“Steak Mock Frites” from “NYT Cooking App”

Here in London, we’re experiencing something that suspiciously feels like summer. I say it’s suspicious because I’m doubtful it will last. It never does. But in the meantime, we’re maximising our enjoyment of it while we can, which includes eating in the garden under the setting sun eating simple dishes that we love.

To wit: steak. Takes minutes to prepare, is delicious and we love it. As this is a rib-eye steak, it’s definitely a treat and not in the regular rotation, but still… full of yum. Also, we have a friend staying with us from the U.S. for the next week, so we wanted to treat her to one of the legendary steaks from our local butcher, Dring’s.

I’ve cooked steak enough times that I’m pretty confident on how to do it. But this recipe helpfully included a method for Maître d’Hôtel butter, which is pretty simple (butter, thyme, shoot, lemon juice & a splash of white-wine vinegar), but the real revelation was the recipe for “Mock Frites.” For this, you basically just boil new potatoes, dry them and smash them on a greased baking sheet and then bake them some more.

They. Were. Delicious. And so easy! Sam Sifton says in the introduction that the potatoes have “a terrific quality of French fry-ness, supreme crispness, with soft and creamy flesh within.” They really did all of those things. I plan to make these mock frites again. And again. And again.

If you’d like to make this yourself, click through this sentence to see the original recipe in the New York Times. 

 

“Steak Mock Frites” from “NYT Cooking App”

“Wasabi Steak” from “Happy Salads”

IMG_9288We are in the midst of a HEAT WAVE here in the U.K., which, frankly, can be a bit miserable. However, this has also meant we are doing the perfect cookbook right now. When it’s more than 30C/90F and there’s no air conditioning, the last thing you want to do is cook. Even a die hard cooking fan like me.

The Minimal Cooking Required offering today is this Wasabi Steak salad. When Anna, Kirstin and I were gathered at the Leon cookbook launch and were paging through the cookbook, this was one the recipes that stopped us all in our tracks, as we all wanted to try it.

We were not wrong.

Although the boys have been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about a month of eating salads, they were happy to eat this. We were too.

The only heat required was to stir-fry the steak for one minute. That’s the only heat I can handle on days like this. (For what it’s worth, shaving the asparagus was a bit of a faff, but I just put on Radio 4 and listened to the news. Needless to say, the time passed quickly because the news is never boring these days.)

Would I make this again? Absolutely. In fact, if this heat wave lasts any longer, I might be making again in the very near future.

Top Food Tip: Once when I was at my favourite health food store I found a bottle of mix of black and white sesame seeds. I thought it would be handy to have around. In this instance, it was perfect, because I just used the mix to scatter over the top of the steak. Result.

“Wasabi Steak” from “Happy Salads”

“Seared Steak with Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing & Pepper Sauce” from “Sirocco”

IMG_8932I need to make a full disclosure, now, at the very start: I did not make the whey dressing.

Regular readers of this blog will know how I feel about hard-to-find ingredients. They truly drive me insane. Even worse is when you actually buy said hard-to-find or obscure ingredient, you use it once for a recipe, and then it’s just sitting in your cupboard for an interminable amount of time until you get around to throwing it away, safe in the knowledge that you will never use/need/eat it again. What a waste.

Brown Rice Syrup/Avocado Oil/Pomegranate Mollasses, I’m looking at you.

So: Whey. This recipe calls for it, and I wasn’t even sure where I would find it in my local supermarket or organic food store or green grocer. I had a look in all three local shops, but came up empty handed. But unlike previous recipes from previous books, I didn’t panic, because when we saw Sabrina Ghayour in person, she told us not to stress out too much if we couldn’t find the exact right ingredient called for in some of her recipes.

With her advice ringing in my ear, I made the bold decision to go ahead and make this without it. I thought perhaps we could live without the six tablespoons of whey mixed with six tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and I *think* I was right.

Nearly everyone loved this. While the rest of us were gobbling this down, Tim thought it was lacking something. (Maybe it was lacking some Whey Sauce? Who can say for sure.) He recommended the next time I make it, I sprinkle some feta over the top. Maybe the whey sauce would add the extra special something he thought it was missing, but you all know that I’ll accept any recommendation that says add more cheese, so we’ll do it next time.

