I love eating, cooking and especially reading about all different types of food. Every month I'll try recipes from some of my favorite culinary magazines and cook books, review restaurants and even share some of my own creations. I'll post pictures and let you know what works, how they taste and tips to make them better. I'll also enlist some friends around the country to tell you about some great food finds where they live.

Become a follower and check in each week for a new FOODIE TRIAL!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Foodie Trials will be back in a few weeks!

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it's been so long since you've heard from me, but there are a lot of exciting new things happening...I'm moving back to NY in 9 days!  Once I get settled in, THE FOODIE TRIALS will pick up where it left off.  I'm excited to be back in the greatest city in the world.

Thanks for your patience, stay tuned.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A page from my "book" - Jerk Seasoning, Black Bean Soup

As I anticipate my upcoming trip to the Virgin Islands, I think about all the food I love to have that reminds me of family and my culture.  Caribbean food is influenced mainly by African, European and Latin cuisine.  Depending on the island, the influence could be skewed towards one cuisine more than the other.  Either way, Caribbean food is complex, full of flavor and ranges from simple to complicated.

This week, I started the meal with a really delicious Black Bean Soup.  YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS, IT'S SO EASY AND DELICIOUS!  All you need is a pot and a blender.  No soaking of beans involved.

Easy Black Bean Soup
Servings: 2

2 tbsp vegetable oil 
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves peeled, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
4 shakes of Tabasco
2 tsp red or white wine vinegar 
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp red pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp jalapeño pepper finely chopped, no seeds
Kosher salt 

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium-low heat.  Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Saute until vegetables are soft, not burnt, about 8-10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, bay leaves, and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add stock, beans and Tabasco.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes, add the vinegar and 2 tbsp of the cilantro and stir.

For the topping, combine cilantro, red pepper, red onion and jalapeno in a small bowl.  Season with salt.  Set aside. 

Because hot liquids expand when blended, make sure you don't fill the blender more than half way.  Carefully transfer half the beans to the blender.  Remove the cap from the hole in the lid, and cover with a kitchen towel.  Start the blender on low and increase the speed until you get a smooth consistency.  Repeat until you've blended all the beans.

Pour the soup into each bowl and add topping to the middle of each bowl. 

Jerk is one of those seasonings that is a staple in the Caribbean.  It has its roots in Jamaica.  Normally the seasoning is made up of a number of herbs and spices and has a thick paste consistency.  My Jerk is more of a wet marinade.  It can be used with any type of meat or poultry...even fish.

Jerk Seasoning
6 scallions, roughly chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (mild - remove the seeds, spicy - keep the seeds)
1 habanero pepper or scotch bonnet peppers, roughly chopped (hot - remove the seeds, crazy hot - keep the seeds)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Adjust salt and heat levels.

For the best results, marinate your meat or chicken at least 4 hours, overnight is best.  If using fish, it doesn't need as long.

I served my jerk chicken with fresh corn on the cob and white rice. 

Please let me know if you try these and let me know what you think!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A page from my "book" - Oven Fried Catfish, Spicy Curry Chickpeas w/ Brown Rice

Hey everyone.  It's been a few weeks, but I'm back.

This weekend I made a light lunch, but the portions could definitely be increased for a more substantial dinner.  Inspired by curry powder that fell out of my packed pantry, both recipes use the same kind of curry.  I use McCormick Gourmet Collection Curry Powder.  I also added some diced tomato and cucumber to the dish, in addition to some addictive Mango-Ginger Chutney I got from Trader Joe's.

These two recipes are straight out of my kitchen.  I hope you enjoy them.

Oven Fried Catfish
Servings: 2

2 Catfish fillets, cut into large pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
Pinch cayenne
Pinch thyme

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

Place milk in a shallow dish (pie plate works well).  Place catfish pieces in milk.  While the catfish is soaking in the milk, combine the cornmeal and remaining 7 spices in another shallow dish.  Mix well.

