Tuesday, March 13, 2007


This will be an entry about how to modify and adapt a recipe, or two.

Before going further, while this is another about beef, please don't assume that we are carnivores, we only do something like this about once a month. It's just that I'd decided to try someone else's "program"

Below will be straight from Wall Street Journal (copyrighted material and presented because it might disappear), after that I'll post some comments on modifications.

Key thought : take recipes or instructions as a starter, feel free to adapt to your own pantry and palate.


How to Cook a Perfect Steak

A step-by-step guide from a pioneer in a
booming category: the star-chef steakhouse
February 24, 2007; Page P4

(See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)

THE CHEF: Laurent Tourondel, executive chef and partner of the fast growing BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) empire. After working in classic French restaurants like the Michelin three-star Troisgros in Roanne, France, and Cello in New York, he decided to open BLT Steak in New York, his take on an American steakhouse, with more ambitious appetizers and desserts, no tablecloths and a casual vibe. "We want people to come in jeans," he says.

[Laurent Tourondel]

KNOWN FOR: Helping to drive the star-chef steakhouse trend that started in Las Vegas, with Charlie Palmer, Jean-George Vongerichten, Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio. There are now three BLT Steaks -- New York, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington -- with three more set to open this year. Recently Michael Mina, Bobby Flay and Rick Tramonto have also opened steakhouses.

THE MEAL: A perfectly cooked porterhouse or ribeye steak, with poached and pan-seared mushrooms and that classic steakhouse side dish, creamed spinach. Like many chefs, Mr. Tourondel first sears his steak, then finishes it -- just to rare or medium rare -- in a hot oven. A heavy cast-iron skillet is ideal.

STEAK SHOPPING: Buy a bone-in steak -- "Steaks that are cooked with a bone have a richer flavor" -- that's on the thicker side, 1½ to 2 inches. "That allows you to sear it for long enough to form the perfect crust and not overcook it at the same time."

KITCHEN TIP: Wash spinach in lots of water. Lift the greens from the water and place in a colander, then drain the water. Repeat until the water is clear.

* * *

Creamed Spinach

[Recipe photo]

Yield: 4 servings
Active preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 pounds spinach, washed and trimmed
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese

To make the béchamel: In a small saucepan, heat the milk until small bubbles form around the edge (this can also be done in the microwave). In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook 1 tablespoon of the butter until melted and foamy. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute, so the butter doesn't burn. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and transfer the sauce to a bowl. If not using right away, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Prepare the spinach: Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add the spinach. Cook for 3 minutes, then drain well and run cold water over the leaves until they are cool. Wrap the spinach in a lint free towel and squeeze it until it is very dry (or use your hands to squeeze dry small amounts at a time). Chop the spinach finely.

To finish: Place the remaining tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan until the butter is browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add the chopped spinach, 2 tablespoons of the béchamel, the cream and cheese. Stir until heated through and the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Serve immediately.

* * *

The Perfectly Cooked Steak

Yield: 4 servings
Active preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: About 20 minutes for rare or medium rare

[Perfectly Cooked Steak]

4 to 5 pounds porterhouse or bone-in ribeye steak, 1½ to 2 inches thick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

On the stove top, heat a large, dry skillet until it is very hot. Season the steak well with salt and pepper and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until it has a dark crust.

Place skillet in preheated oven for about 14 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak. Cook to between rare and medium rare, because residual heat will continue cooking the meat while it is resting. To test for doneness, press your finger to the meat; it should yield to the touch but not be too soft. The chef says a thermometer will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.

Rest steak for at least 5 minutes before slicing or serving.

* * *

Pan-Seared Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

Yield: 4 servings
Active preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

1 pound hen of the woods (also called maitake), fresh porcini or black trumpet mushrooms
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Brush the mushrooms gently with a soft brush or cloth. Divide them into 2-inch pieces by gently pulling them apart (for the hen of the woods) or cutting with a knife.

In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups water, salt, thyme, bay leaves and mushrooms. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms, discarding the thyme and bay leaf. Let mushrooms cool slightly on several layers of paper towel, to absorb excess moisture.

Pat the mushrooms dry with more paper towel. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, to allow the flavors to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


OK, here are some changes I did

1) Steak: I pretty much tried to do the program, and it worked pretty well. I did prep the steak, left it out to get to "room temp", did fresh ground pepper and sea-salt. I did put a pat of unsalted butter on each side when I seared it - butter carries flavor.

Note : did a 16oz lean NY Strip, thick, about 1.5inch - split 'tween us with a bit left over , about 6oz each.

Only note on this : I'm use to cooking on the stove top, and my skillet there has a wooden handle. Managed to pull the other skillet out of the oven (I use AllClad for this), and a few moments after removing the steak, I managed to grab the handle ... WHOOPS!

First law of Thermo-Attraction : the hotter the piece, the greater the chance you'll grab it.
Remedy : lots of cold water on the hand!

2) 'shrooms : I used some of our dried black trumpets (check earthy.com), reconstituted for 3-4 hrs, just soaked in a large bowl of warm water, then drained (save the liquid, later reduced for a sauce)

Skipped the first stage, the water/thyme etc.
Went straight to warmed extra virgin olive oil, tossed in the 'shrooms, saute'd up then added butter, garlic (did 3cloves vs one), parsley, and, just before done, added a sprinkle of tarragon.

3) Served up with some blanched asparagus, bit of shredded Asiago.

Steak gets to "rest" for 5min, sliced and fanned ... dab of our Balsamic Creme and dash of Fleur de Sel. This really works ... you can use "ordinary" sea salt on the rub (before you sear) but dust with Fleur just before serving, really makes the bites "pop" ... use sparingly.

Bottom line : dinner was a hit, Shirley is picky about 'shrooms, but this really worked. She liked the "crust" from the initial sear.

I'll keep experimenting, maybe some garlic in the "crusting" next time.


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