August 28th, 2009

Face-Testing Your Steak


We’ve talked about ways to test the doneness of your steak here before. Most of the time, that involves the old “eyeing it” method . . . or a meat thermometer.

Below, Lynn Kessel of the South Shore News & Tribune describes an unusual method — the face-testing method. Oh, and by the way, Lynn, tough life gal. You get to talk about steak and test out recipes BEACHSIDE IN FLORIDA!

Here’s what she says . . .

Some experienced cooks punch the meat with their fingers to check the temperature and know when it’s ready.

Here’s how you learn the various levels of doneness:

With a poker face — no smiling or you’ll be eating beef jerky — touch your cheek. That’s how rare meat feels. Offering no resistance when pressed, it has a red center but should be warm all the way through.

Touch your chin. This is the feel of medium rare. The color should be bright pink to red when cut.
Now, touch the end of your nose. This will coincide with the texture of medium doneness. It has a pink center.

The area just above the bridge of your nose on your forehead is the tactile equivalent of medium-well. It has a thin line of pink remaining in the center. The bottom of your shoe is well done.
I spoke with Winn-Dixie Executive Chef Robert Tulko. He prefers gauging doneness using touch also, but with his fist.

First, make a relaxed fist, he said. The web of your hand between the thumb and forefinger on top feels like rare meat. If you slightly clench your fist, that same v-section of your hand is now medium. Clench your fist tightly, and the area will now feel like well done — hard, and in my opinion, inedible.
Tulko explained that as meats cook, the juices are drawn to the upper surface. That’s why when you cut into a steak, the juices rush out.

He said you should let the steak rest for five to 10 minutes before serving and cutting. The juices will have time to settle back to the center.

Tulko has been testing the doneness of meats, pork and chicken this way for years, and he prefers the clenched-fist method to the face testing.

Surprisingly, this method really works. I tried it the other evening when I was grilling a top sirloin for one of my favorite salad recipes.

Personally, I like my steak between the nose and chin. Get it?

Excerpt courtesy of

August 27th, 2009

London Broil: The Lean Steak



Feeling like a steak, but want to feel really, really good about eating it?

Try a London Broil. It’s lean, it’s flavorful, and paired with lots of yummy, summery vegetables it’s just about totally guilt-free!

Grilled London Broil with Summer Vegetables

Makes 4, 10 oz. servings Prep Time: 15 minutes + marinating time

Cook Time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 T. Giant olive or Giant canola oil
1 T. Giant fresh thyme or oregano
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. Giant ground pepper
1 lb Giant beef top round steak (London Broil)
1 cup Giant cherry tomatoes
2 medium Giant zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 medium Giant yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise
1 tsp. Giant olive oil
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

For marinade, combine vinegar, oil, thyme or oregano, garlic and pepper in a food-safe plastic bag. Add steak to bag and turn to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight, turning occasionally.

Toss tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash with oil. Make an aluminum foil boat to contain tomatoes. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Pre-heat your grill and place steak over medium direct heat. Arrange vegetables around steak. Grill steak, uncovered, 8 to 9 minutes for medium doneness, turning occasionally. Grill vegetables 6 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.

Remove vegetables to a serving platter and sprinkle with cheese. Carve steak into thin slices against the grain.

Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 27 g protein.

Photo courtesy of

Recipe courtesy of

August 25th, 2009

Rose’s Steak Hero


You can take the headline of this post to mean a few things:  Rose has a hero who is a steak, Rose’s recipe for a steak hero sandwich or, well, that’s all I got.

We’ll go with number 2.


Check out this magnificent way to present some scrumptious beef steak . . .