Dredge the catfish in the cornmeal mix.  Make sure the fish is evenly coated.  Place on the baking sheet.  Spray the top of each piece liberally with olive oil or cooking spray.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Spicy Curry Chickpeas w/ Brown Rice
Servings: 2-3

1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup green pepper, finely diced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/3 cup carrot, finely diced
1 tsp jalapeño pepper, minced, no seeds
1 cup corn kernels teaspoons 
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp Salt 
Pepper to taste
1 small red potato, cut in half
Hot cooked brown rice
Finley diced cucumber 
Finley diced plum tomato
Mango chutney (optional)

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan, on medium high heat.  Add garlic, sauté 2 minutes.  Add green peppers, onions, carrots, jalapeño pepper and corn, sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add curry and cumin, stir into vegetables and cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Add the beans, broth, ginger, salt, pepper and potato.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium low, cover, simmer for 20 minutes.  Periodically check for heat and spice.  If it's too spicy, add an additional potato and broth.  Serve over the brown rice with cucumber, tomato and chutney.

Let me know what you think about these!  Hope you get a chance to try at your home!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Farmers Market, Fava Bean with Grilled Corn and Mint, Hierloom Tomato Salad

The best thing about San Francisco is the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available.  On Saturday's, we have a great Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building.  It's really hard to not buy everything in site.  The product is local, organic for the most part, and really fresh!

Organic Swiss Chard


Organic Lemons and Oranges

I found some great organic fava beans at the market and decided to use those in a refreshing salad with roasted corn and mint.  I also did a fresh organic hierloom tomato salad with fresh organic basil.  Mr. Steele grilled some rib eye steaks to go along with these light salads.

Here is a tip about fava beans.  If you are looking to feed more than two people, you'll need at least 2 pounds.  Fava's are a time consuming item to prepare.  You have to shuck all the beans out of the pods, which is a chore. But it's worth it.  Fava's have a buttery texture and a subtle bitter and nutty flavor.  Here's a really easy recipe that you can make your own by adding other veggies and herbs.  If you can't find fava beans, you can use edamame.  You can also do this dish warm by simply sauteing all the ingredients in a sauce pan.

Fava Beans with Grilled Corn and Mint

4 lbs unshelled fava beans (2 cups shelled)
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
2 small ears of corn, grilled and stripped of the kernels
¼ cup red pepper, diced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh mint chiffonade
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Remove the beans from pods; throw the pods away. Boil fava beans in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain beans and place into ice water; drain. Peal and discard the outer skin from beans and place beans in a bowl.

Combine onions, corn, red pepper, salt, black pepper, mint.  Add lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

4 Servings

A simple tomato salad is as easy as slicing the tomatoes, adding some really good extra virgin olive oil, salt, and some basil.  The key to the salad I made....the tomatoes.  They have to be hierloom, organic and locally grown.  You'll never feel the same about grocery store tomatoes ever again.  Hierlooms are so sweet, and juicy.  If you are lucky enough to find a farm that grows these, look for not just basic red, brandywine tomatoes, but yellow, zebras (a green striped variety), cherry varieties, etc...

If you are a tomato and mozzarella fan, try burrata instead.  This cheese is my all time favorite.  Burrata is made from mozzarella and cream.  It has this creamy, smooth texture that's just out of this world.  It's very hard to find, but if you can find a cheese shop or Italian market, buy it.  In San Francisco, Cowgirl Creamery has a great burrata by a company called Gioia out of Los Angeles.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Hierloom Tomato Salad

3 Medium size hierloom tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup basil, chiffonade
Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

Arrange tomato slices on a platter, sprinkle basil on top.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt right before serving.

Let me know about your farmer's market in your area and if you have a chance to try any of these dishes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils, Santa Fe Quinoa Salad

Hey everyone!  Needed a break last week from the blog, but I'm back this week with a very easy meal that everyone can make.

The main dish, Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze, Sugar Snap Peas, and Pea Tendrils, is from the April 2010 Bon Appétit.  To be honest, pea tendrils are hard to find, so I had to pass on them and just focus on the snap peas.  What is easy to find is the sweet chili sauce, but it only comes in these huge, 40oz bottles.  Unless you plan on making lots of dishes with this sauce don't bother.  You can pick up a small jar of chili sauce, I used a roasted chili sauce, and either add honey or turbinado sugar.  Add a bit of water to tame the heat down a bit.  The dishes flavor was really complex.  The sweetness in the chili sauce and the sweetness of the snap peas was perfect.

The side dish came from the May 2010 issue if Food & Wine, Santa Fe Quinoa Salad.
This is one of those dishes that you will always go back to.  It's really easy and I really think it could use more veggies.  Don't be afraid to add some.  I was in a pinch and didn't have access to quinoa, so I used my new favorite grain, brown rice coucous.  It has great flavor and I think was a great substitute.

