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Free-for-All Friday: Blue-Cheese Crusted Steak with Crispy Smashed Potatoes

It’s rare that I crave meat, but lately, a really good steak with blue cheese has been on my mind — creeping into my thoughts, ruining my productivity. I can only take so much tofu before I need something with built-in flavor.

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And the notion that you need to go out to devour a decadent piece of beef is absurd. You can make it in your kitchen in about half an hour. Promise.

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Vegans and vegetarians, don’t look away just yet! There’s a side-dish recipe buried in this post just for you!

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Happy cooking, friends. Liven up your weekend with this dish. Indulge. Eat and be merry.

Blue Cheese-Crusted Steak

Serves 1, but easily doubled

Ingredients

  • Your favorite cut of steak (I went for the ribeye)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (or your favorite steak seasoning)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-oz blue cheese, crumbled and at room temp
  • 1 Tbsp. bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley
  • Leaves from 2 stems of fresh thyme

The How-To

  1. Set the oven to broil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the blue cheese, bread crumbs, parsley and thyme. Set aside for later.IMG_6845
  3. In a cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until pan is hot.
  4. Meanwhile, season the steak (and make sure the chill is off the meat. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes or so before you want to cook it).
  5. Once the pan is hot (sprinkle some water on it if you’re not sure. The water should sizzle), add the steak and cook on one side for two minutes, or until nicely browned. Flip the steak and add the blue cheese crumble mixture on top, slightly pressing down.IMG_6852
  6. Transfer the skillet to the broiler, allowing the cheese on top to get brown and bubbly. This will help finish the steak to a nice medium doneness. It should take about 5 minutes under the broiler.
  7. Let it rest before digging in. It’s hard, I know, but it’s also worth it.IMG_6857

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 12-15 red, yellow or purple potatoes (about 1-inch in length). Fingerlings work well.
  • 2 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup EVOO

The How-To

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan (preferable in one layer) and cover with at least one inch of water. Add 2 teaspoons salt to the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook the taters until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Test for doneness with a sharp knife or skewer. They should be cooked through, but not overdone.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, set up a double layer of clean dishtowels on the countertop. As the potatoes finish, remove them individually from the water and let them drain for a minute on the dishtowels.
  4. Fold another dishtowel into quarters and, using it as a cover, gently press down on one potato with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 an inch. Repeat with all the potatoes. Don’t worry if some break apart a bit; you can still use them.IMG_6841
  5. Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and line with a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer the flattened potatoes carefully to the baking sheet and let them cool completely at room temperature.
  6. Sprinkle the potatoes with 3/4 teaspoon salt and drizzle the olive oil over all of them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure some of the oil goes underneath them and that they are well-coated on both sides.
  7. Roast potatoes until crispy and deep brown around the edges, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly-chopped parsley. Serve hot and alongside your steak.IMG_6846

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Sneak Peek Sunday: Tri-Colored Taters

I used these colorful spuds for a Mexican-style dish perfect for vegetarians.

Can you guess what I transformed them into?

Twice Baked Potatoes with Greek Salad

I’m back with a recipe (Finally!!)

Following a nationwide trend, it’s Meatless Mondays at our house every Monday (dur).

A couple weeks ago I  pulled a souffle out of my hat and paired it with a Greek salad. Sometimes we’ll just do plain baked potatoes, there’s the spicy fried rice, and so many more options.

But this Monday, we did twice baked potatoes (is your tummy growling yet??)

Twice-Baked Potatoes

We don’t make these very often, as we might weigh 700 big ones if we did, but they’re so good and so simple and extremely filling.

We’ve also been on a Greek salad kick for a while and it doesn’t look like we’ll be off of it anytime soon. Those damn Greeks and their good food.

Here’s the recipe for the twice baked taters:

What you need (Serves 4; half a stuffed potato per person):

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 dollop of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • Chives, to taste, plus more for topping
  • 2 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)

Mix ‘Em All Together

  1. Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for about 1 hour and 30 minutes (ovens vary, so check after an hour. Don’t wrap in tinfoil, just throw them on the rack and let em bake)
  2. Let the potatoes cool for about 5-10 minutes before cutting in half and scooping out the flesh (careful to leave a little inside the kin to help it maintain its shape!) into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the butter, sour cream and whipping cream and mix on low in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer) until creamy.
  4. Add in the salt and pepper, cayenne, cheese and chives. Mix again on low until well combined.
  5. Scoop back onto the potato skins, or scoop into a plastic bag and cut off a bottom corner and squeeze into the skins. (Of course, for all you fancy and experienced chefs out there, you’ll use a pastry bag. hmph.)
  6. Top with shredded cheese and return to oven. Cook until filling is hot again and cheese has melted
  7. Once out of the oven, top with snipped chives and sprinkle with bacon (if using)
  8. Be gluttonous