Rose’s Steak Hero

Caramelized Onions:
5 oz. butter
3 lbs. onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar

Creole Mustard Aioli (Yield: 3 cups):
2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup creole-style mustard
2 tTbsps. garlic, minced
7 1/2 lbs. beef flank steak
1-2 tsps. salt
1-2 tsps. pepepr
24 individual ciabatta breads, split
1 1/2 lbs. blue cheese, crumbled
6 oz. spinach leaves

  1. TO MAKE CARAMELIZED ONIONS: In rondo over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and sautè until caramelized, stirring often. Add garlic and sautè 1 minute. Stir in vinegar. Cool and cover. (Yield: about 1 lb., 8 oz.)
  2. FOR CREOLE MUSTARD AIOLI: In bowl, mix mayonnaise, Creole-style mustard and garlic. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. FOR EACH SERVING, TO ORDER: Grill 1 steak to medium. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Slice 4 oz. steak thinly at an angle across the grain. Cover and reserve the remaining steak.
  4. Spread 1 Tbsp. Creole mustard aioli on each cut side of bread. Top bottom bread half with 1 oz. blue cheese, the warm steak slices, 1 oz. caramelized onions, 1/4 oz. spinach leaves and other bread half. Plate and serve.

Recipe and photo above courtesy the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef.

August 21st, 2009

Steak Stir Fry


Ohhhh! Steak infused with an Asian flair. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.


This recipe combines so many things I adore:  steak, garlic, noodles, soy. I might just start writing it love letters. . .


Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Makes 4 servings


1 beef top sirloin steak (about 1-1/2 pounds)

1 package (8 ounces) dry rice stick noodles

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 cups matchstick-size carrot sticks

1 cup green bell pepper strips

½ cup sliced green onions

4 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and drained


1. Cut beef lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Set aside.

2. While noodles are cooking, combine wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and ginger in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Add beef strips; toss to coat well. Set aside.

3. Heat oil and garlic in large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers and green onions; stir-fry 4 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl. Cover; keep warm.

4. Add beef strips and marinade to wok; stir-fry 6 minutes. Return vegetables to skillet; stir until blended.

5. Line serving platter with spinach. Arrange noodles over spinach; top with beef mixture. Serve immediately.

Photo and recipe courtesy of

August 20th, 2009

Head Bangin’ and Steak Fajitas



So, Monday evening I was cleaning up dust bunnies from behind the dryer in the laundry room. (Yes, seriously.) I had moved the dryer out so I could really get back there.

And, um, we have cabinets that hang above the dryer.  Well, I stood straight up into the cabinets. Head first.


One trip to the ER later, plus one CAT scan and I officially had a concussion.

It could have been worse. I had visions of going to sleep that night and not waking up. And since I didn’t want our family story turned into a Lifetime movie, I went to the hospital to make sure my head wasn’t going to explode or morph into some blob with a big bump on it.

Thank goodness my parents live 7 minutes away. My mother took my children who hadn’t been fed yet (one of whom requires carb ratio calculations and an insulin shot) and cared for them.

There was no way I could do math. Or give a shot.

My father stayed with me at the hospital. I texted my husband the deal and he met us there.

I’m sure that was a fun text to get :). No real information, just:  Hit head hard. At ER. Come quick.

When he walked in his eyes were like saucers, but as soon as he realized I was going to be okay he commenced making fun of me.

Just the way I like it.

We decided the doctor wouldn’t take us too seriously if we were giggling so we tried to cut it out.

And once we were kicked out of our “suite” in the ER I realized I was STARVING.

Oh yeah, and my head really hurt. I opted out of the $20-per-pill hospital Advil and we got some on the road.

“What do you want to eat?” my husband sweetly asked.

“Steak fajitas.”

“We could go to that Italian place over . . .”

“Steak fajitas.”


“Steak fajitas.”

And after my near death experience . . . those might have been the best steak fajitas I’ve ever had.


Steak fajitas photo courtesy of

August 19th, 2009

Steak Recipe: Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet


bleu cheese crusted

So, a couple of weeks ago I received a question from a reader asking about a recipe for a filet mignon encrusted in bleu cheese.

This, of course, was a new one on me so I posed the question to Super Sister-in-Law Chef  Sandy.

And, as expected, she used to prepare this delectable dish when she toiled in the kitchen of the Ritz-Carlton.

