How to Make a Good Steak

How to Make a Good Steak is a question you must have asked yourself a number of times if you are the carnivorous type like my humble self. The real question however is how many beautiful and costly pieces of meat have you ruined under the assumption that cooking a steak comes boils down to throwing it in a hot pan and frying it to death. Well, the reality is, that there are a number of ”dos” and ”fon’ts” to consider if you was to achieve a steak house experience at home.Today I am cooking a T-bone steak, but the technique is same for a Porterhouse, rib eye or any other steak you have. The quality of the meat is of course crucial for the end result.

 

Ingredients:
1 T-bone, Porterhouse or rib eye steak
1 rosemary sprig
1 garlic clove
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
canola or corn oil
a lump of soft butter

  1. Buy the right steak, it must be at least 1.5 inch thick. Look for marbling, this is what will give you flavor. And of course buy the best quality you can afford.
  2. To clean the steak, wipe it with a damp tea tower and then pat it dry. Do not run it under water.
  3. Season it generously with just freshly ground black pepper and sea salt or kosher salt, do not use table salt as it does not penetrate the meat properly.
  4. Let it come to room temperature before cooking it, leave on the countertop for 1 hours to air dry.
  5. Brush the stake with canola or corn oil, which have high burning temperature and do not add oil to the pan.
  6. Heat the pan until almost smoking, preferably use cast iron grilling pan.
  7. Always put down first the prettier side and once you put it in the pan do not touch it until is time to flip it, about 6 minutes per side for medium rare. Try figuring out the doneness by pressing on the meat, you will develop this skill with experience. Alternatively make a small incision close to the bone.
  8. After flipping, gently rub the cooked side of the stake with garlic and place a rosemary sprig over it to  flavor the meat.
  9. When ready, transfer the steak to a flat dish, place a lump of butter over it, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. Do not discard the juices from the plate, those are packed with flavor.
  10. Transfer the rested stake to a cutting board, using a sharp knife release the meat from the bone with a single clean cut and then cut across on thick slices to preserve the moisture in each bite.
  11. Pour the juices accumulated in the dish in which the meat was resting over the carved steak.
  12. Finish up the steak with a pinch of sea salt and serve.

Wine suggestion: Serve with a full bodied red wine such as Chateauneuf Du Pape.

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White Chocolate Mini TartsThese White Chocolate Tarts are my tribute to the World Chocolate Day which I admit was yesterday but, I am sure you would agree with me, is never too late to celebrate. The tart shell recipe is relatively low in fat which prevents is from becoming soggy even after 24 hours of filling them with the white chocolate cream. You can of course go classic and top those with berries but I like to add a flair of luxury by simply decorating them with silver dragees and edible flowers if you can find those. Did I mention white chocolate tarts taste even better paired with Champagne. Happy belated World Chocolate Day everyone:) 

Yields 6 tarts

Ingredients for the tart shells:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
45g or (3 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, I prefer using a scale
2 Tbs plain yogurt
1 Tbs ice water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the white chocolate cream:
250g white chocolate Lindt bar
3 Tbs milk
2 Tbs sugar
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
200g whipped cream

silver drags and edible flowers for decoration 

Make the tart shells: Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 time or until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Divide the ball into 6 small balls. Using a rolling pin roll each of them into into 1/8-inch tick circle to fit a 3-inch loose bottom mini tart pans. Do not stretch the dough as it will shrink slightly while cooking. Score the uncooked tart shells with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Bake the tart shells in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the rims are light golden and firm to the touch. Allow the tart shells to come to room temperature before filling them.

Make the white chocolate cream: Combine the chocolate, milk and sugar and melt it over gentle heat in a non stick pot or a double boiler while stirring constantly. Pull the chocolate away from the heat and whisk in the beaten egg. Keep whisking for 30-40 seconds to avoid lumps, while the heat of the chocolate cooks the egg. Put aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. In the mean time whip the cream. With the help of a spatula gently and gradually fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

Assemble the tarts: Fill the cold tart shell with the white chocolate cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Before serving decorate with silver dragees or edible flowers.

Wine Suggestions: Champagne or Prosecco.

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Very Vanilla Ice Cream No Churn

This no churn very vanilla ice cream is quite simply tastes great and is ready in 5 minutes, freezing time not included. Yes, sure you can just buy it from the grocery store but first, it is not quite the same and second, you would deprive yourself and your family of the tickling joy of serving and tasting a homemade very vanilla ice cream. I don’t know about you but I utterly enjoy preparing and serving such things as homemade cheese, bread, yogurt or ice cream, and not just because I can but because homemade they are just feel good.

