Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grilled London Broil with Caramelized Red Onions for a Picnic #SundaySupper

Grilled London Broil with Caramelized Red Onions for a Picnic #SundaySupper




Call this the conclusion to the London Broil dish I published this past Wednesday. In the post, I profiled a dish that appears in one of Rachael Ray's cookbooks promising to return with an updated (hopefully superior) dish. In addition, this dish is for a #SundaySupper event so I need to explain how this ties into this week's theme.

From a technical standpoint, I like this dish better. First, it's seasoned simply with salt and pepper instead of marinated. Secondly, it's grilled to achieve a better sear instead of broiled. Believe it or not, I actually simplified the accompaniment to the London Broil but it tasted better. From a #SundaySupper standpoint, this week's theme is picnic foods to celebrate the American Independence Day holiday hosted by Jane of Jane's Adventures in Dinner (Thanks, Jane!) later in the week. I like it for summer barbecues because London Broil is generally a cheaper cut of beef that doesn't sacrifice flavor and can feed a lot of people. Furthermore, it can be grilled quickly so there's more time to spend with guests at your barbecue.

I must confess. The onion component of this dish was one of my first success as a food blogger several years ago with my first website. Mrs. Stuntman requests it often. In this case, the balsamic vinegar brings out the sweetness of the red onions that complements the beef well.

The Challenge

Prepare a dish inspired by a Rachael Ray recipe

The Source

I reused the flank steak method from a dish I published last year and adapted the caramelized red onions from epicurious.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 4 large red onions, halved, then sliced thin
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 2-pound London Broil
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Method

1. Finish the mise en place. If using an outside charcoal grill, prepare and preheat it. Bring the London Broil to room temperature by setting it out on the counter for no more than 30 minutes. Season the Broil with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. Caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently, approximately 30 minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.


3. Prepare the London Broil. Place the London Broil under direct heat if using a charcoal grill, or under medium high heat with a gas grill or grill pan, 6 minutes per side for medium rare but test for doneness. Set aside and let it rest to allow for carryover cooking for 5 to 10 minutes while you finish the onions. Slice the London Broil thinly across the grain for tender pieces. To plate, serve family style garnished with parsley.


Successful?

I plated differently for this post but it was still delicious and better than Rachael Ray's recipe.

Before you go, please check out the other picnic dishes prepared for this #SundaySupper event:

Beverages
Appetizers
Mains
Sides
Salads
Sandwiches and Wraps
Sweets
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

London Broil with Mushroom Vinaigrette

London Broil with Mushroom Vinaigrette




Yikes! Has it really been two weeks since my last dish? Where has the time gone?

I was supposed to participate in the Father's Day #SundaySupper event but the Thursday before I emailed that week's host, Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen and withdrew because of my busy schedule leading up to Sunday and didn't think I would be able to prepare my dish in time. Last week, I had an idea for a restaurant-caliber dish but still haven't fully conceptualized it yet.

Way before I even conceptualized the idea of a food blog, my mother gave Mrs. Stuntman and I a Rachael Ray cookbook when we first moved in together. In all honesty, it sat several years collecting dust but found it recently started to flip through it and found this dish.

Now, let's just say that you could safely put me in the category of a Rachael Ray critic. I think she has great charisma to be relatable to a very wide audience and her dishes are approachable to the novice home cook. After all, she must be doing something correctly considering how successful she's become. My problem lies in the food she prepares. It lacks creativity, imagination and technical expertise. Why would you feature one of her dishes here, then? This dish will set a baseline and inspiration for my own London Broil dish I'll publish later, hopefully improving on the dish.

The Challenge

Inspire my own London Broil dish.

The Source

Adapted from page 146 of Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats by Rachael Ray. (This recipe is also known as recipe #164 in the book.)

Ingredients

1 2-pound boneless London Broil
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8-ounce package cremini mushrooms, cleaned, then quartered
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Leaves from 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped plus more for garnish

Method

1. Prepare the London Broil. Place a rack in the oven closest to the broiler heat source and preheat the broiler to high. Combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the London Broil in a resealable bag and pour the Worcestershire/oil mixture over it, rub it into the meat and set aside to marinate at room temperature, approximately 5 minutes. Place the marinated steak on a broiler pan and broil for 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from heat, set aside covered in a foil tent to allow for carryover cooking while the mushrooms are prepared. Speaking of...


2. Prepare the mushrooms. While the London Broil cooks, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and brown, stirring occasionally for approximately 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the onions, garlic and thyme in addition to seasoning the mushrooms with salt and pepper and sweat the mushrooms, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Next, stir in the white wine vinegar and mustard. Remove the skillet from heat, then stir in 1/2 cup parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil.