Here, she shares her secrets for making it just like the pros!

(And check out that picture she took — isn’t it to die for???)

Here’s what she has to say . . .

Recently I was asked a question about how to make a bleu cheese crusted filet like someone’s favorite restaurant did it.  There are several ways to do this, depending on the outcome you are looking for.

You can simply cook your steak to desired doneness via any combination of direct and indirect cooking that works for you (sauté/oven, over the hot coals/on the side) and then simply top the steaks with bleu cheese for a moment, just like you would top a cheeseburger, thereby insuring a gooey topping.  Or, you could put the whole thing in a fiery hot oven which would brown the cheese.  My favorite method is the one below. You make a cheese crust, using breadcrumbs, butter and seasonings, in addition to bleu cheese.  You could even add pecans or walnuts to this versatile topping, or substitute another cheese if you like.  Just keep the ratio about ½ breadcrumbs and ½ other stuff.  Plus enough melted butter to hold it together. This mixture is finished on top of the steaks and you get a crunchy, cheesy topping which I think is a great contrast to the very tender steak.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef

2 5-6 oz Tenderloin of Beef Steaks (Filets)

Salt and Pepper

½ cup panko (Japanese style) bread crumbs, or fresh breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp butter

½ tsp garlic or onion salt, or

1 tsp kosher salt, if desired

4 turns fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary or parsley

½ cups crumbled bleu cheese

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Canola or Peanut Oil, for searing

Allow the steaks to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes to equalize the internal temperature for more even cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare crumb topping:  Combine panko or fresh bread crumbs and cold butter in microwaveable bowl.  Season with flavored salt or kosher salt and pepper.  Heat on high in microwave until butter melts, stirring every 30 seconds to distribute the browned crumbs.  Remove from microwave, allow to cool for a few seconds and add the herbs and bleu cheese.  Use a fork to distribute the bleu cheese into the crumbs without making it into a paste.  Taste for seasoning, set aside.

Preheat oven to 500°F. 

Just before searing, season the filets with salt and pepper.

To sear the meat, preheat shallow sided sauté or frying pan over medium high heat until it is very hot.  Add 1 teaspoon canola oil and heat until the oil is shimmering.  Without crowding them, carefully add the steaks to the hot pan.  Do not move them for about 90 seconds, in order to ensure a nice crust.  Using tongs, carefully brown all sides of the steak, each time allowing the crust to form before disturbing the steaks.

When well-seared, remove steaks to an open baking pan to rest until the final cooking. 

Everything may be prepared ahead up until this point, as much as a day in advance.  Allow steaks to come to room temperature if they are cooked ahead and refrigerated.

When you are about 10 minutes out from serving time, finish the steaks in the preheated oven. The time this will take will depend on the doneness you desire and the thickness of your steaks.  For the 6-oz filet pictured, which was a traditionally shaped (i.e. tall) filet, prepared medium rare, about 8 minutes of total oven time was required. 

First, put the steaks into the oven for 5 minutes without topping.  Then remove from the oven and carefully brush mustard onto steaks to allow the crumb mixture to adhere. Just a thin coat — you may not need all of it, depending on the surface area to cover.  Then simply divide the crumb mixture over the steaks and return to the oven.  Watch carefully, they will burn quickly.  Check after 2 minutes; my steaks took about 3 minutes to get the topping brown and bubbly.

Allow the steaks to rest a minute as you prepare the plates for service, then serve and enjoy!

August 15th, 2009

Japanese Beef Rolls



Oh. My. Gosh.

How have I missed this concept???

Beef AS the wrapper — not what’s inside the wrapper!!

This is absolutely brilliant. And it comes to us from our friends over at

Japanese Beef Rolls


8 thinly slices of Beef (sirloin)

8 stalks of Asparagus, trimmed

3 stalks of Scallions, halved

100g Enoki Mushrooms, trimmed

3 Tbsp  Japanese Soy Sauce

3 Tbsp Mirin

1 Tbsp Cooking Oil

Toothpicks or small skewers


Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). Oil a baking tray.