Ingredients:
500ml whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean

Using a sharp knife make an incision through the middle of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seed. Combine the cold cream the vanilla seed and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat with an electrical mixer on hight speed until firm peaks. Bring the speed to low and slowly add the condensed milk to the cream, mixing until fully incorporated, light and fluffy, about 2 more minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a terrine dish or any other, smooth the top with a spatula, cover with a cling paper and freeze for at least 4 hours.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart

I made this Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Tart for Father’s Day this year, my husband loved it and if my dad was not on holiday some 2000km away he would have loved it too. If you are following this blog you would know that I have a weak spot for tarts of all kinds but I also like chocolate mousse a lot. This recipe is about these two coming together in one bite. It is a tart shell filled with chocolate mousse and topped with hazelnuts…what is there not to love.
Ingredients for the tart shell:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
45g or (3 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, I prefer using a scale
2 Tbs plain yogurt
1 Tbs ice water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the hazelnut chocolate mousse:
300g dark chocolate with whole hazelnuts Lindt bar (or 250g dark chocolate and 50g toasted hazelnuts)
3 Tbs milk
2 Tbs sugar
11/2 Tbs cocoa powder, sifted
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
200g whipped cream

Make the tart shell: Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 time or until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin roll it into 1/8-inch tick circle to fit a 9-inch loose bottom round tart pan or 12-inch rectangular tart pan. Trim off the excess dough and use it to line 2 or 3 mini tarts if you wish. Do not stretch the dough as it will shrink slightly while cooking. Score the uncooked tart shell 20 times with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Bake the tart shel in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the rim is light golden and firm to the touch. Allow the tart shell to come to room temperature before filling it.

Make the hazelnut chocolate mousse: Combine the chocolate and milk and melt it over gentle heat in a non stick pot or a double boiler while stirring constantly. Add the sugar and sift over the cocoa, mix until smooth. Pull the chocolate away from the fire and whisk in the bitten egg. Keep whisking for 30-40 seconds to avoid lumps, while the heat of the chocolate cooks the eggs. Put aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. In the mean time whip the cream. With the help of a spatula gently and gradually fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.

Assemble the tart: Fill the tart shell with the chocolate mousse. If you are using chocolate and hazelnuts separately add the nuts at last after filling the tart shell. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Before serving dust the tarts with cocoa and decorate with kiwis or other fruits of choice.

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Tarte Parisienne

Tarte Parisienne is one of these French Granny’s desserts which won’t seduce you with their looks but will make a lasting impression once you get to taste them. It is for me a luxurious and an unpretentious dessert at once. I can make it on a Monday and surprise my nest with a slice of tart on a week night or serve it as a dessert at a dinner party and have my guests gladly polish their plates.

Ingredients for the tart shell:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar
pinch of salt
45g or (3 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, I prefer using a scale
3 Tbs plain yogurt
1 Tbs ice water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the custard filling:
650ml whole milk, scalded
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbs corn starch
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:
200 whipping cream
2 Tbs confectioners sugar

Make the tart shell: Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 time or until the dough comes together. Shape it into a ball and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin roll it into 1/8-inch tick circle to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Trim off the excess dough and use it to line 2 or 3 mini tarts if you wish. Keep it in the fridge while you make the custard.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

Make the custard: Scald the milk over medium-low fire or in a microwave heating it for about 3 minute. Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and corn starch in a medium bowl and whisk manually for about 2 minutes until well combine and smooth. Don’t whisk too energetically, you don’t want the eggs to turn pale. Slowly pour the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking with the other hand. Than transfer it to a saucepan and heat over medium fire for 5-6 minutes while constantly whisking. Whatever you do, don’t let it to boil. Remove it from the fire when the custard begins to ticket but is still runny. This is what gives the silky inside and the shiny spotted top to the tart. Let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.

Bake: Place the tart pan in a larger baking sheet and fill it with custard to the rim. Try not spilling it on the way to the oven. Bake in medium position for 45 minutes or until multiple spots of caramelization appear on top. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

Whip the cream: Combine the cold cream and the confectioners sugar in a small bowl and beat with an electrical mixer on high speed until soft peaks.

Serve your Tarte Parisienne topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

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Eggs Benedict Breakfast for Champions

Eggs Benedict seem intimidating to make and the classic hollandaise may scare away those of you who fear heart disease and high cholesterol. Moreover, in Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain suggests that ordering hollandaise in any restaurant short of 3 michelin stars is like shopping for a food poisoning as the uncooked eggs sitting at room temperature for hours make the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. As I have said it before, when my husband is away on business I tent to get creative and imaginative when it comes to his welcome back menu. Last time he traveled I wanted to make for him a Breakfast for Champions so to speak. Eggs Benedict was the challenge. There are two important element of this post, first I share the easiest and fastest, no fail technique to poach eggs. Second I show you how to make a healthier and cholesterol free hollandaise which you can prepare the night before and gently reheat before serving.

