Friday, March 4, 2011

Avocado And Cherry Open Sandwich

We were leaving for vacation in a few days so it was time to empty the fridge. There wasn't much food left. I noticed one avocado still laying on its side in the produce bin, leaning over a clear bag with just a few cherries left inside. I placed them on the counter. Hmmm, would it work? The avocado and cherries together? Starting with the perfectly ripe avocado, I sliced through the thin firm skin, around and through to the stone inside. The creamy meat was spooned into a shallow bowl, where I mashed it with the tines of a fork. Glancing over at the deep crimson cherries I started to think how they'd be used. No, I thought, the cherries just won't look right mixed in.  Their beauty will be hidden. . . they'll be a garnish!  

And that is how this open sandwich was created:

This is just an easy mixture of avocado, diced shallot, small as to not overwhelm the avocado flavor, a little salt and pepper, squirt of fresh lemon and chopped cherries.   I toasted slices of a French loaf, brushed with a little extra virgin olive oil.  

Simply fresh and delicious.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Steak Diane, Dutch Potatoes And A Caesar Salad

After I received Warren Caterson's cookbook, Table for Two, I couldn't wait to try this recipe. I've loved steak Diane ever since I first tried it years ago in my mid-twenties, when I could barely afford to eat out!

This was a fun dish to make with the family.  We started with the Dutch Potatoes.  I took a chance with this dish because my family doesn't like cooked carrots.  But I had a feeling they'd like it.

I left the mashing to my son and he did a great job. He also tried out the potato ricer.

He also helped pound the filet mignon.  He didn't get them down to a quarter inch thick but they were just fine. It was more important to make this a family-prepared meal than a perfect-looking meal.

Seasoned with salt and pepper, the filets were sauteed, longer than the recipe called for because they were thicker.

The steaks were removed and the sauce was made directly in the pan along with those tasty bits of goodness left behind from the steak. 

I had a little trouble with the sauce.  The pan was too hot and the sauce cooked away too fast.  I only had time to add more beef broth - the reason the sauce looks so thin.  Next time, I would lower the heat before adding the sauce ingredients.

Despite my little mistakes, the sauce was still flavorful with that distinct Steak Diane flavor I remember from my past.

Steak Diane (for two, I doubled it)
2 filet mignon steaks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs canola or peanut oil
2 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 ts chopped fresh chives
1 tbs cognac or brandy
1-1/2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 ts Dijon mustard
1/4 ts Worcestershire sauce
1 ts beef broth

Place filet mignon (or sirloin steaks) between two pieces of plastic or wax paper and carefully pound to about 1/4" thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Heat oil and 1 tbs butter in small cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add steaks and cook about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on the first side and 30 seconds on the second side.  Transfer steaks to a plate and cover with another plate to keep warm.  Add chives and cook for 10 seconds then stir in cognac.  Tilt the pan slightly and let the flame catch the cognac's vapors to ignite (or, if stove is electric, light fumes with a match).  Add the parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.  Swirl in remaining tbs of butter.  Pour sauce over steaks and serve.

Dutch Potatoes (for two, I doubled it)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1 cup sliced fresh carrots
2 ts unsalted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 ts kosher salt
Snipped fresh chives to garnish

Melt butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.   Meanwhile, place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.  Drain.  Mash potatoes and carrots in a small mixing bowl.  Beat in onion, sour cream and salt.  Sprinkle with chives.

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Permission was granted by the author of Table for Two cookbook to post these recipes in their entirety.

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Caesar Salad
My daughter helped to create this fabulous birthday dinner by making the salad.  This is my recipe which will be in another post exclusively about Caesar Salad.

First she rubbed the wooden bowl with a clove of garlic to season it.

Then she whisked together some extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, finely minced garlic, and minced anchovy fillets. Tossed in some romaine lettuce with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Then topped it with a little more freshly grated cheese, croutons, and ground pepper.

 Here is the nice Italian wine I liked with this meal . . .

Monday, February 28, 2011

A French Cooking Class

What a day!  I was on a food high for a few days, at least, after taking this French cooking class at Johnson & Wales University.  I worked on menu two, below, with a team of five wonderful people.  There were four teams working on both menus and help from ten culinary students!  At the end of the four hour class, we tried all the food prepared that day.  

The Menu
Menu 1:  Beef Consomme, Lobster Thermidor with Green Beans Almondine and Duchesse Potatoes, Trio of Creme Brulee

Menu 2:  Oyster Rockefeller, Beef Wellington with Pomme Anna and Tomato Soubise, Chocolate Souffle.
Getting started:
Tomato Soubise started with this light and fresh rice mixture:
Topped with demi-glace, then cooked:
Aromatic duxelles for Beef Wellington:

Do it this way . . . whisking yolks and sugar for the Chocolate Souffle:
Demonstrating folding egg whites into chocolate mixture by the experts!

A lesson in opening oysters for Oyster Rockefeller:
Heating vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns for the Hollandaise Sauce topping.  This was interesting, since I've never made Hollandaise with this mixture before.  Tasted fabulous!

Topped with Hollandaise Sauce and slightly heated:
Pomme Anna:
Duchesse Potatoes:

Lobster Thermidor.  The beginning of Bechamel Sauce, maybe for the Court Bouillon, but I'm not sure because I didn't work on Lobster Thermidor:

I learned that beef consomme must be clear enough to see a dime at the bottom.   There was also much discussion about the "raft", which is the hardened layer of vegetables and beef that forms on the surface and must not be broken or the broth will become cloudy and ruined.  I didn't see the process but here is the perfect result.

Creme Brulee's crispy topping was achieved by first slightly melting two separate layers of sugar (turbinado sugar was recommended, but not available), then melting the third layer.
 Still hot and bubbling!
All the recipes in this booklet for me to recreate at home . . . someday
Can't wait for the next class!

The Chef granted permission to publish the class on my blog.