Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2013

Roast Beef au Jus

Can I get a 'hell yeah'?

I was super stoked to re-create one of my favorite sandwiches for this month's Art of Manliness sandwich extravaganza.  For my step-by-step guide to building this classic, check out the following link.  Yes, that's yours truly using a meat slicer.  Hell Yeah!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

French Onion Soup

Last week, the Southeast was crippled with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.  It's a rarity for us to see that kind of weather, especially in my adopted hometown of Nashville, TN.  Rest assured, the local media took full advantage of such an event by interrupting just about every program to report the latest snow flurry, fender bender, or icy patch on the road.  Nevertheless, everyone had plenty of warning to make that necessary run to the grocery store for white bread, milk, and cold beer.

Not to be outdone, I decided to up the ante and take advantage of my days off by spending some time in the kitchen.  I get it.  Most people don't view cooking as a leisure activity.  But for me, I can think of no better scenario: cold beer in hand, standing over a warm stove, the smell of onions sauteing, and a blanket of white snow on the ground.  Add to that a solid group of friends, the NFL Playoffs, and a night of honky-tonking, and you may have discovered my recipe for the perfect day off.

That is of course, assuming you serve up a bowl of my favorite soup, French Onion.

This recipe is very simple.  With just a few quality ingredients and a little patience, you can impress your guests with this beloved classic - in under an hour.  The best part?  This only gets better the next day, so save your leftovers.

It's cold outside.  Go find that girl's number, call her, make this soup, waste away the afternoon, and thank me later.

French Onion Soup

6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
5 Spanish Colossal Onions, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch rings
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 Teaspoons All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Dash Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Cognac
2 Quarts Beef Stock
Swiss Cheese, grated
Gruyere Cheese, grated
Parsley, garnish

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Add onions and cook slowly, 10 - 15 minutes.  Stir onions, season with salt and pepper, and continue to slowly cook, stirring on occasion for 30 - 40 minutes, or until onions are caramelized and dark brown.  Sprinkle in flour and stir until evenly distributed, adding sugar and Worcestershire.  Increase heat to medium-high; add cognac and beef stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until ready to serve.

For service, preheat an oven to broil.  Fill an oven safe bowl with soup and top with a generous portion of croutons and grated cheeses.  Place bowl under broiler until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.  Remove from broiler and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.  Serve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Last week I was catching up with an old friend over cocktails at The Patterson House in Nashville, TN.  If you haven't been - go - order the Brown Derby (not on the menu).  In our discussion, he mentioned that he was driving into to the office that morning when the following thought entered his mind . . . what if I kept on driving?  Took a day off.  Took a week off.  Traveled the world.

Besides the obvious fears of losing his spot on the corporate ladder or running out of money - I didn't have that great of an answer to keep him from just doing it.  Well, until he mentioned he had a 10 o'clock conference call that was "the most important call of his career".  Really?  Turns out the call really wasn't that epic or life changing.

All of us are guilty.  We make goals to reach our destination, without enjoying the journey.  Part of what makes us successful is being uncommon - working harder than the rest and sacrificing our time, energy, and talents to a cause greater than ourselves.  For some it's a pipe dream to drop everything and follow a whim, a passion, or a dream.  For others, that's exactly what brought them happiness - and most often, success.

I get it - I'm supposed to be talking about food.

When I was younger, I never understood why restaurants were able to charge such exorbitant prices for food that was - at best - on par with what I could get at home.  "You are paying for the experience/atmosphere" was the constant response.  It wasn't until I was much older that I finally "got it".  It's nice to be able to walk into a restaurant that's different than my home environment - to get lost in the sights, smells, and tastes without splurging on a plane ticket or hotel room.

Food has the ability to transform.  A taste, smell, or meal can remind us of childhood, a favorite trip, or even an unpleasant experience - it's truly one of those things that can make our senses run wild.

Most of us don't have the luxury of dropping everything to pursue the great unknown.  Responsibilities:  work, wives, significant others, kids, family, church, and community are just some of the things that keep us working in 'the right direction'.  After all, part of being a great man is owning up and tackling responsibility head-on.

I challenge you to use food as your escape.  Instead of getting lost in a bottle of Jack Daniels (I admit - it's sometimes necessary), try out a new recipe, restaurant, or dish.  A simple change can do the mind, and the soul some good.

The following dish is something that totally reminds me of my childhood.  Having a mother with Lebanese roots, I was brought up on all the good stuff.  Seriously, the influence of Middle Eastern cultures, mixed with French influences, has made Lebanese food some of the best on the planet.

I was fortunate enough to spend a holiday weekend at home, and mom was kind enough to divulge a few of her secrets.


Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 lb Ground Beef/Lamb
1 Cup Converted White Rice
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
2 Lemons, juiced
1/4 Cup Butter

Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined.  Set aside.

1 Jar Grape Leaves, or about 50 - 60 Fresh Grape Leaves
15 - 20 Cloves Garlic
Lemon Slices
2 Tablespoons Butter, cubed
Kosher Salt

Thoroughly rinse and dry grape leaves.  Add about 10 grape leaves and a few garlic cloves to the bottom of a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot.  Begin rolling grape leaves by laying the leaves flat, vein side up, onto a hard surface.  Add a generous pinch of meat to the end of the leaf, roll over one time, fold the ends, and finally roll up completely, as in making an egg roll.  Place in the pot, seam-side down side-by-side, alternating layers as you reach the top.  Pack the leaves tightly, ensuring an even distribution of garlic cloves amongst the layers.  Add a generous sprinkle of salt over the leaves and evenly distribute lemon slices and butter.  Fill the pot with water, just up to the top layer.  To keep the leaves from unrolling during the cooking process, place a small plate on top of the leaves.  Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat, cover and reduce heat to simmer, 25 - 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 30 minutes before serving. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches w/ Garlic/Basil Mayo and Caramelized Onions

Sandwich - for dinner?

