Category Archives: beef

Thompson River Ranch Wagyu Beef

Just before the holidays, my parents treated us to a few pounds of wagyu beef from Thompson River Ranch. I was not familiar with wagyu beef prior to this surprise special delivery, but boy was I in for a treat.

Apparently, wagyu (a.k.a. Kobe) cows make a highly marbled beef. According to the Thompson River Ranch website, their cows are either completely grass-fed or grass-fed/grain-finished. This has both ecological and health benefits. If I remember correctly from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is higher in grass-fed beef than in grain-fed beef. My lay person’s understanding of this is that Omega-6 isn’t necessarily bad for you, but having a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 is important and we Americans tend to eat much more Omega-6. The higher Omega-3 in grass-fed beef means that it is not actually bad for you since it is balancing out your ratio. This was enlightening to learn given the bad rap that red meat usually gets.

Aside from health reasons, there are environmental benefits to going for grass-fed. I’m not going to go into them because, frankly, that’s not my area of expertise. Perhaps the best reason to go for grass-fed is the quality of the meat. It is expensive, and so Trevor and I don’t eat meat very often. But we’ve made the choice to sacrifice quantity for quality and we’re okay with that.

Back to the wagyu! To thank my parents for their generous gift, we wanted to share a meal with them, showcasing the beef. So we invited them over for a hamburger dinner on Saturday. Ironically, my dad does not eat beef. Prior to this meal, I had not seen him eat beef…ever, I think. I offered to get him some ground lamb like usual. But this time, he said, he would try the beef. I was nervous. I hate the thought of serving something that someone might not like. What if they go home hungry? The horrors!! But, my dad took the plunge, and I dare say he enjoyed it!

Because we were serving a high quality beef, I wanted to make sure the buns were up to par. So I make some dough with my bread maker and separated it into 4 balls. They could have been a little smaller. Oh well.


I served the hamburgers with sweet potato fries, which Quentin thoroughly enjoyed along with us.
Of course, the hamburgers could not be served with tomato because, well, it’s February. Instead we had them with avocado. Not really in season here either, but I would rather have an out of season avocado than an out of season tomato any day. Quentin also enjoyed some avocado with us. Lucky boy!
The burgers turned out delicious, the company was great, and the baby was in good spirits! All in all, a very enjoyable Saturday night. I hope to purchase beef from Thompson River Ranch again!

(Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation of any form to write this review)

Steak & Cocozelle Squash Dinner


Yesterday, for the first time, I tried my hand at canning. Tomato sauce, to be specific. I purchased a large amount of organic heirloom tomatoes from a guy who had somehow decided that he needed to plant 40 tomato plants in his backyard this summer. Tomato overload for him=lucky day for me! He gave me a very good price for a beautiful harvest of tomatoes (more on this in a future post). Suffice to say, I was exhausted last night and definitely not in the mood to cook more. So I had Trevor grill some steaks from Prather Ranch (grass-fed beef purchased from the Campbell Farmer’s Market), and I sliced up & sauteed some Cocozelle Squash, which were purchased, along with the tomatoes, from my newest overzealous gardening friend. The beef was a delicious treat, and exactly what we both needed after a hard morning workout for Trevor and a kitchen “workout” for me. The squash, though, was my favorite. I was unfamiliar with this type of squash and O.M.G. it was so scrumptious! I could eat it everyday. For the rest of my life. I’m not sure Trevor would be quite so enthusiastic about it (he doesn’t usually get as excited about vegetables as I do), but lucky for him they’re surely only ridiculously delicious at the peak of their freshness- in the summertime. This brings me to my locavore thought of the day- If you eat what’s in season, you’ll never get bored with any one fruit or vegetable in particular. You might tire of zucchini at the end of a particularly healthy summer harvest, but after abstaining from it for 8+ long months, you will be more than ready to start zucchini overload all over again. So go enjoy the last few weeks of summer produce! Soon I’ll be writing about winter squash, potatoes, kale, beets, spinach and all my other favorite fall produce.

