Monthly Archives: July 2009

Steak au Poivre & Happy Bastille Day!


In honor of Bastille Day, I wanted to share a typical French dish with you- Steak au Poivre. If you’ve never tasted Steak au Poivre before, all I can say is that you’re missing out my friend. It’s delicious, simple, comfort food. It’s on the menu at any French brasserie right next to the “Steak Frites” (steak and fries) and you generally can’t go wrong by ordering it. I’d never really considered making it myself because I figured it included some hard-to-get ingredients, but my culinary preconceptions have been proven wrong again! When I was in Paris, I got a small can of green peppercorns, stored in water. These are perfect for the “sauce au poivre ” (pepper sauce) that melds so well with a nice steak. If you don’t have a can of peppercorns though, you can rehydrate dried green peppercorns in warm water for 5-10 minutes to obtain a similar effect. I hope you don’t wait as long as I did to try such a tasty staple of French “brasserie” cooking.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

For the steaks
:

  • 2 steaks (I used New York steak)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the carmelized shallots:

  • 8-10 shallots
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste

For the pepper sauce:

  • 1 can green peppercorns (or 2 Tbsp dried green peppercorns, rehydrated)
  • 3-4 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Peel and thinly slice the shallots. Melt 2 tbsp of butter on a non-stick pan over low- medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Slowly cook the shallots for about 10 minutes- until carmelized.
  • While the shallots are cooking, heat the creme fraiche, milk, peppercorns and a pinch of salt in a small pan over low heat. Stir occasionally.
  • Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over the steaks.
  • Once the shallots are ready, remove them from the pan and set them aside. Melt 2 tbsp of butter on the non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook the steaks about 5-6 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the steak and your cooking preference).
  • When the steaks are cooked, remove them from the pan and allow them to rest for 3 minutes.
  • Serve the steaks with pepper sauce on top and carmelized shallots on the side.
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Paris Wrap-Up

Before leaving for Paris, I daydreamed about all of the food-related delights that would be a part of our time there. I had so many foodie things to be excited about that I decided to compile them into a top ten. Now that the trip is over, let’s review it:

Foodie Top 10: Reviewed.

10. Being totally jet-lagged, waking up at 5am, and walking down to the corner boulangerie to pick up a piping hot baguette and croissants for breakfast.

  • Check! This happened on many occasions while we were in Paris, though not always at 5am and not always while we were jet-lagged. Sometimes the piping hot baguettes come out around 6pm….and once in a while they make it all the way home to be eaten with dinner…or even breakfast the next morning.

9. Going to the farmer’s market to buy some melon and asking for one “for today” and having the farmer choose a perfectly ripe melon.

  • Check! We made it to a few farmer’s markets. Although I must say the organic “Bio” farmer’s market was quite a disappointment. The cheese was good, but the vegetables we got from there were not fresh. The Ave de Sachs market is much much better. And the melon was amazing.

8. Espresso at every corner.

  • Well, if by this I meant “drinking espresso at every corner” then I didn’t get this one. But there sure was espresso at every corner! I did partake in a particularly memorable espresso in a cute cafe in Montmartre, on top of a hill (even more so than most cafes already are in Montmartre), with an incredible view of Paris, but without the crowds of the Sacre Coeur.

7. Taking a picnic of baguette and rillettes to the Jardin de Luxembourg.

  • Nope…got this one separately, but not together. We did visit the Jardin de Luxembourg a few times, but not during lunch time. We also had rillettes with baguette for lunch a few times. Maybe next time!

6. Nutella crêpes from the St. Michel crêpe stand.

  • Also nope! Although I did have crepes on 3 different occasions during my 2 total weeks in Paris. We re-discovered a wonderful creperie called “Creperie des Canettes” on Rue des Canettes, near metro Mabillon. The crepes are delicious! For dessert I tried the simple “sugar with butter” and the “salted butter” (on 2 separate trips) and both were absolutely perfect. Highly recommend.

5. Falafel for Sunday lunch in the Marais.

  • Check! We did this the day after we arrived. Our good friends from San Diego arrived on a Sunday, so we walked all over Paris, with a stop at the Marais for falafel. Once again, the line was 1/2 way down the block (with the poor falafel competitor across the way only having a measely handful of people). We realized that our falafel place, L’As du Falafel, received rave reviews in the New York Times, which explains the sudden boost in diners in 2006.

4. The incredible dairy section at any grocery store.

  • Check check check! Mmmm….I LOVE the yogurts in France. Nuf said.

3. Being mesmerized by the selection at the cheese shop down the street from us. And then asking for a camembert, “bien prêt” (meaning, “ready,” which for a camembert means “soft & flavorful”).

