Monthly Archives: February 2013

Steak – Definitely Not Just for Grilling!

My husband would have never agreed with the title of this post before trying steak prepared via a simple stove-top technique presented by Chef Tiffani Faison on NECN earlier this week.

Although we tune into NECN mostly for the weather (we are big Matt Noyes fans), we caught Chef Tiffani’s Valentine Dinner segment and decided to try it for ourselves, albeit putting our celebratory meal off to Friday night. You can see the video, recipe, and the chef’s extra tips by clicking HERE.

I had hoped to get some locally raised beef for this meal, but was not able to get to the Medford Winter Farmers Market on Thursday, so I opted for two strip steaks from Farmland, our local grocery store. [Note to self: talk to Frank about offering locally raised meats at Farmland!]

seasoned steak

This photo is deceptive – these are 2″ thick – although the one on the right was a bit thinner (1 1/2″) on one end.

For this recipe, all you need is:

  • strip steak(s) or comparable cut
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • high quality olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh sprigs of thyme
  • butter – REAL butter!

Other than that – you need to have a really good pan.  Chef Tiffani recommends cast iron, but any pan with a thick bottom that spreads and hold heat evenly will work just as well.  How do I know? I’ll tell you.  🙂

I had two steaks, but only one of my well-seasoned cast iron pans is big enough  for one steak, never mind two.  But, I also have an All-Clad saute pan… Time to experiment! Good thing Steve knows his way around the kitchen.

pans ready

Dueling pans set and ready to go. 🙂

The first step was to bring the meat to room temperature by removing it from the fridge an hour or so before cooking. Then we prepped each station with a few crushed garlic cloves, a small bunch of thyme, and partially melted butter, as well as a basting spoon and tongs at each site. We put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in each pan and were ready to go.

Steve took his place at the cast iron and and I stepped up to the All-Clad saute pan, and we were off!

Here is the technique, edited down to a few simple bullet points:

  • Season steak with pepper and LOTS of salt
  • Add 2 T oil to pan
  • Turn heat under pan to HIGH
  • When oil is HOT, (smoking is good!) put steak in the pan
  • Baste steak with the olive oil and juices for 3.5 – 4 minutes
  • Flip steak and baste for another 2 minutes
  • Turn off heat and add crushed garlic and thyme to pan
  • Add butter, put garlic and thyme on steak, and baste all with butter
  • Remove steak from pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
First one out!

First one out!

Note the lovely crust!  We also did as the chef suggested and used the tongs to hold the steak fat band in the oil to crisp that up, also. Holding the steak so that just the fat is in the oil is also a great way to test whether the pan is hot enough – if it gives a good strong sizzle, it is ready for the steak.

Resting

Resting for just a bit.

While the steak rested, I steamed some asparagus and finished up the potatoes…Oh, I forgot to mention the potatoes!  To accompany, I cut up five or so small red potatoes and half a big Vidalia onion, added around 10 little cremini mushrooms, and tossed them with freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and a tablespoon or two olive oil in a corning ware casserole. I  also had some thyme to spare…

Roasted potato, crimini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.

Roasted potato, cremini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.

I then covered with foil and cooked for about an hour at 400 degrees, obviously starting them well before the steak. Once the steak was done and resting, I removed the foil and kept cooking to crisp up just a bit.

And then, a lovely dinner.  This picture does not do it credit. At all.

plated

Plated – with photo taken after the start of the meal!

We could have done fine with just one steak rather than two, but we did have plenty leftover!  But, in general, one steak weighing a pound or a bit under is more than enough for two.

LOTs of leftovers.  :)

Lots of leftovers!

Bottom line, this is a really tasty way to prepare steak, as well as quick and easy.  And, here is a cleanup tip: Let the pan sit overnight and use some paper towels to wipe out the congealed fat. Then, simply wash as usual if using a stainless steel pan, or, if using cast iron, just soak for a bit in very hot water and then wipe clean.

