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Showing posts with label steak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steak. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cold Nights, Warm Food - Potatoes Au Gratin and Steak Charred on a Carbon Steel Pan

It's comfort food time. Cold nights call for warm dinners with deeply satisfying dishes.

What makes you feel good in cold weather? What about a vegetable soup flavored with roasted tomato sauce and filled with roughly chopped carrots, green cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and string beans? Or spaghetti tossed with charred cauliflower buds and shallots with an anchovy-butter sauce?

I made those last week and they were delicious. Tonight I wanted meat, a starch and a green. Pretty basic stuff. Add in a Prairie vodka martini with an olive and I was definitely comforted.
Usually when I cook a steak, I make mashed potatoes with butter, half and half and sautéed scallions. Tonight I wanted something different. For some reason the idea of potatoes au gratin seemed like the way to go. I'd still have the soft potatoes to contrast with the steak but the au gratin would give me a crunchy top.

The green was my favorite: an escarole salad with blue cheese, pickled green beans, fresh chopped tomatoes (this is California so it's easy to find flavorful heirloom tomatoes at the farmer market) and carrot rounds with an olive oil and reduced balsamic dressing.

This entire deliciously comforting meal took 50-60 minutes to prepare. In actual work time, you'll do 20 minutes and otherwise be waiting for the potatoes to do their thing.

First thing is get the potatoes au gratin going. The recipe for that is below.

Because the steak should be hot from the oven and loses quality if it has to wait around for the other dishes, make the salad next. If you can't find escarole, which I learned to love when I lived in Providence, Rhode Island, use red leaf or romaine lettuce.

The salad and steak
Escarole is slightly bitter and the leaves are rough, so it holds up well in a tossed salad. Tear the leaves into bite sized pieces, peel the carrot and make paper thin carrot rounds, add a 1/4 cup of another vegetable like salt steamed green beans (I make pickled green beans) or cooked corn kernels in the summer, 1 tablespoon of chopped pitted olives and homemade croutons if you have them.

Dress with the olive oil and reduced balsamic (you make that by putting 1 cup of balsamic into a small saucepan on a low flame and reducing the volume to 1/4 cup, cool and use in the normal proportion except the balsamic is now slightly sweet) after the steak is cooked and you are ready to eat.
There are lots of great ways to cook a steak. I'm really happy with the results I get using a carbon steel pan, which, I know, isn't easy to find. In Manhattan, Zabar's on the Upper West Side sells them (second floor). In LA, Surfas in Culver City has them until they sell out, then the wait can be awhile until the next shipment from France gets through the traffic jam in LA Harbor.
Carbon steel chars vegetables and a steak equally well. It is easy and the results are fantastic. A cast iron pan is a close substitute but in my opinion not as good. Before charring the steak, heat the pan without any oil until the metal starts to smoke, To use a high-temperature pan requires that you have a good quality exhaust fan in the hood over your burners. Otherwise, the smoke will set off the fire alarums and the house will fill with smoke. Not good.

Once the pan is smoking, add a small amount of blended oil (80% canola, 20% olive oil). A really small amount, maybe a 1/2 teaspoon is all you need. Throw in a handful of shredded onions. Toss with tongs so they char not burn. Throw in a handful of thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms. Maybe drizzle on another 1/2 teaspoon of blended oil. Toss, turn and don't burn. When the onions and shiitakes are lightly browned, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
The steak needs to be a good quality either bone-in or fillet. Allow the meat to reach room temperature. Dredge in olive oil then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Both sides.

Get that carbon steel pan going again. When the metal is smoking, use tongs to gently place the steak into the middle of the pan. Allow the meat to sear 3-4 minutes, then use the tongs to turn it over. Sear another 3-4 minutes. Then place the pan and the steak into the preheated 350F oven. Depending on the thickness of the steak, bake 5-10 minutes. Use a pairing knife to cut into the middle to test for doneness.

Once the steak is the way you like it, remove from the oven. Put the charred onions and shiitakes back in the pan and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top. Let the meat rest 5 minutes. That will also heat the veggies.