But his criticism aside, I thought this was a great weeknight recipe.  To wit:

  • Healthy– what could be better than a tray full of roasted vegetables;
  • Using the steak as a garnish rather than the main event– I imagined nutritionists everywhere giving me a big thumbs up;
  • Easy– Nigella is a big proponent of tray bakes for weeknight cooking, and I couldn’t agree more.

So will I be making this again? Yes. Probably next week, if I can get away with it. (Note to self: Add feta.)

 

“Seared Steak with Roasted Vegetables, Whey Dressing & Pepper Sauce” from “Sirocco”

“Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries” from “My Paris Kitchen”

IMG_8403Steak Night!
I can’t tell you how much our family loves steak night. But the family member who loves it most is our (newish) dog Buddy, who goes out of his mind when I’m cooking these glorious slabs of red meat.

(Fun fact: Buddy also gets super excited when he sees the small white bags from our butchers Drings. Because we get his weekly bone from there, he thinks every bag from there must be for him. Buddy is awesome because his happiness and enthusiasm for life– for white bags from the butchers or tennis balls or belly rubs– is infectious.*)

But I digress. Back to steak night. I realised as I was cooking the steaks they are the ultimate in quick delicious dinners. If you were only going to have  steak and a side salad, your dinner would be ready in 10 minutes. Take THAT Jamie Oliver.

However, in this case, I also made the french fries, which took much longer. I was skeptical that any fries I could make would be good, but alas, I was wrong. I followed the instructions carefully and actually, it wasn’t as big a faff as I thought it would be. While preparing the potatoes it helped that I got fully distracted by listening to a debate on Radio 4 about Brexit while I was cutting all of the frites, so that helped enormously, as that’s the most fiddly part of the process.

Be warned, though: If you want to make these fries, start well in advance, as after you’ve done all the peeling and the chopping, you have to soak out the fries for one hour in cold water, and then bake them for another 45 minutes. This is not a speedy process, but the end result was a delicious tray of frites. So much so that I was worried that they would never make it to the table, since everyone seemed to be stealing them off the baking tray while I was finishing the steaks.

The mustard butter was a triumph, but only if you happened to be over the age of 17. The boys were not at all tempted to use it, let alone try it. Perhaps they didn’t want their steaks to be adulterated in any way. Who knows. But we didn’t care, because that meant there was more for us.

All in all, steak night was a resounding success. Or, to be more accurate, it was a resounding success for everyone who got to eat it. For Buddy the dog, he was left to lick his lips and give us mournful eyes during dinner. Better luck next time, Buddy.

To make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe on Tastebook.

*For the dog fans among you, [non-dog fans can skip this addendum] here’s a recent snap of Buddy in his favourite place in the whole wide world. Greenwich Park. Luckily, he goes there every day, which means his infectious happiness level is maintained. He’s a lab-cocker spaniel mix. His tongue really isn’t that big, it just looks enormous in this particular picture because he was trying to catch his breath during our morning run.

IMG_8259

 

“Steak with Mustard Butter and French Fries” from “My Paris Kitchen”

“Rump Steak ‘Stew’ ” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

IMG_6054Tim: Well, this doesn’t look like any stew that I know.

Maureen: It’s true, though maybe that’s why I was keen to make it. As you know, I hate stew.

Tim: But I also made dumplings to go with it! This isn’t the type of stew that requires dumplings.

Maureen: No, it is not. But what do you think?

Andrew: It’s good, but I could do without the mushrooms.

Nicholas: I like the steak, but it could do without the spinach. You know how I feel about spinach.

Maureen: Your dislike of spinach has been made abundantly clear. I can’t understand it, since I love spinach, but there we are.

Tim: This is good, but really it’s just steak with some vegetables.

Maureen: Tom says in the introduction that it’s more a stew of flavours that you cook quickly, rather than a traditional stew that takes a long time. Saying that, at least this was one of the speedier meals in the book, which is good for a weeknight dinner. I would eat this again. Would you?

Tim: Yes, I would.

Andrew: Maybe.

Nicholas: I would, if it didn’t have the spinach in it.

 

“Rump Steak ‘Stew’ ” from “Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes”

“Rib-Eye Steak with Stilton Butter” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

CBAMSteakMaureen: Steak night!

