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Archive for September, 2010

HANGER STEAK RULES!

Here in my part of the world it is nearly impossible to find hanger steak in our supermarkets. After years of reading about the tenderness and delicious flavor of this “butcher’s cut”, I was determined to find one to cook at home. I have seen it on the menu of Rue Dumaine, a wonderful restaurant near Dayton, Ohio, but I always chose a different item. My husband, however, did order it on two occasions and pronounced it wonderful.

In my “recipes to fix someday” file – which will require me to live to 150 in order to accomplish – I had a few recipes for hanger steak, one for pan-roasting and the other for grilling. I split the difference and used the marinade for the grilled steak and the sauce from the pan-roasted steak. We had broccolini and browned butter mashed potatoes as accompaniments.

For the marinade, I mixed a version of Chef Anne Burrell’s hanger steak recipe from the Food Network, some dijon, chopped garlic, a little rosemary, lemon juice and zest. I smeared it on the steak, bagged it up, and let it hang out in the frig for a couple of hours. When ready to cook it, I let it sit on the counter for a while to come to room temperature, then salted it, and got to work. For the sauce prep, I peeled and sliced 4 large shallots, put red wine vinegar and some dry red wine at the ready, and picked a few stems of parsley from the garden. The sauce recipe is from Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulod Cookbook via Epicurious.

The broccolini (a cross between broccoli and kale, I believe) is a little daintier than broccoli and maybe a little milder in taste. It takes just a few minutes to steam and we like it sprinkled with a little Parmesan or Asiago.

I delegated the mashed potatoes preparation to my husband. I had already browned some butter (slowly and stirring nearly constantly) and set it aside.All he had to do was peel and cut the potatoes, cook them and mash them up with some of the browned butter, buttermilk and whole milk, salt and pepper. He drizzled the rest of the butter over the finished product.

I must admit that the red wine reduction renders the sauce a very dark, almost chocolate color, which some might find off-putting. The taste more than made up for it, I assure you.

Remember to cook the steak to medium-rare at the most! I understand that hanger steak, very tender at rare and slightly beyond, can become tough if cooked to well done. Slice it against the grain and it will reward you with delicious, juicy tenderness and taste.

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Sam scored a bagful of jalapenos at the farmers’ market on Saturday with dreams of a get-together chowing down on jalapenos stuffed with cheesey goodness and wrapped with bacon. We chatted with Alex and decided that nachos and mojitos would be good accompaniments and so it was on for tonight.

The jalapenos were halved, lengthwise, seeded and deveined, stuffed with cream cheese (some mixed with chives), and then wrapped with half slices of bacon. These little devils were baked in as 375 degree oven for at least a half hour until the bacon looked thoroughtly cooked and we couldn’t stand the wait. At that point we retired to the patio, mojitos in hand, to enjoy the varying heat of the peppers. These were all from the same farm, presumably the same crop of plants, but there were some that were relatively tame and others that were hotter. Luckily, there were no killers in the bunch. (That’s happened before!)

While we were waiting for the jalapenos, we prepared the nacos. A nice, thick layer of taco chips on a half sheet pan, topped with cooked and drained ground beef, refried beans, diced canned green chilies, dollops of sour cream, grated jack and cheddar cheese, minced onion, and into the oven for 15 minutes at 350, until the cheese is melted and the whole thing is hot and too tempting for words.

We dug into those babies and made short work of them, washing them down with a second mojito. Love those more than margaritas. They are the only reason I grow mint. Of course, I wind up using the mint in other ways, but in the spring when I plant my herb garden, I think of mojitos and make sure to get a nice and healthy mint plant. (Be sure to plant mint in a pot, not in the garden, or it will take over. You will have mint enough for mojitos for everyone in the neighborhood.

What a nice evening it was. Kids and dogs running around, adults enjoying adult food and beverages, the weather pleasurable, and the end of summer fast approaching. I hope your Labor Day holiday had at least one day as great as today was for us.

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While checking out some foodie blogs the other day, I ran across this tempting recipe for soup. Quick preparations and handy ingredients prompted me to make this yesterday for lunch and I’m here to tell you that it was well worth the effort.

