Dazzling New Foods
January 1, 1970
We all want easy, with few ingredients, and dazzling, too. Who doesn’t love the “what is this” question when people are oohing and ahhing?
Recently I’ve stumbled on a few foods I never met before, like “Southern hummus” – made with butter beans or English peas – that make interesting dips, as well as some “new “ meats.
In fact, the “new” meat, a beef tri-tip roast, has been around in California since the 1950’s. But it was introduced to me this last year by the National Beef Council. It is referred to as a “new” meat by me because the method of cutting the whole beef has changed, with more tender cuts being carved out, and making many of the roasts smaller. The tri-tip, for instance, is the bottom of the sirloin roast. It is much more flavorful than, say, tenderloin, but it is nearly as tender.
Watermelon salad is a new twist as well, saving the bother of dealing with seeds in the yard sprouting mid-august. And strawberry or peach shortbread is as American as it can get, particularly made with biscuits.
The trick to this meal is also that everything may be made in advance --- the watermelon “sticks” cut and refrigerated in a plastic bag, to be tossed with the other ingredients at the last minute, the tri-tip cooked and refrigerated, the shortbread resting in the freezer or on the table in a plastic bag. It’s easy on the cook as well as the eyes and taste buds of the guests! But be prepared to tell the guests what everything is.
Peppery Beef Tri-Tip Roast Makes 6-8 servings
This is a dish that does not require much preparation before it is baked and soon on the table. A time saver like this is a good choice for any cook. This cut is new to the South, originating in the 1950’s in California, and taking until the turn of the 2000’s to reach our grocery stores on a regular basis. It is known for its combination of flavor and tenderness when not overcooked. Cut from the bottom triangle of the sirloin, the tri-tip is an irregular triangle that provides well done meat at the ends of its triangle, with more rare pieces on the thicker point. If only one temperature of meat is desired, the bottom points may be tied together making a thicker roast that has all parts cook more evenly. It is important to remove it from the oven ten minutes before carving to enable the temperature to rise and for the roast to rest and its juices distributed.
1 beef tri-tip roast (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine olive oil, packed brown sugar, cracked black pepper, garlic, salt and thyme. Rub this seasoning mixture onto the beef roast. Transfer to an oiled baking pan and bake uncovered, until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for rare, 140°F for medium rare; 155°F for medium, approximately 20-30 minutes depending on thickness. Tent loosely with aluminum foil; let stand 10 minutes. Carve against the grain into thin slices.
Meri’s Watermelon Salad
Watermelon has always been a staple at southern cookouts This is a spectacular addition with a crumble of salty feta and a handful of the fresh, sweet blueberries that are in season simultaneously, it makes a beautiful red white and blue salad that’s delicious and healthy.
2 cups fresh watermelon, cut into sticks or cubes
1 pint fresh blueberries
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled or grated
1 (5oz) package fresh mache or baby spinach
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh pepper
fresh herbs to taste (basil, thyme, rosemary, etc)
Whisk the Dijon mustard and honey with the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and fresh pepper. Add fresh herbs from the garden if available! Toss the greens with the dressing (you may have some leftover) and divide onto 4-6 serving plates with the watermelon, blueberries, and feta. If using for a cookout, assemble salad ingredients together in a large serving bowl and dress just before serving.