3. Plate the dish. Slice the London Broil thinly across the grain. To plate, fan the slices out on a warmed plate, top with mushrooms and garnish with parsley.

Successful?

I ran into a minor execution issue because I left the London Broil in the marinade too long so I wasn't able to sear it under the broiler. Other than that, the vinaigrette was tasty and the execution was quick, however this dish is just not my style. I'll follow up with my revisions later. Until then...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Presenting: Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Dates

Radicchio and Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Dates




This post will read very similar to the Asian chicken salad I published a couple of weeks ago. Today, my daughter is graduating from Kindergarten and the class scheduled a pot luck-style picnic at a nearby park afterwards. I volunteered a salad and decided to make this one. A quick check of The Flavor Bible yielded a flavor affinity of endive, arugula and radicchio but when I went to purchase my ingredients, two supermarkets didn't have Belgian endive in their inventory so I substituted some iceberg lettuce.

Some other adaptations: I toasted my walnuts in a dry sauté pan instead of in the oven and I also used Emeril's balsamic vinaigrette which has become my go-to mainly because the Dijon holds the oil and vinegar together.

Other than the changes noted above, the main recipe can be found from Food & Wine magazine's website.

I'll be back Sunday with a dessert for Dad.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Orzo Risotto with Spinach Mushrooms and Bacon

Orzo Risotto with Spinach, Mushrooms and Bacon




In a weak moment recently, I vaguely remember handing over my name and address to bon appétit magazine with the promise of free issues and the first two arrived recently. In their April 2014 issue, one of their featured articles is entitled Cook Like A Pro: Ten techniques for adding restaurant-worthy flavor to any meal. The sixth technique claims that "The Best Risottos Aren't Made with Rice" which goes on to suggest to substitute grains (i.e. barley, farro, wheat berries, etc.) for rice because they release enough starch to give the dish it's signature creaminess.

The idea is hardly original. In fact, I substituted potatoes for rice in a risotto about a year ago and I stirred orzo into braising fluid this past autumn. I wanted to focus on that the dish I made last fall because it really wasn't a risotto.

The Challenge

Apply the risotto method to orzo pasta.

The Source

I adapted elements of another risotto I published last summer, with one from Food & Wine magazine's website and a second one from SAVEUR magazine's website.

Ingredients

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
5 cups chicken stock
6 ounces bacon, cut into batons
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium-sized shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces spinach, washed with the stems removed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Method

1. Prepare the mushrooms. Combine the boiling water and the dried mushrooms in a small bowl. Allow the mushrooms to steep in the water until they are rehydrated, approximately 15 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a paper towel-lined sieve (to catch any grit) into a medium saucepan. Add the chicken stock to the mushroom fluid and set aside. Chop the mushrooms and set aside separately.

2. Prepare the bacon. Bring the chicken stock mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low to keep warm. Meanwhile, render the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it's just shy of being crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Reserve at least 1 tablespoon bacon fat and set aside separately.


3. Execute the risotto method. To the same skillet the bacon was cooked, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, sweat the shallots, approximately 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.


Stir in the orzo and thyme and toast for approximately 2 minutes, ensuring each grain of orzo is coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper.


Add the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring the orzo continuously until the fluid is adsorbed. Continue adding stock until the orzo is al dente, approximately 20 minutes.


Add the spinach, reserved bacon and mushrooms and stir until the spinach wilts, approximately 1 minute. Stir in the reserved bacon fat, cream, parmesan and lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Served in warmed bowls.

Successful?

Both Mrs. Stuntman and I enjoyed this dish and she requested I serve it again. Interestingly, it was reminiscent of Rice-A-Roni due to the flavors of bacon and mushrooms.

One thing I haven't addressed yet is the new season of Next Food Network Star. Have you watched it? My early favorite to win is Loreal. She's got the most unique point of view I've seen in years and she seems to be able to handle herself in front of the camera well. Right behind her I'd put Lenny. He also seems to be well qualified but I'm not sure if I'd watch his show. I predict Aryen will be one of the next ones to be eliminated because, according to the judges her food has been bland. What are your thoughts?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Light Stunt: Chicken Stir Fry with Spinach and Peanuts

Chicken Stir Fry with Spinach and Peanuts




Call this my first cookbook review.

A while back a college friend had given Mrs. Stuntman and I a copy of Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler. As you can imagine, I was a little skeptical. The book does contain fifty chicken preparations divided into three sections: the first using whole bird, the second using chicken parts and the third more complicated dishes. Preceding each recipe is some really corny dialog about how a chicken feels about being prepared. I'd rate it a PG-13.

So the other night, I was thumbing through the book looking for last minute dinner ideas and found this dish that looked appealing.

The Challenge

Determine whether this book is more style than substance.

