Steak Diane

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“Considered a signature entrée at Manhattan’s beloved Drake Hotel, Steak Diane is widely attributed to Beniamino Schiavon, the Drake’s maître d’hôtel from 1942 to 1967. Though many assume the name references the Roman goddess of the hunt, The New York Times, in its 1968 obituary of Schiavon, described the titular Diane only as a “beauty of the 1920s.”

SAVEUR’s take on the steak upgrades the beef from the Drake’s original sirloin to tender filet mignon. A great idea in my opinion. The recipe list also includes fresh oyster or hen-of-the-wood mushrooms; many steak Diane recipes to not.

I can’t get “exotic” mushrooms at my local grocery store, and while shopping online I noticed that there were canned chanterelles available, so I thought I’d try them out. They’re certainly not like fresh ones, but it turned out that these would work in a pinch. If you ever try canned mushrooms, make sure to dry them well before using.

Notice I halved the recipe. Afterwards I wish I hadn’t!

Steak Diane
printable recipe below

Four 4-oz. filet mignon steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 1⁄2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 tsp.)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
4 oz. oyster or hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, torn into small pieces (about 2 cups)
1⁄4 cup cognac
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1⁄4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers, then add the steaks and cook, turning once, until evenly browned, 4–5 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a plate to rest. (I always use a rack for this purpose.)

Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the stock. Cook, stirring to deglaze, until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds, about 10 minutes. Pour the demi-glace into a heatproof bowl and set aside. Prior to cooking, I reduced the

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted and the foam begins to subside, add the garlic and shallot, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften, release their liquid, and begin to brown, about 2 minutes more. Add the cognac, then carefully light with a long match or lighter to flambé, shaking gently until the flame dies down.

Stir in the reserved demi-glace along with the cream, Dijon, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. Return the reserved steaks to the skillet, lower the heat to simmer, and cook, turning to coat, until the sauce is thickened and the meat is warmed through, about 4 minutes. Because my steaks were so thick (thank you Lobel’s!) I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.

To serve, transfer the steaks to warmed serving plates; stir the chives and parsley into the sauce, and drizzle it over the steaks.

I served the steaks with steamed green beans. Perfection.

If you can’t “feel” the doneness of filet mignons, (I feel using tongs), make sure to use a thermometer to test the temperature internally. Rare is 125 degrees, medium-rare is 135 degrees. Ideally, let them rest on a rack, covered loosely with foil, after cooking.

 

 

Lobster and Haddock Casserole

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This post was challenging for me to begin writing, which is not typically an issue. It’s just that so many memories came flooding back to me from when we were in Maine in October of 2021. But that’s exactly how this post came about, from an incredible day on a lobster boat.

Having never been to Maine before, a guide from Experience Maine recommended various activities, and one was spending a day with Linda Greenlaw on her working lobster boat. The day would end with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a lobster feast. I was certainly excited about dinner, but I knew the day would also be educational.

So, who is this Linda Greenlaw? This can’t be answered in one sentence. She is a daughter of a lobster fisherman, born and raised in Maine, lives on Isle au Haut, and certainly one claim to fame is being America’s only female swordfishing captain.

Here she is – small but mighty – second from the left.

From her website, Linda Greenlaw Books, Greenlaw first came to the public’s attention in Sebastian Junger’s book The Perfect Storm, where Junger called her “one of the best captains … on the entire east coast.” She was also portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

But it doesn’t end there. She also wrote the following books:
The Hungry Ocean, 1999, about her life as a swordfishing captain.
The Lobster Chronicles, 2001, about her life on a very small island.
All Fishermen are Liars, 2004, true stories from real fishermen.
Seaworthy, 2010, an inspirational story of her return to the sea.
Lifesaving Lessons, 2013, a memoir about her experience as an “accidental mother”.

Then, Ms. Greenlaw wrote mystery books! Here I’ve photographed 3 of many…

Because this is a food blog, I’ll get to yet another one of Linda Greenlaw’s achievements. Actually, two. Here are cookbooks written with her mother Martha, on regional Maine cuisine. Recipes from a Very Small Island was published in 2005, and The Maine Summers Cookbook, in 2011. Now do you see how I wasn’t too sure how to start writing about Linda?! She does everything!

The actual name of this recipe, one of her mother’s, is Head Harbor Lobster & Haddock Casserole. And I guess if you are married to a lobster fisherman, you get very creative with lobster!

Or, just serve it steamed. On a boat. As the sun sets.

