French Fridays with Dorie: Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak~

25 04 2011

For once in my life, I’m ahead of the game with a dish from French Fridays with Dorie!  I was off work for Spring Break, ran across these little steaks while shopping, and the next thing I knew I was all set to prepare Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak.

Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak starts with butter and oil, peppered steaks, and morphs into a wonderfully sauced steak in the end.  I wrapped my peppercorns in waxed paper and smashed them with my kitchen mallet a few times.  No escaping peppercorns, and nicely crushed.  I like to toast dry herbs and spices, especially seeds before I add them to a dish, but this time, the peppercorns are actually a peppercorn crust on the steaks.  Since they’ll be getting direct heat all the while the steaks are cooking, they don’t need to be toasted.

When the steaks are cooked, while they rest, the sauce is made.  Pour off any remaining oil and butter, and deglaze the pan with cognac (or brandy).  This is the touchiest part of the recipe…the alcohol will likely flame if 1) you don’t cool the pan before adding the alcohol to the pan (the hotter the pan, the faster the alcohol produces the flammable vapors);  2)  you have a gas stove.  Flaming the alcohol is easy enough, and nothing to be afraid of, if you’re ready for what will happen.  Flames will jump into the air at least 18 inches and often a full 36 inches.  Be ready for that.  If you keep a lid that will fit the pan tightly within reach (or better yet, in hand), you can quickly smother any flames that get too excited.  Keep your head…the alcohol will burn off completely in a matter of seconds.  Next, add the cream and wait for the proper consistency to arrive.  It’s really good!

Bake! Best & Easiest Carrot Cake~

25 04 2011

Easter is a great time for Carrot Cake…and Nick Malgieri’s recipe from Bake! makes a really good carrot cake.  To be utterly fair…it’s still not my favorite recipe though.  My mom made a killer carrot cake, and while this one is really good…it’s not as good as Mom’s was!

Moist and tender…full of juicy carrots and bits of toasted walnuts, this cake couldn’t be easier to put together.  Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, combine…with perfect spices…and frost with cream cheese frosting…what could be better?

Okay, I confess… It was Easter Sunday and I didn’t have any cream cheese in the house.  I thought I did, but I sure didn’t.  What I did have was a fresh quart of whipping cream… We had just had strawberry shortcake, so I knew whipped cream was merely moments away.   That actually made a lighter topping for the cake than the cream cheese icing, and was a little more refreshing.

Our next recipe is for a Strawberry Chantilly Cake…with whipped cream icing…LOL!  I don’t think I’ll trade the icings…  I made a 9 inch square layer and 12 carrot mini-cakes that I froze for those nights when we yearn for something sweet.  I think the Strawberry Chantilly cake will need to be done as a half recipe…there are still only two of us here to eat all these goodies, and I’ve still got a dozen or so to catch up on!

Bake! Banana Bread~

25 04 2011

I’ve been watching all the lovely things coming out of Kayte’s kitchen for awhile now…enviously, no less!  She’s been baking from one or the other of two of Nick Malgieri’s books, Modern Baker and Bake!  While I’ve purchased both books, I’m going to commit to cooking from Bake!  for now!  I’m a dozen or so recipes behind, but I’ll catch those as I can.  Kayte wondered what my first recipe would be…and I had planned it to be one of the recipes on the list, but several very ripe bananas made the decision for me!  Banana bread!!  I’m sure this recipe will pop up sometime in rotation…and I won’t hesitate to bake another one!  It came out very moist and sweet, and the 5-fingered mouse kept nibbling at it until it was gone… I’m glad I was able to get a picture before it completely vanished!  Now…on to the list!