February 28th, 2009

Recipe for Steak — London-Style

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allegra-mcevedys-grilled-001

I can’t say I’m one for British food. I’ve been to England . . . and I starved.

But, seriously, can you mess up a grilled steak? I think not.

So let’s give our friends across the pond a chance and try out this recipe for grilled steak, red wine lentils and salsa verde.

It sounds good, right? And it looks good, too.

If they’d had this readily available in the pubs I frequented over there I wouldn’t have complained!

This comes to us from Allegra McEvedy via The Guardian:

When ordering steak, you generally do better for your money by getting one large slab and sharing it out. Thick steaks also cook better so going Dutch on a big portion means you’re more likely to get a perfectly turned-out piece of meat.

Grilled steak, red wine lentils and salsa verde
Serves two

1 rib-eye steak, about 450g, room temperature

150g puy lentils

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 stick celery, sliced

2 small carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

100ml red wine

2 bay leaves

600ml beef stock (if using a cube, make half a litre of stock and dilute with 100ml water)

Pinch of sugar

Sea salt and black pepper

For the salsa verde:

1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley

1 smaller handful of mint

1 tbsp capers

2-3 anchovy fillets

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

3 cornichons

Healthy splash of red-wine vinegar

½ tsp dijon mustard

About 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper

For the salsa verde, chop the herbs, capers, cornichons and anchovy very small. Put them in a bowl and stir in the mustard, garlic, vinegar and some pepper. Then coat it all with the olive oil.

Gently heat one and a half tablespoons of olive oil in a thick-bottomed wide saucepan, then tip in the celery and carrots. Soften, covered, for about five minutes (don’t let them brown), stirring occasionally, then remove the lid and add the garlic. Keep stirring, turn the heat up and, after a minute, add the lentils. Another minute later, add the wine and bay leaves.

Reduce the wine by half, then add the stock. Once boiling, turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then let the lentils finish cooking with the lid off for about another 15 mins. When the lentils are half way there, season the steak with salt and pepper (no need to oil it). Just place on to a hot griddle or under the grill for about three minutes each side on the griddle, or five per side if grilled, plus a five-minute rest. Once the lentils are done (they should retain a bit of bite), finish with salt, pepper, the rest of the olive oil and a pinch of sugar.

Excerpt courtesy of guardian.co.uk. 

Photo by Frank Baron/Guardian


February 27th, 2009

Enchilada Steak Pie Recipe

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Super Chef Sandy is back today with a truly timely recipe chock-full of money- and time-saving tips.

It involves beef. Need I say more?

Does she rock or what?

Check it out . . .

enchilada-pie1 

Seems everywhere you go, from every corner of the Internet, newspaper and even at the local coffee shop people are talking about cutting back.  It’s enough to make you crazy, even if the downturn hasn’t hit you personally.  I was reading some magazines at the dentist’s office today and even some of the movie stars interviewed said they are cooking at home more and eating out less. 

What are you doing to reduce your food budget?  Seems many more people are cooking at home, and one of the questions I often get asked is how people can make their budget stretch farther and reduce the time and effort to cook meals.  And have some variety. 

4 days ago we had pot roast for dinner.  It was fabulous.  Two nights ago we had strip steaks, and they were delicious too.  We do enjoy our beef, but we had leftovers of both, not enough for a meal composed of either.  Rather than have an arm wrestling match over who gets what, or going out for takeout, here’s what I did:

Enchilada Steak Pie

About 1 pound of beef, cooked and chopped

1 cup enchilada sauce (your favorite jarred enchilada sauce)

1 cup leftover gravy (or just use more enchilada sauce)

1 cup frozen corn

1 fresh tomato, chopped

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese, mixed (I used 2% milk Kraft cheese), divided

1 package cornbread mix

1 egg (separate white from yolk)

1 egg white

½ cup milk

1 cup tortilla chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 400. Spray non-stick cooking spray onto sides of deep casserole dish or glass baking dish, then add beef, gravy (if desired), sauce and vegetables as desired.  Stir and top beef mixture with cheese.  Place meat mixture in oven while you prepare the cornbread (below) to get the meat and the dish hot. 

