I grew up calling the strip loin steak a New York Steak. The restaurants where I worked had New York steaks on the menu. Not that I bought many in my youth, but it seems to me that at Lou or Phil Lehr’s Steakhouse in San Francisco – the scene of a couple of pre-prom dinners –  it was called a New York, as well. The Lehr brothers both had steakhouses and I think they both had a “by the ounce” menu. You chose your steak from a huge refrigerated case and they cut your steak in front of you before cooking it to perfection.  The eyeballs were always bigger than the pocketbook. Not an inexpensive dinner, but always good for a prom. They’re both gone, now, but the memory lingers on…

I’m not sure when I even became aware of the numerous different names for the cut – strip steak, sirloin strip, Kansas City steak, club steak – to name but a few, but regardless of what it is called, my mind sees New York. It just is. And I also see Ernie, the butcher at the Hyatt in Cambridge when I worked there in the early ’80s. I learned more about quality beef from him than anyone else. He would come out of his butcher area when a shipment of meat arrived and wordlessly go through, check, and accept or reject pieces. It was classic the way he could wither someone with a look. I was the receiving manager when I first met him and even though I had cut and cooked a bazillion steaks by 1980, I hadn’t really purchased them. I really learned a lot from him.

It was a definite impulse-buy when I saw the package of them at the store the other day, but they just looked right.  The fact that they were on sale pretty much clinched the deal. They still weren’t cheap, but they were affordable.

Quality means simplicity, so they only got salt and pepper before going on the grill. They didn’t require anything else after coming off the grill, either. Ernie would have been proud.

I had some cheese that needed using up, so cheesy scalloped potatoes were a natural addition. I made them slightly different, this time – I heated the milk and started with only half the cheese. And I cooked them a lot longer.

I do have to admit that they came out pretty stellar. I used  red leister, havarti, and gorgonzola cheeses in the dish, but about 6 or more ounces of any cheese or cheese combination would work. Use what you have in the ‘fridge. It’s how I make mac & cheese, as well.

Scalloped Potatoes TJRecipes.com Tim and Victor's Totally Joyous Recipes

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

  • 6-8 oz freshly-grated flavorful cheese – any combination
  • 2 lbs potatoes, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter oven-proof baking dish. Mix cheeses and set aside.
Layer half of potatoes in pdish. Sprinkle with flour. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter and dust with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of cheese mixture over. Top with remaining potatoes, dust with salt & pepper, and dot with butter. Save remaining cheese for later.

Bring milk to simmer and pour over potatoes.. Cover tightly with foil and bake about an hour. Remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved cheese. Return to oven uncovered and bake about 45 more minutes or until cheese is crusty-golden-brown.

I hardly ever peel potatoes – I see no need to and I like the skins – so peel or not as you desire.

And having nothing to do with dinner tonight, I roasted a bunch of plum tomatoes from our yard.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes TJRecipes.com Tim and Victor's Totally Joyous Recipes

I sliced them in half, laid them out on a sheet pan, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt & pepper, and then roasted them at 350° for about an hour. When they came out, I placed them in a container and added more olive oil.

They have a  really awesome concentrated tomato flavor and the oil will be great for salads or other drizzling.