Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Hanger Steak with Bordelaise Sauce, Whipped Potatoes and Creamed Spinach

Recently, my mom gave me the book The New Brooklyn Cookbook as a gift. I was quite excited because this had been on my short list of cookbooks since it came out last year. I absolutely love dining out in Brooklyn, and although Manhattan has some great food and more restaurants, I don't hesitate to say that Brooklyn has some of the best food in the five boroughs if not the best. Living here has been a real foodie paradise, which I have truly enjoyed.

The cookbook has several recipes hand-picked from each of Brooklyn's best restaurants, many of which I have been to (including some favorites like Rose Water, Al Di La, Applewood and Farm on Adderley), and some which I have yet to try.  The first recipe that I tried from this book is from Dressler, located in Williamsburg.  I live in Park Slope so I don't make it to Williamsburg too often although I am well aware that they have some incredible foodie spots. Dressler is definitely one that I can't wait to try (especially after the success of this recipe).  Brooklyn has four Michelin-starred restaurants, and Dressler (located across the street from Peter Lugar's Steakhouse, another Williamsburg classic) is one of them. I can't wait to try it, but for now here's their delicious recipe for Grilled Hanger Steak with Horseradish Whipped Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Sauce Borderlaise. This is the perfect meal for Valentine's Day!

This is a great dinner recipe - every aspect of this meal was just perfect! I cut the recipe in half, as it serves six, but below is the full recipe.

Dressler's Grilled Hanger Steak with Horseradish Whipped Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Sauce Borderlaise

Sauce borderlaise
2 T canola oil
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1/4 of a cup)
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 spanish onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
6 garlic cloves, diced
2 cups dry red table wine (I used Malbec, not the driest of wines, but it was great with this recipe)
4 cups veal stock (I used beef stock because my mother was visiting and she does not eat veal)
1 fresh sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
coarse salt

Whipped potatoes
1 1/2 lbs idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 T creme fraiche
2 T horseradish (I used Golds)
coarse salt and black pepper

Creamed spinach
2 T unsalted butter
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh spinach, stems removed, washed and drained
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 T flour
kosher salt
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg

six 10 oz hanger steaks, trimmed of fat (I obviously used three and cut the entire recipe in half)
Salt and pepper for seasoning

First I made the French borderlaise sauce. Heat the canola oil in a medium sauce pan and add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Saute until the vegetables are caramelized, which takes about 15 minutes. Next, add the red wine (don't use cooking wine here, but quality table wine)and reduce until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns and bring the solution to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is syrupy and coats the spoon, which takes about an hour. Strain the sauce and set aside.

While the sauce was simmering, I made the whipped horseradish potatoes. These are genius - the combo of the horseradish and the potatoes made for some of the best whipped/mashed potatoes that  I have ever had.

Place the potatoes (prepped first) in a pot and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and cook at a boil until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Combine the milk, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover to keep warm. Drain the potatoes. Rather than mash with a ricer, I beat the potatoes in my stand mixer to whip them. Add the warm milk mixture and combine in the mixer. Fold in the creme fraiche and horseradish, and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

To make the creamed spinach, which has long been one of my favorite steakhouse side dishes, melt 1 T of the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for two minutes until translucent. raise the heat to high and add the spinach, stirring until wilted, which takes about three minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander for 10 minutes.

Melt the remaining butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for about four minutes. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the flour/butter mixture and whisk constantly until it thickens, which only takes about a minute. Season to taste with salt, cayenne and nutmeg. I made the creamed spinach slightly spicy with the cayenne pepper, which was just wonderful.

Season the steaks as desired - I used salt and pepper. Grill the steaks in a grill pan over medium heat as desired. The book suggests ten minutes for medium rare, but we like outs medium-well so we grilled them much longer. Grill on both sides, and when they are done, allow to rest for five minutes. Then slice the meat against the grain into 1/4 inch slices.

Serve the steak with the potatoes, creamed spinach and drizzle with warm sauce borderlaise. Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Ratatouille

I had never made ratatouille before, but I figured I would give it a try, even though it is February and I do not have a garden full of fresh homegrown or farmers' market vegetables to make it with.  Plus, I absolutely  love the Disney/Pixar movie. Such a great culinary classic movie!

I searched though quite a few recipes in my search for the perfect ratatouille, and ultimately I based by recipe on this recipe for grilled ratatouille from Bobby Flay of the food network. Of course, it not being the summer, I broiled rather than grilled and it was pretty delicious. I chose to serve the ratatouille over penne, and it was great. I can't wait to make this vegetarian classic this summer with local farmers' market veggies. This makes quite a bit - probably enough to serve six, so we had plenty of leftovers.

Sasha's Ratatouille (based on Bobby Flay's Recipe)
2 yellow zucchini, chopped into 1 inch slices
2 yellow zucchini, chopped into 1 inch slices
1 medium sized eggplant, chopped into 1 inch slices
2 red bell peppers, pared and chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, pared and chopped
1 red onion, chopped into medium sized pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of Olive Oil plus two tablespoons
4 cloves garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
three sprigs of fresh thyme
penne or angel hair pasta

Place all of the cut up vegetables (minus the tomatoes) on a baking sheet lined with foil, or a broiling pan. Add about a half cup of Olive Oil and toss to coat the vegetables. Season and cook at about 400 for about 30 minutes, until the vegetable start to brown a bit.  Add the tomatoes (each sliced in half) and the herb and garlic. Serve on top of angel hair pasta or penne.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Devil's Food Cake with Whipped Peanut Butter Ganache

Chocolate cake - what could be better, right? For me the ideal chocolate cake is one that is quite chocolatey, but not overly rich. I like something that is a little bit on the light side, so that it isn't overkill. That's what I love best about a traditional chocolate devil's food cake. Now devil's food cake is traditionally made with a chocolate ganache, which is great, as I love chocolate ganache. I found a recipe for a  chocolate devils food cake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum but decided to top it with a whipped chocolate peanut butter ganache recipe that I found elsewhere in the same book. Now, if chocolate ganache is good, the whipped chocolate peanut butter ganache was amazing and was the perfect combination with the cake. The recipe below was used by me to make two cakes (I am not good at trimming cakes and stacking them to make layer cakes, as all bakers have their shortcomings, so I just made two cakes). Apologies on the picture quality - my camera ran out of batteries!

Rose's Devil's Food Cake
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted and leveled off
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter
2 9 x 2 inch round cake pans

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk the chocolate and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and cool for about an hour at room temperature.

Combine  the eggs, yolks, sour cream and vanilla in another bowl.

Add all the dry ingredients to your stand mixer and cut in the butter and mix at medium speed until crumbly. Add the egg mixture and beat on medium speed for a minute and a half until smooth. Then, with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the chocolate mixture.  Beat, raising the speed, for about 30 seconds until fully incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake cakes for about 30-40 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Allow the cakes to cool before trimming and/or frosting.

Rose's Whipped Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
8 oz dark chocolate
6 T creamy peanut butter (Jif)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and whisk in the peanut better until melted and combined. The  whisk in the heavy cream. Place mixture in basin of your stand mixer and beat on high with the whisk attachment. You will get a nice, light, fluffy and thick ganache after a few minutes. Spread on the cakes using a spatula and enjoy!
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