Friday, March 02, 2007

A New Day...A New Menu

Every thing old is new again. All the fanciest dishes in the world can't beat a good steak cooked to your personal preference, whether it be rare, medium-rare, medium, or God forbid...well-done! Okay! Okay! We all have our individual ways. Mine choice is medium-rare. Invariably, I would cringe when an order was presented to me in a restaurant kitchen, in which a diner had requested 'well-done'. To me, it always seems such a waste of a good steak. However, as I mentioned, it is the individual's be it. Either which way, there's nothing worse than being presented with your steak, which you've been drooling over just at the thought of it and it's not cooked the way you desire. You've been thinking about it all day long and wham! In a couple of minutes...or in the case of 'over-cooked', lots of minutes...there in front of you, smack dab in the middle of your plate, is something that doesn't at all resemble what you had in mind! A moment like that can be very distressing! One day I'll tell you about a meal I received once when I was "on the road" traveling for the island. I shed tears over it! I'll keep that story for another day....just to keep you interested! Here are a couple of "oldies, but goodies" for you to chew over on the weekend.

Moules A La Mariniere: Heat about 50ml olive oil in a large saucepan and sweat 1 chopped onion and 1 (or more) cloves of garlic, crushed over low heat for 10 minutes or until transparent but not brown. Add 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme and 1kg (2lb) mussels, de-bearded and cleaned. Cook over high heat, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add 125ml dry white wine and 200ml cream. Cover and boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes, or until the mussels open, discarding any that don't open. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, including parsley, chives and basil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. To serve, divide mussels among individual serving dishes...or in one large bowl in the centre of the table. Spoon sauce over the mussels and serve immediately with crusty bread for the luscious juices. Don't forget the finger bowls!

Pepper Steak: Grab hold of 4 beef fillets (if you're serving four or if you have a massive appetite!), about 200g each. Season beef with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a little olive oil in heavy-based frying pan/skillet until it just begins to smoke and sear the steaks quickly over medium to high heat. Reduce heat and cook to your liking. Remove from pan and rest on a wire rack in a warm place for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a frying pan and cook 1 onion, finely diced, 1 clove of garlic, crushed (me...I would add two...but that's me...I love garlic!), and 4 tablespoons green peppercorns over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons brandy (or cognac, if you're feeling extravagant or your bank balance is!). Allow the alcohol to get a little warm and then flame. Add 1/2 cup of beef stock (not too strong) and 1 cup cream. Reduce to desired consistency by simmering. Stir in parsley. To serve, spoon sauce on warm serving plates and top with steaks, cut in half if you like...or you can leave the steak whole...your choice. Also, if you don't like cream in your sauce, don't add any cream. Again, it's personal choice.

Pear and Mascarpone Tart: Sweet-crust pastry: Combine 185g sifted plain flour with 90g sugar in a bowl. Using fingertips (your own, of course), rub in 125 unsalted butter, chilled and roughly chopped, until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in enough iced water to mix to a soft dough. Turn out on a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes (the pastry, that is...not you!). Roll out pastry and line a dep, 22cm, buttered flan tin with removable base. Line with greaseproof paper, weight with dried beans or rice and bake blind at 180C (375F) for 10 minutes. Remove beans and paper and cook for 10 minutes longer.

Filling: Core and peel 3 firm pears. Cut into thick slices. Melt 30g butter in a large frying pan and stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Add the pears and cook over medium to high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Arrange over base of the prepared tart shell. Whisk 375g mascarpone with 5 lightly beaten eggs, 110g caster sugar, 3 tablespoons dark rum and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence until well combined. Pour over pears and bake at 160C (300-320F) for 1 hour, or until firm, covering the top with foil during cooking if surface browns too quickly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Oh...I nearly forgot the Rosemary Roasted Potatoes! Out to your garden you go...dig up 1 large thin-skinned potato per person plus one for the pan. Cut the potatoes into large chunks. You, of course, have pre-heated the oven to 425F/220C. In a large bowl, combine 2-3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped coarsely, 1-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper and as much crushed garlic as you like. Toss in the potatoes until they are well-coated. Spread out the potatoes in one layer on a lipped oven tray and roast for 10 minutes or so. Using a spatula, turn the potatoes over so they crisp on both sides, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until they are soft in the centre (a bit like me!) when tested with a fork or skewer. Season to taste and serve with the pepper steak.

I think the above should, at least, suffice for one meal over the weekend.

Don't forget to open a bottle or two of a good Cabernet Sauvignon to go with that steak!


(If you can't partake this weekend, perhaps next will give you something to look forward to!)


  1. 1.Sorry to hear about the snakes last supper. Marilyn has lost one of her customers to a hawk right in town. The folks let the little dog out into the backyard to go wee and the bird swept down right in front of them and took him.
    2.I thought Mascarpone was arrested in Chicago during the prohibition.
    3.I've always said that consistency in restaurant food was key. The steak you get tonight should taste just like the one you got three weeks ago when you there. I liked your recipes except for the Mascarpone guy you cooked up.

  2. Hi there, Cliff,

    Mascarpone was Al's first cousin...and the first to be cooked, too!

    I've heard about hawks doing similar...gruesome to witness and know there's naught you can do in such a situation.

    You are so right about the consistency in a restaurant, Cliff. If they can master that, (as long as it's consisently good!), they can't lose! a devil and try Mascarpone...he's a pretty smooth guy! ;)

  3. The way to a man's sure know how to lure people back to your site!

    Apologies for a few no-shows of late I've been up to my fetlocks in work related to the resumption of Uni. It is going to be a challenging year.

    (Confession: I do sometimes peek in but if the post is a long one I tend to tip-toe away with lots of promises to return later 'when I have time'.)

