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Archive for June, 2009

Complete Breakfast

Saturday mornings are my favorite time of the week, mostly because the boy and I have settled in to a peaceful routine. We wake up leisurely with no alarm clock, read magazines in bed (as someone who must read tons of screenplays for a living, this is my ultimate treat), then head downstairs for breakfast. It’s the end of the week after days of dinners and most likely dinner parties, but before any grocery store or farmer’s market stock-ups, so we’ve started a habit of making a big ass omelet or frittata with whatever’s left in our fridge and cupboard.

We boil water for tea – for him – and coffee – for me – and chop up whatever we can find. This week I had a small onion that was starting to look sad and wrinkly and bunch of rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes leftover from Thursday’s dinner, so I was inspired to fill this frittata with equally herby and hearty flavor. Feel free to substitute any veggies, meats or cheeses you’ve got on hand. Here is this past Saturday’s amazing earthy frittata:

1 slice bacon, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 medium size crimini mushrooms, diced
1/3 cup already cooked potatoes, diced in about a ½ inch cube
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp chopped thyme
½ cup milk or cream (We had whipping cream leftover from a dessert the night before. Indulgent yes, but whatever; we’re also using egg whites. It evens out, right?)
1 tsp baking powder
8 egg whites
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Start browning the bacon in a medium sized frying pan. As the bacon starts to render, toss in the onions and cook until softened. Add mushroom and potatoes and cook a couple more minutes until the mushrooms start to soften and the potatoes start to brown.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, create a sluice of the milk and baking powder. Whisk until you’ve eliminated all lumps. Add the egg whites, herbs and salt and pepper to taste and whisk until combined.

Pour the egg white mixture over the veggies in the pan and carefully place in oven for 10-15 minutes. Frittata is done when the top is firm and starting to brown. Slide frittata onto plate, or just serve right from frying pan.

Enjoy the fluffy warm dish with fresh breeze from an open window and a cute boy next to you. Do the dishes later; it’s time to relax.

Jodi with frittata

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Steak Salad

Steak Salad

I’d already finished this month’s recipe when Dish Paige! sent me hers, and was giddy to see that she too had steak salad on her mind. To me, it’s one of those perfect meals that feels light yet hearty, decadent but guilt-free. My version is an homage to a dish local favorite restaurant Dumont used to have on their lunch menu. They’ve since taken it off the roster, but I’ll always remember the first time I ordered it…

It was Fancy Week. Instead of buying each other Christmas presents, the Boy and I decided to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s living life just a little bit more luxuriously. My office was closed and he was on break from school, so the two of us slept late every day, trundling down from our 5-floor walk-up to brave the cold in search of new indulgences. One of the early ones was a weekday lunch at Dumont. The restaurant, which is always crowded as a rock show, was almost empty. We felt sneaky. I ordered the steak salad and it was warm, crisp, salty, and delicious – the two glasses of wine we each drank were just the icing on the cake.

Ingredients (serves two):

Steak:
~8 oz. steak, any cut (go a little bit bigger if there’s a bone; 4 oz. per person is a nice-sized serving)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper to taste
Olive Oil

Rub minced garlic into the meat, along with seasoning. I like just a little bit of cayenne for a kick, but add more or less depending on preference.

Heat 1-2 tblsp. olive oil over high heat. Steak can handle a lot of heat, so when the oil’s hot, add it. The amount of time you cook each side depends on the meat’s thickness; I was working with a 1-inch thick shell steak, so I let it sit on each side for a full 4 minutes. If there’s excess fat, or a bone, do no trim until meat is cooked, since it helps it retain its moisture.

After both sides are cooked, turn heat down to medium and cover pan. For a medium rare 1-inch steak, I let it sit covered approximately two minutes, but the cook time will vary depending on desired temperature. The best way to gauge steak’s doneness without cutting into it is to poke it. Try the forearm test: press down on the fleshy part of your arm just before the crease of your elbow. Rare meat will feel similar; the further you travel down your arm towards your wrist, the closer you’re getting to the texture of well-done meat.

When it’s cooked to your liking, remove steak from heat and let rest, uncut, for at least 5 minutes. After it has rested, and the juices are sealed, slice against the grain for maximum tenderness.

Raw steakCooking steakSliced steak

Salad:
4-5 loose cups of leafy greens
~3 radishes, sliced thin
+/- ¼ cup chopped blue cheese
+/- ¼ cup sliced almonds

Combine ingredients in a large, deep bowl. Wait until everything else is ready to serve to add dressing.

Go ahead and get crazy with the ingredients – Dumont uses walnuts rather than almonds, but I prefer the latter. I thought about adding pears, or avocado. Both would be terrific.

Salad

Salad Dressing:
I was shooting for a steakhouse vinaigrette, so I used:
2 tblsp. olive oil
+/- 1 tblsp. Balsamic vinegar (depending on how much vinegar flavor you like)
½ tsp. dijon mustard
½ tsp. steaksauce (I used Peter Lugers’, but A-1 would be good, as would equal parts ketchup and honey)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a tupperware container and close. Give it a good shake to emulsify. Taste and tweak.

Dressing ingredients

Just before you’re ready to eat, pour dressing over the salad and toss with tongs to coat the ingredients, midtown lunch style. Plate alongside warm meat to keep lettuce crisp. I served this meal with two lightly toasted slices of baguette.

Rachelle with Steak Salad

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ice cream cone cupcakes

This past Friday I was in Philadelphia on business. After a quick stop off at the hotel, my co-worker Jamie and I decided to take advantage of the unheard-of-this-spring sunshine with a little walk around the Olde City before getting ready for our event. Our constitutional brought us past the Betsy Ross House, Christ Church, the US Postal Museum, the Liberty Bell and more than one man dressed as Benjamin Franklin. When hunger struck, we ducked into National Mechanics for a bite to eat. With an amazing steak salad resting in my tum, my thoughts turned to something sweet to seal the deal. Historically, on sunny days my dessert of choice is a cone of Tasti D-Lite with rainbow sprinkles, so I whipped out my BlackBerry and went to the Tasti D-Lite find-a-center page. Well, apparently “there are no locations found within 50 miles of zip code 19106,” so I was forced to wait until we made our way back to the New York City Greater Metropolitan Area for satisfaction. Of course by the time we got back to New York, the sun was gone, the rain started again, and my hopes of walking around with that “ice cream” cone were gone.

Not one to be deterred, and always willing to turn lemons into Lemon Coffee Cake, I decided once I got back to Brooklyn to make Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes to bring some cheer to a dreary day.

For the cake:
6 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
1 package wafer cones (the kind with a flat bottom so they can stand up)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stand the ice cream cones inside the cups of a mini-muffin pan (you can use a regular muffin pan if you don’t have the mini, you’ll just need two of them and will have to be a little more careful when transferring to and from the oven) and set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk and vanilla extract. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended. Add the butter, remaining 3/4 cup milk and mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened. Slowly add the egg mixture and beat for about 2 more minutes after all the egg is combined. Fill each ice cream cone with the batter half to three-quarters of the way (a small ice cream scoop is just the right size, amazingly!), place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool the cakes and prepare the icing.

For the icing:
1 lb (one whole box) confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

Combine the ingredients and beat on medium-high until…it turns into icing!

Pipe the icing on top of the cooled cupcakes in a circular motion, reminiscent of soft-serve ice-cream. Top with sprinkles and seriously enjoy!

Paige! with ice cream cone cupcake

Cake recipe courtesy of Joy of Baking.

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