Mixing them all together

Piping beauty

I stuffed turkey bacon in between layers of filling for my dad

Vegetarian Tater

Mmmmmm

And now for the salad:

Caught this picture AFTER we dug in

Greek Salad

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, wash, rinse, dried, and ripped
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • Kalamata olives (I buy a mixed Greek blend at Vons at their little olive bar by the deli. It comes with kalamata and green olives marinated in spices and tossed with feta cheese, thus reducing my need to buy feta cheese separately)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Quartered tomato slices
  • Pepperoncinis (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. Whisk together all ingredients for the salad dressing
  2. Toss together all the ingredients for the salad.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly distributed
  4. Add croutons, if you fancy them. (Click here for a recipe for homemade croutons!)

Thanksgiving Side Dish #1

If you’re anything like me, your mind is already (and probably has been) on your turkey day menu.

Turkey might be the dinner’s headliner, but we all know everyone secretly loves the mashed potatoes and gravy the best.  I think a lot of people, for some odd reason, are intimidated at the thought of homemade mash and gravy; but they’re both SUPER easy! And, you can play around with so many flavors, they never get boring.

Here’s my classic take on buttery, creamy, potatoes.  I’ll throw in some fun variations in the end!

What You Need:

  1. Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces (the amount you use depends on how many are eating. Yukon Golds run small, so figure a potato and a half per person. With Russets, you can figure two people per potato. Or, you can just do what I do and make a huge 5 lb. bag worth and enjoy the left overs!)
  2. Whipping Cream, warm (again, adjust to how much you make. Start with 1/3 cup warmed cream and go from there. Remember, you can always add, and never take away.)
  3. 1/4-1/2 cup butter, room temp
  4. Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

How It’s Done:

  • Put the cubed potatoes into a pot and cover completely with water. Salt liberally.
  • Bring water to a boil and continue to boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are done (when you pierce them with the fork they just about fall apart) drain thoroughly. Place them back into the pan and put the heat on LOW. Keep on low for about a minute to really get all of the moisture out of the potatoes.  This is an important step!!
  • Add the butter and salt and pepper (be liberal with those seasonings!  Potatoes can handle a LOT of salt without being oversalted) and mash with masher.  *Note: if you’re using a stand mixer, which I highly recommend, after you’ve heated the potatoes on low to remove moisture, transfer to your mixing bowl and add butter and seasonings. With the paddle attachment on, turn speed to low and mix til well combined.
  • Add cream and mash slightly, then stir the rest. Too dry? Add more cream until the consistency is to your liking. BE CAREFUL, if you add too much cream and they become watery, there’s not much you can do to save them :(    *Note: In your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment and low speed still on, drizzle in the cream
  • Taste them for more salt or pepper.

 

Variations:

Heat your whipping cream up in a pyrex with a couple cloves of peeled garlic. Strain and use the garlic-infused cream for a subtle garlic taste without the garlic-chunks!

Mix in room-temp blue or gorgonzola cheese for a richer, tart potato.

Swirl in prepared horseradish for potatoes with a bite! I have some horseradish cheese spread that works GREAT. It makes my potatoes creamy (because of the cheese) with a spicy horseradish flavor.

Cut in fresh chives or garlic chives for a flavor boost      Bonus: it is aesthetically pleasing!

 

Things to Remember with Potatoes:

Dry out those potatoes after you drain them!

Try to keep them as hot as possible when mashing away–colder potatoes when mashing makes them gluey.

Salt, salt, and more salt. If you think you put too much salt in—-throw in a dash more!

 

 

 

Homemade Gravy

What you Need:

  1. 2 Tbsp. butter
  2. 2 Tbsp. flour
  3. 2 cups turkey pan drippings, turkey or chicken stock, or combination of

 

How it’s Done:

  • Separate any fat from the pan drippings (I recommend getting a fat separator.  Those things are awesome)  If you don’t quite have 2 cups worth of pan drippings, just add in some chicken stock until you’ve got 2 cups.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat
  • Slowly add in the flour, whisking constantly.
  • This will create a roux.  It should look thick and goopy.  Sometimes my roux balls up (that’s ok, too!) Whisk it around over low heat for about a minute to “cook out” the flour taste.  If you like your gravy dark, cook the roux until it turns dark brown.
  • Add the pan drippings/stock to the roux, whisking constantly to spread the roux throughout the liquid.
  • Switch heat to medium high to bring mixture to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer
  • Simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  This will “reduce” the liquid, making a more concentrated product. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get it nice and thick, about 45 minutes!      *To test: dip a spoon into the gravy. Turn the spoon over (so that it’s convex side is up) and run a finger down the middle of it.  If the liquid runs back together, it’s too thin.  If you can clearly see the line your finger it’s thick enough!
  • THAT’S IT!!!!