In a separate bowl, beat 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form.  In a small bowl, mix dry cornbread mix, egg yolk, milk and ½ cup cheese until combined.  You may add an additional 1 cup of vegetable to the cornbread mix, such as diced zucchini, more frozen corn, diced tomatoes or peppers for color.  Stir in ½ of beaten egg whites to lighten the mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Gently spread this cornbread mixture over the meat mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes until cornbread is solid on top and beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with crushed chips and additional cheese.  Return to oven and bake until cornbread is cooked through, about an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a green salad, maybe with some chopped avocado and tomato and a simple vinaigrette, some chips and hot sauce and voila — dinner (again!)

To make this meal even faster to put together, assemble all of the base ingredients the night before (as you clean up,) and just prepare the cornbread right before serving.  Prepare your salad while the casserole cooks and you will still have time to enjoy a cerveza or margarita while your family’s dinner cooks itself in the oven.  Don’t you just love casseroles?

So go ahead and enjoy cooking your favorite meals, especially when you can be creative and repurpose your protein.  Even those of you who claim not to like leftovers will be hard pressed to recognize them when they are so well disguised!  Who can argue with saving money and time in this day and age?


February 24th, 2009

Salt 101

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We know salt flavors/seasons/prepares our food — especially steak.

But what do we REALLY know about salt?

As for me, I’d have to say, “Not a lot.”

Super Sister-in-Law Chef Sandy to the rescue. Here’s her lesson for me on the uses and origins of the various salts.

Class is in session!

Salt

When we were cooking together in Florida, Dena asked me a few questions about what salt to use and why.  I generally always use kosher salt when I am cooking, and sometimes use sea salt.  Why?  I am a situational learner.  When I was in culinary school (this was in the time before there was the Food Network) and in one of my very first introductory classes what we did is really taste some of the ingredients that we used.  Seems silly to taste salt, right?  We all know what it tastes like.  But do you really know? 

Try a test:  Go to your nearest gourmet grocer, or any store that has some spices and salts in the bulk aisle.  Get a tablespoon of each of them.  I bought three beautiful, unusual salts yesterday, and the prices listed on the jars were between $6.99 and $29.99 a pound.  But since I only got a little of each it cost less than $2.00 for all of them.  I also bought a 2 pound box of kosher salt, while I was there, because I go through about 2 a year.  Kosher salt is also a little more expensive than the usual stuff in the round cardboard container; it cost $2.39 for a 2 pound box.  But over the course of a year, it really does not make a financial impact. 

Put a few grains of each salt on a small plate and even visually you will notice a difference between different salts.  Kosher salt is a bigger grain, and has nothing added to it.  It also is certified free of pests, which cannot be a bad thing.  One of the reasons chefs use kosher salt is that it is physically easy to use.  I keep a plastic 1 cup container with an easily replaced lid right next to where I cook.  When I am cooking, the lid is off and I use my scrupulously clean hands to grab a pinch to season what I am cooking.  I know instinctively by feel what the right amount is (more on this later).  About the taste of kosher salt.  It tastes like salt.  Duh.  But it does not have any chemical flavor.  And it is considerably less salty than the other alternatives.  One teaspoon of kosher salt is about equal in saltiness to 1.5 teaspoons of iodized salt or 2 teaspoons of sea salt (depending on its consistency.)

salts1

From top, in clockwise direction: Alderwood Smoked Salt, Kosher Salt, Cyprus Black Lava Flake, “regular”coarse sea salt, Himalayan Pink Mineral Salt, and in the center, Sel Gris (natural grey sea salt from France)

Take a look at the iodized salt on the plate.  It has an obviously finer grain than the kosher salt, which means that it is harder to grasp just the right amount, and harder to distribute it nicely and evenly on a piece of meat (or whatever you are cooking.)  If you taste iodized salt right before or after kosher salt you will notice a chemical taste.  This is the iodine.  Iodine is a necessary nutrient which was added to salt a long time ago when it was not something that we got in our diets.  I think most Americans today get plenty of iodine in our diet (I am not a medical professional and this is not a medical opinion, but just my choice for my family) so I choose to use an un-iodized salt for the food that I prepare for my family. 

