Who says serving dinner has to be a napkin-and-tablecloth affair requiring hours of prep and visits to three specialty markets? Holly Erickson, who was raised in Portland, and Natalie Mortimer, a lifelong resident of Vancouver, WA, want to challenge that with their new cookbook, The Modern Proper: Simple Dinners for Every Day, released April 5 (Simon Element). They're celebrating the launch of their new cookbook with a book tour, including an event with Portland recipe blogger and baker Karlee Flores of Olive and Artisan at Powell's Cedar Hills Crossing location on April 14 at 7 p.m.
“You do not have to be somebody who sets the table with cloth napkins in order to be considered a host,” says Mortimer. “I do think there's a way to modernize all of that. And I think that our recipes … modernize what our grandparents thought of as hosting, entertaining, cooking, homemaking.”
The Modern Proper cookbook was inspired by the pair’s website of the same name, which began a decade ago with the premise of accessible recipes for cooks of all levels, that don’t require special equipment or hard-to-find ingredients. The new book boasts 100 dinner recipes, with chapters devoted to eggs, sauces, soups, and both meaty and meatless dishes, with a whole section on all manner of meatballs. Recipes include taglines for easy navigation—this one, for instance, takes less than 35 minutes to prep, is gluten and dairy-free, and can be made on a sheet pan. (This one, however, doesn’t carry the “kid-friendly” label—perhaps it involves a bit too many veggies or too much spice for the average tot’s taste.) The book also offers helpful tips for newer cooks—freeze pesto into ice cube trays, for instance, or shred chicken from the bone while it’s still warm before placing it in the fridge.
You can make this "summer" veggie salad year-round in the oven rather than on the grill. The marinade includes chipotle peppers in adobo, giving the steak a smoky flavor. And you only have to make one dressing. “The salad dressing is also the marinade for the steak, and they taste totally different,” explains Mortimer.
Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
By Holly Erickson and Natalie Mortimer
Prep Time: 10 Minutes / Cook Time: 15 Minutes
1½ lbs skirt steak
2½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 small yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (about 2 tbsp)
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
2 tbsp honey
4 cups mixed greens
*Take the tedium out of picking herb leaves by using a fork. Rake the tines along the stem and pull the leaves through.
- Turn the oven to broil with a rack positioned as close as possible to the heat source.
- Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Season the steak all over with 1½ tsp of the salt and ½ tsp of the black pepper. Place in the center of a rimmed sheet pan.
- In a medium bowl, toss together zucchini, yellow squash, 1 tbsp of the olive oil, ½ tsp salt, and remaining ½ tsp black pepper.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining ½ cup oil, cilantro, chipotle peppers, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, honey, and remaining ½ tsp salt.
- Brush 2 tbsp cilantro lime dressing on seasoned steak. Broil 5–7 minutes. Remove sheet pan from oven. Flip steak. Brush 2 more tbsp dressing on the flip side. Scatter zucchini and yellow squash all around steak. Broil another 5–7 minutes, or until the internal temperature of thickest part of the steak reaches 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, for medium-rare. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes.
- Arrange mixed greens on a large serving platter. Add roasted vegetables. Thinly slice steak against the grain** and place on top. Spoon remaining cilantro lime dressing all over and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve family-style.
**Note: You always want to slice steak against the grain to ensure every bite is as tender as can be. Look closely for the parallel lines running down the meat—these are the muscle fibers—and slice perpendicular to them, rather than along them.
Excerpted from The Modern Proper: Simple Dinners for Every Day. Copyright © 2022 by Holly Erickson and Natalie Mortimer. Photography copyright © 2022 by Eva Kolenko. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.