Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lime Beef Bomb
As in LIME BEEF BOMB! Gentle readers -- I am about to share a cheap n' easy recipe that will even make Poor Girl Eats Well drool on her keyboard. And she's a pretty good cook! That recipe -- once finished -- results in what you see to your right. And it can be made with any type of vegetable (including broccoli), stir fried or steamed -- it's all up to you.

The best part is? Some of the key ingredients come straight from the Bird Backyard and citrus orchard, including the bell peppers pictured above? Did you think that growing peppers was a summertime deal only? So did I! Funny thing is -- fall came and they kept right on going. They've come through rainy weather, frosty conditions and lots of fog and are still putting out some mighty tasty produce.

Who am I to complain?

Fresh Bearss Limes
This recipe originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee section for food lovers -- which Bill & Venus Bird are. If I'm not mistaken, the source the Bee used for this article was Tuk-Tuk Restaurant in North Natomas, just a hop, skip and jump from the Bird Back 40. If memory serves me correctly, this was originally a recipe for a beef salad  (Lam Nuea?) seasoned with fresh limes, hot peppers and other Thai ingredients. If you want to use this as a salad recipe, with your favorite greens, you most certainly can. This can be modified in so many different ways, which is why we make it often (also because we kind of love it).

If there is one absolute KEY ingredient to this recipe it would have to be the fresh limes that are now coming ripe by the dozens in the Bird Back 40. I realize that not everyone has a lime tree in the backyard or even the front yard. But if you can find a source for fresh Bearss Limes, I highly encourage that you take advantage of said source. I have tried a number of different lime varieties with this dish, including the Key or Mexican lime, but I keep coming back to the Bearss. It has a sweetness factor that serves this dish well.

Beef soaking in fresh lime juice and Thai herbs
Fresh limes also have another big advantage over limes purchased in your local supermarket: They are far juicier. The dish that we doubled to serve two people last night was made with just three fresh limes. In the past? When we were without fresh limes and had to settle for whatever the produce aisle offered? It took six to seven limes to accomplish the needed task. The end result wasn't nearly as good either. I cannot stress this enough: the better quality of lime that you have means a much better tasting meal.

And this is one good tasting meal.

It means a pretty good trek in cold weather to reach the Bird pepper patch these days. Much of the yard is still not landscaped in the way I would like. These vast stretches of open dirt are fine in the summer, but turn into a muddy, sticky, clay SLOP at the first hint of rain, fog or cold weather. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but it's pretty darn sloppy right now. This means the donning of mud shoes, a flashlight to find my way in the dark and a bowl to carry the harvest back inside.

Fresh bell pepper harvest
And what a harvest it was! I'm not sure why the peppers are still churning out product at this point in the season. But I'm not going to complain about it. If life gives us green peppers? We make meals with peppers, including this Lime Beef Bomb dish, fajitas or just plain raw peppers sliced and seasoned with salt, pepper and a drizzle of red wine vinegar. One other thing I've noticed? While the peppers are still growing and producing at a rather eye-popping rate, they do not offer the heat factor that summer peppers bring. That's fine by us because the wife that is Venus likes her bell peppers to be sweet, fresh and crunchy. That is exactly what she gets.

We've been blessed with a lot of production from our three-year old Bearss Lime tree this fall. It also seems to like its location. While not huge, it has grown well since we planted it. We've allowed this citrus tree to produce since the first season, and while last season's production of a single, solitary lime was a bit of a downer, this year's production of about 50 limes has us smiling from ear to ear. Fresh limes go well in cooking. They also go well in Pacifico, which is something we're just a tad familiar with.

A tad...

Chopped peppers ready for steaming
The monthly fertilization schedule that we adopted some years back for all fruit and citrus offerings in the Bird Back 40 also seems to have played a positive role in production. It's not all that difficult to be honest. The instructions from City of Folsom Arborist Ken Menzer were to throw a handful of pelleted fertilizer beneath each tree every month. It appears to be good advice. If the fertilizer regimen resulted in production like this, I highly encourage it. It also doesn't hurt to have a beehive in the backyard, as honeybees LOVE citrus flowers. Bees, as we all know, are essential pollinators. I don't know if we would have this kind of production without them.

As for the vegetables, you can use your favorite. We sometimes go the stir fry route. I happen to prefer vegetables that are lightly steamed rather than stir fried. Lightly steamed vegetables retain their crunch factor and don't contain the oil content that results from a stir fry. We do always try to use fresh vegetables for this dish because anything that comes out of a bag (frozen veggies) gets somewhat limp during the reheating process.

As the wife would say: limp is bad.

Sliced beef cooking in fresh lime juice and seasonings
We've used many different cuts of beef for this dish. Since the key to this recipe is the lime and the soak process, any cut of beef will work. Venus and I generally follow the sales and stock up on beef when it's on sale. For instance? Last night's dish featured two Harris Ranch New York steaks that we cut into strips. But we've also used Tri-Tip for this meal as well as London Broil. In other words? It's "whatever you got." Ground turkey also works with this dish, but I must admit, beef is just so much better.

And now -- without further adieu -- the recipe for LIME BEEF BOMB. Remember this one piece of advice: the key to this recipe is the quality of the lime used, and the soak factor. The longer the beef soaks in the lime mixture, the better.

Happy eating!

(note, we usually double this recipe for two people)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about two limes)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar (substitute honey if you want)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil (any oil can be used, but Sesame Oil adds taste)
1/2 lb steak (tri-tip is good, we used NY Steak last night)

Steamed peppers
Directions: Cut beef into long, thin strips and layer into a wide, raised bowl. Once the first layer is complete, spinkle liberally with salt and pepper and press into meat. Add a second layer of beef and again sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and again press into meat. Keep repeating this process depending on how much of this you make.

Mix lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes and oil together. Mix well. Pour half to three quarters of this mixture over beef . Let soak at least 30 minutes before stir frying or just frying in a regular pan. Cook until most of the lime mixture has evaporated,. OR -- if you enjoy a raw beef, reduce cooking time.

The absolute KEY to this meal is the LIME and the SOAK process. Add the cooked beef to an already prepared salad or steamed or stir fry vegetables and rice and enjoy it in another way.