The cheapest kind of sea salt (about ($2.99 a pound in bulk, also can be purchased by the box in most supermarkets) can either be very fine grained like the iodized salt, or coarser, which I use in my sea salt grinder.   These are usually white and are a more processed product than the most natural (and most expensive) sea salts.  At my local Whole Foods store yesterday, there were about 5 gourmet salts in the bulk section.  The cheapest were $6.99 a pound.  I purchased a Himalayan Pink Mineral Salt which has a lovely pink hue from the iron in the water from which it is produced.  The best sea salts really taste of the sea.  Like when you get a snootful of saltwater, but in a good way.  I also bought a Cyprus Black Lava Flake sea salt, which was $29.99 a pound.  This is beautiful stuff.  It is almost the color of pencil lead.  The texture is very crystalline- large chunks and lovely pyramids, almost the size of the end of my pinkie finger.  The black lava component leaves a sooty residue, but it really all tastes of salt.  In the summer this would be stunning on some yellow or even pink heirloom tomatoes.  It has a nice crunchy texture which shatters when you bite it.  This is definitely a show salt.  Put it on a chocolate truffle or sprinkle it just before serving on some lovely vegetables.  I wouldn’t put it on an omelet (it would probably turn the whole mess grey) but sprinkled over the top might look cool.

Finally I bought some Alderwood Smoked salt.  ($9.99/ pound) This is a sea salt which has been smoked with alderwood until the salt has turned a true brown color.  A smoky smell and flavor dominate, along with a very salty taste.  I have used this on steaks and things that I have cooked indoors, when I want to give the impression that they have been done outside.  I have smoked salt in my own smoker as well, but I did not get as pronounced a smoke flavor as the commercial one I bought yesterday.  On the steaks I cooked last night, the smoked salt gave them a slight smoky flavor, but I used very little salt on each one.  Next time I will try using a little more.

distribution_of_kosher_salt_on_steak_b4_cooking1

This past summer I had the opportunity to go with my children to Austria and while there we toured a salt mine.  I learned quite a bit of history about salt and learned about what an important role it played in the development of that region, the Salzkammergut.  Briefly, here it is.  Salt was discovered in the Alps in the Bronze Age, about 5000 years ago.  Because of its importance in preserving foods, it became a valuable commodity and the people of the region, and specifically their leaders became extremely wealthy as a result. The city of Salzburg (literally Salt City) has many gorgeous cathedrals and castles and these were all built from the profits of the salt trade.  Many wars have been fought over the stuff.  If you ever have a chance to be in the Salzburg area with your kids, take a salt mine tour.  You get to wear cool miner clothes, ride on a train and a boat and slide on giant slides (the better to get deep into the mountain with.)  I did it when I was an 8 or 9 year old, still remembered it and knew my kids would love it and they did.

large_pink_salt_crystal_-_austria1

That’s a large pink salt crystal from Austria

Salt has an interesting history, and you can certainly read or learn more about it on the Internet or in the many books that have been written on the subject over the past few hundred years.  But how do I use it today, in my cooking? 

My rules for using salt:

  • All baked goods require salt – bread will not rise properly and even sweets will not taste just right without it.

 

  • Use salt throughout the process, not just at the end of the cooking process.  I don’t generally use any salt at the table, except for something like a baked potato.  When preparing something in boiling water or steam, I always salt the water before adding the product.  For pasta, have the water taste slightly salty (just a hint of the sea) before adding the pasta.  For potatoes, add salt to the pot with the cold water and potatoes and cook it all together. 

 

  • I have found that I use much less total salt by using it intermittently throughout the process rather than just at the end.  In my opinion, when using salt to season each component throughout the cooking process and not just at the end food tastes more like it should.  Mashed potatoes don’t necessarily taste salty, but rather than potatoes with salt they taste like great tasting potatoes.

 

  • If you are adding ingredients like stocks or sauces which already have salt, reduce the amount you add to your recipe.

 

  • Be careful with your timing when you use salt.  Salt will draw the liquid out of food.  Sometimes you want this to happen, for example when you use salt to draw the bitterness out of a vegetable, which is then rinsed.  But if you are preparing a fresh salad, add salt just before serving to preserve the integrity of the food.  Same thing goes for meats.

 

  • If you are preparing a meat product to cook, salt just before cooking. I made some hamburgers on our trip to Florida, and everyone who had one said they were the best hamburgers ever.  What did I do special, my mother-in-law wanted to know.  I used ground sirloin and divided it into very thick patties.  I seasoned each patty with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and then cooked them in a skillet with about a teaspoon each of butter and olive oil, heated to medium high heat.  The thickness of the patties and the salt on the outside of the burger combined to form a lovely crispy outside crust on the meat.  I served them on buttered buns and voila, the best burgers ever!  Easy! 

 

  • For most of the meals I prepare for my family (standard fare- chicken, steaks, hamburgers, eggs, etc) I just use salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning,  I try to buy the best quality meat and vegetables I can and prepare them in an appropriate manner (don’t undercook, don’t overcook, season them well but not to excess).  It is a simple way to cook, but it lets the flavors of the food dominate.  We try to eat as close to the natural state as possible.

