Back again, to Thursday Night Smackdown‘s Tight Ass Tuesday. What’s better for a bored, broke amateur cook? Last month’s winner, Dark Side of the Fridge (who will probably kick our asses again this month), declared that this month’s challenge was to include fruit in the dish. No pussying out with a slice of lemon on the plate, a ‘real’ fruit component.
Thankfully, my CSA has included a small melon in two different weeks’ regular vegetable share, so having this baby cantaloupe staring me down worked out. But melon, for dinner? For a CHEAP dinner? Well, duh, fruit salsa, you dope! What it ended up being was somewhere between salsa, salad and relish.
The thought process continued onto meat. Trying to find inexpensive, non-sketchy meat in Brooklyn or Manhattan is not easy. It does not exist, in most forms. So, when I stumbled upon london broil in my least-sketchy local grocery store for somewhere between $1.50-1.99/lb (I blanked on the price, whoops!), I grabbed it. I also accepted that I was probably going to have a chewy piece of steak, because that’s what london broil is. Before last week, the only other form I’ve had London Broil in is killed beyond recognition in the oven by my mother. (Her specialty is Sahara-esque pork chops, chicken, beef.)
Anyway, chewy steak in basket and feeling otherwise stingy, I grabbed just a few essentials – an onion, cilantro, limes. At home, I had a box of tomatoes and jalapenos waiting for me from the garden. Not MY garden, but they were free to me, completely. Wanting to make something that would have a bit more shelf life than fresh salsa, I threw the tomatoes, an onion, a bunch of garlic and the two jalapenos I had into the slow cooker. Basically everything was in large chunks or whole (peppers, garlic).
That bubbled away on high while I worked on some tortillas. Yes, this amateur bread maker decided to make homemade tortillas for this tight ass meal. Following this recipe, which I have no idea how I found, I made the tortillas. Intelligently, I made them half the size as the recipe, for easier rolling and more taco-friendly sizing.
I cooked up the tortillas and kept them wrapped in a towel, while I threw the london broil in a pan. It had quick marinated in whatever the hell I happened to grab – lime, sriracha, garlic… a bottle of ghetto ginger beer that I have NO clue how it got into the fridge, and I added salt and pepper to it before pan frying. Because I worried of tenderness, and also because I love bloody meat, I just did a quick sear, a few minutes on each side, before the steak got taken out and rested on the cutting block. Somewhere in the middle of this, I pureed the cooked down salsa/gazpacho creation.
Oh, the fruit salsa? Yeah, about that. Recipe:
1 small melon (cantaloupe, honey dew) or 1/2 giant grocery store size
1.5-2 small cucumbers (or 1/2 of one of the giant english suckers)
3-4 baby red peppers (or 1/2-1 grocery store sized)
Teensy bit of onion
Mint, cilantro to taste (I used a little mint, a lot of cilantro)
Salt and pepper
Bit of olive oil
Melon was cubed up in my normal, inconsistent fashion, and the cucumber was diced, slightly smaller than the melon. Bell pepper also diced, even smaller than the cucumber. Grate or finely dice the onion, chiffonade mint and rough chop cilantro. Throw it all in a bowl, and season to taste, adding lime juice (I used 1-1.5 limes and they were juicy) and just a little oil. It’s fairly heavy on the lime because the melon is quite sweet.
And then you make tacos! Because last time had no pictures, here’s some step-by-step action.
Pantry staples (Free!):
Tortilla ingredients (flour, water/milk, oil, baking powder), garlic
Tomatoes, jalapenos, mint
CSA – 1/5 weekly draw – $1.85:
Melon, cucumber, red pepper
Steak – $2.25
1/6th onion ~ $0.10
1/10th cilanto ~ $0.10
2 limes – $0.50
$4.80 for 4 people, $1.20 per person.
I realize that some of the keys to being a tight ass cook come down to baking, gardening, and taking advantage of fucking awesome deals like CSAs. I joined it for the sake of cheap, local vegetables so I feel like it’s a legit way to calculate my final costs. Also, if anyone thinks calling flour, milk or garlic pantry staples incorrect, feel free to call me out on it. But they are ALWAYS in my home, no matter what. So there.