Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seared Filet with Gremolata and White Asparagus

The filet mignon. The most irresistible cut of meat ever carved out of a cow's carcass.
Ok so maybe that's not true...but definitely the most tender.
Don't argue with me here, I'm talking about raw. I don't care about any braising argument, this stuff is tender. It's also the most prestigious and most expensive cut of beef. At $18 a pound it better be freaking delicious, I tell you that. Thankfully, mine was. Except for this piece of inedible fat in the middle. But besides that, hands down best steak of the year.

This is a really easy recipe even though it may seem daunting. The one thing you don't want to do is overcook a filet and the hardest part is that they always look like they're done after being cooked on both sides for 30 seconds. The problem is that they're so tall, so the middle could still be raw when the tops are burnt. It's not that good of an idea to completely sear it, then serve it like you would a thin new york strip. I decided to pair the steak with a sauce called gremolata. It's an Italian accompaniment that consists of lemon zest, garlic, parsley, and other herbs.

Enough of this. Let's get down to business. Let's do the's the recipe list.
  • One filet mignon cut into two. (really it's whatever size you want, I used a .8lb filet cut into two)
  • Three tblsp of butter
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • Salt n peppa
  • For the Gremolata - large handful of parsley, two garlic cloves, the zest of half a lemon, olive oil
  • White asparagus (as many as you want)
Step 1 -  make your gremolata. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Or a mortar and pestle for our truly rustic readers out there.

Step 2 - take a picture of your steaks because they won't look like the most perfect red meat you've ever seen for much longer.
 Step 3 - (not pictured) lay your white asparagus down all facing the same way on top of a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and then salt and pepper them liberally. Put in the oven at 450

Step 4 - place your steaks in a pan with three tblsp of butter and three crushed cloves of garlic over medium high heat

Step 5 - here is basically the last step. You're going to want to cook the steaks until they're medium rare. Go ahead and make an A-OK! sign with your hand. Feel the fleshy part of your thumb, that should be how your steak feels. Here's a link to pictures if you don't understand: here
Look at that sear. D. A. M. N. Ok, so that's not amazing, but it's alright. I'm going to give y'all a secret technique. Don't tell anyone! While cooking your steak, tilt the pan backwards until all the butter goes to one side. Take a spoon and spoon this on the top of the meat while it's cooking. That way you now have the butteriest steak imaginable. Yum. And throw those 'lil garlics on top once in a while to give off some nice flavor.

Well there you go, take your asparagus out of the oven when it looks good and you're done! Put your filet in the middle of the plate, put two asparagii on top (but really more for later, this is just for presentation hehe), and then drizzle the sauce in key points on the plate. Perfect. I love pairing the white asparagus with the green sauce because I usually use a white cream sauce on my steaks with green asparagus, it helps change things up!

Here it is again in case you forgot! Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Shallots and Garlic

This is a really easy weeknight dinner for anyone. Sorry I didn't take any pictures of the actual cooking, but it basically takes 10 minutes!

Almost every casual seafood restaurant has their own version of a shrimp pasta with a cream sauce, it's practically the oldest thing in the book. But does that make it any less delicious? Nope. Ask anyone in the world what the three most complementing things in the world are and they will tell you: butter, garlic, and shrimp. It's common knowledge, y'all...It's also common knowledge that most places will load up this dish with so much butter and cream that by the time you're leaving the restaurant all you want to do is close your eyes and hallucinate to the sweet sounds of flatulence and belching. Ok...maybe that's just me, whatever.

Here's the recipe list, I promise it's this easy. Oh yeah and this feeds two.
  • Half a shallot - minced (not really needed if you're not familiar with them, but I wanted to one up those shitty chain restaurants! HA!)
  • Three cloves of garlic - minced
  • Half a stick of butter
  • A couple tablespoons of cream, added to your taste.
  • About a tsp of Cajun seasonings - if you have none use a bit of thyme, cayenne, and paprika. Also added to your taste.
  • 10 Shrimp, or whatever number you prefer. I feel like 5 is a good amount for each diner. Also, make sure these are peeled. Really, they don't need to be, but who wants to fiddle with shells when you're hungry.
  • Parsley to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Parmesan to taste
  • Half lb of pasta
You'll notice I said lots of things to taste, this is because literally the MOST IMPORTANT thing that you should do when cooking is taste your food. Add salt? Taste it after. Add pepper? Taste it after. Just a 'lil sip of the sauce is all that's needed. The worst thing is ruining food by being over-seasoned. The main role of seasoning is to enhance your dish, let the natural flavor of what your cooking shine through.

Before you start cooking the sauce, cook your noodles. I forgot to do this first because I was so hyped up in a shrimp fueled frenzy and I had to stop midway. Put them in boiling water with a liberal dose of salt.