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 eggs
4 slices of smoked fish
your bread choice
cayenne pepper
4 tsp white vinegar
For the healthy Hollandaise:
1 egg at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp of salt
1/2 white pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbs melted butter (optional)
pinch of ground turmeric (optional)

Make the Hollandaise: Place the eggs, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in a measuring cup or a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Transfers the oil to a small measuring cup with a spout. With the mixer on high speed beat the eggs while adding the oil very slowly until the sauce thickens and all the oil is absorbed. At last, add the tablespoon of melted butter to give that buttery flavor to your hollandaise. I often omit this step. If your egg yolk are pale and you would like to intensify the color of the sauce add a dash of ground turmeric, which will not change the flavor but will brighten the coli of the hollandaise. Keep the sauce at room temperature while you are poaching the eggs. If you need to use it later, store it in the fridge them a few minutes before serving place a few tablespoons of the sauce in a glass remake and place the ramekin in a larger bowl of warm, but not boiling water. You want to gently reheat the sauce without cooking it.

Poach the eggs: Line 4 glass ramekins on your counter. Add 1/2 cup of water and 1 tsp of white vinegar to each ramekin, do not omit or substitute the vinegar for lemon juice and measure the water exactly. Break 1 egg in each ramekin. Place each ramekin in the microwave cover it with a piece of paper towel and cook for 1 minute on high. If you prefer hard yolk increase the cooking time to 75-90 seconds per egg. Using a slotted spoon drain the water and transfer the poached egg to a plat dish. Repeat with the rest of the eggs.

Assemble the Eggs Benedict: Cut your favorite bread and place two slices in each plate. Eggs Benedict are often served over English muffins, which I am not a fan of, that is why I use rye bread buns or even choux pastry. Gently place a slice of smoked fish, today I am using king fish, gently place the egg over the fish and spoon some Hollandaise over it the egg. Finish it with a dash of cayenne pepper and serve immediately.

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Almond Croissants

The key ingredient for these incredibly quick and easy almond croissants is the best quality almond butter, I get mine from the local farmers market, so it is artisanal and sugar and preservatives free. Using good quality puff pastry also makes a difference. Most pastry shops actually sell fresh puff pastry, you just need to ask. Almond Croissants are one of those things that we are used to ordering in restaurants and patisseries but really couldn’t be easier to make. More importantly they will make your Sunday breakfast feel special and will put a smile on loved ones face. Come to think about it eating homemade almond croissants is exciting because it is a rather unexpected breakfast item to serve. Why do we like to eat in restaurants, what is that makes a spends thousands of dollars every year on meal prepared by strangers? I think it is the pleasure of treating our palates to something we can’t eat at home but also the excitement of discovering the chef’s personal take on a known recipe.

Yields 4 medium croissants

Ingredients:
300g sheet of puff pastry
3 Tbs unsweetened almond butter
2-3 Tbs of sugar
3 Tbs water
1Tbs sliced almonds (optional)

Assemble the almond croissants: Buy the best quality puff pastry available and thaw it in the fridge. In a small bowl combine the almond butter, sugar and water and mix until smooth and easily spreadable but not runny. It is important to achieve the right consistency and it is better thicker then thicker because if your spread is too runny, it will ooze out while in the oven and you will end up with dry croissants. Cut the puff pastry in 4 triangles of approximately 45 degrees. Spread about a tablespoon of the almond butter all over the pastry leaving 5mm rim. You don’t need to butter the baking sheet, the pastry is oily enough. Gently roll up starting from the base of the triangle up to the tip. Once you have rolled all your croissants add a tablespoon of water to the now almost empty bowl of almond butter, mix well and gently brush your croissants all over, this will give them a pretty golden color.

Bake: Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Serve: Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, the almond butter has badly burnt my tongue a number of times. Serve with freshly brewed coffee and orange juice.