Head Harbor Lobster and Haddock Casserole
Serves 10-12

2 pounds haddock filets
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup white flour
3 cups half and half
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces medium-dry sherry
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 pound, about 3 cups, diced cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Butter a shallow 3-quart casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the haddock in a skillet, add water to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook gently until the fish is no longer translucent in the center, about 5 – 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. When cool enough to handle, break the fish into small chunks.

I ordered lobster tails so I prepared the meat by boiling them for 1 minute per ounce, placed in iced water, then removed the meat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium to medium-high heat, whisking, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the half and half, bring to a boil, and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Whisk in the ketchup, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Whisk in the sherry and parsley and season with salt. The sauce will be very thick at this point; it will thin out with the addition of the seafood.

In a large bowl, combine the haddock and lobster meat with the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer to the prepared dish, sprinkle with the crumbs, and drizzle with melted butter.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

I served the casserole with a cherry tomato salad in a zingy parsley vinaigrette with capers.

I love the flavors of the bechamel in this casserole. They were spot on. And what a delight to enjoy the fresh haddock and lobster in this way.

A nice green salad, perhaps with a lemon dressing, would also be good.

The Perfect Bloody Mary

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An email came to me from Cocktail Builder. I’d signed up for their newsletter because I love their website. You list what you want to make a cocktail with, and then recipes appear!

Today’s email was about the scientific aspects of the perfect bloody Mary. What? I thought I knew everything necessary to make a good Bloody Mary. My son-in-law’s secret? Add the juice of pickled asparagus.

From the email, “According to the American Chemical Society, the Bloody is not only difficult to master but it’s the most complex cocktail in the world.” What???

“It’s a very complicated drink,” said Neil C. Da Costa, Ph.D., an expert on the chemical analysis of flavors at International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. “From the standpoint of flavor chemistry, you’ve got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. It covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations – sweet, salty, sour and umami or savory – but not bitter.”

Dr. Da Costa lists his insights for making the best Bloody Mary:
1. Make it fresh. Chemically, the Bloody Mary is a “highly unstable” concoction, and the quality tends to deteriorate quickly. (Is anyone else constantly throwing away their zing zang?!)
2. Ice it up. Serve Bloody Marys on ice helps to slow down the chemical reactions involving acids in tomato juice and other ingredients that degrade the taste.
3. Mind your mixes. If you use a cocktail mix, add some fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor and aroma. (Okay, I already do that…)
4. Splurge on the juice. Tomato juice makes up most of the Bloody Mary’s volume, so use high quality juice that has a deep, rich flavor.
5. Economize on the vodka. The intense, spicy flavor of a Bloody Mary masks the vodka, and using premium vodka makes little sense.

I also finally figured out that more than one Bloody Mary are spelled Bloody Marys!!!

The Perfect Bloody Mary

2 ounces vodka
4 ounces freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
2 dashes tabasco sauce
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch celery salt, plus more to rim glass
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch smoked paprika
Celery stalk and lime wedge, for garnish
Additional garnishes such as green olives, asparagus

Pour some celery salt onto a small plate. Using a lemon or lime wedge, wet the rim of a pint glass and dip it into the salt until it’s fully coated. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.

I made these Bloody Marys in October, when my tomatoes were perfect. I used a cheese grater to get the de-seeded pulp out of the tomatoes, then blended the tomato juice.

In a cocktail shaker, squeeze the lemon and lime wedges and drop them in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill the shaker with ice.

Shake gently and strain into the prepared glass.

Garnish with a celery stalk, a lime wedge, and any other desired garnishes.

I don’t like wet bacon so that has never been a garnish of choice!!!

I also don’t love celery salt, especially by itself, so I used a Bloody Mary rim mix. Hope I didn’t break any rules!

So what do I think about this Bloody Mary? I though it was too “rich” tasting, even though it was basically tomato pulp, so that was surprising. Then I bought some tomato juice, and used the above recipe. Still not perfect to me.

Then I used the exact recipe above, but used a Bloody Mary mix instead of tomato juice. And to me it was perfect. What does that mean? Maybe I like a very well-spiced Bloody Mary.

So, I’ll stick with Bloody Mary mix. I Sometimes buy a case of Mr. & Mrs. T in 5.5 ounce cans. Each can is perfect for one Bloody Mary, and you don’t have to discard a larger bottle of mix when it becomes unstable.

But to the Mr. & Mrs. T mix, I also add pickled asparagus juice. Try it and see what you think!

Zing zang lovers? They offer a case of 8 ounce cans.

