Steak ala Deadprogrammer

The previous poll showed that there is about the same amount of interest in all the things that I am planning to write about, so I am going to write these articles in no particular order.

So, here goes. Steak ala Deadprogrammer.

Since I am on the Atkins diet, I get to have a lot of steak. So I did a bit of research about dead cow and bull cookery and figured out a pretty decent way of making an almost perfect steak with the minimum of hassle and mess. It’s quick too.

Before reading Kitchen Confidential I used to order my stake well done. What stupidity it was. Me, a person who cancatch Jersey fish and make sashimi out of it, eat burnt steak? Craziness. A normal steak should be medium or medium rare.

There are three things you need to cook good steak. First, a piece of meat. Second, a cured cast iron frying pan. Third, tongs to turn meat over. Fourth.. You need four things to cood a good steak. Fourth, you need a meat thermometer.

The meat part is usually not tricky. I like Rib Eye steak from my favorite Italian store. There is this awesome tip that I learned from Tog about how to buy $10/lb steak for $1.69/lb, but I could never find that particular cut at my local Key Food. That tip isn’t very usable. Hah, get it? Not usable.

The frying pan must be heavy, well seasoned and be made of cast iron. There are a lot of sites extolling the virtues of cast iron pans, so I am not going to write about that. I have a ridiculously expensive Le Creuset pan, but that’s absolutely not necessary. A good heavy 15 dollar pan will do. Just remember, a Teflon coated pan is absolutely no good for frying steaks.

Cooking tongs you probably have already. Now, onto the meat thermometer. You see, the cheapo digital or analog thermometer is rather slow and imprecise. There is a fine line between a steak that is overdone and steak that is unsafe to eat. It’s possible to tell the doneness of a steak by cutting it, but it’s kind of messy. So my solution to this is getting a thermocouple — a digital lab thermometer. I don’t have one yet, but I am definitely going to purchase a Fluke 51 thermocouple with the K type probe. This is what Schomer uses for calibration of his espresso machines.

Cooking steak is simple. There are two steps. Searing and actually frying. Searing is rather simple. Turn the gas on full, and wait unstill the pan is very, very hot. I’ve heard something about checking by throwing salt into the pan and listening, but I know about that. Just wait till it’s very hot. While you are heating it up, cut off a bit of fat from the steak and grease the pan with it. It’s best to have the steak at room temperature (but I sometimes take it straight out of the fridge). Rub the steak with seasoning (or just with a bit of salt). Make sure that the steak is dry and plop it into the pan. Wait one minute and turn it around. After another minute take the steak off and turn off the gas. Let the pan cool down (this is important) and turn the burner to medium. Put the steak back and cook it while turning it over every few minutes.

Now, the only tricky part is figuring out how long to keep frying. The thermometer and Thermyâ„¢, the food safety mascot are your guides in this.

Rare Meat gives easily when touched, no juices appear on surface. 150° F.
Medium Meat feels firm but slightly springy, and juices begin to appear on the surface. 160° F.
Well Done Meat is covered with juices and does not yield to pressure (you ruined it) 170° F.

Now one last fancy shmancy thing that you can do. It’s called deglazing. Basically, after you are done with the steak, splash some alcohol and add some butter to the pan and swirl it around with a wooden spoon. Alcohol will dissolve the gunk that is stuck to the pan, and together with butter will make awesome souse which you can pour over the steak or serve in a little dish. This will also make the pan much easier to wash.


Lunch notes

I’ve got mail!

Today’s arrivals: Ted Nelson’s(of Project Xanadu fame) “Literary Machines” and T. Edward Damer’s “Attacking Faulty Reasoning”.

I wanted to get “Literary Machines” for a long time. Ironically for a book about the future of books, it’s rather rare. I paid $35, which is a pretty good deal (I snapped the book up as soon as it came up in my notifications). It’s the second edition though. I’ll write more about Nelson when I have the time.

I am so happy that I can afford about 70% of all the books that I want :)

For lunch I had some shawarma from “Bread from Beirut“, a very nice middle eastern restaurant. I wonder if it’s possible to buy one of those shawarma slabs and keep it in a fridge. Shawarma is a great low carb food.

Lunch is over. Back to codin’.

What I have seen on a half hour lunch break in NYC

New York Yacht Club building at 37 West 44th Street. I’ve never seen it before. It has these really cool bay windows. Here is what it looks like outside and here it is inside.

It’s located right next to the Harvard Club, where ‘s previous employer liked to give office parties before his company went bust.

Believe it or not, I can’t find a good outside picture. For having such a cool clubhouse they have a pretty crappy website. I guess I’ll have to take some pictures myself.

I don’t have a yacht (I have to ask how much it cost, so according to J. P. Morgan, I can’t afford it) and I have not gone to Harvard. And there is no Brooklyn College club. Or is there? I like the idea of a club. Clubs are cool. Be like a real gentelman. Have some steak. Read a book. Smoke a sigar. Have some scotch. Well, I do those things at home, but it must be much cooler in a club.

In Times Square, inside MTV studios, some show was shot live. I could see the host and the audience through the window.

Saw a middle aged cop with a citation bar for Medal For Valor. It’s kind of like Purple Heart.

Bought some lunch from and interesting street vendor, who apparently used to work as a chef in now closed Russian Tea Room. His name is M.D. Rahman. A few places wrote about him.

Well, the times are tough, but at least he is not Rahman, M.D.

Die Kunst der Rant : Contrapunctus 1

Like everybody else, I am frequently annoyed by waiters, clerks and salespeople. Like all geeks I am a little deficient in the communication department, which makes it harder.

After getting somewhat bad service from a waitress in Blue Note I even suggested to a friend of mine the following idea: a world where waiters are replaced by a computer interface. You study an interactive menu and your orders are transmitted directly to the chef.

Her argument against that was that some waiters are real characters and are really entertaining. And that’s entirely true! Howard Johnson’s in Times Square has a really unique staff of old timers, probably the most polite waiters I met. Waiters at Peter Luger’s are gruff steak experts. Without them the atmosphere would not be the same. On Dave Attel’s Insomniac I’ve seen a late night cheese steak joint where you are expected to curse out the servers and they are expected to answer in kind. It’s not a family restaurant, of course.

But on the other hand, I find ordering in fast food places somewhat tough. The dude in Coffee Connection (Dunkin’ Donuts rip-off) habitually adds milk to my coffee when I ask for cream. More than that, he lies when asked if that’s milk in the coffee. I carry special glucose detector sticks to check if the soda I get brought is really diet (because I am on a low carb diet). Sometimes it isn’t. Many ordering experiences go pretty much as described by J.S. Bach of the Rant, his coolness JWZ. (don’t be lazy, open the link. It’s short and hilarious).

Now, that I can understand. I worked at glorious Nathatns Famous at Coney Island, and I have a really bad short term memory. When you do mind numbing tasks all day remembering even the simplest instructions is very hard. Well, of course the menu was a bit more complex than popcorn and soda and I had to keep track of many more different things, but still…

All you need is a PDA. You get a menu beamed to it before you enter. You select your order. You beam the order to the waiter. When done, you beam the payment. Not a single word needs to be spoken. Ahh, future.