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Burrata Salad

Burrata salad is one of those addictive things which you will find yourself making over and over again until you start worrying about your cholesterol level. It will be the crowd pleaser on your next wine and cheese party, it will become your kids and partner’s favorite appetizer, so much so that you will start wondering can I make my the cheese at home. There is something irresistibly appealing about the chewy and creamy texture of these adorable little bundles of delight. I still remember the night I tried burrata for the first time, it was a long time ago. The hubby and I had a date at a very good French restaurant in Montreal and the chef, whom we knew personally, treated us with a of plate of burrata made in Italy and shipped to the restaurant. I fell in love.The only thing I could think of over my next several visits to that restaurant was the burrata, rather than the course menu that followed. Yes, I am perfectly conscious of the fact that my love for burrata borders obsession, but it is the versatility of the product that seduces me more that anything. Burrata is succulent by itself, and yet there are so many things you can do with it. Today I am suggesting this salad for which you don’t really need a recipe, think of it as a canvas the inspiration for which it the burrata. Put as many burrata balls as you have people around the table and add a generous amount of the tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs and anything else that may seems appetizing to you. I like to serve it along with smoked fish and homemade brown bread. For this salad I used tree tomatoes, one of the wonders of Africa which I first discovered a few years ago when I moved to Kenya, its sweet and sour taste works well in salads. You can of course substitute tree tomatoes for heirloom tomatoes in case your local grocery store is further from the equator than mine.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
2-3 burrata balls
tree tomatoes
cherry or heirloom tomatoes
baby onions
olives
chives
basil
mint
thyme
large sea salt
black pepper
your favorite salad oil

Scatter the tomatoes, onions, olives and fresh herbs over a large platter. Place the burrata in the center. Ground black pepper over the burrata, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle over your best salad oil just before serving.

Serve with homemade brown bread and smoked fish or cold cuts.

Wine suggestion: Pinot Grigio.

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Molten Dulce de Leche Cake

Molten Dulce de Leche Cake is one of the fastest dessert to make and definitely a memorably delicious one but it will require your undivided attention for the timbering of its preparation. I made so many of these over the last 2 weeks while working on the recipe that my darlings at home must be feeling overexposed to dulce de leche by now. I like to add a pinch of salt because it subtlety sharpens the caramel flavor. The cocoa on the other hand, helps achieve a prettier color without really affecting the taste of your Molten Dulce de Leche Cake. This recipe can be doubled to serve 8.

Yields 4 cakes

Ingredients:
400ml of dulce de leche
1 egg at room temperature
2 egg yolks at room temperature
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of salt
2 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
Vanilla ice-cream and caramel syrup for serving

Preheat the oven to 210C/425F.

Butter and flour 4 ramekins and place them in a shallow baking sheet.

Make the batter: Beat the eggs for about 3 minutes, or until light and foamy. Add the dulce de leche, the salt and the cocoa and mix until just combined. Add the flour one spoon at a time and beat until fully incorporated, don’t overbeat.

Bake: Divide the mixture between the ramekins and bake in the lower third of the oven for 11-12 minutes or until the tops have browned but the cakes are still a bit jiggly in the center. Remove from the hot baking sheet and let them cool for a couple of minutes.

Serve: Run a sharp knife around your Molten Dulce de Leche cake and gently invert over a plate. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup.

Wine Suggestions: Muscat based wines, such as Muscat de Rivesaltes, or Loire Valley wines such as Bonnezeaux.

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Very Chocolate Cake

I suppose most you who like baking have an all time favorite chocolate cake recipe and here is mine. I have made this cake a thousand time, changing a little something here and there, omitting the creme de cacao or substituting the dark chocolate for milk chocolate but no matter what I do this chocolate cake is always a hit. It is the kind of safe choice dessert for dinner parties in my house as I honestly don’t remember any of my friends ever leaving a bite behind.
You can of course use chocolate chips for the ganache, but I personally prefer these big 300g chocolate bars such as Lindt or even Milka.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup corn oil (or butter) 100ml oil or 7 Tbs
1 cup sugar
2 cups chocolate syrup 500ml
5 regular eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1Tbs Crème de cacao
1 all purpose flour

For chocolate ganache:
200g dark chocolate (or milk chocolate)
1/2 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 170C.

Brush with oil and flour well an 8-inch spring fold cake pan. Cover its bottom with parchment paper and set aside.

Make the batter: Beat the eggs and sugar until pale, add the oil, vanilla, liquor and chocolate syrup gradually. Add the flour and beat for a few seconds until just combined, don’t overbeat.

Bake: Pour the chocolate batter into the spring fold pan and bake in medium position for about 35-40 minutes or until just set in the middle. Don’t overbake, the center of the cake should be gooey. Let it cool completely before unmoulding.

Make the chocolate ganache: Chop the chocolate using a food processor or a knife. Combine the whipping cream and the chopped chocolate in a small nonstick pot and melt it over gentle heat stirring constantly. If you don’t have a good nonstick pot use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

Glaze: Remove the spring fold and place the cake upside down on a rack (or directly on a serving plate). Carefully remove the bottom of the cake pan and peal off the parchment paper. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake and spread with a spatula.

Decorate and serve.

Make it ahead: This cake can be made up to 3 days in advance. Let it cool completely in the cake pan, then wrap it tight with cling film and refrigerate. An hour of two before your guests arrive glaze the cake and keep in a cool room until you are ready to serve.

Wine Suggestions: Port, Malaga, Maury.

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