Sesame Steak Stir-FryFirst, let me start with the “unfussy.” The “Sesame Steak Stir-Fry” from the September 2015 issue of Food & Wine, was a salad of textures that was quick to prepare. Cook your quinoa (mine was red) and then it’ll sit and wait for you, until you combine it on your plate with the cooked steak, lettuce, and bean sprouts.

The most “work,” here, is in slicing your steak into 1/4-inch strips. After you slice it, though, it cooks super-quick.

I dare you to double or triple the dressing. The ginger steals the show.

Fried Forbidden RiceNow, let me tell you about the “fussy” recipe. The “Fried Forbidden Rice” from the February 2010 issue of Food & Wine, has us roast the garlic, then refrigerate it overnight(?). OK.

The black rice, too, is boiled the night before, cooled, and refrigerated. The gimmick with the black rice is in its vitamins, iron, and nuttiness. I guess all this “night before” stuff is easy enough, right? That’s why I allowed myself to get pulled into it.

I reduced the quantities in my recipe, in order to make four servings.

The recipe tells us to “pour off” all the lovely bacon fat. Why oh why? I say keep it in your skillet, rather than pouring in new vegetable oil.

The recipe calls itself “robust” and this is indeed accurate. I added 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. white pepper at the end. This white pepper gives the dish a spicy warmness that we enjoyed. We were mesmerized by the warmth, sweetness, bacon, and spice.

Quinoa (1 1/4 cups) = $2.62
Flat-Iron Steak (1 lb.) = $10.90
Black Rice (8.7 oz.) = $1.42

PREP TIMES: quinoa cooks in 20 minutes or so, steak stir-fries even quicker; roast garlic and boil rice the night before, assemble and eat the rice within 30 minutes
gingery dressing coats steak and lettuce; white pepper and bacon blend with the sweet nutty rice

Next time, it’ll be a meal that tells me to “serve warm or at room temperature.” I’ll make the “Prosciutto Goat Cheese Tart,” from Magnolia Days, with the “Butternut Squash and Farro Salad,” from PBS. Come back next week, to see what happens.