From Feasting to Fasting;
A Pepper Pistachio Encrusted Rib Eye Steak
& Mediterranean Orange Roughy

Wednesday February 17th is Ash Wednesday which signals the first day of Lent. In many religious cultures this is the time of year for spiritual reflection, discipline and fasting. On Ash Wednesday it is customary to fast for the day with no meat, eating only one full meal, and if necessary, two small meals also. For the Catholic denomination as well as the Christian faith, it is a time of commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ.

In remembrance of this, the season of Lent has become a time of abstaining from food luxuries. For some it is a time of fasting from one “food” item, for some others, as I heard on the radio today it might be an addictive habit, like “Facebook”. ☺

What is common practice in many homes during Lent is to abstain from meat on Friday. Beef was considered to be a rich mans convenient food while fish, which was easily caught from the sea or lakes was among the cuisine afforded to a poor man. So for all, it was obvious that during Lent eating more simple and easily accessible foods were acceptable practices for a family devoted to prayer and reflection.

Today being the day before Lent, is “Shrove Tuesday”. As far back as 1000 AD, "to shrive" meant to hear confessions. The faithful would confess their sins to their Parish priest and receive forgiveness before the Lenten season began.

Shrove Tuesday also marked the day before the beginning of the 40 day fast period when the faithful were forbidden by the church to consume meat, butter, eggs or milk. With all these leftovers in the house and in the community, there would be feasting and a consumption of fats. Fat Tuesday was another term coined for this day of gluttony. “Mardi Gras” is French for Fat Tuesday referring to this practice of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

And here is a scrumptious carnivorous recipe for you to enjoy on your last day before Lent begins from my recipe box to yours!

Pepper & Pistachio Encrusted Rib Eye Steaks
with Rosemary Green Butter

2 Rib Eye Steaks around 3/4 inch thickness
Vegetable oil
White Wine

1/2 cup Pistachios
1/4 cup black peppercorns

Rosemary Butter
1 stick butter salted
3 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves torn off their stalk cleaned and dried
2 chive chutes cleaned and dried
2 parsley sprigs cleaned, dried and leaves removed from stems

Crust Topping Prep
In mini prep or food processor pulse peppercorns until chopped to a medium texture, add pistachios and continue pulsing until the texture is fine but still has crunch.

Steak Prep
Mix around two tablespoons of oil with two tablespoons of wine. Pat on steaks just to moisten but not to drench. Set aside. On wax paper spread out pepper pistachio crumbs. Lay Rib Eye steaks on crumbs and press to cover all over on both sides. On a pre-heated grill set to medium high cook steak for around 4 minutes on each side. This resulted in a medium done steak, around an 1/8 of an inch line of red in the middle. The steak was 3/4 inch thickness.
In the mean time make butter.

Rosemary Green Butter Prep
In food processor finely chop rosemary leaves, chives and parsley. When done add cold pieces of butter and continue to process till blended. Stop blending when ingredients are well combined. Refrigerate until steaks are done.

When steak is done, let rest for 5 minutes. Take two dollops of rosemary butter to top steaks and dress with rosemary leaves. Serve remainder of butter with butter boiled small potatoes or crusty bread.
*Warning, expect this dish it to be extremely rich and full of fats!
I would serve this dish with vegetables, a salad and some wild rice and for dessert something to cool off the palate unless of course you are using up all your dairy.. in that case here is a rich recipe for rice pudding. :)

My goal for the Lenten season is to post recipes prepared especially to commemorate the season of Fast; Italian, American, English, French, there are recipes steeped in history and religious practices especially for this season.

I would love to hear from you too! Do you have food traditions that you still practice and hold to religiously? Send me an email or even a recipe if you would like, giving me a brief account of how tradition plays a role in your food choices for Lent. Or.. just leave me a simple comment. I would love to hear from you!

I hope you enjoy this fish dish from my recipe box to yours to start your fast on Ash Wednesday!

Orange Roughy with Sauteed Olives, Capers & Tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Orange Roughy fillets
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, whole
1/8 cup Capers
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbs. Sauvignon Blanc

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Add half of fish to skillet and sauté until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer fish to platter. Repeat with remaining fish. Add parsley and crushed red pepper to same skillet; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes, olives, capers and garlic; sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2 minutes. Splash a few tablespoons of wine and season with salt and pepper as needed; spoon over fish.

Buon Appetito,

*My personal note. The phrase “confession is good for the soul”, is something to contemplate. I have read that when we have someone to share or confess our sins to, a healing begins; it helps put into perspective our actions whether good or bad. When we have someone to be accountable too, we often don’t repeat those same mistakes.. or sins if it be. In my practice as a Christian, yes, I do confess my sins to my God, but I also have a dear friend who is an accountability partner. She is someone who I know I can trust. We listen to one another without judgment and know that what we do share with one another is safe and confidential, but at the same time, we encourage one another to greater works and actions and don’t make light of serious offenses if any. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 in The Bible


George Gaston said...

Laurie, these are definitely recipes to fill the body & soul before fasting for Lent. I especially like the orange roughy and your amazing sautéed olive topping.

I am copying all of these for future dinner party ideas.

Many thanks...

The Food Hunter said...

I love your personal note!! I am clipping it and sending to my friend who is my acountability partner.

Juliana said...

Laurie, both dishes are unbelievable...cannot resit beef and the orange roughy is one of my favorite fish! Very well done!

Cynthia said...

I read your post and had to look a second time to ensure that I was on the right page as I am in the process of writing my column and expressing the same sentiments you have here.

I am now stuck though... :)

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

OK, I've been getting a ton of the spam too! Such a pain, maybe the spammers will take a lenten break too.
I love both recipes. It is hard for me to even think of choosing one over the other.

5 Star Foodie said...

Two excellent recipes! I love the pistachio & peppercorn crust on the steak!

Brad said...

Ok now those are two great dishes wish I could take a bite right now.