And, which pan did the best job?  After trying some of the second steak the next day, I can say that they both produced an equally crusty and delicious steak.  So, while cast iron is the classic choice, feel free to use a stainless steel pan providing it has a heavy bottom and can handle high heat.

But, especially if preparing a special meal to share with your honey, I recommend the pan contest, or a least work together to create the entire meal. That will add the best seasoning of all.  <3

So Simple Broccoli Soup

Why broccoli soup? Well, one reason is the two full bunches of broccoli (read: over three pounds) that Steve brought home instead of the 2-3 broccoli crowns I requested…They say necessity is the mother of invention but, in this case, too much of a good thing ended up inspiring a wonderful new favorite way to get our vegetables.

Soup was the logical way to use up that much fresh broccoli when the household is comprised of just two people, even two who love their veggies.  I have recently been making a lovely roasted cauliflower soup (I’ll post the recipe soon, I promise!) that is basically just roasted cauliflower and onion with stock and seasoning, so I was wondering if I could do something similar with the broccoli.  So…off to the Internet went I.

The short story is that, at least during my hasty search, I did not find any broccoli soup recipes that did not use something to thicken it, whether it be a flour roux, dairy, nuts, or soy or rice milk. I did, however, find one that added carrot and another that included apples.  Well….since I had plenty of broccoli to spare, I decided to just go with no thickener as see how it would turn out.  Of course, I knew I had the option of adding a roux or cream at the end if the texture was to0 thin for the taste.

soup

The final product. Yum!

Here is what I used:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/2 or a bit more dried thyme
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 smallish apple, peeled and chopped
  • about one pound or 8 cups  of broccoli florets
  • 4 cups  stock – I used chicken*
broccoil florets

The 8 cups florets

First, I melted the butter and olive oil and added just the onions, cooking on low  until starting to soften, and then added the diced carrot and the dried thyme and ground pepper and continued cooking, now over medium, for a few more minutes.

Starting with the onions, carrot, and seasonings.

Starting with the onions, carrot, and seasonings.

I then added the chopped apple, stirring for a bit to coat it in the oil and seasoning, then stirred the broccoli to coat as well. Next, I added the 4 cups of stock, brought it all to just a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes or so, until the broccoli was fork-soft.

*A Note about stock:  I used chicken stock, but if you want a totally vegetarian version, I am sure veggie stock, or even plain water will work, albeit you might want to add some tamari or better yet,  miso, and/or other seasonings to give a bit more depth to the flavor.  OR, keep it light and punch up the brightness with a dash of rice vinegar or lemon juice.

Cooked and reeady to blend!

Cooked and ready to blend!

The last step was to blend.  I used an immersion blender, but a regular blender would work, as well, as would just using a potato masher or food mill – whatever you have available.

DONE!

DONE!

It sure looked tasty, although it was not as thick as the typical “Cream of whatever” soup. But the taste was superb and Steve and I both agreed that the texture was perfect as is – no additional thickening needed.  In fact, I think any thickener would reduce the brightness of the flavor…hmmm, I bet a squeeze of lemon would be a nice touch, albeit perhaps not on a cold winter day…

I will add that I don’t think using a thickener would hurt the recipe – but the change in texture would probably inspire, and possibly necessitate, some additional seasoning.  But, it is all a matter of taste.  Adding a  1/2 cup of cream at the end, or adding a few tablespoons flour and cooking with the veggies before adding the stock are two options, as is adding a roux at the end.

But honestly this is great as is – and note that I added no salt.  AND, Steve didn’t even add any!  THAT’S saying something.  🙂

And that’s that!  I suspect Steve and I will eat this batch of soup in a day or so, but I’ll make another batch with my OTHER big bunch of broccoli and see how it freezes.  I’ll report back when I do.   In the meantime – take this recipe out for a spin and make it your own.  I will again say: YUM!
UPDATE:

I froze some of the first batch and defrosted it the next day.  Still fabulous!  Make a big batch when you find nice fresh broccoli on sale. 🙂