Serve hot with the potatoes au gratin straight out of the oven and the escarole salad crisp and cold.

Don't forget the Prairie vodka martini with an olive.

Ok, now the recipe for the potatoes au gratin.

Potatoes Au Gratin 

Serves 4

Time to prep: 20 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes to salt boil, 30 minutes to bake, 2-5 minutes to broil

Total time to cook: 72-75 minutes

Ingredients

4 medium sized good quality potatoes, preferably King Edward or Baby Yukon, washed
1/4 cup half and half or whole milk
1/2 stick sweet butter (no salt)
1 cup white cheddar cheese, roughly grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup bread crumbs, fine, preferably homemade

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Fill a quart sized pot with water. Add kosher salt and potatoes, washed but not peeled. Bring to boil. Cover and cook 30 minutes. To test for doneness, insert pairing knife into each potato. The knife should have some resistance when inserted. Drain, set aside to cool.

When cool, use paring knife to remove skin only. Reserve skin to sauté at breakfast and serve with scrambled eggs and bacon.

So you can work like you're on an assembly line, place all the ingredients on a cutting board around a rectangular or a pie sized, bake-proof pan with a low lip, about 2".

Make thin potato slices (about 1/4"). Use a pairing knife for better control. This part is a bit tedious because making so many thin slices can take a few minutes. The result is worth your patience.

You are going to make layers in the baking pan in the following order: overlapping layer of thin potato slices, then paper thin slices of butter, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then potato slices then butter slices and seasoning and so on until all of the potato slices are in the baking pan.
Place a final layer of thin butter slices on the potato slices and season. Pour in the half and half or whole milk. Sprinkle on grated white cheddar cheese and finish with bread crumbs.

Place baking pan on a baking sheet and place in oven 30 minutes.

At this point the potatoes are cooked and can be reserved and reheated just before serving.

When everyone is sitting at the table, ready to eat, set oven to broil to brown the topping. Be careful not to burn. If broiling makes you nervous, skip this step and place the potatoes into a 350F oven to reheat for 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Need A Pan That’s Smokin’ Hot? Reach For Carbon Steel

Carbon steel sauté pan on high heat, smoke rising from the blended oil. Credit: David Latt

To create beautifully charred meats and crispy skin fish filets, restaurant chefs use sauté pans designed to take high heat. Searing caramelizes the outside and locks in flavor. In the home kitchen, cast iron and stainless steel pans are favored by many, but carbon steel has advantages over both. No health issues are associated with using carbon at high heat and cleanup is easy. Like woks, once a carbon steel pan is seasoned, the surface turns black so there is no need to brandish a scouring pad and cleanser.

Working with carbon steel


Available in cooking supply stores, the heavy duty pans are half the cost of stainless steel and twice the price of cast iron. In Southern California, Surfas Culinary District carries the pans in their stores and online. Once seasoned according to the manufacturer’s directions, the pans are virtually indestructible and designed to last a lifetime.Some additional care needs to be taken. Never soak a carbon steel pan in water or place in a dishwasher. Simply scrub with a little soap to remove particulates and grease, rinse, then heat the pan on a stove top burner until dry and the pan is ready to use again. Acidic ingredients such as lemon juice and tomatoes can affect the seasoning of the pan, but that is easily remedied by following the manufacturer’s directions.
The pans I use are the heavy duty de Buyer and the Paderno 12.6-inch. A bit lighter than a comparably sized cast iron pan, the extra long handle never gets hot when used on the stove top. At high heat, the surface of the carbon steel pan becomes nonstick with the smallest amount of oil.
Very much like Chinese stir-frying, cooking at high heat requires all ingredients to be prepped before cooking begins. To avoid risking a burn, experts suggest using a pair of long metal tongs, 12 inches or longer to manipulate the ingredients in the pan.

