for me to muse about the wonders of a perfect steak. I don't need to explain to you why a steak is delicious, or why any steak prepared medium-or-higher is a sad waste of delicious meat. i don't eat steak often, and 4 out of 5 times I do, it's in the form of a delicious burrito from Anna's (ask for "The Charlz"--rice, black beans, steak, salsa, hot sauce, and double guacamole. It's not called that yet, but I'm really hoping it'll catch on!!!). Uhh.. Where was I?

Ribeye, Seared Cauliflower, Mushrooms
I cooked that gorgeous steak the same way I cooked that pork chop a little while ago. I put my cast iron pan in a cold oven, set it to 500˚, pulled it out, threw my salted, peppered, and lightly oiled steak into it, put it on high heat, flipped it after a couple minutes, then popped it in said 500˚ oven until it was cooked perfectly. I then put it on a towel-lined plate and tented it with aluminum foil. In that same delicious pan, I put 2 thick slices of cauliflower and seared them off until cooked through, about 3 or 4 minutes, flipping halfway through.

The mushrooms on top are so simple. So very simple. Everyone seems to get their panties in a bunch over mushrooms and thyme together. Sure, that's good and all, but a bit unoriginal at best. I prefer oregano. So I cooked ~8oz sliced button mushrooms with S+P and ~1T of chopped fresh oregano in about 2T of butter.

A note about mushrooms: any mushroom that is Agaricus Bisporus, which includes button mushrooms, crimini/baby bella, and portabella, will give off a bit of ammonia as the cell structure breaks down. This is especially prevalent in older mushrooms. It's not a big deal at all because the numbers are so small, but it is a good idea to leave your mushrooms uncovered during cooking so the shrooms can breathe.

yeah so i guess this is food
...Seriously, what? Are you eyeing that beautiful, perfectly cooked, thick, center-cut pork chop? yeah, I mean, pork chops are great and all, sure, and the brown rice upon which it sits is good too, but OH MY JESUS GOD, IS THAT SOME BROCCOLI RABE I SEE?!?!

Yes it is.

Broccoli Rabe is the most convincing argument I've heard for proof of the existence of God (although that banana guy made the close second). Broccoli Rabe stirred up a lot of controversy in the Muslim world because everyone thought it was the prophet Mohammed. Broccoli Rabe is the love child of Buddha, Bulbasaur, and Jim Morrison.

"But Charles," I can hear you saying: "I want to learn how to cook a pork chop that beautiful and moist! The pork chops I had as a child were always so dry and unpleasant!" Well, reader, that's because up until the '70s (are my readers all that old?), pork products were always cooked to an infernal 180˚F, for fear of trichinosis. But for the past ~40 years, pigs have been raised to just not carry the particular worm that causes that disease. Some pigs are just raised in a cleaner and more controlled environment -- romping through one's own shit is an easy way to pick up a bug or two -- and others (read: most) are raised with so many damn antibiotics pumped through them that no one needs to bother cleaning up all that pig shit (it can also be contracted if the pig happens to eat meat, such as dead mice accidentally mixed in with their slop). So: cook pork a little more liberally than your grandmother would have. This here's medium rare.

I brined my chops (I had 2) overnight in this: 1qt water with 1/2C kosher salt dissolved in it, ~1t black pepper, 1/4C brown sugar, 1/4t ground allspice, and 1 sprig fresh rosemary (honestly, you could skip the herbs and spices. They don't lend that much, all things considered). When it came time to cook, I rinsed and dried them off and let them come up to room temperature while I put my cast iron skillet in a cold oven which I set to 500˚ (I do this because it just takes less time for the oven to heat up with the pan than it does for the oven to get back up to temp with a cold pan in it). When the little light on my oven went off, I knew that my oven and pan were at 500,˚ so I pulled it out, put a teeny bit of oil on my pork, and put them chops in that screamin' hot pan. 2 minutes on each side, then into the 500˚ oven (right in the pan) for another 3 or 4. I then pulled them out and took pictures of one of them while the other developed self-esteem issues (don't worry, it worked them out when I ate it a few days later).

OH GOD THAT DAMN BROCCOLI RABE. If you require an explanation as to why Broccoli Rabe (or Rapini, to be pedantically correct) is so damn magnificent, then call me. I'll give you hours of lectures, but I don't think everyone else would want to read all that, and it would obscure the point. What I did to this mouth-watering cousin of mustard is as follows:
-Sauté 1/2 an onion (small dice) and 2 cloves of garlic, minced, in olive oil until the whole world smells like garlic.
-Turn down the heat to mid-low and add 1 bunch of Broccoli Rabe, thicker stems removed and discarded (don't use them for stock, they're too bitter for that particular application) and 1/2C chicken stock (if you're vegetarian, don't be afraid to use vegetable stock, mushroom stock, or water).
-Cook your Rabe low until the liquid is almost entirely gone from the pan. Then add ~2T of red wine vinegar, S+P to taste.
-When the vinegar has almost completely evaporated, you're done.
-Enjoy (as if you have a choice).


Tofu Shirataki noodles are not good. There's no other way to say it. They are noodles made from tofu, water, yam flour, and calcium hyrdoxide, also known as slaked lime (this additive isn't evil, trust me). Traditional (read: real) Shirataki are thin, translucent noodles made from Konjac (affectionately referred to as Devil's Tongue), a root found in Eastern Asia and Japan. I've cooked them on three occasions, and I simply give up. Normally, I'm much more persistent. Normally, I love anything to do with tofu. Normally, I try things over and over again until I create something that I could serve to another human being without accompanying it with a suicide note. But not this time. I have prepared these squiggly turds in three different ways. The first attempt, I cooked them exactly as the package indicated, by parboiling and then finishing them in the pan in a sauce. On the second attempt, I tried using them as if they were real Shirataki, in a one-pot soup. Gently afloat in dashi, I really had high hopes for this one, but they were for naught. This time around, I strained them right out of the package and into a hot stir-fry.

The problem was the same in all three instances. These little worms are just damn gummy. They are chewy and unpleasant. On top of that, they don't look or taste particularly good. In fairness, I've been using House Foods brand, If you know a better maker, please let me know. I'll try anything four times.
Yeah, okay, so I put some toasted sesame oil in a screaming hot pan. Then, I guess I added one tablespoon of minced garlic and one of ginger. I suppose you could say that when that stuff became aromatic, I added 1/2 an onion (julienned) and 2 carrots (peeled and julienned). After a minute of tossing that around, I added some sliced shiitake caps, but it's like whatever. I think I added, like, 2t of soy sauce, 1T of lime juice, 1t of Sriracha, 1/4t of turmeric, 1/4t of cumin, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper, but you know. I mean, fine. I pushed everything out of the way, leaving a crater in the middle of the pan so the liquid could reduce quickly, then I tossed it all together and served it over some delicious brown jasmine rice. Ugh.