valentine’s dinner for two: steak au poivre

DSC05461.jpg

Steak au Poivre (adapted from epicurious.com)

2 one- to two-inch thick rib eye steaks
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brandy
3/4 cup cooking cream

Pat dry the steaks with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt. Press the crushed peppercorns into both sides of each steak. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200˚F/75˚C.

Heat skillet, about 3 minutes on medium high heat.Then add the oil and swirl it around in the skillet. Sauté the steaks 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Put steaks on a heatproof plate in the oven while you make the sauce. Add shallots and butter to skillet and cook over medium low heat, stirring and scraping up the browned bits, until shallots are browned and wilted, about 3-5 minutes.

Carefully add the brandy (because it might ignite) and bring to a boil, stirring until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream and boil the sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3-5 minutes. Serve sauce with steaks. I like the sauce a little browner, so I put some Maggi sauce in it. But you can add Worcestershire sauce for the same effect.

I served the steaks with cauliflower fritters and pumpkin purée.

Cauliflower Fritters
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

1 head cauliflower
2 large eggs
3/4 cup grated edam cheese (If I had any I’d recommend Peccorino Romano)
1 medium shallot, chopped fine
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less if less heat is desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
Low fat Greek style yogurt, optional

Separate the florets and boil them in a pot of salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain the florets and put them in a large bowl. Mash the florets.

Add the eggs, cheese, shallot, breadcrumbs and seasonings to taste. Mix well. Form fritters about 3 inches in diameter. You’ll get about 8 fritters. Set aside.

In a 10 inch skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. When a drop of water sizzles in the pan, add four fritters. Fry them 3 minutes per side. Set them to drain on paper towels while you do the second batch. Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt, if desired.

steak fajitas with wasabi yogurt dressing

DSC03980

This is so quick and easy to make! It only takes a few ingredients and dinner is ready in half an hour! It has the tang of wasabi to add to the piquant flavor of paprika all wrapped up in a warm fajita.

Steak Fajitas with Wasabi Yogurt Dressing
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes for beef, 3 minutes for pork tenderloin

Ingredients
6 oz lean beef steak
6 oz pork tenderloin cut into medallions and pounded flat
paprika
salt and pepper

1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
3 cups chopped fresh lettuce
1/2 small red onion, sliced in slivers
1/2 cup wasabi yogurt dressing

8 flour tortillas, fajita size

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with paprika, salt and pepper. Grill in a hot pan, about 1 minute per side for the beef, and about 1 1/2 minutes per side for the pork. Serve with chopped lettuce, sliced grape tomatoes, and wasabi yogurt dressing on top of a warmed fajita wrap.

Wasabi Yogurt Dressing
1/2 cup Greek style yogurt
1 teaspoon wasabi paste, or to taste

Combine yogurt and wasabi in a small bowl. Put generous dollops on top of the steak and eat!

 

 

thai grilled beef salad (yum neua)

DSC02049 Thai Grilled Beef Salad (America’s Test Kitchen) America’s Test Kitchen has come up with another adaptation of a Thai recipe that tastes authentic. Even my husband says so, and for a Thai, that is true praise indeed. I was aiming for the beef to be undercooked  because putting it in the sauce after grilling cooks it further. It’s a combination of resting plus the lime juice that completes the cooking, I think. This salad serving suggestion is with cucumber, which lessens the heat of the chile. You can also serve it with tomato slices. Another idea is to plate the salad on shredded lettuce or serve it with lettuce on the side to made steak “sandwiches.” The Test Kitchen folks say to pass the paprika-cayenne and roasted rice at table, but this is never done in Thailand. Yum Neua always arrives at table ready to eat, juicy tender meat in a sauce that’s a perfect balance of sour, salty, minty and spicy. Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon white rice (You’ll only use 1/2 tablespoon. I used roasted rice available in small jars at Asian groceries) 3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes) 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2 tablespoons water 1/2 -1 teaspoon sugar 1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trimmed (I couldn’t find flank steak so I bought London broil instead) Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground 4 shallots, sliced thin 1 1/2cups fresh mint leaves, sliced into slivers 1 1/2cups fresh cilantro leaves, minced 1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds 1 seedless English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick on bias Instructions

  1. Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. You will only use 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika mixture. Put up the leftover for another day.
  2. [Cook’s Note: Skip this step if you have roasted rice in a jar] Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
  3. Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl. Taste. If too sour, add another 1/2 teaspoon sugar and set aside. Lightly salt and pepper the steak.
  4. ATK’s directions FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. ATK’s directions FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  6. Foodie Joanie’s directions for an indoor grill: On my George Foreman grill, I found that 5 minutes was too long. The meat came out medium-well done and I wanted it medium rare. I recommend 2-3 minutes instead.
  7. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Slice meat against the grain  into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and 1/2 tablespoon rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.  I forgot the cucumbers and served this dish with two old favorites–sesame rice and tom khaa or coconut milk soup— and one new favorite, Thai cabbage salad.