Get ready for some serious heat

A good exhaust hood with a fan above the stove is also necessary. High heat’s sweet smoke can turn from pleasure to pain if unvented. Many a meal has been spoiled by the annoying screech of a smoke alarm.
Use an oil that can tolerate high temperatures. A proponent of high-heat cooking to prepare his signature crispy salmon filet, chef Taylor Boudreaux of Napa Valley Grille in West Los Angeles, Calif., recommends a blend of canola (80%) and olive oil (20%).
Keep a premixed bottle on hand in the kitchen and you’ll always be ready for a smokin’ good time.
latt-carbonsteel2
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A medley of vegetables -- carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions and garlic -- sizzling on a carbon steel sauté pan. Credit: David Latt

Pan Seared Bone-In Ribeye Steak

I believe a little bit of steak goes a long way, so my preferred portion is 6 to 8 ounces. Quality rather than quantity makes the difference in this supremely easy-to-make, protein-centric dish. Buy the highest quality steak available.
A good steak deserves good accompaniments that are entirely personal in nature. One person draws pleasure from a side of fries, another prefers a baked sweet potato with butter. Some diners wouldn’t eat red meat without a glass of red wine. I enjoy a charred steak with caramelized onions and shiitake mushrooms served alongside garlic-parsley mashed potatoes, a carrot-broccoli sauté and an ice-cold perfect Manhattan up with a twist. But that’s me.
The times indicated in the recipe are estimates. The thickness of the steak will affect how long the meat needs to be cooked to reach the desired level of doneness.
Serves 1
Ingredients
1 bone-in ribeye, T-bone or Porterhouse steak
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon blend of canola oil (80%) and olive oil (20%)
1 teaspoon sweet butter (optional, see variations)
1 garlic clove, peeled, root end trimmed (optional, see variations)
½ teaspoon finely chopped chives, or the green part of a scallion (optional, see variations)
Directions
1. Wash and pat dry the steak. Season lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
3. Place the carbon steel pan on a burner on a high flame.
4. When the pan lightly smokes, drizzle the oil into the pan. In seconds the oil will smoke.
5. Using tongs, place the steak in the pan. Press down gently along the edges and the meat next to the bone. Pressing too firmly will force juices out of the steak which would diminish the flavors.
6. Allow to cook and sizzle. Steaks are best served medium-rare. Make adjustments as to time if you prefer yours less or more cooked.
7. After 3 to 5 minutes, turn the steak over. After another 3 to 5 minutes, press against the middle of the steak. If the meat feels solid, it is cooked. If it can be pressed down easily, then it probably requires more cooking. To be certain, use a sharp paring knife to make small cut in the middle of the steak. Inspect and determine if the steak has cooked to the state of doneness you enjoy.
8. Serve hot with your preferred sides and beverage of choice.
Variations
1. Use a combination of stovetop searing and oven baking, as many restaurant chefs do. To do this, sear the steak for 2 minutes on each side, then place in a 400 F oven for 5 minutes. To remove the pan from the oven, remember to use an oven mitt. The handle that rarely gets hot on the stove top will be very hot after spending time in the oven.
2. Test for doneness as before. If not cooked to your preference, place back in the oven.
3. After removal from the oven or the stovetop, drop a teaspoon of sweet butter and a crushed garlic clove (peeled) into the pan. Spoon the butter-garlic mixture over the steak, bathing it in the sauce. Discard the melted butter and garlic before serving. Place the steak on the plate with the sides.
4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives or the green part of a scallion over the steak just before serving.