Crunchy Beans

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This is a dish that I remember from living at home, but I didn’t know its origin. I just knew it wasn’t French! Out of the blue my sister recently asked me about crunchy beans, and I told her I was making them for the blog! With her being four years older, she had the distinct memory of how the very American recipe infiltrated our mother’s kitchen.

In my sister’s words: “In the early 60s, our family visited new friends Larry and Aimée, at their home for dinner. Crunchy Beans, all hot and bubbly from the oven, was served. Our mom was slightly insulted because, being French, she would never have served beans to guests.

She was very formal about those kinds of things and tended to judge accordingly. To her, a leg of lamb, one of several courses, would have been more appropriate. (She would even warm plates before serving food.) But, as it turned out, we loved the Crunchy Beans! It was an interesting and delicious combination of flavors that we were not used to, not to mention the catsup – quelle horreur! We acquired the recipe, and it became a family favorite.”

I found this photo from back then, my mother on the left with her poodle Minouche, Larry and Aimée (The Bean Cookers), and me with the long braids.

These beans are really easy to make, because you use canned pork and beans for the base. My husband, who grew up on such beans, recommends Van Camp’s brand.

Cooking beans from scratch is easy and economical, but there is something about this recipe that’s really fun. It’s also easy and good!

Crunchy Beans

3 – 15 ounce cans Van Camp’s pork and beans
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
4 celery ribs, finely chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup bacon grease

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place all of the ingredients in a large Le Creuset or similar pot and bake for one hour.

They look like this when they’re done baking.

I served the crunchy beans with hot dogs!

And of course you can cut up the hot dogs and put them in the beans… but I wouldn’t.

But they’re definitely good with burgers and sausages.

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

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This recipe popped up from the Food 52 website, and once again, it was the photo that caught my attention. This is Louisiana barbecued shrimp, by Julia Gartland, slightly adapted from the book “Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking“, by Toni Tipton-Martin, published in 2019.

I definitely like spicy, and I’ve always loved the spicy dishes of Cajun and Creole cuisines, so I just couldn’t resist making this dish.

Louisiana barbecued shrimp is that sort of magical dish that’s intensely flavored, easy to cook, and perfect for entertaining. But don’t let the name fool you.

As cookbook author Toni Tipton-Martin writes, “You won’t find any barbecue sauce in this dish of shrimp in spiced butter sauce. Barbecued shrimp is just the name Louisiana Creole cooks assigned to shrimp braised in wine, beer, or a garlic-butter sauce.

Ironically, a very similar recipe was on Laura’s fabulous blog recently, called Hummingbird Thyme, although called New Orleans BBQ shrimp! I say ironically, because I’ve never before come across this shrimp recipe, and now I have twice. It’s an omen!

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves, crushed
4 tablespoons (1/2) stick butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup fish or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound shell-on shrimp
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Hot crusty French bread, for serving

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, paprika and bay leaves. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the butter over medium-high until melted and sizzling. Add the garlic, spices, wine, stock, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 5 – 7 minutes; shake the pan as it cooks to help bring the sauce together. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to low, and cook, turning once, until the shrimp turn pink and firm, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the shrimp with parsley and serve immediately from the skillet with hot French bread to soak up the sauce.

This might be my new way to serve shrimp as an appetizer.

Although it could certainly be a meal as well.

I could also see doubling this delicious spicy sauce, and dribbling the shrimp over linguine.

The recipe is perfect just the way it is. I typically tweak everything, but besides adding some cayenne pepper flakes before serving plus some fresh thyme leaves, I left the recipe alone.

Just maybe pulverize the bay leaves more than just crush them, or you’ll be spitting out bay leaf pieces all day!

Curry Ketchup

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I’ve mentioned a few times that my eating life practically revolves around condiments. I love them all. Mustards, ketchups, chutneys, chimichurris, mayos, butters, you name it, I love them. I look at a condiment, and immediately know what food I’m pairing it with.

I’m so excited to have discovered a new condiment for my repertoire – curry ketchup. I was “shopping” on Amazon and somehow this popped up. I had to have it. German curry ketchup!

Shortly afterwards, I was on the blog called the Daring Gourmet, and there was Kimberly’s recipe for home-made curry ketchup, of German origin.

You can imagine how excited I was. Everything home-made is so much better than what you can buy.

Best German Curry Ketchup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 small clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons high-quality curry powder*
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup natural ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
5 tablespoons vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper, optional

Heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onions just until soft and translucent. Do not brown them. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the curry powder, paprika, cloves and allspice and cook for 30 seconds.

Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and purée until smooth.

Let the mixture cool completely and then refrigerate for a day before using to allow time for the flavors to meld.

To use, Kimberly recommends serving the curry ketchup with prepared bratwurst (currywurst) and fries. She recommends sprinkling the brats with curry powder, just like in her photo, below, which I forgot to do.

I’m not a big French fry person, so I roasted some red potatoes instead.

This ketchup is magnificent. It’s multi-faceted, and not strong in any one way. And it’s nice and thick. I have no idea why mine isn’t as red in color as hers.

And, the ketchup is really good with the potatoes also.

I tried a bratwurst with the purchased curry ketchup, left, and my home-made version, on the right. There was truly no comparison. The purchased ketchup tasted anemic compared to home-made!

I can’t wait to make more curry ketchup, and next time I’m making a quadruple batch. Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

*When I want a prepared curry powder, I reach for Penzey’s sweet curry powder. To me, it’s a perfect blend when not using individual spices.

Burgers

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My husband cooks one thing – burgers. And I happily let him because they’re that good. In fact, people come from miles away to eat his burgers.

I didn’t grow up eating burgers and I’ve never cooked them myself. Even though I was born and raised in the U.S., I don’t crave hamburgers and fries like most. But when it comes to my husband’s burgers, I’m first in line.

We planned to have them on Memorial Day recently. Then I got the brilliant idea to document what he does in order to share his recipe. He said he didn’t mind if I followed him around with my camera, but that “there’s really no recipe.” But there is.

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Here’s what he does.

D’s Burgers

Before the burger-making process begins, he adds hot water to a 32-ounce cup filled with hickory chips.

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The ground beef he uses is grass fed, 80% lean, 20% fat.

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He makes the burgers all 8 ounces each, and 1″ thick.

The patties are formed by gently pressing the meat into shape. He presses a “well” on the tops of the patties.

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A generous amount of Worcestershire sauce and coarsely ground pepper are added. Let them sit at room temperature until it’s time to begin grilling.

Then he starts the fire. He will only use charcoal for grilling, and he’s patient with the fire. Neither of us like “charred” or “flame-kissed” burgers.

Only after all of the charcoal is grey, after about 45 minutes, he spreads out the coals and sprinkles on the soaked hickory.

The patties are placed on the grill carefully and cooked for 7 1/2 minutes on that side.

The lid is propped open so that the fire doesn’t get too hot, yet the hickory smoke stays inside the grill.

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After the burgers are turned over, more Worcestershire sauce and pepper are added.

After another 7 1/2 minutes, the burgers are ready to eat.

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I like mine with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, ketchup and yellow mustard, but they would be fantastic any which way!

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So, I don’t really know what makes these burgers so delicious. I think the hickory smoke is part of it, the Worcestershire sauce and pepper are part of it, using charcoal briquettes instead of gas, plus cooking only to medium-rare is also part of what makes these so good.

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My Favorite Barbeque Sauce

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Barbeque sauce never passed my lips until I moved to Dallas, Texas, for my first job after college. I moved a lot as a child, but never lived in any barbecue states, so to speak. I’ve lived in California, Washington, New York, and Utah, plus France, and barbecue was unheard of in these places, at least growing up.

When I first tasted barbeque sauce, I wasn’t that impressed. It was probably because I also wasn’t impressed with the meats with which they were served. Especially ribs – they’re so fiddly and messy to eat. And I thought brisket was dreadfully stringy. But looking back, I can see why many barbeque sauces didn’t appeal to me. Some are overly sweet, some are overly tangy, some are overly smokey.

Then I started making my own. Of course, some of them weren’t quite traditional, like adding rum and plums or whatnot, but it seemed to me that it was pretty darn easy to make a good, basic barbeque sauce. I especially detest the over-sweetness of purchased barbeque sauces, but that’s something you can definitely control in your own kitchen.

So now I have my own favorite barbeque sauce. I don’t know really how it began, but it evolved over time, just like all of our favorite recipes we customize as home cooks. It’s a little bit different, but I warn you it is delicious and addictive. Here’s to sharing recipes!

My Favorite Barbecue Sauce

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3 – 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar.

Then add the seasonings.

I just wanted to point out my favorite garlic pepper. I’m not fond of the smell of most garlic powders, so I use this brand for some extra garlic punch.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so over low heat, uncovered.

Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Simmer for one minute, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

It’s really good with grilled chicken or slow-cooked ribs, but it’s especially good with spicy, smoked brisket!