The next couple months I'm keeping it light, so please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas on what you want me to make.

See you soon!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jalapeño-Roasted Potatoes, Zucchini Carpaccio with Homemade Ricotta Cheese

After two weeks off, I was excited to get back into the swing of things with the blog.  This was a pretty easy weekend.  Mr. Steele wanted to do a pork shoulder for Sunday dinner, so I made a few sides.

Jalapeño-Roasted Potatoes
Zucchini Carpaccio with Homemade Ricotta Cheese

The potatoes were from the April 2010 issue of Food & Wine and the Zucchini was from the the April 2010 issue of Bon Appétit.

Both dishes are very easy to make and really delicious.

The Jalapeño-Roasted Potatoes were really delicious, especially since the jalapeno's get nice and crispy, very addictive.  The key here is the high temperature and letting the potatoes get crispy by not turning them. 

The Zucchini Carpaccio with Homemade Ricotta Cheese takes all of 10 minutes to prepare.  This works best if you have a mandoline or another type of slicer that can give you really thin slices.  If you don't have one, pick one up.  You can spend $20 for a hand held or over $200 for a professional one.  I have an old school V-Slicer, which gives you thin and thick slices, and also has a julienne and a larger, french fries type, attachment.

This is a very refreshing salad.  I left off the fresh ricotta because I couldn't get it at the store.  I also used yellow and green squash for some color.  The dressing is so easy and is my go to for all my salads anyway, so it was a familiar flavor. 
So, of course, I've got to give some props to my honey for making another delicious pork shoulder.  Check out how delicious it looks!
See you next time!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A page from my "book" - Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups, Brown Rice and Red Beans, Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

This week I decided to take a break from the mags and give you all a taste of what I can do on my own.  I went the tropical route since Mr. Steele was feening for some fish.  The menu included:

Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups
Brown Rice and Red Beans
Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

Pico de Gallo w/Roasted Corn in Tostones Cups

Pico de Gallo is really simple to make and a refreshing dip or topping for fish.  I paired it with Tostones Cups.  I found a company online that sells these tostones makers, cubanfoodmarket.com, very cool!  This serves about 3-4 people, depending on how you plan on using this, dip vs. inside the tostones cups.

1 ear of fresh corn
4-5 medium, ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sweet Maui onion, diced
1/3 cup red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons jalapeno, minced (add more or less depending on how hot you want it)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 of a lime
2 tsp salt to start, add more if needed

4 large green plantains, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
Canola oil, for frying
Iodized or Table Salt

Preheat oven to 375° F.. Place corn husks on the oven rack and roast for 20-30 minutes or until corn is soft. Let cool.  Peel the husks.  Use a sharp knife and cut corn from the cob into a bowl.  Set aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients up to the lime in a medium bowl and stir lightly.  Season with salt, taste to see if you need more.  Add corn, mix together and chill.

Preheat oil in deep pot or fry machine to 375° F.  Carefully place a few pieces into the oil and fry for 5 minutes or until they start turning light brown. Drain them on a paper-towel lined tray. Place a piece in the tostones maker and press.  This may take a few trials to get the right cup shape.  Once youve pressed a few, return them to the oil and fry again for 3-4 minutes or until they get golden brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

Mound the salsa into the hot cups and serve immediatley!

Brown Rice and Red Beans
I gotta give it up to my girl Melissa Ortiz, she's the one who showed me the basics of some good Puerto Rican beans.  Now, my Mom also makes great beans, but for some reason, Mel's always stuck with me.  Over the years, I've added my own touches to the beans, more vegetables, no Goya Sazón or Adobo.  I try to keep the ingredients as natural as I can.  But hey, if you're in a bind, both Goya Sazón and Adobo can make your beans delicious.  I use the brown rice because it's got a hefty texture and it really holds up to the beans.  Of course, you can use white rice as well.

2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice

2 tsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 brown onion, minced
3 tbsp carrots, minced
3 tbsp green or red pepper, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 can (15.5 oz) red kidney beans, drain only half the can
2 tsp salt
1 medium tomato, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup water
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium sauce pan, stir in rice.  Cover.  Reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until broth is absorbed.  If you want drier rice, use 1/4 cup less broth.

