Monday, November 17, 2014

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche

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Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche 
Serves 8-10
Difficulty: Easy
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche 
Presentation of Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraiche  
This is a great appetizer or a side dish. It is really a go-to dish for most any occasion.  Easy to make, even easier to eat – and always to rave reviews. Fingerling potatoes are small, stubby, slightly knobby, finger-shaped type of potato which may be any heritage potato cultivars. They grow naturally small and narrow. Some people confuse this family with new potatoes, which are young potatoes harvested before they fully mature. Just as is the case with regular potatoes, fingerling farmers (love that name!) allow the green upper portion of the plant to die back before harvesting the tubers. When selecting fingerlings in the store, shoppers should look for specimens without obvious soft spots or mold. The unusual looking, flavorful potatoes can be used just like regular potatoes in an assortment of roasted, broiled, baked, grilled, or boiled dishes. They have a nutty, buttery, earthy taste. If you have not had them before, you are in for a treat!
Fingerling potatoes

Monday, November 10, 2014

Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic

Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic
Serves: 8
Difficulty: Easy
Roasted Fennel with Olives & Garlic
Like so many vegetables, fennel is another that only improves with roasting. This recipe takes almost no time to prepare; yet the overall effect is complex. I have made this about a half dozen times. Preparation is minimal and the results are incredible. Elegant enough for a dinner party but perfect anytime. It is a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. The flavors are superb. Even better the next day......if you are lucky enough to have any left over. Fennel's unique aromatic taste is reminiscent of licorice and anise, especially in the raw state. However, roasting the fennel totally changes the taste, nothing at all like licorice. Once cooked, it becomes very sweet….surprisingly so.
Fresh fennel

Monday, November 3, 2014

Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi)

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Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi)
Includes Vegetarian options
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Persian Green Herb, Chicken & Bean Stew (Ghormeh Sabzi) 

This green stew studded with beans is one of the most famous in Persian cuisine. It can be made with chicken, lamb, beef or works surprisingly well with tofu which is frozen, thawed and baked to give it a meaty texture. The bulk of the stew is, indeed, chopped parsley, cilantro, spinach and scallions, and the mixture is delicious. The grassy greens cook down and mellow, turning into a fragrant, earthy mélange served alone or atop fluffy rice or stuffed into a pita. It might not be your first inclination to cook down a huge pile of chopped herbs, but the gentle slow heat works magic on the greenery transforming them into flavorful spoonful with each bite. I used Rancho Gordo red beans once again – making them from their dried form. However one could use canned, rinsed kidney or red beans if time does not allow use of heritage beans. Once again, we can use our dried limes for the citrusy boost often found in Persian cooking. If you cannot find dried limes, you can add several strips of lime zest to the stew.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter

Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter

Serves: 8
Difficulty: Easy
Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter

It should come as no surprise that any vegetable is better when roasted. If you have never tried grilling broccoli, you are missing out on a treat. My wonderful hubby never eats his broccoli. I mean push-it-around-on-a-plate-never. He had three – and I mean THREE!! helpings when I served this.  Try it immediately on your nearest broccoli hater. The vegetable chars, becomes tender and smoky at the same time. Tossing the warmed broccoli with lime butter, honey and chipotle Tabasco…just sublime.
  • 6 Tb unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lime – remove all zest & chop, save juice
  • 1 Tb Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 heads of broccoli, stems trimmed, cut into large florets
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 C crumbled queso fresco, or farmers’ cheese

In a bowl, stir the softened butter with lime zest, lime juice, Tabasco, honey and garlic. Season lightly with kosher salt.  Keep at room temperature if using soon. It can be made ahead, refrigerated overnight, and soften at room temperature before using.
Broccoli and seasoning
Light a grill. Preheat. Drizzle broccoli florets with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over moderately high heat, turning the florets occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes.
On the grill. Note the gizmo to keep broccoli from falling through the cracks.
Transfer broccoli to a platter and toss with lime butter. Garnish with queso fresco, a light dash of olive oil, and serve.

Give this a try soon….you and others will love it.


Monday, October 20, 2014

The perfect steak redux!

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The perfect steak redux!
Difficulty: Easy
The Perfect Steak
I posted this a couple years ago, but wanted to redo it with better pics. The recipe is about the same, but this time the pics will make your mouth water!!