  • Check! We also got to enjoy our local cheese shop’s selection at our anniversary dinner. The cheese place around the corner from us is Quatrehomme, and apparently Marie Quatrehomme is famous for her cheeses. I thoroughly enjoyed my camembert “bien pret.”

2. Looking at, taking photos of, and eating delicious pastries, but especially…
1. …Macarons from Pierre Hermé and Ladurée!

  • Okay I realize that I kind of cheated on this one by combining #2 and #1. But the macarons really deserved to be separated from the rest of the patisserie world, in my opinion. And yep! I definitely took full advantage of the pastries and the macarons. Tomorrow, a friend and I will attempt to recreate the beauty by whipping up some Macarons Caramel Fleur de Sel…and maybe Macarons a la Rose. We shall see!

So what do you think? Do I get an “A” for “effort” on my foodie top 10? Cuz I can tell you, it was rough. …(kidding!)… What would be on your foodie top 10 (in Paris or elsewhere).

EDIT: Okay looking at this post I realized that it was way too hard to differentiate between the original top 10 and the “reviews,” so I added bullets to the reviews. Hope this makes the post easier to read!

Bruschetta Burgers

Here I am, back in San Jose, after a wonderful 3 1/2 week trip to Paris, Barcelona and Marseille. Everything about the trip was lovely, and I can’t wait to go back. At the same time, though, it’s nice to be home. My husband, Trevor, had to leave a week early to get back to work, and it’s definitely good to see him again. During the week he was gone, I spent time with my parents in the south of France and in Paris. We had a great time together (and enjoyed several amazing meals, which I will have to write about later)! After 4 years of marriage, it’s rare to spend such concentrated one-on-one time with my parents, and it was good to catch up.

On the agenda for fraises et tartines in the near future: Did I complete each item from my top 10 list? ; Barcelona restaurant reviews; Paris restaurant reviews; Summertime Jam-Making; and other assorted seasonal recipes. I’ll also be working on creating a website for fraises et tartines with its own domain name. I’m hoping there’s a way to use Mobile Me with a non-mac domain name. Anyone who can help me out with that one?

Here is a picture of the “Caprese Salad” I made to go with dinner last night.


And now for the bruschetta burgers. This one is adapted from our go-to burger cookbook- Build a Better Burger. I have to say, this cookbook has not failed us yet. We love good burgers, especially with our delicious grassfed beef from Paicines Ranch, and it’s fun to experiment with some pretty creative recipes. As usual, I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, so here is the recipe I ended up making.

Ingredients:

Tomato Topping:
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsely, finely chopped
3 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Patties
1 cup loosely packed crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons Italian parsely, finely chopped
3 tablespoons shallot, chopped
1 pound ground grassfed beef
4 slices Gouda cheese

Bruschetta
1/2 loaf Italian bread, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing on bread

Instructions:

– Prepare the grill to medium high heat
– Combine all ingredients for tomato topping in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.
– In a separate bowl, combine Gorgonzola cheese, shallots and parsely. Then add ground beef and mix by hand. Be careful not to overmix. Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal portions and flatten into patties.
– Place patties on the grill, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bruschetta slices (brushed with extra virgin olive oil) to the outside edges of the grill to toast them. Flip the patties and cook them for 4 minutes. Put a slice of gouda on each patty and allow to melt for 1-4 minutes. Remove the bruschetta slices and patties from the grill.
– To assemble the bruschetta burgers, place a patty on top of a slice of bruschetta and top with the tomato topping. We had these open-faced, and ended up eating them with a fork and knife because they were quite messy…but delicious!

If Laduree is heaven, then what does that make Pierre Herme??


…I’m not sure that I can really put my finger on it, but it’s even better. Don’t get me wrong, Laduree is kind of like the classic beauty that you are always in awe of no matter how many times you encounter (or in this case “taste”) it. But Pierre Herme is new and exciting, like a new style or new innovation that- at first glance- looks completely “wrong,” but in the end is absolutely perfect. Pierre Herme manages to take flavors that you would never expect to taste together and meld them beautifully. It makes you wonder why they haven’t always been paired. Take “Vanilla Olive Oil,” for example. At first glance this seems like an odd combination, at best, and downright gross at worst. Not so, for Pierre Herme. These flavors are perfect together. Now why didn’t I think of that? I know that I’m a bit of a Pierre Herme fanatic here, but what can I say? He’s one of my culinary heros. He has turned macarons into edible art, and for that, I have to say he’s a step above Laduree (even though I love Laduree too!).

Enough drooling from me, though. Here are some “food porn” photos (as my dad likes to call them), so that you, too, can drool.