Grilled Steak Sandwich with Portobellos, Grilled Onions and Fontina

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This is a killer sandwich — and that’s coming from a big sandwich lover. And guess what?It’s a Tyler Florence recipe. Big surprise, I know. There are so many awesome flavors going on here: garlic and rosemary on the steak, balsamic vinegar alongside the meaty portobellos and red onion, sharp fontina cheese and the most awesome aioli, bright with spicy arugula and acid from the lemon. Just awesome. All on some crunchy, chewy ciabatta. I could seriously eat this every single night. Try me.

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TW’s Tips

  • I had some pretty big shallots and found that the roasting time wasn’t sufficient to get them nice and tender — you want them well cooked and soft to the touch. If you have bigger shallots, cut them up or break them apart.
  • You can make the mayo ahead — just keep in the fridge.
  • Get some good quality fontina to really get the good flavor you want here.
  • Be generous with the mayo — it’s delish.
  • Be prepared — it’s a messy sandwich, but SO worth it!

Steak

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • Needles from 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, preferably about 3/4 inch thick

Mayonnaise

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 2 bunches coarsely chopped arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Everything Else

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 pound fontina
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, split horizontally
  • 1 bunch arugula

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the outer layers of skin from the garlic and shallot. Smash them open with the flat side of a knife to break up the cloves. Set both down on a reasonably sized square of aluminum foil. Drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil on top, and add the rosemary and bay leaf. Wrap securely in the aluminum foil. Place it on a pan if you want to be extra safe, and let it bake for 30 minutes.

While you’re waiting for your garlic and shallot to roast, start the mayonnaise. If you have a food processor, blend all of the mayonnaise ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper and pop in the refrigerator.

Once the garlic and shallot are done roasting, let them sit out to cool for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf and carefully pour any juices into the food processor. Peel the garlic cloves and shallots and toss into the processor with 1 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper and pulse until well mixed. Coat both sides of the steak with the olive oil mixture. Set it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least two hours or overnight, flipping it halfway through.

When you’re ready to cook the steak, take it out to let it warm up a little while you slice your mushrooms and onions. Lay the mushrooms and onion slices in a shallow platter, drizzle with the vinegar and oil, and season with salt and pepper. Try not to break up the onion slices into rings, they are easier to grill as slices. Use a grill or heat up a pan over medium-high heat, and cook the steak for seven minutes on each side– you may need to adjust this time if your steak is thinner or thicker than recommended.

Once the steak is done, move it to a plate to let it rest for 10 minutes. Saute the mushrooms and onions over medium heat. Once they’re done, remove them from the pan (the plate you set the steak on is a good place to put them) and set your bread in the pan to toast. Slice the steak against the grain as thinly as you can.

To assemble the sandwich, spread the mayonnaise on the bread. Add the steak and veggies. Top with the cheese and a bit of arugula.

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Open-Face Blue Moon Burgers with ‘Shrooms

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As the 4th of July often involves grilling and burgers, in the spirit of Independence Day grub (one day late), I offer this ahhh-mazing burger. Courtesy of Rachael Ray, it’s the Open-Face Blue Moon Burger with ‘Shrooms…and it will knock your socks off. What makes a burger so good? Well, besides the well-cooked, juicy burger itself, in this case it’s the combo of pungent blue cheese, earthy mushrooms, bright parsley and spicy arugula, all on a crunchy, thick piece of bread with well-seasoned tomatoes underneath. Suffice it to say that the flavors in this are pretty crazy. The mushroom-blue cheese sauce is so delicious that I could drink it straight from the plan.

This is definitely a knife-and-fork kind of burger, and I’m okay with that. It just means there’s lots of delicious, messy stuff going on with it. And it’s pretty awesome when the sauce and burger soften the crusty bread just a little bit and you can sop up all that goodness in one bite.

TW’s Tips

  • I didn’t use 2 whole pounds of beef and I definitely make smaller, more realistic size portions. A quarter pound burger is pretty big, and Rachael calls for a 1/2 pound — yikes. That’s a lotta beef.
  • Baby arugula works well for this, and you won’t need to de-stem.
  • Not the end of the world if you can’t find a yellow tomato. It just looks prettier with some variety in color.

Happy Fourth!

Open-Face Blue Moon Burgers with ‘Shrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, a generous handful
  • 4 thick slices country-style crusty bread
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 small bunch arugula, washed and thick stems removed
  • 1 red beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
  • 1 yellow beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
  • 4 ounces good-quality blue cheese, crumbled

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground sirloin, Worcestershire sauce and chopped shallot. Mix thoroughly. Score the meat with your hand, marking 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a large 1-inch-thick patty. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the patties liberally with some salt and pepper, and then drizzle the patties with a little EVOO and place in the hot skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the patties are firm to the touch and cooked through.

Preheat the broiler.

While the burgers are cooking, preheat a second large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO and butter. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and spread them out in an even layer, resisting the temptation to stir for a few minutes to let the mushrooms start to brown. Once brown, go ahead and stir, continuing to cook for 2 minutes, then add the onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring every now and then, for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to look tender. Add the chicken stock, bring it up to a bubble, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to combine; taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

While the burgers and the mushrooms are working, toast the bread slices under the broiler until they are golden on both sides.

Coarsely chop the basil and arugula.

Place a piece of toast on each serving plate. Top each piece of toast with 1 slice of red tomato and 1 slice of yellow, and season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the arugula-basil mixture and put a cooked burger on top of that. Add the blue cheese crumbles to the mushrooms, stir to combine, and top each burger with the mushroom-blue cheese mixture. Grab a fork and knife and dig in.

Hot Weather Meal: White Bean Tuna Salad

I hate to admit it, but San Diego has made me soft. I grew up in New Hampshire enduring weather from opposite ends of the spectrum — from negative temperatures and feet of snow to hot, humid, 100-degree summers to rain, sleet, hail, ice…you name it. But now living in San Diego, I like my perfect 70-75 degree weather quite a lot, thankyouverymuch, and after a week or so of 85-90 degree days, I’ve had it! I’m melting here! (Disclaimer: I don’t have air conditioning in my house and I normally don’t need it — it’s just a few times a year when it’s painful. This is one of those times.) I spent today searching for coffee shops with air conditioning where I could hang out and not be sweating.

The first thing I did when I sat down in said coffee shop? Google search for hot weather meals. I just couldn’t imagine the thought of turning on my oven — or my stove for that matter — and making my little house any hotter than it is already. And I found a great little recipe that made me very happy: White Bean Tuna Salad by Giada. Not only did I not have to cook — I barely had to do anything! It was super easy and really tasty and flavorful as well.

The trick to this is making sure you use chunk light tuna packed in oil — NOT water. It makes the tuna more moist and you get lots of flavor in the oil, which Giada uses as the base for the dressing. Mix the tuna in with canned white beans (easy!), grape tomatoes, capers, some red onion, salt and pepper, and dress with oil/red wine vinegar, throw it on some arugula and you’re good to go! I ate this outside at my table tonight.

TW’s Tips

  • Use oil-packed tuna, not water-packed.
  • I would consider cutting the tomatoes in half. She doesn’t call for it, but it would spread the tomato out so you get some in each bite.
  • I’m not a big red onion fan so I used a small shallot, which is more mild, and it was delicious.
  • The dressing made a lot, so I ended up draining some off at the end. Maybe cut it by 1/3.

Enjoy, and stay cool!

White Bean Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-ounce) cans dark meat tuna, packed in olive oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannelini white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup small capers, nonpareil in brine, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 6 fresh basil leaves

Directions

In a large bowl, add the tuna, reserving the olive oil in a separate small bowl. Break tuna into bite-size pieces with a large fork. Add the beans and capers. Into the bowl of olive oil, add the red wine vinegar. You should have 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil – add more extra-virgin olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing on the tuna, bean and caper mixture and allow the flavors to infuse while slicing the vegetables. Add the onion and tomatoes to tuna mixture and toss gently.

Place the arugula on a large decorative platter and top with tuna mixture. Tear fresh basil leaves over the top and serve immediately.

Strip Steaks and Blue Cheese Spaghetti

As I’ve said before, I love cheese, and this recipe featuring blue cheese spaghetti had me intrigued. Blue cheese? With pasta? And steak? It sounded brilliant. I had to give it a whirl. The result was rich and delicious and made me feel like I should be drinking a dirty martini. (Tip #1: serve this meal with a dirty martini.)

Why a martini? This dish has big flavors that would stand up to it. The steak is hearty and delicious, cooked to a perfect medium rare. And the pasta is quite the accompaniment. The blue cheese is bold and pungent, and once you add in some spicy arugula and top the pasta with bacon, it packs even more punch.

TW’s Tips

  • The garlic chive butter to top the steaks makes a lot — wrap the extra in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to use later on veggies or warmed up bread.
  • I’d cut the pasta in half — it makes a TON and it’s really rich, so I ended up having to throw a lot of it away. And, it’s better when you first cook it, versus reheated.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 4 (8-ounce) NY strip steaks
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cream or half-and-half, eyeball it
  • 8 ounces blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped, a palm full
  • 2 cups arugula, a small bunch, cleaned, trimmed and shredded

Directions

Put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil for pasta.

Preheat broiler to high with rack on top shelf.

Preheat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until crisp.

Salt water for pasta and add spaghetti to the pot. Cook to al dente, with a bite to it.

Season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides and arrange on slotted broiler pan.

Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon and drain off most of the fat, return pan to heat and reduce heat to medium. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan and 1 tablespoon butter. When butter melts into extra-virgin olive oil, add in 2 cloves garlic and the shallots, saute for 3 minutes.

Arrange steaks on the broiler pan. Place under broiler – leave door to oven cracked ajar to limit flare ups and smoke. Cook 4 minutes on each side for medium rare, up to 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium well doneness.

To the garlic and shallots, add in flour and cook a minute more. Whisk in stock, bring to a bubble, about 30 seconds then stir in the cream. When cream comes to a bubble, add in blue cheese and sage and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir until cheese melts. Reduce heat to lowest setting.

Soften 4 tablespoons butter in microwave on high for 15 seconds. Mix in chives and 2 cloves minced garlic and reserve.

Remove steaks from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Place 1/4 of the chive and garlic butter mixture on each steak to melt down over the meat as they rest.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce to coat and combine evenly. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Serve steaks with pasta alongside. Scatter the arugula and bacon bits across the top of the pasta.

Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Inspired by my friend Megan’s gift of a fresh zucchini from her garden (jealous!), I found this Tyler Florence recipe for Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes and hit the farmer’s market for some more super fresh produce to round out the dish. Oh boy, was it worth it. This pasta is light and fresh, and bursting with great flavors from the veggies — and the fresher you go, the better this will taste. I even got some arugula from the farmer’s market and it was unbelievable — spicy, peppery and the perfect hit in this tasty bowl of pasta.

Roasting all the vegetables instead of sautéing really make a difference in this recipe. The roasting caramelizes the veggies and also adds more of a nutty taste to them — so much better than a turn in a frying pan, even if it does take a little longer. There are so many vegetables in here that you don’t even feel bad about eating a bowl of pasta!

TW’s Tips

  • Use fresh farmer’s market veggies.
  • Go super al dente on the pasta — I love when pasta has some bite to it, and it makes this even better reheated.
  •  Cut the tomatoes in half if they’re bigger than normal (which you may get since farmer’s market produce isn’t so uniform)
  • Don’t forget the ladle of pasta liquid before you drain!
  • Use lots of fresh cracked black pepper on top, and sprinkle with a little sea salt/kosher salt. Yum!

Spaghetti with Summer Squash and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of arugula leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the spaghetti.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the squashes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oregano in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and give it all a good toss. Dump that out onto a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the squash is tender and caramelized. Scrape the vegetables into a large pasta bowl and cover with a plate to keep everything warm.

The pasta water should be boiling by now. Add the spaghetti and stir to separate the strands. Cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente.

To finish, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta, and toss gently with the roasted vegetables. Add the pasta water if needed. Toss with the arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pan-Roasted Sirloin with Salad of Arugula, Sweet Peppers, and Olives

I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere lately, and I’m sad to say it’s not because I’ve been cooking up a storm. A combination of friends/parents in town and lots and lots of work has had me sidelined for a bit. But I’m back with a really tasty, flavorful salad that I made for dinner with my friend Kim a couple of weeks ago for our weekly Bachelor-watching night. Yes, I realize The Bachelor is trash TV, but that doesn’t stop me from watching it, if just to berate both bachelors and bachelorettes for poor behavior from the comfort of my own couch. While eating yummy food. And drinking yummy wine.

This is a Tyler Florence salad, and I’ve found he’s a winner when it comes to combining really strong flavors into one dish that packs some punch. This is one of those. We’ve got medium rare steak. We’ve got sweet roasted red peppers. We’ve got salty olives. And some pungent blue cheese, all over a bed of spicy, peppery arugula. Top it with a vinaigrette made from the pan juices and some lemon juice for some tang, and this salad’s got it nailed. And it’s pretty healthy, too!

TW’s Tips

  • Don’t feel beholden to a New York strip — any steak will do.
  • Roasting the red peppers is a skill. My broiler works really well because it’s the drawer kind and the peppers are really close to the heat source. The key is to really char and blister them, so the skin peels off easily, but it’s easier said than done. Once they’re blistered and have steamed under the plastic wrap, rub the skin off using a paper towel instead of your fingers. Don’t obsess about getting every single bit off. Some parts won’t come off, and it’s not the end of the world.
  • Use good blue cheese, not the pre-crumbled kind, and you’ll be happy.
  • Serve with a nice baguette.
  • This makes awesome leftovers. Just don’t dress the whole salad so it won’t get soggy.

Pan-Roasted Sirloin with Salad of Arugula, Sweet Peppers, and Olives

Salad Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mixed whole black and green olives, such as kalamata and Picholine
  • 1 bunch baby arugula, trimmed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Steak Ingredients

  • 2 New York strip steaks, 8 to 10 ounces each, about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Start by preparing the peppers because they will take the longest. Preheat the broiler. Pull out their cores, then halve the peppers lengthwise, and remove the ribs and seeds. Toss the peppers with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them on a cookie sheet, skin side up, and broil for 10 minutes until really charred and blistered. Put the peppers into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for about 10 minutes to loosen the skins. In the meantime, move on to the steaks.

Switch the oven from broil to bake and set the temperature to 350°F. Season both sides of the steaks with sea salt and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper, about 1 tablespoon of pepper per steak. Place a cast-iron (or regular ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a 2-count drizzle of olive oil and get it smoking hot. Add the steaks and sear for 4 minutes on each side. Throw in the thyme, then transfer the skillet to the hot oven and roast the steaks for 5 minutes for a nice medium-rare (120 to 125°F. internal temperature).

While that’s going, pull the loosened skins off the peppers; cut the peppers into nice fat strips and toss them with the olives. Set aside because the steaks should be ready now. Remove the steaks to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes before slicing. (This keeps the juices in the meat, not running all over the counter.)

The last thing to make is a quick vinaigrette using the flavors left in the bottom of the skillet. Pour out some of the beef fat and return the pan to the stove. Add the red wine and boil over medium heat while scraping with a wooden spoon to pull the flavors up. Let the wine reduce to 1/4 cup; this will intensify the flavor. Add the sugar and a 1-count of olive oil to balance it out.

Putting it all together is a snap. Cut the steaks on an angle into slices. Gently toss the peppers and olives with the arugula. Drizzle the salad with a little more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Toss lightly again and then divide between 2 plates. Arrange the steak slices on top of the salad and garnish with the crumbled blue cheese; then drizzle the pan vinaigrette over the steak salads and serve.

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

I have been wanting to make something with fresh figs, and finding them at the farmers market last week made this dish come together. From Tyler Florence: Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese.

This salad is exploding with flavor. Consider the ingredients and there’s no surprise why: Arugula. Blue cheese. Figs. Pancetta. Together, it’s the perfect blend of spicy, salty and sweet, crisp and soft, tart and smooth. Basically, you NEED to make this salad.

I cooked this for my friend Kim for a catch-up dinner after I’d been gone for two weeks. Combined with the bold, spicy Maurice Car’rie red wine she brought from our wine tasting trip to Temecula, it was a match made in heaven.

Reasons I love this dish: 1) It was SUPER fast. This is a true 30-minute meal. Pounding the chicken thin makes it cook really quickly. 2) I love blue cheese. 3) I love pancetta. 3) The warm dressing drizzled over the top is delicious. 4) Nothing is better than a speedy salad.

TW’s Tips:

  • Cooking the chicken in the pancetta drippings makes for a splattery mess. Cover with a splatter shield.
  • Using fresh, not dried, tarragon is critical.
  • Get really good quality blue cheese. I used Maytag. Don’t get the stuff they sell pre-crumbled. It’s not nearly as flavorful and creamy. Trust me, the price difference is worth it.
  • Fresh figs can be hard to find. The farmers market is your best bet.

Can’t wait to hear how you like this one!

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese

Vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound pancetta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, broken into hunks
  • 1 bunch arugula, trimmed
  • 1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
  • Tarragon leaves for garnish, if desired

Directions:

Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare chicken: Sandwich chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound them very thin with the side of a meat cleaver or a rolling pin. Remove chicken from plastic wrap and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Unroll the pancetta so it looks like big strips of bacon. Add it to the pan and fry it like a tangle of bacon until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Drizzle a 2-count of olive oil into the pan with the pancetta drippings. Add the chicken and pan-fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side to brown the breasts and cook them through. Use a spatula to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the pancetta. Add the vinaigrette to the sauté pan and heat for a few minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of pancetta and chicken from the bottom of the pan; take the pan off the heat.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter. Scatter the blue cheese, arugula, figs, and pancetta over. Drizzle the dressing over everything and garnish with the tarragon leaves.