In a medium sauce pan, on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in the pan.  Add garlic, onions, carrots, peppers and saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the oregano, beans, salt, tomato, pepper flakes, bay leaf, water and vinegar.  Turn heat to low and simmer until flavors come together, about 15 minutes.  If you like your beans a bit thinner, add more water, thicker, add less.  Another trick, take a few beans at the end, crush them in a bowl, and return to the pot.  This will thicken the beans up.  Serve with rice.

Lemony Baked Mahi Mahi

The Ferry Building here in San Francisco has a great fish market, and we were able to pick up some fresh, sushi grade Mahi Mahi.  This is a really meaty fish, so normally you can grill and it's at it's best.  We baked it in the oven at 400° F, and it was just as good.

3 half lb filets, mahi mahi
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 400° F.  In shallow glass bowl or Ziploc bag, place fish, and last 4 ingredients.  Marinate for 15-20 minutes.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning over once.  Bake until the fish is cooked through and brown.  You can add some lemon slices and the corn salsa to the fish as topping.

I hope you guys enjoy these dishes.  I'll try to add some more of my favorites really soon.  I'm traveling next week, so I'll try my best to add a posting.  Let's see how things go.  Take care!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Side Dishes - Spring Vegetable Ragout, Spicy Cauliflower

This weekend it was about sides, healthy sides.  Mr. Steele planned on making pork ribs, so I wanted to offset the meat with some healthy sides.  The ribs were great...

I found these two recipes in Body + Soul from April 2010.

Spring Vegetable Ragout
Spicy Cauliflower

As always, the team at Martha Stewart Omnimedia have left these recipes off their website.  So here is the first one:

Spring Vegetable Ragout

  • 3 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 12 ounces  asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2.5 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1.5 cups)
  • 8 radishes, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as chives and tarragon
1. Soak leeks in cold water 5 minutes; lift out and drain.  Repeat until no grit remains on bottom of bowl.  Set aside. 
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add leeks and salt and sauté until leeks are tender, about 2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus then water.  Simmer covered for 2 minutes.  Add snap peas and radishes, cover, and simmer for 2 minutes more.  
3. Stir in mustard until well combined, then swirl in butter and herbs.  Serve immediately
This is a really delicious, quick side dish.  I'm really into radishes now and their bitterness almost becomes sweet when you combine them with the leeks and snap peas.  I, of course, left out the butter and it was perfectly fine.  Although, I'm sure if you used butter, it would have added a creaminess to the dish.  All the produce was fresh and organic, and I think that's why it was so addictive and flavorful.

The next side was the cauliflower. AMAZING PEOPLE.  This one you have to try. 

Spicy Cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded peeled ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, about 2 lbs., cut into large florets
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1-2 small red chiles, thinly sliced, seeds removed for less heat
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add spices and cook until fragrant and golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir in the onion, 3 tablespoons ginger, 3 tablespoons garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until onions are tender and golden at the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Wash and dry pan and return to medium high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil; heat until shimmering.  Add half the cauliflower and brown on one side, 3 to 5 minutes  Remove from pan, and repeat with remaining oil, cauliflower, ginger, and garlic.
3.  Combine batches of cauliflower in pan.  Add water and remaining salt.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in chickpeas and chiles; cook uncovered until chickpeas are heated through and liquid is gone, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir in onions and serve. 

Ok, a few things, you do not need 1/4 cup of ginger...it's overkill.  I only used about 3 tablespoons and it was perfect.  The flavors are really complex in this dish, I think you'll like it.

See you next week

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mussels in White Wine, Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese, Rum and Raisin Cookies, Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

On Sunday we had some guests dining with us, Ed (right) and Sam (left).  Ed and I have known each other for a while.  We met when I was living in Brooklyn about 8-9 years ago.  It's amazing where people end up.  Now he lives about 5 minutes from my place here in SF, and we work for the same company.  I met Ed's friend Sam for the first time last night...he's a sweetheart and very funny!

Anyway, we had a pretty light menu, but the mussels were a lot of work. Let's start there.

