What a tease spring is. We wake up in the rain or snow, go to work, then by the time the coffee is ready sunshine is pouring in the window.
It’s a hint. When the sun comes out and you have even the tiniest opportunity, get out of the building. That means sometimes you must carry your lunch in your hand, and maybe I can help you with that today.
Steak ‘n’ onion burritos for the road
Freshly made or reheated the next day, these are delicious. The filling is as hot as lead and stays that way while you enjoy your lunch on a park bench or strolling down the street.
This recipe makes about eight large, single-serving take-with-you burritos. For a special supper treat, flatten them with your hand and fry on both sides in a little hot oil until crispy and brown.
Serve with salsa and maybe some plain rice or a fresh green salad.
2 lbs. sirloin steak, trimmed of fat (4 medium steaks)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp. each salt and ground cumin
1/2 tsp. each chili powder and dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
3 tbsp. vegetable oil (divided)
1 large yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. wine vinegar
8 large flour tortillas
1 small handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
2 cups grated sharp Monterey Jack cheese
1 fresh lime
Dry steaks thoroughly with paper towels. Combine brown sugar, pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, cayenne pepper and
2 tbsp. of the vegetable oil and rub into steaks on all sides — be aggressive.
Allow to sit at room temperature about an hour or refrigerate up to overnight.
Heat a heavy frying pan — one that can go in the oven — until it is blistering hot and lay the steaks carefully in it; don’t crowd them.
Cook until quite brown on one side then turn and repeat on the other. Put in the oven at 350 F for five or six minutes — a little longer if you don’t like your steak still pink in the middle.
Remove, cover with foil and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Add remaining 1 tbsp. oil to the hot frying pan (back on top of the stove) and add onion.
Cook until wilted and taking on a little colour but still has texture.
Add garlic and cook another minute, until you can smell it.
Add vinegar to pan and cook together just a few seconds longer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Slice the steaks as thinly as you can. Lay out the tortillas and divide the steak and onions among them. Top with cilantro, tomatoes and cheese.
Roll each tortilla over once to cover the filling, then fold in each side.
Continue to roll up to completely enclose the filling.
Place back in the frying pan and repeat until they’re all done. Put in the oven until hot through. Serve with lime wedges.
For lunch the next day, reheat burritos in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or so, microwave on high one to two minutes, until steaming hot.
Western sandwich pockets
Everybody loves a fried egg sandwich, but they’re a little messy for taking on a walk. The problem is solved by using pita pockets — deliciously.
The jalapeno peppers are optional, I suppose, but I couldn’t bring myself to type that word next to them because in my heart they are too important to this dish.
If you feel strongly opposed, then leave them out, but don’t tell me about it.
This amount makes four generous servings.
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped cooked ham or 1/2 cup chopped bacon
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers (the kind used for nachos or found in small cans)
4 pita breads, halved (the kind with the pocket built in)
8 lettuce leaves
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Fry onion and red pepper in butter until slightly softened but not cooked through.
Cool and set aside the frying pan to use in the next step.
Whisk eggs together with salt and pepper. Stir in onion mixture, ham, cheese and chopped jalapeno peppers and pour into frying pan.
Stir as you would for scrambled eggs but try to retain large curds — don’t break up the mixture too much. Remove from heat as soon as it is set — cook too long and eggs will be dry and crumbly.
Line each pita pocket with one washed and dried lettuce leaf.
Stir hot sauce into Dijon mustard and spread a little of this mixture on the lettuce in each pita half.
Divide the egg mixture evenly among the eight halves and serve.
If you want to take these for lunch the next day, stop when you smear the mustard on the lettuce. Wrap up two pita halves per serving in plastic and refrigerate. Cool and refrigerate the egg filling.
Reheat filling in a microwave until steaming but don’t overheat or the egg mixture will get watery. If that happens, lay on a paper towel for a couple of seconds. Fill the pitas and hit the road.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.