First, melt your half-stick of butter in a pan and fry up the shallot and garlic on about medium to medium high heat. You don't want to burn them. Once fragrant and starting to cook, add the shrimp into the pan. Get these slightly pink and then stir in your cream and spices. You can add whatever spices you want really, but try to stick with cajun-y spices for the sake of this recipe. Cook this down on medium heat until it passes the coating of the spoon test. This is where you dip a spoon into the sauce and it gives the spoon a nice coat over, without being too thin and sliding off.Once your noodles are done, add them to the pan and stir them around to get them fully coated. Toss in some chopped parsley and fold. Serve with crusty bread to get all the delicious sauce in the bowl.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is the food of the gods. Really, any braised meat is the food of the gods. The term braising is used to describe meat that is cooked with both dry and wet heat. Most typically, meat is seared in a pan and then covered, or covered halfway, with water or any various cooking liquid. This method gives some of the most tender meat outside of sous-vide'ing it.

Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the most popular french dishes that's still made to this day. I decided to use the recipe out of Larousse Gastronomique written by Prosper Montagne. It's a simple recipe and is more of a set of instructions than a straightforward recipe. I've always preferred recipes like this because I believe cooking is more than just following a set of rules. I've almost never followed a recipe completely as it was written just because I want it to be personalized. Then you have a dish you can call your own, and if it's delicious it's even better!!!

You will begin your Boeuf Bourguignon by cutting up a 2lb cut of your favorite beef. I used chuck roast because it was on sale (as seen above)! Once the beef is cut up into nice size cubes, coat them in flour and set them aside. Next, get your mise-en-place together! Your mise-en-place is the collection of all the ingredients you'll be using in your dish. Here is everything you will need:

  • Pepper
  • Herbes de Provence (note on this later)
  • Unsalted beef stock
  • Three cloves of garlic
  • Two stalks of celery
  • Two large carrots
  • Two medium sized onions
  • Bunch of parsley
  • Bacon (uncooked or cooked)
  • Bacon fat (special note: yummy)
  • Red Wine
  • 2lb of Meat

These are herbes de provence, a delicious combination of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and sometimes lavender. I used it in place of the thyme that the recipe called for because herbes de provence consists of mostly thyme, with only delicious things added.

Go ahead and fill your cooking vessel with all of the necessary ingredients, which is really everything but the meat and half the onions.

Oh yeah and I added two tablespoons of butter because butter is really good.

The next step is to start cookin'. Get your favorite fry pan and put a nice layer of bacon fat in it. Cook your beef in it at a high temperature until it is seared on both sides.

Now go ahead and put the browned meat into the dutch oven/whatever you have. Next, add half of the onions that you kept into the pan and cook until they're caramelized a bit.

Once they've started to cook down a bit (which is a little longer than they've been cooking here, I'm just impatient), add some red wine and beef stock to the pan to deglaze the pan. Once all the yummy juices from the meat and the onions have been deglazed from the pan, put all of that into the dutch oven and mix everything up together. Then fill it with your red wine and beef stock mixture. I just poured the whole bottle of red wine in and then used beef stock for the rest (around two cups). 

This is what it should probably look like.

After three hours at 375 degrees, this is probably what yours will look like. The taste isn't debatable because it will be so good you will cry.
The meat will be fork-cuttingly tender. The carrots will be glistening with a delicious combination of bacon fat, butter, and reduced red wine. The onions will be completely gone because they've been broken down so much, but that doesn't matter. That just means every bite will have little bits of dissolved onion. The celery is almost as dissolved, but still there because it's arrogant.

To be honest, the carrots were the best part because of how sweet they are from absorbing all the juices, but still retaining their natural sweetness. This has been my favorite dish since starting this blog, and really since I've been cooking at college. It's ridiculous how delicious something can be after cooking in liquid for so long. I'm a convert.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

eggs benedict - hollandaise

                                                         (bigger picture at the bottom)

This may or may not be embarrassing, but I'll admit that I've never actually had eggs benedict before. Mainly because I don't eat out for breakfast much and making hollandaise has always scared me. I never really realized how incredibly easy it was though, until now.

I had to render the fat on my bacon for my boeuf bourguignon that I was going to make the next day, so I decided to start cooking up some bacon with the intention of saving my leftover fat. By some bacon...I actually mean a 16oz pack.

Yes,I'm one of THOSE people....

I decided to cut the bacon into three separate segments so the small pieces would be able to be completely submerged in bacon fat. Here is half of my bounty.

I've always preferred bacon that was cooked slowly compared to the burnt strips of unrecognizable black and red that most places will give you. The oven is my usual method, cooked at 375 until they're done. The result is much more tender and it, god forbid, actually tastes like a meat!

So after cooking up the bacon, the next logical step in creating eggs benedict is to tackle the hollandaise sauce. I've never had hollandaise, but I think my version is pretty good. I used a recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I slightly halved the recipe, but kept all the instructions in order. Here is the ingredient list:
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 tblsp water
  • 3/4 tblsp lemon juice
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1 tblsp cold butter - divided into two 1/2s
  • white pepper
First, melt the butter in a separate saucepan/bowl. Next, crack the eggs and drop it into your hand. Let all of the fluids fall out beneath the cracks in your fingers and keep the yolks. Now put them into a saucepan.