Mussels in White Wine from SAVEUR Issue #126

I bought the mussels on Saturday and prepped them for an overnight stay in the fridge.  As soon as you buy them, get them out of the plastic bag.  Mussels are really delicate, so prep them ASAP.  I placed them in a shallow bowl with cold salted water and a little bit of cornmeal.  Place some wet paper towel over the top. This keeps them fresh and the mussels eat the cornmeal and spit out any grit.  The next day, about 1 hour before cooking them, it was prep time.  Get yourself a good food brush and a small knife.  Check each mussel, make sure that it's closed and has no cracks.  Sometimes, if you find one that's open, just give it a light tap, give it a minute, if it closes, it's still good.  If the mussel is no good, throw it out.  Once you find a good one, make sure you brush them really well, get any growth off the shell and pull the "beard" out the side of the shell.  After you clean them, set them aside and start prepping the ingredients in the recipe.  It's really simple!!  The flavor is really delicious.  Make sure you toast some crusty bread because you'll want to soak up all the broth.

Mr. Steele graced us with his famous kale chips as a snack.  These are addictive and really easy to make.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped in half
kosher salt
olive oil

Heat oven to 350°.  Place the kale on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Spray or lightly coat the kale with olive oil and kosher salt.  Bake until ends are crispy and brown. 

My best friend Rona in Memphis requested a vegetarian meal for this week, so I picked a pasta dish.

Rapini is another name for broccoli rabe.  It's got a bitter taste that compliments the tangy goat cheese and the tart lemon.  It's a really easy recipe and would be great as a quick weeknight dinner.  You could easily replace the rapini with spinach.  I added the juice of 1 lemon, used really good extra virgin olive oil and omitted the garlic.


I decided to keep dessert simple and made two cookie recipes.  

Both are quite easy to make, although if you don't have a food processor, the Rum Raisin dough may be difficult to prepare.  Both cookie doughs were not your normal thick sticky consistency.  I used really high quality dried cherries from Michigan that were enormous.  Probably would have been easier if I chopped them a bit.  I also used Ghirardelli chocolate chips which are large.  This also made it hard to form the cookies on the tray.  All that being said, the cookies came out wonderfully.  They were chewy, not super sweet, and had a thick dense texture to them.  Be careful on the Cherry cookies, the bottoms burned easily.  I brought these to work and everyone loved them.

Rum and Raisin Cookies
Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

See you next week!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Potato "Risotto", Frisee-Apple Salad, Devil's Food Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

Hey folks!  Sorry about going dark last week.  I was traveling and my plans to cook in Las Vegas at my Uncle's for his friends didn't work out.

This week, I decided to make the meal I planned for Vegas, which also happens to be Mr. Steele's favorite, meat and potatoes.  And of course, chocolate cake.

So I went back to my Bon Appétit from February 2010 and planned for:

Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Potato "Risotto"
Frisée-Apple Salad
Devil's Food Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

Let's talk about beef tenderloin.  I thought that I would be able to find a small piece of beef tenderloin at my local supermarket and get moving on this meal.  Nope, not that easy.  What I did find is pre-packaged beef tenderloin in seasonings like cracked pepper and full of preservatives.  Not what I needed.  So, off I go to Whole Foods.  I head to the butcher who thankfully, has a tenderloin in the back that he can cut for me.  Pefect, right?!  After he cuts the meat, packaged and rang it up at the scale, he handed me...2lbs of beef tenderloin...that cost...$66.27!!  I almost lost it in the store.
 I couldn't believe how much money this thing cost.  I composed myself and decided that I need to suck it up and just learn from this mistake.

So I started with the Devil's Food Cake with Sour Cream Frosting since it took the longest to prepare.  Now the recipe says "Top Tier", which is in reference to the size of the top tier of a wedding cake.  The recipe calls for two 5" cake pans, to bake the cake.  Not necessary at all.  If you want to keep the same "top tier" look and feel, double the recipe for the cake, use a basic 9" round and simply cut the cake in half and then cut into a small square or circle.  I also doubled the frosting as well, and it turned out to be the perfect amount.  This thing is YUMMY, and I'm not a big milk chocolate fan!  Really easy folks, try this one!

Next up is the Potato "Risotto" from the Beef Tenderloin recipe.  Now Mr. Steele can't eat cheese, so I cooked this up until I needed to add the cream and the cheese and set that aside for him.  I continued the recipe for my portion.  It was good, not mind blowing.  I probably could have concocted this one myself.  It's pretty easy, so for all my followers who've been asking for easy recipes, this is one.

My very expensive Beef Tenderloin Medallions were delicious.  The simplicity of the seasoning, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, was perfect for such a delicate piece of beef.

