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COMFORT FOOD : Forget frivolous fare. Ignore the exotic. In times of trouble we turn to the familar and seek the solace of home. : Foods that reassure: Big breakfasts. Warm doughnuts. A simple steak. Beef stew. And ambrosia. : A Few of Our Favorite Things : . . . A Simple Steak

January 24, 1991|BARBARA HANSEN

My food of choice is anything native to the Asian side of the Pacific Rim--exciting Indian curries, intricate Straits Chinese noodle dishes, Thai soups that ignite your palate, Sri Lanka's bountiful rice and curry meals, Hong Kong dim sum. But for comfort food, I go to the other extreme.

The one meal that I look forward to at the end of an Asian journey is as simple as can be. It's classic American steak and baked potato. The steak must be absolutely plain, but I'll allow a little salt and pepper. There must be butter with the potato to melt into the steaming center and smear onto the skin. And I'll have a plain vegetable, perhaps broccoli or asparagus, which tastes right only if I pick it up with antique English silver asparagus tongs. (It's funny how one becomes attached to certain cutlery as well as to food). The only acceptable beverage with this meal is red wine--a mellow Cabernet or Merlot that I've picked up while wine touring and laid away for just such an occasion.

BARBARA HANSEN'S COMFORT MENU Pan-Broiled Steak Baked Potato with butter Plain Broccoli A mellow California red wine such as Eberle Cabernet Sauvignon, San Antonio Merlot, Monterey Vineyards Classic Red

PAN-BROILED STEAK

1 top sirloin steak

Garlic salt

Lemon pepper

Trim fat from steak. Place fat in heavy black iron skillet and heat over medium high heat until pan is smoking hot. Remove fat. There should be just enough melted fat in skillet to lightly grease bottom.

Place steak in skillet. Sprinkle top liberally with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes on other side. Timing depends on thickness of steak and desired degree of doneness. Makes 1 serving.

BAKED POTATO

1 small to medium russet potato

Butter

Pierce potato with fork. Bake at 400 degrees 1 hour, or until tender. Serve with butter. Makes 1 serving.

PLAIN BROCCOLI

Salt

1 bunch broccoli, trimmed

Butter, optional

Place water 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep in large saucepan and season to taste with salt. Cover and bring to boil. Add broccoli. Cover and boil 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and serve with salt or butter. Makes 1 serving.

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