Times Top 5: Cheap Steak and Foolproof Fish

From the NY Times Dining Section 03.04.09

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Cube steak, which can be one of several cuts of meat (or a combination) that's been rolled through a tenderizer, has a bad reputation. But some people are nostalgic for dishes from their childhoods, like chicken fried steak or cube steak with onions. It's a cheap option for lean times. We've also got a farm in Queens, a new vegetarian column, and that tender, butter-poached fish (above) in today's Times roundup.

1. Cube steak makes a comeback. Do you know how cube steak got its name? From the little squares matted into it from the tenderizing machines.

2. Slow-cooked fish in lots of butter. We're not sure we could mess this up, and that's saying something, given our seafood skills. Cutting the fish into cubes first makes the whole thing seem more casual and less precious.

3. New column: The Temporary Vegetarian. The Times is introducing a new series on vegetarian cooking that will run sporadically for the next few months. Today there's chana Punjabi, an Indian chickpea stew.

4. Questioning the safety of organic foods. In the wake of the peanut butter scare, consumers who buy organic are wondering why they're paying more if organic foods are susceptible to the same contamination problems. This article brings up some important flaws in the organic certification system, including the fact that inspectors are paid a lot of money directly by the farms they're reviewing.

5. "Like Stone Barns, but more blue collar." The Queens County Farm Museum used to have animals mainly as pets to show off to school kids. Now they're selling meat and vegetables at the Union Square Greenmarket and planning to expand. A farm in the five boroughs!

Last week's Top 5: Brooklyn-Born Food and More Soup Recipes

(Image: Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times)