Cooking up family favorites on the girll


All families have their own cherished meals.

For some, a steaming pot of chicken posole with green chile brings back memories of warm family gatherings. For others, a savory multi-layered casserole says home. Still others prefer the simplicity of burgers and brats on the grill. Family favorites tend to be served frequently, and most important, are eagerly anticipated.

At our house, we also enjoy a number of special meals. One of our family favorites, marinated flank steak, is a perfect way to start the grilling season. I like it because with a small amount of planning, I've got a great meal that everybody loves and that my husband cooks.

We serve it to family and guests alike to rave reviews. The steak is prepped ahead and can sit in the fridge in its tangy marinade for up to two days. And it's so convenient on those days when you're working late, or even when you have to drive to Albuquerque to pick up a guest -- the steak is waiting in its marinade for your return home. Ten minutes on the grill and you have a juicy, delicious, easy and healthy dinner.

Since we're already grilling the steak, we often choose to grill an assortment of vegetables brushed with olive oil and garlic, usually zucchini, peppers, and onions, to serve on the side. Here in Taos, I lovingly add fresh green chiles to my selection of peppers for a piquant accent.

The vegetables cook quickly and make a beautiful presentation. An effortless variation is to change the vegetables with the occasion. Going fancy? Grill some steamed baby potatoes, asparagus and romaine lettuce. Focusing on Mediterranean? Add sliced eggplant and fennel to the mix.

Afterward, drizzle with lemon, lime juice or balsamic glaze and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. The vegetables are so good they can stand alone.

In our family, everybody loves to get in the kitchen. Both our sons, Jake and Nathaniel, have been interested in cooking since childhood. Jake even made a living as a personal chef while putting himself through college. And last summer, Nathaniel taught me how to make beef Wellington. I often call them and find they're in the middle of making something grand for a party.

So, a perfect starter for this meal is our son Jake's tangy and tasty guacamole, which happens to be a new family favorite. In his version, he likes to use Serrano chiles and green chile powder, plus lots of lime juice. If there is any left over, you can press plastic wrap directly against the guacamole to keep it from turning brown.

If you are lucky, you will have some extra steak for leftovers. Wonderful when sliced thin and served in flour tortillas as fajitas. You will definitely want to add some of the peppers, onions and guacamole, in addition to salsa. It's truly an outstanding second supper option. And if you haven't eaten all the leftover vegetables, try putting them in a crusty roll for lunch, with a little goat cheese and an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Although this meal is superb for grilling season, truth be told, my husband delights in grilling year-round, including in the dead of winter. And why not? There's something here everyone can love.

For nearly 20 years, it's been one of our tried and true go-to dinners for family, friends, and guests. And although uncomplicated, it never fails to produce happy sighs at the table. Bon appetit!