I seared the tenderloins in a pan with very hot olive oil.  The apartment got a bit smoky but it was worth it to get that wonderful crust on each side.  Just open a window and light a candle.  Once you take a bite, you won't care about how smokey your kitchen was.  It was delicious!!  The medallions are best served medium rare.  It only takes about 5 minutes on each side to cook these perfectly.  If you aren't confident about the timing, use a meat thermometer to test when the internal temperature is 130–140°F.

The last piece of the puzzle was the Frisée Apple Salad.  Frisée is really hard to find people!!  I went to three shops, nothing.  So I used a mixed musclen salad that had frisée in it.  This is a very easy, refreshing salad that went really well with the creaminess of the potatoes and the wonderfully tender beef.

I really recommend trying these recipes from this week.  If you can find beef tenderloin that's less than $22 per lb, go for it.  Or, if you're feeling like a treat, go for the full monty!

See you next week!  Please send comments, let me know if you've tried any of the recipes or if you have any suggestions!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday Brunch in NY - Potato-Onion Frittata

This past weekend I went to New York to visit my folks for about 2 1/2 days.  On Sunday morning, I decided to make a quick and easy brunch dish before I had to head back to San Francisco at 3pm.

I didn't have much time so I wanted to make something that didn't require a trip to the supermarket for special ingredients.  I found the Potato-Onion Frittata recipe in the February 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I generally like to provide a link to my recipes, but for some reason, MSL has not uploaded any recipes from 2010 onto their website.  There are a ton of recipes on the site for various frittata dishes, so I'll list the ingredients and you can follow these instructions:

Serves 8 to 12
  • 1 pound small new potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ounce sharp white chedder, grated (1/2 cup)
  • 10 large eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Click INSTRUCTIONS for the basic step by step details on how to make the dish.

More or less it's the same process.  The only difference is at the end, you have to add the sour cream before you place in the oven  Just gently stir it in with the tip of a knife.

This is a really quick and easy recipe and actually very tasty.  I cut it in half because it was just three of us, but even then it was a lot!  I sprinkled a little Spanish paprika on the top before broiling because it ads a hint of flavor and color.  I personally do not like "brown", well done eggs, they just taste odd to me, too close to burnt.  I served it with some fresh fruit, but it would also be great with a little mesclun salad drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

There is so much room for embellishment here.  Adding fresh or even dried herbs would be great.  Fresh veggies like tomato, spinach, peppers and mushrooms.  Of course, various pork based items would be terrific as well (bacon, prosciutto, ham, sausage).  Hmmm, I may have to try some prosciutto next time.

My parents loved it and after some sad goodbyes, I was off to San Fran once again, leaving my hometown behind.  I'll have to make something a bit more elaborate when I come back to see them in March.

Apologies on the picture, didn't have my regular camera with me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Menu for Sunday January 31st

This Sunday I invited my girlfriend Shannon over to not only have dinner with me, but also help out.  She's an amazing cook and really knowledgeable about food and nutrition.  She's a registered nutritionist and has her own website.  Make sure you check it out!

Dishin Nutrition

For tonight's meal, Mr. Steele picked the Pickle Brined Chicken from the February 2010 issue of Food & Wine (pg. 96).  We also made a really great snack that I'm hooked on, Crispy Chickpeas, also from the February 2010 issue of Food & Wine (pg. 102).  For dessert, we went with the Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso from the February 2010 issue of Bon Appétit (pg. 85).

Let's start with the Crispy Chickpeas.  This is super easy.  The combination of the cumin and coriander is really delicious.  I don't think you need all the flour, so just eyeball it.  Make sure when you fry them up, don't crowd them or they won't get nice and crispy.  Season when they come out the oil with some fine salt.  These are really addictive.

Let's talk about this Pickle Brined Chicken.  I don't think this is worth the time and effort.  The chicken gets brined in pickle juice overnight, ok not a big deal.  But the process you go through for the minuscule amount of dark meat it's served over is too complicated.  I would have rather stopped at that point and just made soup from the stock and the dark meat.  Anyway after the dark meat cooled down, I had Shannon pull the meat off the bone.  Meanwhile, I pulled the chicken out the brine.  The key here is to get the pan nice and hot and really get a nice crust on the skin.   Let it get really brown or you won't get the right flavor.  About 5 minutes before I took the chicken out the oven, I started the chard.  It was perfect timing, the chard came out great!

Flavor wise, it was good.  You could tell the chicken was in the pickle brine.  Wasn't the best chicken I ever made flavor wise, but it was decent.