 

  • Salt changes the boiling point and the freezing point of water.  Add salt to the water before boiling and it will raise the boiling point of the water- it will come to a boil slower, but only marginally so.  Salt lowers the freezing point of water into ice – this is why rock salt is used when making ice cream.  It allows the ice water mixture to come to a lower temperature (which causes the ice cream to freeze quicker.) 

Class dismissed!


February 21st, 2009

Steaks in the Oven — MMMM

By

The New York Times always has something cool in store when it comes to food.  True to form, Mark Bittman shares his thoughts on creating the best-tasting steak in the oven (cuz if you live in NY right now, you ain’t gonna go on your balcony and grill a steak).


February 5, 2009, 11:40 am

Recipe of the Day: Oven-Grilled Steak

Maybe you don’t have a grill, maybe it’s freezing outside, maybe you don’t want to eat dinner in the choking cloud of smoke that stove-top steak cookery unfailingly produces. Fear not: this is a minimalist preparation if ever there was one.

Oven-“Grilled” Steak

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes

Summary

It’s certainly not necessary, but if you equip your oven with a pizza stone or ceramic cooking tiles, you can produce the kind of strong, even bottom heat that chefs gain by putting their skillets directly on the floor of their ovens.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds strip or rib-eye steaks (2 large steaks should do it)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • 1. Preheat the oven to its maximum, 500 degrees or more, for at least 20 minutes; if it is equipped with a pizza stone, so much the better. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, put a cast-iron or other ovenproof heavy skillet large enough to hold the steaks (or use 2) over high heat. Wait 2 or 3 minutes, until the pan is beginning to smoke.
  • 2. Add the steaks and let them sit on top of the stove as long as you can before the smoke becomes intolerable — probably no more than a minute. Immediately transfer the pan to the oven. Roast the steaks for about 4 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom, then turn and cook on the other side for another 3 or 4 minutes, until done. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Source: Mark Bittman’s “Bitten” blog for The New York Times


February 20th, 2009

Beef Burglar?

By

I do not condone burglary in any way shape or form, but you can see how this guy couldn’t help himself . . .

 

Burglar Breaks Into Home, Makes Himself a Steak

Monday, February 09, 2009

PEORIA, Ill.  —  Police in Peoria say a local man returned to his home to find someone had broken in, but nothing was missing — except a $6 steak that he had left out to thaw.
Officers say someone broke a window to enter the home some time Saturday afternoon or evening.
The resident discovered the broken window when he returned home Saturday night. After searching the house for any missing items, he went into his kitchen and found it in a mess.

There were dirty dishes in the sink, a dirty skillet on the stove, and used paper towels on the counter. The steak was gone, and police believe the intruder had cooked and eaten it.

Story courtesy of FoxNews.com.

 

 

 


February 19th, 2009

Three’s Company

By

Our Valentine’s dinner started off with roses being delivered. Nice.

roses

We placed the salmon in the oven for baking. It was already seasoned and marinated. Nice.

salmonraw

Then our neighbor called to rib us about something — and he ended up coming over to eat our steak and salmon.

Not nice.

So it wasn’t exactly the romantic spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp I had hoped it would be. But, really, with the kids in the other room watching Space Buddies on DVD, was it ever going on the list of most romantic dinners of all-time?

No. 

And after 11 years of marriage, we’ve come to expect the unexpected. I truly can’t remember the last meal we’ve had in our house where we weren’t interrupted.

It’s just usually done by someone under the age of 10.

All kidding aside, our neighbor brought laughter and frivolity to our dinner, along with his 6-year-old daughter who promptly went to watch the DVD in the other room. And we couldn’t have been more pleased to have them.

Here’s what we enjoyed . . .

steakrice

A little garlic rice pilaf amazingly complemented this juicy Top Sirloin. 

And those salmon filets?

salmonrice

They were moist and tender — and very flavorful. What a treat to have surf AND turf!

We topped off our meal with a wonderful Lemon Charlotte Royale cake that had raspberry swirls in it. It was just right for Valentine’s Day. Who could ask for anything more?

lemoncharlotteroyale

And although it may seem like we had a very mature-sounding Valentine’s Day, don’t let us fool you. Our biggest topic of conversation was whether to Tivo “Bromance” on the living room TV or the bedroom TV.

Decisions, decisions.


February 14th, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day!

