Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 20 - Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce, Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon Butter, Mashed Potatoes, and Oven-Poached Garlic with Thyme

Again, my title was cut off by Blogspot's space limitation...

Officially, the title of this entry is:

Day 20 - Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce, Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon Butter, Mashed Potatoes, Oven-Poached Garlic with Thyme, Roasted Parsnips, and Roasted Turnips

It's exciting to knock out six things in one night, even if it means cooking like a chicken with my head cut off. :-)

I'm exaggerating. This wasn't even that hard. I'm definitely getting better at masterminding the overview. Even with FNBF's erratic and can-change-at-the-last-minute arrival times.

I'm going to describe these in the order I started cooking them.

Oven-Poached Garlic with Thyme (p. 306)

This was a last-minute addition, and luckily I had all the ingredients. I was conceiving a very crude version of mashed potatoes for this meal, a variation that Martha offers at the end of a recipe for a much more refined Potato Puree. In the puree recipe, the garlic gets boiled with the potatoes, but this oven poaching sounded much more flavorful! A whole head of garlic and sprigs of thyme poached in olive oil?? Please... that sounds amazing! And it is. The garlic slides out like toothpaste, and it's deluxe. And I got some flavored oil in the bargain!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon Butter (p. 296)

I saw the piles of artichokes at Fairway again, and I thought, why not? Turns out, steaming them is a breeze. The artichoke prep that Martha prescribes is super-easy and effective. Then, you just pop them in the steamer, and when they're almost done, make some Tarragon Butter, and voilà! I think it's worth mentioning that these sat in the steamer a bit longer than Martha indicated. (I started them too early.) But there was no visible consequence. They seemed cooked just right.

My only questions is: Why a sprig of tarragon in the steamer water, Martha? Does that really make a difference?

Also, I must confess, I've never understood the allure of the artichoke. All that work, peeling off leaf after leaf (or are they called petals?). The heart is a nice reward, but by the time we got there, our butter was congealed.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Roasted Parsnips (p. 313)

I don't have a lot of experience with parsnips. I've put them in soups, knowing they'd somehow deepen the stock, but I'd never tasted one out in the open. What a nice surprise! They're rather sweet and delicious. FNBF described them as a cross between a sweet potato and a turnip. I'd throw carrot in there too. Great for roasting, by the way. I'll do this again for company, just to give people the experience of eating something unusual.

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Roasted Turnips (p. 313)

These, on the other hand, were not my favorite, although FNBF gave them a thumbs up. There must not be as much natural sugar in these as in parsnips, as they were more in the bitter camp. If you like turnips, you will like them roasted, but I think I'm not a turnip lover. (However, I did LOVE the Glazed Turnips recipe from Day One.)

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Mashed Potatoes (p. 309)

These were amazing, if I may say so myself. As I said above, the recipe in the book is quite refined, involving peeling, pureeing, infusing cream with rosemary. And I WILL do that at some point. But for tonight, I wanted something more casual, more bistro. :-) So I left the skins on, I popped in some of that amazing oven-poached garlic, I mashed it with a fork and added a surprisingly small amount of cream and butter, and they were to-die. Who knew it was so easy to make mashed potatoes? Why would anyone ever buy flakes??

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce (p. 257)

First of all, there were no strip steaks at Fairway, so I asked the butcher there, and he directed me to the shell steaks saying they were the same thing. (A quick Google search confirms this.)

I don't eat steaks a lot, and I was using my cast-iron Emeril skillet for the first time (sorry, Martha), so I was very excited for this assignment. Worth noting: Butter gets melted in the skillet before the steaks go in. The steaks are handled with tongs (so as to avoid piercing them with a fork and losing juices, I'm guessing.) The steaks didn't seem to be getting cooked through on the second side, so I flipped them one extra time. I could have cooked them longer, but we were happy with our donenesses. (I'm pretty sure that's not a word, but you know what I mean.) The mustard cream sauce tasted great! No sign of the vermouth that makes up a large portion of it. Just great flavor, great texture from the cast-iron surface. Good stuff, Martha!!

Jeff: A
Martha: A

Wow, Martha and I both got straight A's today! :-)

Until we eat again...

FNBF with the bistro feast before him


  1. Hi Jeff,
    This was my first recipe out of the Cooking School and although my steak turned out great, my sauce was too thin and it exploded all over my kitchen (and me!). I let it cook for longer than the desired 45 seconds (if I'm remembering the directions correctly) because there was plenty of liquid in the pan and I guess it got too hot. Did you turn the heat down while reducing the vermouth? I don'thave cast-iron so I just used my regular nonstick pan. I'm not a great cook but this is one of my biggest kitchen disasters!

  2. Hey Lisa-

    I've experienced what you're talking about, but I don't think that happened here. I wonder if the cast iron pan allows for better sauce-making....

    I remember one exploding sauce event happened when I was cooking at a friend's house on an electric stove in a pan like the one you described. But the problem there was that the liquid got cooked off instantly. Sounds like you had the opposite situation. I'd give the mustard cream sauce another go, because it was really delicious.

    Maybe try taking it off the heat when you add the liquid, but then go back to high heat to reduce it. That's the system that's been working for me. Good luck!