  4. That is no excuse, Lee...but this time, and this time only, I forgive you! ;)

    Nice to see you.

  5. Lee, I agree with you totally about steak. I like mine rare to medium rare. I make a habit of telling my server when ordering that if the steak is overcooked, I will return it and I do! If more customers did this rather than settling for the overcooked version, the restaurant will get the message. On one occasion, I returned a steak 3 times. Management ended up giving it to me for free, which they should have.

    BTW, your recipes are great! Are those your pictures?

  6. Although I believe it "might" be against the law in Texas to pan cook a steak like your recipe, instead of a bbq pit, it does look pretty tasty! I like my cow still mooing when I eat it. It breaks my heart to "burn" a steak for my mama, but that's the way she likes it.

  7. G'day Neo, Robbie and Southern....

    Nope...they're not my pics, Neo.

    Here's a napkin to mop up all that drooling, Robbie!

    There is no law that states that you can't cook that steak on a barbecue, Southern...however, while the steak is 'resting', the sauce is made in the same pan and the flavour from the steak permeates the sauce. Also, the juices that have flowed from the 'resting' steak are added to the sauce, again enhancing its flavour.

    And now I've talked myself into hunger! ;)

  8. I bought a couple of ribeyes for dinner tomorrow and I'm looking forwrad to that already.

    I look like the sound of pear tart too; can you do it without rum?

  9. you have my permission to come by and cook for me anytime ! heh..

  10. I must have read your mind, Liz...either that or peeked into your shopping bag! can leave out the rum...that's not a problem.

    Enjoy your meal. :)

  11. Wonderful pics again, Lee. I'm so hungry now! I agree with you totally about steaks. There's nothing worse than their not being served to your liking. Here, they are cut very thin and if you ask for "well done" you get medium rare - which is fine by me, for I, too, have come to believe that cooking them till they are charred is a waste. The ones in your pic are exactly as I like them. I'm trying out your recipes very soon! Buona domenica, my friend.

  12. Good to see you, Welsh...I always ask my butcher to cut my steak thick. It's always wise, in my belief, to befriend and be pleasant to one's local butcher! That ensures you always get what you want! ;) Seriously, though...butchers do appreciate it very much if you know exactly what cuts you want etc., and know a bit about meat. I like butchers. I think they must always attend the same training school as every one I've met have a great sense of humour. I guess they get rid of their frustrations at the public by chopping and sawing into sides of beasts! I know often I did, by pounding out chicken breasts or meat! ;)

    I'm only paying you back, Welsh for all the times you make me feel hungry! Ha!

  13. Hi Lee,

    Mmmm... looks yummy. I'm not a big fan of mussels -- but Marc likes them, so he can eat that part. There's a steakhouse here in our neck of the woods that does really good steaks (and it's a chain of all things!). They top them with a flavored butter (with seasoned salt, maybe?) that is sooooo good!

    Of course, if I'm going to put a sauce on my steak, pepper sauce is about the best. It all looks yum!

  14. Wow, that looks good. Next time its raining and I can't use the grill I want to try this. The roasted potatoes, too. Tonight we're grilling country cut style pork ribs. I'm having home brewed Coopers, the wife is having Black Opal wine. Aussies are seriously marketing wines here. Lindemans, Yellow Tail, and Black Opal are in most grocery stores. No need to go to a specialty booze store for them. I have only tried a Lindemans (liked it) so don't know about the others.

    I made your chicken chili crockpot dish and it went over rather well. Left the pot on low, as opposed to high, before going to work and had a ready meal for all by supper time. I read somewhere all real crockpots only have two settings. It is a very wife friendly dish too, no threat to her kitchen in the process. Thanks for the recipes.

  15. Just remember, Stormy, if you do cook mussels not to over-cook them...even slightly under-cook them as they will continue cooking in the shells for a short while when you take them out of the pot. I love pepper sauce, too. And of course I love fresh mushrooms with steak.

    Gto...I'm glad you're still trying the Aussie wine. Also happy to learn that your crock-pot chicken turned out well...such a labour-saver, isn't it? Having a meal ready for you at the end of a long day is a huge plus. Also, so little washing up! Those pork ribs sound tempting, too. I had friends to lunch Saturday week ago, and I had barbecued pork ribs as part of the fare. I love them.

    Happy Birthday to both of you Texans and to your families! Enjoy your weekend. :)

  16. Chicken Chili crockpot dish? How did I ever miss that one? Searching now for that one! I love crockpot cooking! Mine is programmable and has low and high. When it is done, it switches to warm for as long as needed. 2nd best birthday present I had received. The twins was the best, don't cha know!

  17. Southerntragedy...have a look at 2nd November 2006...."I Couldn't Help Myself...I Just Had To Do It" post...that's the one with the crock-pot recipes.

    I reckon the twins would have been a great birthday present! :)

  18. Ah! The twinnies were the best Christmas presents! Thank you so much for the crockpot recipes! Cordon Blue in a crockpot? Can't wait to try that one! Yuuummmy!

  19. Oh! The twins were Christmas not your birthday...sorry for the misunderstanding ST..great gifts, no matter when! :)

    I hope you enjoy those recipes, southern...I don't have a crock-pot...never have had. I really don't have a need for one but I can see they would be very handy for some people.

  20. Hi Lee ~~ Great recipes and I will try some of them. So sorry about the little kitten, damn snakes.
    Thanks for your comments, I hope tomorrow goes well and the kdney stone is shattered under general anaesthetic I hope to post again on Tuesday night. Hope to be Ok when Peter is here later in the month.
    Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

  21. Hi Lee,
    I came over from Liz's site. I'm a transplanted Australian, in Canada for 45 years.
    That marscapone pear tart looks good, I might try it.