Friday, October 15, 2010

Recipe: Steak au Poivre

I do love the French! I know most people (Americans) don’t have much good to say about the French, however when I was in Europe we met the nicest and most helpful people in Paris. It completely changed my view of the French. We met some wonderful people, and had a great time enjoying the city and the food!

Me outside the Moulin Rouge

I know that if for nothing else people will always like the French for their food!

I don’t do too many French dishes, mainly because of the old joke; “what are the three main ingredients in French cooking? Butter…butter…butter!”

Although every once in a while a nice French inspired dinner is welcome. I’ve had Steak au Poivre (ow-pwav) not only in French restaurants but also had to try it when I was in Paris and it is just marvelous. When I found a recipe for it online I was pretty impressed at how simple it is to make at home. Most French food does require a little more expertise but this was easy and relatively quick to make. The key to this dish is really the sauce, and to make a good French sauce you need fond!

Fond is the leftover juices and bits that are left in the skillet after you cook the meat. A good fond is what makes a great sauce!

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4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used white truffle butter for additional flavor)

1 medium shallot, minced

1 cup beef broth (I used stock, didn’t go as well. I had a hard time reducing)

3/4 cup chicken broth (Same note as above)

1/4 cup heavy cream (organic!)

1/4 cup brandy (you see I did use VSOP for a little better flavor)

1 tsp champagne vinegar (this is expensive, so if you want use lemon juice)

Salt

4 steaks (I used sirloin but would have rather used strip, mine were about 6-8oz)

1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns (I used coarse ground and that was a mistake)

Hardware

Large skillet

Second slightly smaller pan

Tongs

Aluminum foil

First we are going to start the sauce! Put the skillet on the burner and set the heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp of the butter and let it foam. When that subsides, add the shallot. Sweat the shallot stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.

Then add the broths, crank the heat to high, and keep it boiling until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup should be about 8 minutes for this part.

After that’s reduced pour the sauce base into a container for later and wipe out the skillet.

For the steaks you want to start by hitting both sides with salt. Then rub one side of each steak with about 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, use the heal of your hand to press peppercorns into steaks that will make them adhere better. (again I used coarse ground pepper and it was not a good idea, the steaks were a little too peppery for me, stick with the peppercorns)

Put the skillet back on the burner over medium heat until it gets hot, 4 minutes is a safe point. Then add the steaks with the unpeppered-side down. When you have added all the steaks crank up the heat to medium-high.

Here is the little secret; press down firm on steaks with bottom of that second skillet I had you grab! Resist all urge to move the steaks! We want them well browned and crusted, which should be about 6 minutes.

Use the tongs and flip the steaks. Again do the same thing with the skillet as before, figure about 4 minutes longer for a medium-rare. (5 if you want medium)

Transfer steaks to plate and loosely place aluminum foil over them to keep warm.

DO NOT CLEAN THE SKILLET!!!! Remember we need the Fond!

Now let’s finish the sauce! Pour the reduced broth back in the skillet, also add the cream, and brandy. Increase the heat to high and bring it all to a boil.

As it comes to a boil start scraping the bottom of the skillet with wooden spoon to break up the fond. When you have most of the fond up gently whisk it to incorporate it into the sauce.

Keep simmering until the sauce is a deep golden brown and thick enough to coat back of a spoon, this should take at least 5 minutes.

When you reach that point take it off the heat and whisk in the remaining butter and the vinegar. Taste it and add salt to your liking.

Then we plate it all! Put the steaks down on their serving plates and spoon the sauce over them, cut, eat and enjoy!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Recipe: Lemon, Spinach, and Orzo Soup

“Lemon soup? Hmmm” His reaction did not look promising. “Yes, I haven’t tried it before but it sounds good!” I replied with enthusiasm, not letting on that I was just as skeptical as he was. “Alright we have frozen pizza just in case…”

Yes that is the true story of my cousins reaction when I announced that I would be making this soup. He and his wife are no strangers to being my culinary guinie pigs. I have made them some, to put it dramatically, horrendous failures. Yet Still they trust me with the taste buds and stomachs.

Honestly (to my surprise) it turned out to be quite a good, and yes indeed quick, soup. There are a few things I would change for next time but I am planning on a next time so that is promising to say. Final thought before we move on although you may be skeptical try it and hey if you don't like it make sure frozen pizza is on hand. ;o)

On a bit of a business note if you like what you see or have further questions please post it in the comment section! If you really like it please share on facebook, twitter or any of the other easy options I put below the post. If I get enough readers who post comments then I'll start running give-a-ways or drawings for cool food related stuff!! So comment comment comment and enjoy!

Well, let's dive in shall we?
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2 tablespoons olive oil (not pictured)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large sweet (yellow) onion
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (for the spicy side of life, use less if you don't like spice)
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 cups of chopped, packed fresh spinach (original recipe called for frozen :o( yuck!)
1 1/2 cups orzo
8 cups chicken (you can also use vegetable broth, but veggi broth is only worth it if it's homemade)
4 eggs
2 lemons (I know there are four in the picture and this is one of those changes)
Fresh flat-leaf parsley
Grated Parmesan (I cheated and just bought some pre-grated but I trust my source for good cheese)


Hardware
My Giant pot! (12qt. and you can do smaller but I just love this pot)
Spoon

Alright first heat the olive old in your pot.

On medium heat sweat the garlic and onion. (i.e. just slightly translucent not brown, sweating is like a sauté light)

Crank the heat to medium high and add red pepper flakes, spinach, and orzo. Let that go for a minute, then add the broth.

Let it come to a light simmer, then turn the heat down and continue the simmer for 15 minutes, basically you want the orzo to be barely tender.

Take the soup off the heat and let it cool down for a minute. This is very very important!

While that is cooling whisk the eggs in a large bowl (you will be adding soup to this bowl so a larger bowl is key)

Next whisk in the lemon juice (this is why I dropped it to two lemons, you don’t really have a chance to add to taste here)

Whisk until your egg/lemon juice mix is thick, creamy and a pale yellow color.

Here is the tricky part! We need to temper the egg mixture. Start by adding a small ladleful of the soup broth to the eggs and immediately whisk your little heart out! To really be sure not to scramble the eggs, take a second and even third ladle of soup and whisk each well and letting them cool before adding it. If your eggs do curdle/scramble try again with another set of eggs and let everything cool a little more than last time.

After you temper the egg mix add to the soup pot, whisking all the while.

Bring it all back to low heat, stirring the whole time and carefully warm over the low heat until the soup starts to thicken. When it has thickened to your liking bring the heat up again a notch or two and warm for 3-4 minuets.

Finally serve it garnished with parsley and Parmesan!


(This was Adapted from gimme some oven)