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.

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!

Beef Chili with Anasazi Beans


You might remember from my post about berry-picking that I bought several pounds of dried beans at the Phipps Country Store over the summer. By now, I’ve used up most of those beans, minus a pound or so of soybeans, and a pound of anasazi beans. I’ve read that you’re not supposed to wait too long before using dried beans, or else they start to get wrinkly and tough. So I decided that I would use the anasazi beans to make some chili. I also happened to have a pound and a half of leftover grassfed beef roast, which I purchased from Paicines Ranch (located a little ways south of Hollister). With these two ingredients in mind, I looked for a chili recipe online, and happened upon a tasty-looking one from the Bob’s Red Mill website. The recipe was a perfect fit because it called for both anasazi beans AND cooked beef roast. What luck!

I ended up adapting the recipe a little bit, and it turned out delicious! It had just the right amount of kick, and a nice texture from the corn kernels, beans and meat. We served it with a slice of cornbread, topped with a little butter and honey, making for a very classic southwestern dish.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Anasazi beans
Canola oil spray
1 large onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
2- 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp. butter (softened)
3 Tbsp. instant flour (such as Wondra- regular flour will do too)
1-1/2 lb. cooked beef roast (diced)
2 cups corn kernels (frozen)

Details:

  1. Sort through the dried beans to remove any shriveled beans or pebbles. Rinse beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 5-8 hours.
  2. After soaking the beans, drain the water, and cover the beans with new water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beans are soft but retain their shape. Do not add salt during this step. Salt will harden the bean skin, which in turn wont allow the bean to cook as thoroughly.
  3. While the beans are cooking, spray a large stockpot with oil and saute the onion and green bell pepper for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and saute for another minute. Next add the bay leaf and all other spices, including salt. After coating the vegetables with spices, add the water and tomatoes. No need to drain any tomato juice from the diced tomatoes, just dump the contents of the can into the stockpot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, and then reduce heat to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
  4. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over medium heat. Once melted, slowly begin incorporating the instant flour using a wooden spoon. You should obtain a smooth paste. Add this to the stockpot and stir well.
  5. Add the beef and frozen corn kernels to the stockpot. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Then add about 4 cups of cooked beans (depending on your preference) to the stockpot and cook for 5 more minutes. Save the rest of the beans for another use (they’re great on quesadillas, in chicken tacos, tossed into any old vegetable soup…etc…).
  6. Serve the chili with some shredded cheese and a slice of cornbread.

Makes 10 large servings.

Grilled California Avocado BLT Burger


For today’s post, I’m giving a shout out to Trevor’s latest cooking venture. Normally, I’m the one in the house who does all the cooking. This is mostly because (a) I enjoy cooking and (b) I’m pretty good at it. But while it makes sense that I would be the primary chef of the family, I’m always grateful when Trevor decides to try his hand at making dinner for us. He’s really improved over the last few years too! I remember, early in our marriage, showing Trevor how to prepare green beans, or how to chop an onion. Now, just 3 years later, he completed an entire meal from start to finish without any instruction from me. I’m impressed!

The inspiration for his latest food creation came from a trip to William Sonoma where he spotted his ideal cookbook: “Build a Better Burger,” published after the “Sutter Home Search for America’s Best Burgers.” He promised that, with this cookbook, he would whip up some fabulous burgers.

So we bought the cookbook, and Trevor chose to make the Grilled California Avocado BLT Burger with Carmelized Chipotle Onions. Now that’s a title. The burgers turned out pretty good. I think the only thing everyone agreed we’d change is the amount of spice. There was a bit too much kick for us…but on the bright side, we had clear sinuses.

It turns out this particular recipe can be found here on the Food Network’s website. So instead of retyping it all out, I’ll let you check the link. And for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of Trevor attempting to take his first bite of his gigantic burger creation.