 

Variations

After you add the liquid to the roux, add in a teaspoon of both grainy mustard and prepared horseradish!

Add a touch of cream at the very end, and off the heat, for a richer broth.

I know that some people use cornstarch and water for a healthier solution to thickening up the gravy. I’ve never done it this way (because of my love affair with butter), but it is common.  Last year, something went awry with the cornstarch and it clumped up horribly, clearly never thickening the gravy.  If this happens, you can ALWAYS add more roux! In a separate pan, make a roux and simply add it to the liquid.  Whisk around and let simmer to thicken. Easy!

 

Warm Arugula and Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

As some of you well know by now, arugula is my favorite green.  I first tried it when working at the farmers’ market 3 years ago in LA and fell in love instantaneously.  Wild arugula is the best, and I’ve heard it’s very easy to grow.  When I get my own place, I’ll be sure to have a garden and keep it in abundance there.

I use arugula a lot, but one of my favorite ways to use it is in this very simple salad that’s surprisingly filling.  I found this recipe via nannying.  My boss actually came across it in Food and Wine Magazine and we both agreed it sounded amazing.  It’s meant for a side dish but we’ve (my boss and I) made it into the main dish.

This is great if you don’t have a protein, like fish or chicken or beef, on hand.  Or, if you feel like doing very minimal cooking.  Another fun thing about this salad is you can make it your own.  Salads, as we all know, are very versatile.  You can throw almost anything on top of lettuce and it’ll taste good together!

First things first:

  • Crank your oven (or even your toaster oven!) up to 400 degrees F
  • While that’s heating up, cube some potatoes (i prefer yukon gold, but any will work, here).  I usually cube my potatoes into inch-size pieces.
  • Spread them onto a well-foiled rimmed baking sheet.  [I use foil here because the clean up is so easy with it!]  Drizzle the potatoes with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), a VERY liberal amount of salt (you can use sea salt, garlic salt, season salt, your pick!), a good amount of fresh-cracked pepper, and, this is optional but gives the potatoes a really pretty color, smoked sweet paprika.  You can use regular paprika if that’s all you have, but smoke paprika gives just a hint of smokiness.  It’s awesome.  Go invest.

Bake those cubed potatoes at 400 for about 45 minutes.  Time will vary, because everyone’s ovens are different, so keep an eye on them.  Once you can move them around with a spatula on the foild, they’ll be close to being done.  If the potatoes are still sticking when you try to shuffle them around, they need longer.

Next:

  • While the potatoes cook, you can make the dressing.  This is a very simple vinaigrette that you have to tweak to taste.  The recipe calls for:
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I used EVOO, stoneground Dijon mustard, and instead of sherry vinegar I have used both Rice Wine Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar.  Any vinegar will do, so use whatever you have on hand–even if it’s just plain white distilled vinegar.  That’ll work!  But make sure you do get stoneground mustard–it’s just SO good!

Whisk all ingredients together until emulsified.  You might find that it’s too bitter–if this is the case, just add more EVOO.  If you feel there’s not enough of that vinegar taste, add a dash more and taste.  Continue until it tastes just right!

Now:

  • Get all your condiments ready!  Thinly slice a sweet onion to toss in the salad.
  • Chop up some gourmet green olives
  • Crumble a creamy cheese, such as Bleu, Gorgonzola, or French Feta
  • Toast some pine nuts and throw those in too, for crunch.

Finally:

Once the potatoes are done, toss everything together with the arugula.  The greens will wilt slightly, but you want that!  The potatoes will melt the cheese just a little, too.  Also be aware that the vinaigrette will soften the potatoes, but it’ll also be completely absorbed by them, too, so the dish has LOTS of flavor.

Variations:

Find what works for you in this salad.  Omit the onions and add thinly sliced radishes, use toasted almonds instead of pine nuts. Use spring mix instead of arugula.

This salad is a hit, promise.  It’s one I could eat every night and one that always sounds good.   Plus, it’s so easy and there’s almost no clean up!

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