Dinner for three.
For some reason I don't exactly remember my father came home with an enormous steak wrapped in brown paper. I don't know what possessed him, since we normally only eat steak when my mom is conveniently in another country, or at least another city. But here it is, and it has to be eaten somehow, so we may as well get to it. I season it with salt and freshly ground pepper - I had not really considered how much better freshly ground pepper was than the stuff that comes already ground, in a little can, until I finally caved and bought a hand-cranked pepper grinder - and wonder if I could get away with my Jeffrey Steingarten method of cooking steak. Because the Jeffrey Steingarten method, which he refers to as the perfectly good alternative to a properly grilled steak (as I have no barbecue to play with and feel a bit strange about using the community barbecues in my condo building's courtyard) involves a considerable amount of butter.
If you think about it, you are essentially deep-frying your steak in butter. This, I feel, is very bad for you. I guiltily look around to make sure my parents aren't watching before I slide several tablespoons of butter in the pan (still rather less butter than the recipe calls for, although I do cling tightly to Steingarten's assurance that most of the butter stays in the pan and not on the steak) to melt. I think it is fortunate that my father cannot chew very well at the moment, and I will be eating most of the steak, and at any rate, it will be shared amongst us, so it is not as though we are consuming an entire steak ourselves, and the few tablespoons of butter - if that - which cling to the final product will therefore be divided accordingly, between three people. All this rationalizing passes through my mind as I stand at the stove, basting this huge steak with spoonfuls of gently browning butter, praying that my mother will not turn around from her seat at the dining table and my father will not get up from his comfortable position watching tv to see what I am doing in the kitchen.
With the steak I serve some cucumbers pickled in a dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a few drops of sesame oil. I braise some escarole in chicken stock and sauté some mushrooms - white ones this time - with onions. There is a piece of smoked sturgeon to round out our meal, and of course, steamed rice to sop up the juices. The steak is on the rarer side of medium-rare, with a perfectly browned crust, and neither parent seems to notice the taste of butter that lingers with every bite, nor do they ask how such beefy perfection was attained. Phew.