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!

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.