By

I hope today is a great day for you and you spend it with the ones you love.

Speaking of love . . . I’m spending this evening with one of my greatest loves. And my husband will be there, too.

Ba dum dum (*air drums*).

Seriously, we both can’t wait for our steak and salmon dinner. I couldn’t keep it a secret because, well, I’m like that.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my love! I hope you enjoy dinner — I know I will.

Steak + my favorite person = awesome.


February 12th, 2009

Anticipation

By

Remember that old ketchup commercial set to Carly Simon’s song?

That’s how I feel today. My order of steaks, salmon and a cake I don’t have to bake have arrived.

I’m ready to eat them NOW. But I have to wait.

V-Day is just 2 days away. I think I can do it.

But after a week of Slim-Fast, Kashi Go Lean and countless chicken nuggets (the kids ate those — but I did have to look at them) I think I deserve my steak. Don’t you?

I hope you have a steak planned for this Saturday, too. It’s really the only way to go.

I’ve talked to a lot of my neighbors and of the ones who do have Valentine’s plans, they all involve steak — either at a restaurant or at home.

It’s not just me. I’m sure of it!

And since you probably are craving steak, too, I’ll be kind enough to share some photos of my Valentine’s meal with you.

And I promise I won’t put ketchup on it.


February 9th, 2009

I’m All A-Twitter

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Steak Enthusiast is now on Twitter!!

Check us out at www.Twitter.com/steakenthusiast.

Why should you go there, you may ask?

To get instant updates on the world of Steak Enthusiast and to see who else is joining in the conversation about steak — and food in general.

It’s free and, frankly, “tweeting” is fun. If you aren’t already, you just might get addicted.

If you can’t EAT steak all the time, you can at least talk about it when you’re not!


February 6th, 2009

And The Menu Is . . .

By

I’ve decided what I’m going to cook for V-Day this year. I’m going to mix it up a little bit and cook some Top Sirloin. . .

topsirloinsliced_tightlrg

. . . Marinated King Salmon . . .

salmon

. . . and then finish with a Lemon Charlotte Royale Cake with raspberry swirls . . .

lemoncake

Wow.

So these are the pictures of what they’re SUPPOSED to look like. I’m excited to see how they turn out after I get my hands on them.

The cake just has to be thawed. I can do that.

And the steaks we pretty much have down to perfection. But the salmon will be a new trick. I’ve cooked salmon before on the grill and it was great, but this time I actually think it will be even easier because I’ve chosen meat that is already seasoned. And I just have to thaw and bake.

I can totally do that.

Feel free to steal this menu . . . I’ll never know.

Here’s where I’ve ordered my menu selections. They should arrive next Wednesday.

And, hey, if you do make this menu for your honey bunny also, send me some pics so I can see how yours turned out!!!

Photos courtesy of The Kansas City Steak Company.


February 4th, 2009

Two of My Favorites Rolled Into One

By

I love steak.

And I love pizza.

Why not make a steak pizza?

steakpizza

Well, Drew at CookLikeYourGrandmother.com did and it looks like a masterpiece to me.

He used little cuts of Strip steak for the topping and I swear if I had the pizza in front of me right now I would eat THE WHOLE THING.

Check out his blog post here and don’t be ashamed if you drool over the pictures.

They’re divine.

Mangia!!

Photo courtesy of CookLikeYourGrandmother.com.


February 2nd, 2009

The Steelers Aren’t the Only Ones Who Won Yesterday

By

steakfootball

Super Bowl Sunday is a victory for meat eaters everywhere.

I love the day ’cause it’s an excuse to cook something yummy.

What’s that you say?  I don’t need an excuse?  Oh yeah.

Well, here’s how we spent the commercial breaks in the second quarter . . .

mmmmmeat

We may have missed a few great commercials, but it was well worth it. I already know which beer I want to drink and which hosting company to use, thank you very much.

Our group on this day was a persnickety one. So our marinades had to be kept separate. We had three distinct flavorings going on. Heaven forbid the Teriyaki mix in with the spicy Worcestershire bunch.

Just don’t tell anyone we used the same spatula to turn them all on the grill.

From the strips to the ribeyes, to the filets, our group was happy no matter who won the game.

One slight mishap did threaten to ruin the fun, though. That football in the top photo? Two minutes after that shot was taken, it was a major player in an incident resulting in an ice pack and some Children’s Motrin.

But that’s football for you.  You gotta be tough.


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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

Read More About Me »

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