Caramelized Farmers Market Vegetables

Perfect as a side dish or as an entrée with noodles or rice, the vegetables should be charred but not overcooked so their texture is al dente. Using the freshest, highest quality vegetables will create a better tasting dish. Butter is optional, but a small amount can add a level of umami that turns a good plate of vegetables into an outstanding one.
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 large carrots, washed, root and stem ends removed, peeled, cut into rounds or 1 -nch oblongs
1 medium onion, washed, root and stem ends removed, peeled, julienned
3 garlic cloves, skins and root ends removed, smashed, finely diced
2 cups broccoli florets, washed, sliced long ways into bite-sized pieces
2 cups Brussels sprouts, root ends trimmed, cut into quarters or julienned
1 cup shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, stem ends trimmed, thin sliced long ways
1 teaspoon blend of canola oil (80%) and olive oil (20%)
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sweet butter (optional)
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Directions
1. Assemble all the vegetables on the cutting board, ready to use. If serving with steamed rice or cooked pasta, have that prepared as well.
2. Set the burner on the highest setting. Place the carbon steel pan on the burner. Allow to heat until a small amount of smoke begins to form.
3. Drizzle in the blended oil. When it smokes, add all the vegetables.
4. Using the tongs, toss the vegetables frequently to prevent burning. Toss for 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked al dente.
5. Remove the pan from the burner. Because the carbon steel is still very hot, continue tossing the vegetables. Add the butter and cayenne (optional). Toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional sea salt and pepper.
6. Serve hot as a side dish or with the pasta or rice.
Variations
— If caramelized onions are preferred, cook them separately until they take on a golden color, then add the other vegetables.
— Substitute or add vegetables you enjoy, such as zucchini, turnips, kale or kohlrabi. Since some vegetables cook more quickly than others, learn which ones need to go into the pan ahead of the others. For instance, small diced turnips and kohlrabi would go in first before adding the other vegetables.
— Instead of adding butter and cayenne (optional), add 2 tablespoons soy sauce or an Asian sauce (optional), and for added heat, add 3 tablespoons finely chopped Korean kimchi (optional).

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Surf n' Turf Shout Out to All Guys: Caesar Salad, Sauteed Shrimp, Grilled Steak, Baked Tomato, and a Dirty Martini

My good friend Hank who lives in a converted church in Lincoln, R.I. reacted to a piece I wrote about Skinny Bitch's vegetarian advocacy with a strongly worded email:
hmm, let's see-give me a pack of Camels....a 5th of bourbon and for lunch I'll have tuna and steak tartar....with bacon.
Clearly what's good for the goose is not good for my friend Hank. And I have to agree with him--except for the "pack of Camels"--all the rest sounds good.

So for Hank and all other guys, here's my version of a dream meal: Caesar Salad, Sauteed Shrimp with Shiitake Mushrooms, Grilled Steak with a Baked Tomato, and a Dirty Martini.

Baked Tomato

Get the tomatoes started while you prepare the rest of the meal, so they'll be ready to serve when you've finished the other dishes.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

4 tomatoes, farmers' market fresh, washed
2 tablespoons bread crumbs, preferably homemade
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, top with a sprinkling of bread crumbs, and drizzle with olive oil (again).

Put on a Silpat sheet or piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the tomato has started to collapse.

Caesar Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, skin off
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 anchovies
1 egg, farmers' market fresh
1/4 teaspoon Worcester sauce
2-3 drops of Tabasco, optional
2 hearts of romaine
3-4 tablespoons olive oil depending on taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup croutons
Black pepper

Method

Use a wooden bowl if you have one. Sprinkle the sea salt on a wooden cutting board. Mash the garlic back and forth on the salt with the flat side of a chef's knife, then sweep the garlic-salt mash into the salad bowl.

Boil water in a small saucepan. Add the egg and cook for 4 minutes. Remove the egg, let cool, then open, scoop out the yolk and white with a small spoon, and add to the salad bowl along with the Worcester sauce, Tabasco (optional), olive oil, and lemon juice.

With a fork, mash the anchovies into pieces against the side of the salad bowl and dissolve them in the dressing. Mix well.

Tear the romaine leaves into pieces, add to the salad bowl, top with the grated cheese, croutons, and season with the pepper. Toss to coat the leaves. Taste and adjust the flavors by adding more lemon juice or sea salt.

Sauteed Shrimp with Shiitake Mushrooms

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, washed, shelled, deveined
1/2 pound shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, ends trimmed, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet butter
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Heat a frying pan, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper, add the shrimp and 1 teaspoon of the butter. Cook until pink and lightly browned on both sides, 5-6 minutes total. Remove from the pan.

Drizzle olive oil into the same pan, add the mushrooms, garlic, and shallots. Saute until lightly browned, add the other teaspoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Move the mushrooms to one side and return the shrimp to the pan to reheat.

Serve either mixed together or separated on the plate.