Chinese style lo mein

chicken lo mein

The drawbacks to this recipe are its long list of ingredients and its intricate method. If you can overlook those, then this is a delicious recipe that will go with any kind of meat. To make it vegan, use tofu instead of meat, and instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth. I do NOT recommend you use the Asian style noodles available at some supermarkets uptown Manhattan. ATK is right; they are gummy. The best substitute is actually linguine. I have yet to try a gluten-free noodle in this recipe. I hesitate because they are at least twice the price of wheat and have the same amount of carbs. I used regular green cabbage in this recipe rather than Napa/Chinese Cabbage, because it holds its crispness in high heat and sauces. I also substituted carrots for the mushrooms but you can use both. The original recipe used boneless pork spare-ribs but I hate fatty ribs, so I used chicken breast in this recipe.

Chinese Style Lo Mein (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver, sliced thin (can use chicken or beef or firm tofu)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the vegetables
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal

For the lo mein
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine if egg noodles are unavailable
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, plus extra if desired
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
Prepare water for boiling noodles. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

Make the pork marinade and sauce. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in small bowl; add meat and liquid smoke, if using. Toss, making sure all pieces are coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.

Cook the meat. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of meat in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and meat is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Cook the vegetables. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with meat.

Assemble vegetables and meat. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return meat-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook noodles. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or 10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly with a pair of tongs until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately in individual bowls or plates.

Serve. ATK forgot to mention how to eat this Chinese style. Simply top noodles with scallions and cilantro and extra garlic-chili sauce, if desired.

buckwheat noodles with beef and sweet ginger scallion sauce

Okay, okay, it’s not vegetarian! That is beef sitting on top of the noodles.

Buckwheat noodles, also called soba, are delicious, as I discovered last week when I added them to the Thai beef soup kao lao. Since I had an extra packet, I decided to try this recipe from a1dente.wordpress.com. I made two tiny adjustments. Instead of chili oil, I substituted vegetable oil and added 1/4 teaspoon chili paste, and I used maple syrup instead of honey.

I also made up my own beef marinade, but you can substitute soy sauce or teriyaki sauce for my marinade, and you can use chicken instead of beef, and firm tofu instead of any kind of meat at all. I spooned the noodles on top of chopped romaine lettuce. It’s delicious, trust me!

Buckwheat Noodles (Soba) with Beef and Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce

8-9 oz. dry soba/buckwheat noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cup scallions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili oil (I used 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon chili paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (I used organic maple syrup)
Coarse salt
Fresh ground black pepper

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

For meat lovers:
1 lb beef sirloin steak sliced into 3 inch strips across the grain
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon soy-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  1. Mix all the scallions, ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl. Set it aside for 10 -15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  2. For Meat Lovers: Skip this step if you want the vegetarian version. Season the steak strips with hoi sin and soy-ginger sauces and the cornstarch. Chinese cooks often use cornstarch as a binder and thickener. According to America’s Test Kitchen, a little cornstarch seals the marinade to the meat during cooking. Chinese cooks have known this all along! Let sit 10-15 minutes while the noodle sauce flavors are developing. Heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium high heat and stir fry the beef until it just turns brown. Even though a little red streaks remain, stop. Do not overcook the beef.
  3. Boil the soba noodles per the package’s instructions and drain. Toss the noodles with the sauce and sesame seeds. Serve noodles hot on a bed of romaine lettuce. Spoon beef strips on top of noodles.

thai beef soup with buckwheat noodles

I was walking through the courtyard earlier this week, taking a shortcut through the basement, when I smelled star anise and cinnamon. I thought instantly of Thai beef soup or kao lao. I knew I had to make it this week, even though it’s been years since I last tried. From my years living in Thailand, I know that when it is served with noodles then it’s called kway tieow. I decided to cook it, kway tieow style with Japanese soba or buckwheat noodles, which are higher in fiber and protein, iron and calcium than the traditional rice noodles. Soba like rice noodles is gluten free.  There is  a nutrition comparison of soba and rice noodles on skipthepie.org. If you’re simply watching the calories, as I am, then it’s important to consider that a half cup soba has twice as many calories as rice noodles.

