This one is simple to bring together yet fancy enough to surprise your family on a weeknight or serve to unexpected guests. If you use pastry shells bought from a bakery or a baker/vendor at a farmers market, this recipe will take you 20 minutes.
Spicy Mustard Steak in Pastry Shells
Based on a steak recipe in “The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back or Your Schedule,” by Sally Sampson (Fireside, 1998).
4 bakery-fresh or store-bought, defrosted puff pastry shells (vol-au-vent)
¼ cup Dijon-style mustard
½ to ¾ teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1½ pounds top round sirloin steak (½- to ¾-inch thick)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the greens
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the greens
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the greens
Mixed salad greens, for serving
If the pastry shells need to be baked, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake according to the package directions. Or you may wish to warm baked pastry shells in a 250-degree F oven.
Whisk the mustard, chipotle powder and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the lime half.
Cut the steak on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces, trimming off excess fat as you go; the pieces should be shaped almost like arrowheads. Drop them into the mustard mixture and toss to coat evenly.
Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half of the steak. Season with half of the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until the steak pieces are seared in spots, then turn them over and cook for 1 or 2 minutes (medium-rare); be careful not to overcook the meat, or it will be tough. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining steak pieces to the skillet and repeat the cooking and seasoning.
Reduce the heat to medium-low; return the first batch of steak to the skillet just to warm through.
Lightly toss the salad greens in a mixing bowl with a drizzle of oil and a small pinch of salt and pepper.
Place a pastry shell on each plate. Divide the salad among the shells, then spoon equal amounts of the steak on top of each portion. Serve right away.