Grilled Steak

Yield: 1 serving
Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 10 oz. steak, T-Bone, Porterhouse, Rib Eye with the Bone-in, washed, pat dry
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the grill or broiler. Drizzle olive oil on a large plate, season with sea salt and black pepper. Dredge the steak through the olive oil. Put on the hot grill or on a tray in the broiler. Turn every 5 minutes until done to your taste.

Put on a plate, cover lightly with a piece of aluminum foil for 5 minutes, then transfer to a dinner plate, top with the juices, and serve immediately.

Dirty Martini

Yield
: 1 serving
Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients

3 jiggers of vodka, freezer cold
Vermouth to taste
1 cocktail olive
1/4 teaspoon olive juice

Method

I avoid the shake vs. stirred debate by keeping the vodka in the freezer. Stick a toothpick in the olive and put into the bottom of the martini glass. Add the vodka, vermouth, and olive juice.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Roasted Walnuts

And for the ideal dessert: a piece of flourless chocolate cake with roasted walnuts, topped with whipped cream. Recipe will be forthcoming. Until then, here's the photograph.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hidden Treasures at Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica

Driving on the freeway, looking at the streets and neighborhoods below, I often wonder what fabulous restaurants I'm missing.Tacos Por Favor is one of those places that I had heard about for years, but had always driven by without stopping.

Today I decided to stop.

A cantina-sized Mexican restaurant on the corner of Olympic at 14th Street,Tacos Por Favor sits on the border between the two-Santa Monicas. It is well-known to the people who work in the auto repair and building supply businesses nearby as well as the students of the upscale private school, Crossroads and the well-heeled who could eat at the upscale Buffalo Club down the block, but prefer Tacos Por Favor's casual atmosphere and lower prices.

Long before it was hip, the restaurant made its reputation on the quality of its ingredients. Abandoning lard and searching out the freshest vegetables to make its salsas, Tacos Por Favor prides itself on serving "healthy Mexican food."

On this first visit, I tried a selection of the soft tacos: carnitas, chicken, cheese, shrimp, and the potato (delicious). One of the day's specials was shrimp soup. Six corn tortillas came with the large bowl of spicy soup, filled with whole shrimp, bell peppers, roasted red peppers, celery, and onions.

Delicious, filling, and affordable.

Stimulated by the flavors, I knew what I was going to make for dinner: carne asada with avocado and homemade salsa.

Carne Asada, Avocado, and Salsa

Instead of buying the meat at the supermarket, if you're close to a Mexican or Asian market, you'll find the cuts of meat you need at half the price.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound flank or skirt steak, thin sliced
1 ripe tomato, washed, stem removed, chopped
1 carrot, washed, peeled, sliced into thick rounds
1 medium sized ripe avocado, washed, peeled, the pit removed, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled, finely chopped
1 small serrano chile, washed, cut in half, seeded
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Mexican hot sauce or Tabasco
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
6-8 large tortillas, corn or flour

Method

Marinate the steak in olive oil, seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, and a bit of hot sauce. If you have the time, overnight is great, but as little as an hour will help tenderize and flavor the meat.

Toss the carrot pieces and serrano chile in a bowl with olive oil and sea salt, then grill, 3 minutes on each side, remove and chop. Put them back into the bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, onions, avocado, and cilantro. Mix well. Drizzle with the lemon juice and season with hot sauce, if needed. Marinate 30 minutes.

Grill the steak on a hot grill, 5 minutes on each side or until the edges are charred. Transfer to a plate, cover with a piece of aluminum foil, and set aside for 5 minutes.

Grill flour or corn tortillas and keep warm in a covered basket.

Roughly chop the steak, put the pieces into a bowl, pour the juices over the meat, and serve with the salsa and hot tortillas.

Variations

Grill 6 scallions--washed, ends trimmed--until charred and serve with the tacos

Grill 1 ear of corn--shucked, silks removed, washed--take off the kernels, add them to the salsa

Roast 2 garlic cloves in their skins over an open flame until their skins burn off, let cool, mince, add to the salasa

Add 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro to the salsa