The Source

Adapted from page 88

Ingredients

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, chopped fine (separate whites from greens)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
Cooked white rice, for serving

Method

1. Finish the mise en place: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, corn starch and honey, then set aside.




2. Sear the chicken: Put the peanut oil and sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken and fry, stirring frequently until almost cooked through, approximately five to seven minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside once the chicken has browned.


3. Flavor the stir fry: Once the chicken has been removed, add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and scallion whites. Stir until fragrant which should take a minute or two. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, an additional minute. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken stock mixture and bring to a rapid simmer, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the skillet. Once the fluids thicken, add the chicken, peanuts and scallion greens and cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately one to two minutes. Toss to combine then serve over rice.


Successful?

If you can look past the cheesy elements of this book, it's a good book for beginning cooks. Mrs. Stuntman also enjoyed the dish which came together rather quickly; perfect for a weeknight meal.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction and Polenta #FWCon

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Reduction and Polenta




In my own observation, I've noticed that low to moderately priced steakhouses offer little in terms of plate presentation creativity. Last fall, I was surprised to find that even a fine dining steakhouse I patronized utilized such a simple presentation. Thankfully, A Land Remembered steakhouse and seafood restaurant at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel is a little more creative. No, I haven't dined there but I plan to when I attend the Food and Wine Conference this summer and a quick google image search yielded some beautiful dishes.

A quick check of their menu reveals options for steaks such as sauce Diane and Oregon bleu cheese but I was surprised by what was not on the menu: a red wine sauce. I also paired my steak with an Italian starch that isn't even on Rosen Shingle Creek's Italian restaurant menu because it not only complements the steak but provides visual appeal to the plate. Furthermore, I have demonstrated two different methods of cooking polenta but found a third and wanted to experiment.

From a presentation standpoint, I recall Chef Cat Cora noting something I hadn't even considered during an episode of America's Best Cook which went something like put round food on a square plate to create a contrast in shapes so I wanted to test out the theory.

This dish is my entry into the Rosen Shingle Creek recipe contest I referred to in my preview post last week.

The Challenge

Win the Rosen Hotels recipe contest described above.

The Source

For the dish composition, I used the roasting method (i.e. brown the food on the stovetop, add butter, baste with the pan fluids then rest the food for carryover cooking) described upon pages 32 and 41 of Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio in addition to the basic pan sauce method (i.e. sweat mirepoix, deglaze with vinegar, reduce, add stock, reduce again and strain out the vegetables) found on page 75. The Flavor Bible also played heavily into the frisee salad. I applied the method to prepare polenta as described in the kitchn to an adapted list of ingredients found on page 198 of Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell with Suzanne Lenzer.

Ingredients

For the salad:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small head frisee, green leaves only (discard the white root)

For the polenta:
2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup yellow corn meal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the filets with reduction:
4 six-to-eight ounce filet mignon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup beef stock

Method

1. Prepare the salad: Combine the vinegar with the olive oil and season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Cook the polenta: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water and salt, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, whisk in the corn meal slowly until the mixture thickens and the corn meal no longer sinks to the bottom of the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring every 10 minutes until the polenta is thick, approximately thirty to forty minutes. Once the desired consistency has been reached, stir in the butter and parmesan.


3. Roast the filets: While the polenta cooks, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until smoking. Remove any moisture from the surface of the filets by patting them with a paper towel, then season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the filets in the skillet and brown for approximately two to three minutes. Turn the steaks to brown on the second side, but add two tablespoons butter and thyme sprigs to the pan and baste the filets with the browning butter until just before the desired doneness is reached. Remove from the skillet to a plate and tent with some aluminum foil to allow for carryover cooking while the reduction is prepared.


4. Make the reduction: Add the remaining tablespoon to the hot skillet used to roast the fillets. Once the oil shimmers, add the shallot to sweat, approximately two to three minutes. Add the garlic and sweat until fragrant but not browned, approximately an additional minute. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the fond left by the filets and bring to a simmer, reducing the wine by one-third. Add in the beef stock and simmer again until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the remaining tablespoon butter, removing the skillet from the heat if necessary to prevent the reduction from separating. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain out the solids.


5. Finish the salad and plate the dish: Whisk the vinaigrette again to combine, then toss with the frisee. For the presentation, spoon polenta in approximately the same diameter as the filet onto the middle of the plate, top the polenta with the filet then garnish the filet with the frisee salad. Spoon some of the reduction around the polenta then serve.

Successful?

We won't know who won this contest until it's announced at the conference, so I'm unsure if it's successful in that regard. The flavors of the dish certainly complemented each other. If you want to know who was chosen the winner, I recommend following Rosen Hotels on twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram and Google+.

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