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Any bell peppers will do in this dish

Recipe: Pepper steak with a California twist -- cherry tomatoes

Pepper steak
Cherry tomatoes and wine add complexity to this
pepper steak stir fry. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)


Bell peppers don’t have to be perfect for pepper steak. They can be lopsided, sunburned or under size. Trim off any bad spots and thinly slice the rest.

Pepper steak is a Chinese American staple. This version has a distinctly California twist; cherry tomatoes and wine add complexity to the sauce. (Chopped full-size tomatoes can be substituted.) For this recipe, yellow cherry tomatoes were used, adding some extra sweetness.

Two tips: Start with a frozen steak, slightly defrosted. It’s much easier to slice crosswise, very thin. (For this recipe, a bistro filet – teres major or shoulder cut – was used, but other cuts work well, too.)

Chop first, then cook. Prepare vegetables before starting to stir fry. It may seem like there will be plenty of time for chopping while cooking, but stir fry demands constant attention (and stirring).

Want a spicier pepper steak? Substitute some sliced Anaheim or similar peppers for part of the bells.
Pepper steak Makes 4 servings
Green bell peppers
Imperfect peppers work just fine in pepper steak.

Ingredients:


1 pound beef steak

Marinade:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons wine or sherry

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ginger

For stir-fry:

4 tablespoons oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup onions, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 cups bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup chicken broth

Instructions:

Bowls of chopped ingredients
Prep all the ingredients before starting to cook.

Slice steak across the grain into thin slices, trimming off any fat.

Prepare marinade. In a glass or ceramic bowl, combine cornstarch and sugar. Whisk in soy sauce, wine and vinegar. Add pepper flakes and ginger.

Add beef slices to marinade. Cover each slice well. Set aside.

In a large wok or frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, sauté another 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, sauté another 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from wok and set aside.

Return wok to heat and add remaining oil. Swirl oil around wok to cover as much of surface as possible. Remove beef slices from marinade, retaining soy mixture. Add beef slices to wok, working quickly and distributing evenly around wok surface. Stir fry beef until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes to beef, stir and cover wok; cook 2 minutes.

Return vegetables to wok and stir into beef-tomato mixture. Add chicken broth and any remaining marinade. Stir, then cover for 2 minutes.

Uncover and stir, scraping up any brown bits into sauce. Adjust seasoning and consistency, if necessary.

Serve hot over rice.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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