There are many ways to cook a steak but I have found this particular method perfect every single time and with spectacular flavor.  Trust me on this one and you will not be disappointed.  I have over and under cooked too many steaks on the barbeque – it is simply impossible to control all the variables. You will not lose any of the spectacular beef flavor if you carefully follow these simple steps. The combination of an excellent sear followed by a brief visit to a hot oven and a rest before serving creates the most consistently GREAT steak…each and every time. I have used this method for New York strip steaks, rib-eyes, filet mignon, top sirloin and porterhouse…anywhere from a 1 ½ ” thickness to 2 ½” thick bone-in porterhouse steaks. 

  • Steak - cut of your choosing - Rib-eye is featured
  • Seasonings per your taste:
  • Smoked Salt, 
  • Penzey's Krakow nights
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 - 1 Tb butter/per steak

The first critical step to the perfect steak begins at the grocery store with the best product you can get.  Our favorite cut is the rib eye from Meyer Beef. ( It is hormone/antibiotic free, grass-fed vegetarian diet-fed Angus beef.  It is widely available at “natural” grocers as well as online.  However, any similar raised quality beef will work just as well.

To be honest, I have tried numerous rubs and seasonings and love many of them.  But when we splurge on a truly superior piece of meat – it really needs very little. The flavor is in the beef.  To get the perfect steak, begin cooking after it reaches room temperature. If the outside of the steak is room temp and inside cold – it will not cook evenly. Take them out of the refrigerator about 2 hours prior to cooking!

Pat the steak dry with paper towels – all over.  Our favorite seasoning is a bourbon smoked sea salt and Penzey’s Krakow nights blend*. Odds are good you don’t have these sitting around your pantry – but any coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper will work.  Or, leave me a note in the comment section and I’ll share some of our favorite steak rubs.  Generously salt and pepper both sides of each steak.
Ribeye with spices. This works with NY strip, filet, or top sirloin, too.
Heat oven to 400 degree F (450 degree F, if a single large steak). It MUST be at 400 F before the steaks are cooked so be certain to turn your oven on well in advance of beginning to sear on the stove top.
Added to a VERY HOT cast-iron pan
Heat a HEAVY cast-iron or stainless steel ovenproof pan over med-hi heat until a few drops of water sprinkled in the pan evaporate within 3 seconds. THEN, after the pan is sufficiently hot – coat the bottom of the pan with about 2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil.  This is important – follow the rule of “hot pan, cold oil = no stick”.  Why? The metal of the pan is full of pores that expand when heated and allows the oil to settle in those pores. If you add oil to cold pan the surface tension of the oil is so great that it will "pool" and rest on top of those pores, when you add meat, it’s weight will push the food product into the grain which is not lubricated and your food will stick.

The oil will heat quickly in the hot pan – look carefully, it should shimmer. Now add your rib-eye steaks to the pan. DO NOT MOVE THE STEAK!! Let it create the sear.  Regardless of thickness of your steak, it should sear for 2 minutes on each side, flipping only once with tongs.  (See, it did not stick!)
Seared steak
Transfer the steaks, STILL IN THE PAN, into the 400 degree F oven. Roast for 9 minutes; up to 14 minutes for a larger piece for medium-rare (insta-read thermometer of 120-130 degree F). Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board.  Immediately place about ½-1 Tb room temperature pat of butter on each steak and cover lightly with foil for 5 minutes. DON’T SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!

OMG...don't forget the butter!
 This resting period is probably the most important part of making the perfect steak.  The meat continues to cook during this period – and the internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees. The “rest” also allows time for the juices equilibrate. While the steak cooked – the juices within the steak move to center – as it cools, it allows the same juices to move throughout the steak. If you cut into the steak prematurely, those same juices would just run out onto your cutting board. Don’t skip the butter either – you are eating a steak, a ½ Tb butter will not really increase the caloric intake but will add greatly to the flavor and “mouth-feel” of your finished product.

Once the “rest” has concluded – it is time to serve!  OMG – so, so very good.  It truly needs no adornments. Just serve with a wonderful California Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, some french fries and a green salad (or maybe an iceberg lettuce/bleu cheese dressing/bacon salad).  It will be the best meal of the year for the hungry carnivore!

Bon Appetit!  Larue

* Penzey’s Krakow Nights:  a Polish style seasoning with salt, pepper, coriander, garlic, mustard, marjoram, savory, sugar and mace.