Prepare the basting sauce. Mix the soy and mirin. Set aside.

Lay the beef slices, place the asparagus, scallions and mushrooms. Roll them tightly, and secure with toothpicks.

Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and baste the beef rolls with the sauce. Repeat the basting every 5 minutes until the beef rolls are cooked.

Boil the remaining sauce lightly and brush the beef rolls again. To serve, remove the toothpicks. Top it with some chopped scallions! DELISH!

Photo and recipe courtesy of

August 14th, 2009

Pepper-Crusted Steaks



I absolutely love peppercorn on steak. It’s so, so tasty and it brings out the steak’s natural flavor.

And I really love when you get to crack it with a mallet. Hi-yahhhhh!!! (That’s my fake karate chop sound.)

This recipe has it all!

Pepper-Crusted Steaks with Worcestershire-Glazed Portobellos


4 14- to 16-ounce New York strip steaks (each about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)

3 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked with mallet

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices


Sprinkle steaks with cracked peppercorns and coarse salt. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in large skillet over medium heat. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Stir in mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt. Remove from heat.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to plates. Top each steak with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Tent with foil to keep warm. Grill mushrooms until soft and beginning to release juices, about 3 minutes per side. Divide mushrooms among steaks and serve.

Test-kitchen tip:

To make crisscross grill marks, place steaks on the grill pointing to ten o’clock. Halfway through cooking on one side, turn steaks to point to 2 o’clock. Turn steaks over and repeat.

Photo and recipe courtesy of

August 13th, 2009

Steaks on a Tie


Looking for that perfect gift for Grampa’s birthday? A bar mitzvah? Arbor Day?

THIS is a classic . . .


Yup, those are steaks on that there tie. Trillions and trillions of ’em.

He’ll NEVER have to worry about getting steak on his tie, ’cause guess what? He’s already got steaks on his tie!

I’m just doing a public service here. You needed to know about this.

Good day.

Photo courtesy of

August 7th, 2009

Amazing Steak in No Time


Sometimes I’m feeling saucy and I want to experiment with flavors and sauces and techniques. I want to try a new recipe or perfect an old one.

Other times, I just want a great steak, but I don’t want to spend a whole lotta time on it.

For those times, I like a preseasoned steak. You know, where someone has done all the heavy lifting for me.

I just put it over a flame and suddenly I’m a brilliant chef!


This baby is an already seasoned garlic and herb ribeye. I can totally see the flavor spilling out on top of it.

Okay, I’m hungry.

I’m thinking this weekend might be a preseasoned weekend. How about you???

Photo courtesy of

August 6th, 2009

Steak On Da Bone!



I like steak on the bone, steak off the bone, steak that has never seen or been near a bone, whatever. It all suits me!

But some steak lovers are adamant that steak on the bone retains better flavor.

I can see that.

Check out this steak expert’s take on steak on the bone (he’s at — then go try one for yourself!

Let me know what YOU think. Does it make a difference??

Bone-in ribeye photo courtesy of

August 5th, 2009

Steak Stories: Savoring Summer


Seriously, how did it get to be . . . August????

What happened to all the projects and things I was going to check off my list this summer?

Organize home office?


Clean out guest bedroom closet that is filled with clothes that haven’t seen the light of day THIS DECADE?

Uh, no.

I guess I’m just living in the moment. Sure, that’s what we’ll call it. And I’m enjoying these summer days with my kids — when they aren’t drilling holes in the side of my skull with incessant Star Wars noises and samurai sword sounds.

But one thing we have done this summer is get outside and enjoy really good food. We haven’t let the sunny days go to waste. And I’m feeling a sense of urgency to milk all I can out of what’s left.


I know I’ll blink and it’ll be November!

So here’s to the home stretch of summer. May your days be filled with the rich smells of a grilling steak and those soft, sizzling sounds that accompany it.

The bags of old clothes and unrecycled catalogs can wait. We’ve got some cooking to do!!!

Photo courtesy of

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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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