Saturday, July 17, 2010

1-2-3 Roast.

Yes it really is that easy.
A roast fillet of beef that's finished in 3 simple steps.
Roast beef- the most recognizable, comfortable, down-home dish that fills your house with beautiful smells. If cooked correctly, the fantastic color of medium-rare is one sight that can bring a smile to my face.
Is there anything that could possibly beat the sight of a table set with colorful dishes, a pile of smashed potatoes, buttery vegetables and pink piles of sliced juicy roast beef? Besides the sight of a warm cheese souffle, I think not.
This is one dish that I can always make, always with ingredients in the pantry, and can always adapt to what's on hand, reliably delicious.

1-2-3 Beef Roast.

You will need:
1 1/2 - 2 Ilb good fillet of beef
2 tbs room temperature butter
5 large sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbs garlic powder
Kosher salt and plenty of fresh black pepper

Step 1:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Step 2:
Combine the thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the beef fillet with the butter, and massage in the herb mixture.

Step 3:
Place the seasoned room-temperature beef on a roasting dish.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven for a nice medium-rare.

Let this sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing into! You don't want the juices from your lovely beef to run onto the cutting board.
If you want, you can sprinkle the sliced beef with some extra salt and fresh pepper.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Fancy-Free French Dessert.

This dessert holds a name that could intimidate a common menu-holder.
Cherry Clafoutis is a classic french dessert that has a silky texture, and features bright bursts of cherry throughout the cake-like confection.
Here's a less-known tidbit about said dessert: It is ridiculously easy to make.
The batter is essentially a crepe/flan batter, the only secret being how you bake it, and your attention to flavors.
Classically made with bing cherries and batter in a buttered dish, they make quite the impressive individual dessert for anyone who is a notoriously hard to please critic.
The bold flavors I used to alter the classic, plain batter pumped up the dessert to my liking, playing off of a cherry pie with the use of almond flavor.
Three things: Lemon zest, Brandy, Almonds

Cherry Clafoutis

You will need:
4 individual ramekins, rather shallow, about 1 1/2 inches deep
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
1 scraped vanilla bean
2 tsp brandy
Zest from 1 lemon
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 pound- 1 pound pitted, halved cherries
Toasted sliced almonds (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, butter each of the individual dishes.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until very smooth and thick, add the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix well.
Stir in the brandy, almond extract, and lemon zest. Slowly add the flour, mix until just incorporated, do not over mix!
Whisk in the milk carefully as to not spill the batter, set aside while you assemble the cherries.
Place the cherries cut side down in the individual dishes in 1 layer, fit until no more can squeeze in.
Pour the batter on top and you should notice that the cherries will float to the top, if they don't at first, help them out by placing a paring knife just under a corner of the cherry to lift the suction.
Place the baking dishes on a tray and bake for about 40 minutes or until they are LIGHTLY browned and spongy to the touch in the middle. You can garnish with the toasted almond slices if you would like, for some texture and taste!

Let these cool slightly before serving, but serving hot would be nice with a scoop of good ice cream.


Ratatat. Ratatouille !
This was a dish that I made for my very first catering job, so I had to place my ever so guarded trust in Julia Child once more.
Ratatouille. A vegetable dish consisting of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onions and tomatoes in an aromatic sauce that fills your house with smells of absolute love.
I sautéed each veggie in their own pad of butter, seasoning carefully with salt and pepper as I went along. I removed each vegetable before the next was added, repeating the steps.
Finally you get to the onions and peppers, when suddenly your house is smelling slightly like a smoking, sizzling fajita. Add the sliced tomatoes, and you're transported to another place, sofrito, delicious tantalizing aromas tickled my nose.
Assembling the dish was the artistic bit, layering upon layering of flavors and colors.
I wound up with fresh, colorful, firm but tender slices of vegetables that "met for a brief communal simmer" to lend each other a hand.
Here it is:

One word comes to mind: