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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“Blizzard” Meal: Steak with Brandied Mushrooms and Oven Fries

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I made this meal for what I like to call the Blizzard Bust of 2015 — when everyone said New York City would get three feet of snow and we got a couple of inches. Meanwhile, everything shut down — subway, no cars allowed to drive on streets after 11 p.m., etc. etc. I looked out the window the next day, and…nothing. Whomp, whomp. Quite the anticlimactic event.

And I was rather excited, actually! My first blizzard in 12 years! The plan was to curl up on my couch and get snowed in, drink a few glasses of wine and cook myself an amazing dinner. And that I did, despite the snow bust. This is a nice little indulgent meal for a night in, recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence.

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The steak is seasoned simply — salt and pepper — and the mushroom sauce is just awesome. It’s got great flavor from the garlic and thyme, and is fantastic alongside the crunch from the oven fries, seasoned with parsley and parmesan.

TW’s Tips

  • Shockingly, I couldn’t find NY Strip at the grocery store I went to; I used alternative cuts, but NY Strip is where it’s at
  • Get the pan nice and hot to get a sear on the steak. Don’t move it around in the pan — let it caramelize and form a good crust
  • If you don’t want to buy a whole bottle of brandy (who drinks brandy anyway?), grab a couple of nips at the liquor store
  • Always, always let the steak rest
  • Serve with a green vegetable: spinach, broccoli, asparagus

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Steak with Brandied Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 4 New York strip steaks, each about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds wild mushrooms, trimmed, brushed clean with a towel and stemmed, caps left whole
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until smoking. Sprinkle the steaks all over with salt and pepper. Put the steaks in the pan and cook, turning to brown all sides completely, until medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick the steaks are. Remove the steaks to a platter with tongs and cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil to keep the meat warm while you make the sauce.

Put the saute pan back over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup olive oil. When the oil is smoking, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Then add the thyme and garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Toss a few more times to cook the garlic, then dump the mushrooms out onto a platter. Take the pan off the heat, add the brandy, and cook until almost evaporated. Add the cream and cook that down 2 to 3 minutes until reduced by about one-half and thickened. Return the mushrooms to the pan with whatever juices have collected on the platter and simmer the whole thing another 2 minutes until thickened again. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the steak thin against the grain. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper and serve.

Oven Fries

Ingredients

  • 2 russet potatoes, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, halves cut lengthwise into fourths to make 16 big, fat wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a baking sheet in the hot oven for at least 5 minutes.

While the baking sheet is heating, toss the potatoes with the olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Then dump the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, spreading to a single layer. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the potatoes are cooked through, brown and crispy. Toss the fries in a big bowl with the parsley and cheese.

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich

In honor of my sister and brother-in-law running the Chicago Marathon earlier this month and posting some pretty dang impressive times in the process (4:08 and 4:24 respectively), I present you the Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich (recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro, “The Sandwich King”).

This is one delicious sandwich, and I love me a good sandwich. It starts with juicy, medium rare ribeye, topped with a garlicky spinach with a little heat from red pepper flake, topped with a blue cheese buttermilk spread on a crusty roll. Yum. I also added some super ripe beefsteak tomato slices, since everything is better with tomato. Add a pickle on the side, and you’re good. This came together so quickly — it’s a perfect weeknight meal since it won’t take you more than 30 minutes to throw it together. It’s so easy, I don’t have any tips!

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich

Ingredients

Steak:

  • One 20-ounce boneless rib eye steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauteed Garlicky Spinach:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Three 10-ounce bags fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sandwich Build:

  • 1 fresh loaf crispy French bread, cut into 8-inch segments, buttered and grilled

Directions

For the steak: Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Place the steak in the hot skillet, reduce the heat to medium and sear until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the steak and cook until medium/medium-rare, about 6 more minutes. Set aside, loosely covered with foil, and let rest before slicing.

For the sauteed garlicky spinach: Heat the oil and sliced garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Add the crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir to combine with the oil. Cover and let cook over medium-high heat until the spinach is wilted but still bright in color, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the garlic chips.

For the buttermilk blue cheese dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, buttermilk, blue cheese, dill, mustard and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

For the sandwich build: Slice the rested steak against the grain into 1/4-inch slices, removing any non-rendered fat. Place the steak slices on the bottom bun, top with the spinach and schmear the top bun with buttermilk blue cheese dressing.

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.

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.

Lentil Deliciousness

I’m on a bit of a lentil kick lately. They’re easy, tasty and healthy. What’s not to like?

I alluded to last night’s dinner in my last post with the photo of sliced grapes, chopped cilantro and lemon zest. Yum. Yum. Yum. It was a winner.

From Tyler Florence (and one of my favorite cookbooks, Tyler’s Ultimate): Grilled Skirt Steak with Lentils, Cilantro & Grapes.

Super bright flavors with the combination of lemon, cilantro and chile, and the grapes sound weird but they were the perfect contrast to the spicy chile and salty feta. Since I don’t have a grill, I cooked the steak under the broiler and it worked beautifully. I also sliced the chile instead of mincing it as I liked the look of the slices better, but Tyler was right about mincing it — my mouth was on fire with the big bites of chile (and I like a lot of spice, so that’s saying something). Follow the directions on that one, folks. The recipe doesn’t call for chopping the cilantro, but I would.

Plated up, the colors look beautiful, but it tastes even better. Try it. You’ll thank me.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Lentils, Cilantro & Grapes

Ingredients

1 head garlic, sliced horizontally
salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb steak
black pepper

3 thyme sprigs
1 c lentils
1 garlic clove, smashed (NOT minced or chopped)
1 green chile, minced
zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 bunch cilantro
1 lb green grapes
6 oz feta
black pepper

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 400. Cut a 12″ foil piece and place the garlic on one half and sprinkle with salt, a little olive oil, 2 ts water and 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold to cover and seal. Roast for 30 minutes.
2. Heat a grill to  medium high heat. Wipe the grill quickly with olive oil to create a non-stick surface. Rub the steak with some olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Pour the lentils into a sauce pan and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Add the smashed garlic, remaining thyme and 1 ts salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Discard garlic and thyme.
4. When the grill is hot, toss on the steak and cook to medium-rare, 5-7 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes and then cut into thin slices.
5. Place the lentils in a bowl and add the chile, lemon zest & juice, cilantro, grapes, feta and 1/3 c olive oil.  Toss and add salt to taste.
6. On four plates, make a bed of lentils and place the steak slices on top. Drizzle the steak with a little olive oil and black pepper. Serve the roasted garlic on the side.