Category Archives: carrots

Thomas Keller’s Marinated Skirt Steak

We recently had some friends over for dinner so we’d have an excuse to open up some wine that we received as a present.  Our friend Jesse’s parents, who live in Boston, were kind enough to send us some T-Vine Psychedelic Rooser Zinfandel-Petite-Sirah, so we invited Jesse to come and share it with us.  What goes well with such big, bold red?  Beef!

Skirt steak.  It certainly isn’t the prettiest of cuts- all scraggly and uneven- thin in some places and thick in others.  However, it’s one of the most flavorful, beefy parts of the cow and also happens to be J’s favorite, so when I was trying to figure out what to cook for the meal, J jumped all over the gorgeous photo in Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home cookbook and it was decided.  The unglamorous, unpopular kid in the class of steaks would be the main course.  Hmph.
I’ll admit that the amount of olive oil in Thomas Keller’s marinade made me gasp a bit…I mean, 2 CUPS?  I reassured myself that the cut of meat itself had little fat and that most of the marinade would be wiped off anyway, so I went ahead and used the entire 2 cups.  The oil is flavored with rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme before the steak bathes in it for a few hours.  Sounded good to me!  
I needed some pretty sides to go along with the steak, and found some gorgeous little heirloom potatoes at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market which I promptly picked up.  An array of colorful carrots and some fresh arugula also caught my eye, as did some apples and ruby grapefruit.  If you’re ever in a cooking slump,  just hit your local farmer’s market to get inspiration- it works for me every time!
So here’s what we had:
Beecher’s Honey Hazelnut crackers with gruyere cheese.  I’d never had these crackers before and picked them up since they were two for one at Whole Foods.  Holy cow- they are sturdy, nutty and really dangerous since it’s hard to stop eating them.  I like a nice, crunchy cracker and these went so well with the salty cheese.  Instant favorite.
Arugula, red onion and ruby grapefruit salad.  The combination of the spicy greens with the sweet, juicy grapefruit was a hit with the guests.
Salt roasted baby potatoes.  I’d seen this on many blogs before, and was intrigued by the idea of salt-baking, like you would a fish.  I mixed up some Kosher salt with rosemary, then set the potatoes in a bed of it.  My best friend said they looked like little, colorful stones, and the flavor of the rosemary really permeated the potatoes.
Roasted carrots tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I’m a total sucker for multicolored carrots, especially when they are smaller in size.  They are so visually stunning and make an easy side dish to pretty much any meat or fish.  
Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home Marinated Skirt Steak (with the potatoes!).  After wiping off most of the marinade, I just seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper, seared them for a minute on each side and finished them off in the oven for about seven minutes.  I skipped bathing them in butter part in the recipe because, after stewing in all of that olive oil for hours, I didn’t think it was necessary.  Not that I’d know anything about cooking better than Mr. Keller!  I just felt WE didn’t need it, let’s put it that way.  It was tender and tasty nonetheless.  After the potatoes were done I just tossed them with a little olive oil and chives.
French Apple Tart.  This month’s Saveur featured this recipe by Sara Moulton, along with a step-by-step pictorial on how to achieve the beautiful pattern.  It was actually really easy, and the only ingredients in this are flour, butter, apples and sugar.  Simplicity at its best.  
Everything turned out well, and the wine was amazing.  After a couple of hours eating and drinking, we called it a night, red teeth and all. 
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Veggie Feast

Spring has sprung, and that means some pretty incredible produce at the local farmers markets. I’ve never really met a vegetable I didn’t like, so walking through and gawking at all of the gorgeous asparagus, avocados, fava beans and kale is akin to a teenage boy sifting through an issue Playboy magazine. Yes, my friends, springtime farmers markets offer the very best in food porn, but because it’s all good for you and stuff, you never end up feeling guilty. It’s a total win-win!

Speaking of veggie food porn (we were, weren’t we?!) one of my favorite food blogs on earth is 101 Cookbooks, because it features so many clever ways to feed a body good. The food Heidi prepares is so incredibly gorgeous you don’t even realize it’s all meant to give your body all the nutrients it needs and deserves. She’s really inspired me to think differently about vegetarian cuisine- instead of serving up pasta with marinara, why not toss some swiss chard ravioli with cranberry beans, arugula and a generous shower of pecorino cheese? I get some many ideas from reading both her blog and her cookbooks.

Last week I noticed a particularly inspired dish on 101 Cookbooks: Turnip Green Tart. The emerald green hue first caught my attention; the fact that it was encased in a corn meal crust pretty much closed the deal. I headed to my local farmers market in search of some turnip greens, but only one vendor was selling turnips, so I decided to switch gears and ask all of the farmers selling beets for their discarded beet greens and carrot tops. They were more than happy to give them to me, and I think I went a little bonkers on my newfound high of getting good, useable veggies for FREEEEEE and came home with a GIANT bag of both.

In addition to switching out the greens in the recipe, I put in a few more tweaks of my own- I sautéed the greens (80% beet and 20% carrot tops) with 2 cloves of garlic, a pinch of thyme and 1 chopped onion in some olive oil until they were soft, then I blitzed them in the Cuisinart with the liquid ingredients. I noticed there was way more liquid than greens so I decided to toss in some raw beet greens and carrot tops and blitzed it again until I was happier with the consistency. I also decided to add about ½ cup of grated gruyere to the actual mixture before pouring it into two tart shells (I doubled the mixture recipe, and the crust recipe is already for two) and garnished both the extra cheese halfway through baking.

See the red from the beet greens that bled out into the gooey cheese:)?

I was a little curious about how such a loose mixture (Heidi often uses veggie broth to cut heavier liquids often called for in these types of dishes, like cream) would firm up, but I was happy to see that it set beautifully. After letting it cool slightly, we sliced it up and dug in. IT WAS AMAZING. Kind of a revelation, actually. It was so flavorful and not at all “green-tasting” in a bad way…the greens actually made it so rich in texture that you’d never guess the main ingredient was something many people simply discard. I thought it was better than any quiche I’d ever eaten, because although it was satisfyingly hearty, it lacked the dense fattiness of most quiches. This one is a keeper, and I can’t wait to try it with different kinds of greens.

With the tarts we had an array of side dishes that showcased the vegetables I snagged at the market:

Cumin roasted multicolored carrots:

Corn and fava bean succotash with a basil vinaigrette:

Butter lettuce, avocado and grapefruit salad with a grapefruit vinaigrette:

Strawberry, pistachio and spelt flour crumble (we ate warm spoonfuls piled high with vanilla soy ice cream!). The tart crust calls for spelt flour so I had some left over and decided to combine it with some oats, oat bran, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to make the topping.

Next up: Beet greens and carrot top soup- sounds weird, but it was deeeelish!

Have a great weekend!