Thai Beef Soup (Kao Lao) with Buckwheat Noodles (Soba)

Makes 4 servings

For Cooking

7 cups water
1 lb stewing beef, boneless, trimmed of visible fat, and cut into chunks
1 whole star anise or 4 cloves star anise
2 whole sticks cinnamon
3-4 whole peeled large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons molasses or thick dark soy sauce

For Serving

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
2 cups buckwheat noodles, cooked al dente
Fish sauce
Sugar
Sambal or chili paste
1 lime, quartered
2 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Combine the beef, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic in 7 cups water. Cover loosely. Put two wooden chopsticks across the top of the pot and rest the lid on top of the chopsticks. Bring to a simmer on the stove. After 1 hour, stir the soup and skim the broth of large floating particles. You want a clear broth with tiny particles suspended in the soup when it is stirred. Remove the chopsticks and cover the pot. Once covered, the pot will boil vigorously and some water will boil out. Continue cooking on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and molasses. Taste. It should be slightly salty and sweet. Adjust seasonings, if you wish. Continue cooking on low heat to develop the flavors, until beef is tender and falls apart easily with a fork, about 2 hours. Discard the cinnamon sticks, garlic, and star anise.  Serve.

To serve, divide bean sprouts and noodles among 4 large bowls. Ladle beef soup over. Serve with little saucers of fish sauce, sugar, sambal, lime, scallions, and cilantro at the table, to season each individual bowl according to taste.

jerk beef and beans

My cousin Anne Marie is a wonderful cook. Because of our Chinese-Jamaican heritage we both share this obsession with food and its preparation. Anne Marie also loves animals. At last count she has five dogs (mostly pugs) and two cats. Anne Marie lives in South Carolina with her husband Sam, affectionately called Sweetie Pie. She shared this recipe with us, her cousins, and I am sharing it with you.  Anne Marie notes: “Because Sweetie watches his carb intake, lots of times I do not serve this with white rice but with raw [ripe] bananas and roasted veggies.  Tonight’s roasted veggies were carrots and turnips.”  Cut the veggies into 1/4 inch rounds. Roll the veggies in olive oil and season with garlic powder, black pepper, and dill.  Spread on a baking tray and bake until browned and caramelized. I think 30 minutes on the upper rack of the oven ought to do it while the casserole is bubbling beneath it. This is a hearty dish, very filling, and a tad spicy if you aren’t used to jerk seasoning. A note about jerk seasoning:  jerk seasoning is available from West Indian markets but some supermarkets in urban areas do carry it. I am partial to the Walkers Wood brand. Jerk seasoning key ingredients are  allspice (called pimento in Jamaica) and  Scotch Bonnet pepper, a relative of the better known habeñero pepper. If you love the strong earthy flavors of Jamaican cooking, try this. You’ll love it!

Ingredients

3 lb beef shin with bone in, trimmed of excess fat
2 tins black beans with liquid
1 can butter beans, drained
1 large onion, chopped
1 scant teaspoon Walkers Wood Jerk Seasoning plus 1-2 teaspoons more for seasoning meat
2 sprigs thyme, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper

Preparation

Wipe meat clean with a paper towel.  Set aside.  In a large casserole pot with a lid, add two tins of black beans with liquid, chopped onions,  and a scant teaspoon of Walkers Wood Jerk Seasoning.  Sprinkle moderately with salt, black pepper and thyme.  Mix it up.  With rubber gloves on, smear meat on both sides with additional jerk seasoning.  Push down into the black bean mixture.  Cover and place in 350 degree oven for two hours.  Remove casserole from oven when the two hours are up and add drained butter beans. Gently stir into and over the meat.  Cover again and cook another hour. [Cook’s Tip: if you prefer a thinner sauce, add a 1/4 cup of water to the bean mixture and stir.]

grilled ginger-lime beef

Not usually a fan of beef, I find it tough rather than tender. This is another recipe from the Cooking Light Eat Smart Guide: 200-Calorie cookbook that I reviewed last week.  I changed the method from stir fry to grill  because the steaks were so thin I was afraid of overcooking them. I only seared them 30 seconds in the George Foreman grill. And because I was afraid they’d cool and toughen, I served them right away on a bed of rice vermicelli. As a stir-fry, this dish would have been 197 calories for a 2/3 cup serving of beef.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 ½ teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
12 ounces boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
½ cup diagonally cut green onions, optional
4 lime wedges, optional
Cellophane noodles or vermicelli

Preparation
1. Combine sugar, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, pepper, and oil in a small bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
2. Heat half a small saucepan with water. When it is boiling turn off the heat and put in two bundles of vermicelli. Let stand 10 minutes or until soft and transparent. Drain well and set aside.
3. Heat the grill. Add steak; cook 30 seconds or until browned. Remove from heat. Slice and drizzle evenly with ginger-lime mixture. Garnish with green onions and lime wedges, if desired. Serve on a bed of drained cooked cellophane noodles or vermicelli.