It is a timely soup for us now; the end of summer approaches and the local farm markets are offering the bounty of nature. We have oodles of tomatoes, peppers of all colors, and more squash than we can handle. The corn has been great and if you’re lucky enough to have a few ears on hand (or a can of corn in the pantry) give this a try.¬†It’s from “locallemons.com” – that’s local lemons. My apologies to the “locallemons.com” people for altering their recipe to suit my needs and whims.

Quick and Tasty Summer in a Bowl

Ingredients:

3 ears of corn

2 pounds of tomatoes (you can use canned if necessary)

2 1/2 T. roasted garlic (or just use raw garlic, minced)

1 red onion, peeled and chopped

2 poblano peppers

2 jalapeno peppers (I used crushed red pepper flakes about 1/4 teaspoon instead of jalapenos)

1/4 c. chopped cilantro

2 T. butter or oil (I used 1 T. of each)

sea salt

1 avocado, sliced

1 c. water or chicken broth, optional, to dilute

1/2 fresh lime, juiced


Now, here are my notes. First of all, it makes a small amount, about enough for 3 large-ish servings. If you’re feeding a crowd or aiming for leftovers, you’ll have to double or triple the recipe.

Second of all, be sure to read it all first. You must roast the peppers, first in order to skin them and render them a little tender. This is easy if you have a gas stove or grill but takes a little longer with an electric broiler unless you have one that gets blazing hot in no time flat. I don’t. But anyway, it should be no problem to get the peppers roasting while you prepare everything else.

Thirdly, you need to roast garlic and have 2 1/2 tablespoons available. I didn’t have time to do that; I was starting this at nearly 11:00 and wanted to eat at noon. No time for garlic to roast. I improvised by sauteing the garlic with the onions at the beginning. I imagine that roasted garlic would give its own unique flavor to the dish, but I didn’t miss it. Next, I added about a cup of chicken broth with the tomatoes. Why? I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do. Lastly, the recipe calls for jalapenos, which I didn’t have on hand. I used a sprinkling of crushed red pepper to give the soup some added heat. Jalapenos, of course, add flavor as well, so I had to go without that. I found that the poblanos leant more that enough peppery flavor, but if jalapenos float your boat, go for it.

I guess this  demonstrates my philosophy of not letting a missing ingredient get in the way of trying a new recipe. There are exceptions, of course. Baking usually requires strict adherence to the ratios of ingredients, if not the exact amounts. But to let the absence of shallots keep me from making a sauce when I have scallions would be a shame. I recognize the difference between the two and am usually able to reconcile the taste discrepancies. In this case, fresh corn would be perfect, but canned or frozen corn would hardly be taboo. In fact, I doubt if anyone could tell the difference in this soup, as rich and flavorful as it is. The end of the sermon.

1. Roast the poblano and jalapeno peppers under the broiler or over a grill until the skins are black and blistery. Let them cool for a while until you can handle them and slip off the skins,, remove the seeds and white veins and give them a rough chop.

2. Peel the tomatoes* and break them up with your hands into a bowl. (If using canned tomatoes, save the juice.)

3. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onions until soft and add the raw garlic, if using raw, and cook another minute or two without browning the garlic. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook on medium heat. Now add the crushed red pepper flakes if you are using that instead of  jalapenos.

4. Mash up the peppers in a mortar and pestle, a small food processor, or with a fork or other mashing type device until they somewhat come apart. We don’t want puree, here, folks, just a further breaking down of the cell walls. Scrape all this peppery goodness into the cooking pot.

5. Next crush the corn a tad and add the broken kernels and the corn juice into the pot as well.

6. Stir in the roasted garlic, if using, and add a little sea salt to taste.

7. Cook all this for 10 to 20 minutes until it reaches the consistency you like. You can add a little water or chicken broth to dilute it a bit if it gets too thick.

8. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a slice or two of avocado and a little drizzle of lime juice.

We had toasted bread and some cheese with this for our lunch and decided this recipe is a keeper. Give it a try. It just tastes like summer in a bowl.

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