Now, whisk the yolks for about 30 seconds. Add the cold 1/2 tblsp of butter to the pan and put the saucepan over low heat. Whisk until a smooth cream is achieved. When you can see the bottom of the pan in between strokes, then you're ready for the next step. Take it off the heat and beat in another cold 1/2 tblsp of butter, this stops the yolks from cooking. Slowly pour in the melted butter and keep whisking. Leave the milky white residue in the pan from the melted butter when pouring. When you're done you should have something like this!

 Now you're ready to plate. Put your choice of bread on the plate (I used the french bread from the last recipe). Next put your bacon on top of the bread. Now you should heat up a pan with some of the leftover bacon fat (or butter) and fry an egg sunny side up. Put this egg on top of the bacon and drizzle hollandaise sauce all over. Mince some parsley and put it on top. Now serve your girlfriend breakfast in bed! 

Or rather, dinner at 9:45 at night....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

no knead baguettes

There's always a time for the obligatory no knead bread post. Ever since Jim Lahey published his recipe for no knead bread (, the baking world exploded. Everything that was set in stone subsequently flipped over. The "merde" hit the fan.

While I won't bore y'all with the science behind this revolutionary method (because there's probably a thousand sites detailing it much better than I'd be able to), I will let you know my insights after baking around two dozen loafs of no knead bread.

While most recipes are for loaves, I decided to attempt a baguette. While probably not up to the strict French laws of what constitutes a baguette, it's in the same shape and anyone in America would gladly call it a baguette.  

Here is the ingredient list: 
  • 3 cups of flour (I used all purpose)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon INSTANT yeast (also called fast-rise)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Here is where you can be creative: add whatever spices you like. I added a tablespoon of rosemary and a tablespoon of olive oil.
Now combine all the ingredients and stir until a sticky ball is formed. Cover it and let it sit in a warm place for up to around 24 hours.

The next day when you come home from work/class, take out your dough and split it up into two different balls/ovals (really it just depends on how wet your dough is) on a WELL floured surface. This is one of the trickiest parts because the dough is so unmanageable. 

Now cover this and let it rise for about two hours. The next step is to form these ovals into baguette shapes. Form them into two long strips and let them rise for about an hour or so. Use this time to do dishes or drink a diet coke.

The next step is the easiest part. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and put a baking pan in it. Once the proper temperature has been established, take out the pan and flour it a bit. Then put one of the baguettes on it and bake for about 45-60 minutes. Don't peek too much or it will take much longer. 

After the time, pull your bread out and put on the Doors because you just made BREAD. Such a beautiful crumb, the bubbles perfectly sized to soak up maximum amounts of delicious, exotic olive oil. Such cavernous, gaping holes to make even the most seasoned spelunker jealous. Every time I pull bread out of the oven, I honestly break into tears because I never thought it would be possible.

margherita pizza - food processor / skillet broiler method

After coming home one day and seeing the pizza stone I had just bought at Goodwill in four pieces, I knew that making real pizza at home would be impossible.
My mom took me to Kroger on the second day of Spring Break. She came up to me at the deli counter while I was ordering and showed me a fresh mozzarella on sale for $2. It was a gift from the gods. My recent success at creating bread with the no-knead dough recipe ( gave me confidence. I could do it. Even though I had no experience actually kneading dough. Thankfully, with the help of SeriousEats, I once again skipped the laborious process of kneading.
Apparently a food processor can give you similar (maybe better?) results compared to a mixer. The Pizza Lab’s New York Style Pizza at Home recipe ( made me skeptical, but being the lazy ‘lil turd I am I had to do it.
The recipe calls for:
  • 22 1/2 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plusmore for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • .35 ounces kosher salt (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces lukewarm water
and is as easy as combining all of it in a food processor and blending until the dough rises above the blade and turns into a manageable mess. After the obligatory rising processes, a beautiful, succulent, moist, delicious, food porn worthy dough is now in your hands.
But what are you supposed to do with the dough when your pizza stone ~mysteriously~ breaks? Use this: The Pizza Lab’s Skillet Broiler Method (
Apparently by cooking the pizza two separate ways (over a burner and underneath a broiler),better results than I’ve ever seen at a home kitchen are possible. If you’re like me and your oven doesn’t go above 550 degrees, then this is the perfect method for you. The broiler gives off more heat than your oven could ever wish to do and the burner gives off more heat on the bottom of your crust than any other way. It’s like having your pizza at the top of the oven and the bottom, at the same time, with the broiler and the oven on at the same time, too.
I never thought I’d actually get delicious, black, puffy bubbles on my pizza at home. I love pizza.
Here are my results. I made a traditional margherita pizza with crushed san marzano tomatoes as my base and fresh mozzarella on top.
*Also, a ‘lil tip, after cooking your pizza on the burner, THEN put the basil on top and put it under the broiler for a bit. My first pizza I put the basil on at the beginning and ended up with ‘lil black crisps on top.