I know what you are thinking . . . sandwiches don't technically fit into typical dinner fare.

Think of this as a gourmet sandwich, made simple:  It's great for a weeknight dinner.  Pair this up with some oven roasted french fries and a glass of red wine, and you might think you are dining at a bistro on the outskirts of Paris.  Well, not really - but it never hurts to imagine.

I went with Flank Steak in this recipe as it's relatively cheap and easy to find.  This lean cut is best served when seared quickly to medium/medium rare and sliced thin across the grain, as shown here.


Let's break this down into a few simple steps and get started.  Don't forget to enjoy a glass of wine during the process.

Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches w/ Garlic/Basil Mayo and Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups Yellow Sweet Onions, sliced thin

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Garlic/Basil Mayo
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Basil, chopped
1 - 2 Dashes Worcestershire 

Grilled Flank Steak Sandwiches 
1 Loaf Whole Grain French Bread
1 lb Flank Steak
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1. Onions: 
In a skillet over medium low heat, combine oil, onions, and kosher salt and saute for 25 - 30 minutes, stirring on occasion until onions are browned and tender.
2. Mayo:  Combine minced garlic and kosher salt onto a cutting board.  Using the flat side of a chef's knife, work the ingredients into a paste on the board.  Combine garlic paste with mayo and remaining ingredients.  Cover, and keep chilled until ready for service.
3.  Sandwich:  Slice French bread into approximately two 6 - inch servings.  Next, slice the bread horizontally to create a sandwich top and bottom.  Place each slice under a broiler for 30 seconds - 1 minute, or until slightly browned and crispy.  Meanwhile, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the flank steak and season both sides liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Add steak to a grill/grill pan over medium- high heat and cook for approximately 2 - 3 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove steak from grill and set aside to rest for 3 - 4 minutes.  Begin assembling sandwich by spreading a layer of mayo on each side of the toasted bread.  Next, thinly slice steak across the grain and add to the bottom portion of the sandwich.  Top with caramelized onions and serve.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chicken Cutlets with Grilled Caesar Salad Lyonnaise

I know what you are thinking . . . for being known as a cook for the everyday guy, as of late my posts have seemed a bit, well, complicated.  Though it may seem that way to some of you out there, rest assured I'm not turning into an all-out 'foodie'.  The day you catch me wearing a black turtleneck reading food blogs in a coffee-shop is the day that I will turn in my man card.

The fact of the matter is creating incredible meals is all about starting with great ingredients.  With summertime in full bloom, I've been overwhelmed with the fresh quality of produce, eggs, cheese, etc. down at my local farmers market.  It's hard not to 'ramp up' the quality of your meals when you are working with such killer ingredients.

Summertime in the South = It's hot a hell.  Therefore, I like to create all-in-one dishes that encompass an entire meal.  So there, I've simplified things for you.  Don't worry about creating an appetizer or a salad to accompany this entree.  This dish stands on its own as a fairly quick weeknight dinner, however it's also elegant enough for any special occasion.

As always, I'll break it down for you step by step.  Walk slowly.

Chicken Cutlets
1 lb Chicken Cutlets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Coat cutlets with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil and season liberally on both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Cover and set aside.

Caesar Dressing
2 Cloves Garlic, minced fine
1 - 2 Anchovy Filets, minced fine
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Egg
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire 
1/4 Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

On a cutting board, combine the minced garlic, anchovies, and kosher salt.  Using the flat side of the chef's knife (sharp edge away from you), work ingredients into a paste on the board.  Combine paste, egg, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce into a large mixing bowl or food processor and whisk/mix vigorously for at least one minute, until mixture is smooth and even in color.  Add cheese and pepper and mix for another 30 seconds.  Continue to whisk/mix and slowly stream in olive oil at the same time, to combine, or emulsify.  Set aside, or refrigerate for later use.

Salad Lyonnaise - this salad is traditionally made with bacon, its rendered fat, and served along with croutons and a poached egg over fris矇e salad.  I've changed mine up a bit, but still incorporated my favorite part with the poached egg.
2 Hearts of Romaine, cut in half
2 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 Large Eggs

#1.  Prepare chicken breasts and salad dressing per the instructions above.
#2.  Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Fill a small pot with at least three inches of water and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.
#3.  Grill.  Add hearts of romaine to grill, cut side down, and grill until slightly charred, about 1 minute.  Remove from grill and plate, arranging wedged tomatoes on the side.  Add chicken cutlets to the grill over direct heat and cook for 1 minute, turn cutlets 45 degrees and cook for another minute (creating nice grill marks).  Flip cutlets and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes, or until chicken is firm to the touch, or until internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F.  Set aside cutlets to rest; tent with foil to keep warm.
#4.  Poach.  Carefully crack and slip each egg into the pot of slowly simmering water.  If necessary, use a wooden spoon to gently nudge the egg whites closer to the yolk.  Allow eggs to simmer for 2 - 3 minutes for over-easy.
#5.  Plate.  Generously pour prepared Caesar dressing over the grilled romaine and tomatoes.  Top grilled greens with a poached egg.  Place a few chicken cutlets on the opposing side and serve.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Grilled Skirt Steak and Asparagus with Oven Frites