Nicholas (10): Are we celebrating something?

Maureen: We are celebrating the fact that it’s Tuesday. Go Tuesday!

Nicholas: I thought we were celebrating that Jamie got into M.I.T.

Maureen: No. He won’t know that until Friday. But if he does get in, we will celebrate for sure. So what do we think?

Andrew (14): It’s steak night. What’s not to like?

Maureen: True. You can’t go wrong with a Dring’s steak. But what you really ought to be eating is the stilton butter.

Andrew: I like my steak plain.

Nicholas: Me too.

Tim: Is this your Grandma’s blue cheese butter?

Maureen: No. Not my grandma, but the nation’s grandma: Mary Berry. What do you think?

Tim: It’s good, I guess.

Maureen: It’s fine, but I like the one I usually make with stilton, walnuts and butter better. Yum. Butter on steak is definitely a special treat.

Tim: Did you do anything special with the steak?

Maureen: No. In fact, I didn’t follow Mary’s directions at all on the steak. I did it like I usually do, on the grill pan. In the book, she tells you to start by searing the steak two minutes on each side, and then finishing them off in the oven. On her show the other night, she seared them, put them in the refrigerator to cool down and then finished them off in the oven. She was making them for a dinner party, so didn’t want to be stuck in the kitchen cooking the steaks on the hob. Neither system made sense to me.

Tim: I agree.

Maureen: I had a long discussion with Michael at Dring’s and he said you could do it that way, but there would be a real chance that you would overcook them, which would be a real shame when you’re talking about steak.

Tim: So in the end, you didn’t follow Mary’s instructions, did you?

Maureen: No, but it’s still steak night, which is ALWAYS FTW.

“Rib-Eye Steak with Stilton Butter” from “Mary Berry Cooks”

“Secret Steak & Chips with Garlicky Green Beans” from “Save With Jamie”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is called “Secret Steak” because Jamie is encouraging us to go beyond the usual cuts– fillet, sirloin, rib-eye and rump– and try skirt steaks instead, which are much cheaper but taste good. I’ve got news for you Jamie: Been there and done that.

We discovered “Secret Steaks” for ourselves back in June when we had “Bavette a l”Echalotte” from the Skinny French Kitchen. We liked it then, and we like it now.

It’s still a top tip from Jamie. However, in this particular instance, our butchers were out of skirt steaks that night, so we went with rump instead. It’s not as expensive as going for a sirloin or a fillet, but it cost more than the humble skirt steak. The dinner was delicious, but I’m not sure this counts as a faithful test of the recipe since I didn’t use the skirt steak.

The other thing I didn’t do– and will never do, to be honest– was use the frozen green beans called for in the recipe. There are several reasons for this. First, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find frozen green beans at the local shops. I tried a Sainsbury’s, a Co-op, a Waitrose and another Sainsbury’s, and couldn’t find them anywhere. Second, when fresh beans are plentiful and not that expensive, why in the world would you use frozen? So I used fresh, but consequently couldn’t follow the recipe as written.

The mushroom sauce was nice, but frankly not that different from any number of other mushroom sauce recipes I’ve used over the years. Fry onion and mushrooms, add cream, mustard and a splash of water. Hardly rocket science.

Finally, the other thing I didn’t do was follow the quantites for the amount of steak. Nicholas, 10, watched the program where Jamie made this (I missed it) and reported the next day, “He didn’t use much steak. That’s not how I would do it.” I can see what Jamie is trying to do– stretch the meal for as much as possible, which means cutting back on the steak to bring down the cost– but it’s not how I would do it. If we’re going to have steak for dinner, we’re going to have STEAK FOR DINNER, which means everyone gets his or her own steak. People (read: my family) wouldn’t be happy if they just got a few small slices of beef.

So would I make this again? As I haven’t even properly followed the instructions the first time, I’m not sure I can answer this question. Would I have steak for dinner again? You bet. But I don’t think I’ll be doing it the Save With Jamie way.

Here’s the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s website. But since I didn’t follow it, I”m not sure you should either. Click through this link to see for yourself. Share any thoughts you have about it in the comments.

“Secret Steak & Chips with Garlicky Green Beans” from “Save With Jamie”