Zhoug, a Middle Eastern condiment, provides spiciness and bright, fresh, grassy flavors that perfectly counter the richness of steak. We use a food processor to minimize the knife work, but if you prefer you can mince the herbs, garlic, and chili by hand. If using flank or skirt steak, cut the meat into two or three pieces that fit nicely in the skillet.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon ground cilantro
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed and seeded
1½ pounds beef flat iron steak or flank steak or skirt steak (see headnote), trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons neutral oil
Lemon wedges and fresh herbs, optional, for garnish
In a food processor, puree the olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, and chili. Transfer to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
Season the steak with salt and pepper. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the neutral oil until barely smoking. Add the steak and cook until well browned on both sides, flipping once. For medium-rare steak, the center temperature should reach 120 degrees. Transfer to a platter and spoon on half the sauce. After 10 minutes, thinly slice the steak against the grain, return it to the platter, and spoon on the remaining sauce. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh herbs, if using.
Croatian Mashed Potatoes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Croatian restani krumpir is a hearty rustic dish of mashed potatoes studded with onions that are sautéed until soft and sweet, and is often seasoned with paprika and brightened with fresh herbs. Our version, modeled after the potatoes we tasted at Samoborska Klet restaurant in Zagreb, is a one-pot recipe. The onion is caramelized, then set aside while the potatoes cook. Rather than boiling whole or chunked potatoes in copious water, we instead slice them unpeeled and steam them in the covered pot with only enough water to facilitate even cooking and prevent scorching. This keeps the potatoes from absorbing lots of moisture to ensure they taste rich and earthy instead of thin and washed-out.
Be sure to rinse the sliced potatoes before cooking. Rinsing washes off excess starch so the finished dish has a creamy consistency and isn’t dense and gluey. Also, take care to fully cook the potatoes — they should almost fall apart when poked with a skewer so they can be easily mashed with a wooden spoon. This dish is a perfect side to sausages, braises, or stews.
2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced about ¼ inch thick
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika, plus more to serve
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, divided
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and well browned, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the jar.
In a colander set under cold running water, rinse the potatoes. Drain well, then add to the pot. Stir in ¾ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the slices almost fall apart when poked with a skewer, 18 to 20 minutes.
If there is water remaining, increase to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until no moisture remains. Reduce to low, add the butter, and cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes with a spoon, until the butter is melted and incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion, paprika, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chives, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional paprika and the remaining chives.
Banana Custard Pie With Caramelized Sugar
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Handmade, freshly baked pies sold by the slice are a specialty of the beach town of Yelapa in Jalisco state on Mexico’s west coast. Inspired by those Yelapa delights, recipe writer Paola Briseño-González created a simple banana custard pie with a sturdy, sandy-textured crust. We adapted her recipe, blending a banana into the custard mixture instead of only studding it with slices, for a creamy filling suffused with tropical flavor.
As with most custard pies, this crust must be prebaked, so you will need pie weights (about 2 cups works best to prevent shrinking and slipping during prebaking). And if you own a kitchen torch, this pie is a good reason to dig it out. It’s an optional step, but sprinkling the baked, cooled pie with sugar and brûléeing it until caramelized lifts the dessert, giving it a crackly-crisp surface and a lovely dappled look.
Be careful not to choose underripe bananas, but overripe ones won’t work, either. The bananas should be ripe so they’re sweet and creamy but not so ripe that they’re brown and mushy in texture.
The dough should not be made in advance; it’s easiest to work with when just made. Also, take care not to roll it too thin; aim for ¼-inch thickness. If the dough tears when putting it into the pie plate, simply patch it; it’s very giving that way.
Serve slices with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream.
Covered well, leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days (though if you caramelized the surface, the sugar crust will gradually soften).
1½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt, divided
4 tablespoons (57 grams) salted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup (57 grams) vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 pound ripe but firm bananas
2 large eggs, plus 1 large yolk egg
¼ cup whole milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (40 grams) white sugar (optional, for caramelizing the surface)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Make a well in the center; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, shortening, and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to melt the solids. As soon as they’re melted and the mixture is simmering, pour it into the well of the dry ingredients. Working quickly, stir with a silicone spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened and there are no dry patches; the dough will be very soft and resemble wet mashed potatoes.
Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and, using your hands, form it into a 6- to 8-inch disk. Cover the dough disk with another large sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a 12-inch round of even thickness. Peel off the top sheet of plastic. Using the bottom sheet of plastic, carefully flip the round into a 9-inch pie plate, centering it as best you can. Ease the dough, still on the plastic, into the corners and up the sides of the pie plate. Carefully peel off the plastic. If needed, patch any tears in the dough. Trim the excess dough and flute or crimp the edge. Carefully line the dough with a large sheet of foil, gently pressing it into the corners and up the sides, then fill with about 2 cups pie weights.
Bake until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the foil with the weights, then prick the pie shell all over with a fork to deflate any air bubbles and prevent additional ones from forming. Bake until the shell is lightly browned, another 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until barely warm to the touch. Reduce the oven to 325 degrees.
Peel the bananas and slice them into ¼-inch rounds. Lay as many slices in the pie shell as will fit in a single, tightly packed layer, then set the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the remaining banana slices to a blender, along with the whole eggs plus yolk, milk, condensed milk, vanilla, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth, 15 to 30 seconds.
For the mixture into the pie shell, taking care not to overfill it (some of the banana slices will rise to the surface); the pie shell may not hold all of the filling, depending on how much it shrank during prebaking.
Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the filling is puffed and lightly browned at the edges and the filling jiggles only slightly when the pie plate is gently shaken, 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
If caramelizing the surface, sprinkle the sugar evenly onto the cooled pie. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar until spotty brown. Serve within an hour, before the sugar crust softens.
The pie also is good served chilled, but if caramelizing the sugar, do so just before serving, as refrigeration will soften the sugar crust.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.