The writing business being what it is, some weeks I am mostly employed as a singer. The bulk of this takes place at St Barts, a glorious gothic-y deco-y castle on Park Ave and 50th. We wear robes. We sing with our music neatly arranged in folders. We process in pairs. We bow. Itâ€™s pretty familiar Anglican/Presbyterian stuff.
And then, some weeks, we sing jazz.
â€œI want you to feel like youâ€™re standing on Bourbon Street,â€ says Bill the conductor, as we sweat over the syncopation, writing in counts with our pencils to get the casual-seeming rhythms exactly together. â€œBut I also want a flipped R.â€
And some weeks, we throw in a Spiritual.
Itâ€™s almost impossible to be standing in a choir stall trying to find the right tone for a proper Spiritual if you are British. Now, fair enough, Iâ€™ve not lived there for a while, but unless things have drastically changed over the last 5 years, Britons are a people who embarrass easily. We hate to sway and clap our hands. The moment weâ€™re asked to have rhythm, we blush, and automatically donâ€™t.
â€œItâ€™s â€œLord, I wanna cross over into camp grounâ€™,â€ not â€œI wanT to cross over into Kamp grounD,â€ Bill reminds me as I shuffle my feet self consciously.
JeanMarie is sympathetic. â€œIf you try to really Feel the words, then the whole things will make sense and youâ€™ll be singing it right. â€“ Lord I Wanna cross over into campground, I really wanna.â€
But Iâ€™m not convinced.
As any of my close friends or family will tell you, if Heaven involves camping, then I donâ€™t want to go there.
New York Strip Steak with Bourbon Butter
Itâ€™s Jonâ€™s birthday on Tuesday, which means steak. Honestly, I think if he could have steak for dinner, then some more steak with a candle stuck in it instead of a cake, heâ€™d be a happy man.
This is currently one of his favorites â€“ I make it with well marinated (in lemon, salt and olive oil) skirt steak and flatiron steak too, which is cheaper, and makes for a fabulous sandwich, but for a birthday, strip is the way to go.
2 6oz â€“ 8oz strip steaks 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tbsp butter Salt and pepper Â½ cup bourbon Â¼ cup lemon juice Few shakes of Worcestershire sauce Â
For the bourbon butterÂ½ cup butter (room temperature) 1 tsp dark brown sugar 2 tbsp bourbon Â
- Mix the bourbon, lemon and Worcestershire sauce, and pour over the steaks. Leave to marinade in the fridge for 1 â€“ 3 hours
- Meanwhile, make the bourbon butter by mixing the butter until soft, then adding the bourbon and sugar. Dump the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, then squidge into a roll. Refrigerate until firm (about an hour)
- Take the meat out of the fridge and wipe off excess marinade. Leave the meat to come to room temperature (about half an hour to an hour)
- Preheat the oven to 400f, and heat up a cast iron griddle pan (or frying pan or BBQ grill). You need it to be screaming hot, 500f ish, and this takes about 15 mins on my gas hob
- Rub the steaks with vegetable oil, then season well (oil then salt, so as not to pull moisture out of the steak)
- Drop the meat into the pan and donâ€™t touch it. After 5 minutes, turn the meat. Donâ€™t touch it. After 5 minutes turn it again (if your steak is closer to an inch than an inch and a half, do 4 mins per side)
- Put a knob of butter on the steak and put the pan in the oven. After 5 mins, it should be rare. If you like steak medium, give it another 5 mins
- Let the steak rest for 5 mins covered in foil in a warm place before serving with a slice of the bourbon butter on top