To finish off the meal, we had the Milk Chocolate-Caramel Tart with Hazelnuts and Espresso.  Mr. Steele isn't a fan of hazelnuts, so we substituted with pecans.  I also couldn't find the cocoa nibs, although Shannon picked some up for me today, thanks girl!  I used more pecans to replace the nibs for the top of the tart.  There are 3 steps for the tart that require chilling in the fridge, so make sure you start early or the day before.  I did the crust and the caramel before Shannon came over. 

She then helped me with the chocolate topping.  It came out beautifully!  The buttery crust and the chewy caramel was such a great compliment with the chocolate.  I brought the rest to work today, I think everyone liked it.

So thanks to Shannon for all her help.  I'm sure this won't be the last time she's a part of The Foodie Trials.  See you next week, I'll be doing another Foodie Trial installment from Long Island, NY.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Everyday Food - Black Bean Burgers & Good Housekeeping - Chocolate Pudding

At work I have a magazine fairy, actually a couple.  These wonderful folks drop off tons of magazines at my desk, and in my mailbox.  Since I normally eat lunch at my desk, I usually sift through them pretty quickly and hand off to my co-worker Tiffany.  I think she's got 6 or 7 piled up by now.  Anyway, I was looking through a Good Housekeeping (Feb 2010), which I've never read before, and noticed an interesting section called (Almost) Vegetarian.  There was a recipe for Black Bean Burgers...hmmm...that sounds like something Mr. Steele might like to eat during football.  So Sunday I promised my honey a hearty vegetarian meal.

So the Black Bean Burger...

I was skeptical the second time I read the GH recipe.  I remembered that my Everyday Food (Jan/Feb 2010) also had a Black Bean Burger recipe (pg 110).  I decided to compare the two since the GH recipe had mayo which might have been weird for Mr. Steele.  I decided to go with the recipe from the Everyday Food.  It had brown rice, and more natural ingredients.  I probably should have stuck with the GH recipe.  First off, flavor wise, it was decent (I added 1/4 tsp coriander), but these patties just didn't set up.  There was no "binder" in the recipe.  You are supposed to heat the baking sheet in the oven and then place the patties on them.  After 15 minutes, they were still mushy.  I had to end up taking them out the oven, cool a bit, and pan fry with some olive oil to get a decent crust on them.  Even after that, they were still falling apart.

So I salvaged what I could, and piled the toasted whole wheat buns with heirloom tomatoes, avocado and baby greens.  Not bad, just looked messy.  I scratched the yogurt sauce.

I served it with a red cabbage slaw.   It was very hearty, definitely filled you up.  Would I make this again, nope.  I wonder if the people at Everyday Food had this issue and just kept it to themselves.  Oh well, at least I tried.  Let me know if you try this and have the same issue or have a better Black Bean Burger recipe.

Chocolate Pudding

This one is a keeper.  It's from the Feb 2010 Good Housekeeping (pg. 161). 

It's got really great chocolate flavor and is really easy.  Just be patient at the end when you're whisking, it'll thicken up.  It gets really nice and thick, beats Jell-o any day!  Add some whipped cream to the top, a fresh strawberry and some chocolate shavings.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bon Appétit - Jan 2010 - Coconut Cake with Chocolate Chunks and Coconut Drizzle

Yesterday, I made the Coconut Cake from the January 2010 Bon Appétit, page 91.

 Coconut Cake recipe

While searching for the recipe link on line, I noticed that Bon Appétit spelled "coconut" wrong.  Come on guys, my first recipe and we already have a spelling error...it's c-o-c-o-n-u-t.

Anyway, this was a particularly easy recipe to make.  The coconut ingredients are very easy to find.  They made a note that the unsweetened shredded coconut was available at specialty stores, so I went to Whole Foods first instead of Safeway which is my go-to supermarket.  No need.  Safeway had tons of unsweetened shredded coconut, at half the price of the coconut I bought at Whole Foods. 

The recipe calls for shredded coconut in the batter.  I had bought flaked from Whole Foods and I think that may have attributed to the different texture.  Also, the orange zest can get overpowering, so follow the recipe or use a little less, or else you might as well add "orange" to the recipe title.

The topping gets brown pretty quickly, so make sure you loosely cover the top with some foil.

Overall, the cake is very soft and moist, a little crumbly even.  The coconut flavor is subtle, but the glaze is delicious and helps bring some extra sweetness to the cake.