; Supermarket Serenade: June 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ribeyes, Couscous and Carrots

One of the most economical ways to put a steak dinner on your table is to purchase the whole "roast" and have the butcher at your supermarket or meat market cut it into individual steaks. Typically rib eye steaks can cost anywhere from 7-9 dollars a pound and buying the roast will save you a few bucks-I have a supermarket nearby that periodically offers whole rib roasts for about $4.99/lb...nice deal!

I recently purchased a whole rib eye roast, had the butcher cut it into 1 1/2 inch steaks, and today grilled them and served them with a tasty Caramelized Shallot Couscous and quick sauteed Rosemary Carrots.

The creamy pungent flavor of blue cheese makes it a natural to pair with beef. I prepared the grilled rib eyes nice and pink and served it sliced with a creamy blue cheese sauce. No surprise here, but, the Barefoot Contessa has a recipe for a delicious blue cheese sauce that I often make for grilled steak. A word of caution here though...while this is an incredibly simple recipe-DO NOT LEAVE YOUR POT UNATTENDED!! Today I put the cream on the stove as directed and brought it to a boil forgetting about it while I was prepping the steaks until...I heard a "pst..sizzle" sound and saw a ton of steam. I ran to the stove and I watched in horror as a milk white waterfall of cream boiled over coating my glass cook top with a bubbling mess. Oh it will be a few weeks before that burns off or I can scrub it off and get it shiny again(any tips for cleaning glass cook tops would be greatly appreciated!)

Couscous makes a quick simple side and is especially great when you are making other dishes for your meal that may need a bit more of your attention. Tasty all by itself, this couscous can be a meal by itself and is great to use up any leftover steak you may have from a barbecue (just stir in the steak with the beef broth).

There are some days when you need to let your supermarket be your sous chef. A handy product I found recently in the supermarket fits that bill-premium Matchstix carrots. Being a home cook with limited knife skills, cutting carrots this small (and this uniform) would probably take the better part of an afternoon. These carrots saved time and actually had great flavor.

Grilled Ribeyes with Blue Cheese Sauce
4 boneless ribeye steaks
2 tablespoons salt
Blue Cheese Sauce (adapted from Ina Garten's Gorgonzola Sauce from The Barefoot Contessa Parties):
2 cups heavy cream
2 ounces blue cheese (I used a Danish blue cheese)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the steaks on a work surface and season both sides with the salt and let rest for 15 minutes.

Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat; let boil (watching!) for about 30 minutes. Stir in the blue cheese Parmesan cheese and the pepper.

Preheat a gas grill to medium high heat. Gently rinse the salt from the steaks and pat dry. Lightly oil the grill rack and grill the steaks for 9-11 minutes for medium rare, turning halfway through cooking. Remove steaks from the grill and let rest on a cutting board for 8-10 minutes. Carve steak into 1/4 inch thick slices and season to tastse with additional salt and pepper.

Caramelized Shallot Couscous
1 tablespoon butter
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat; stir in the shallots, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Let the shallots cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in the couscous and toast lightly. Add the beef broth, bring just to a boil then remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. To serve, stir to combine the shallots and season lightly to taste with the salt and pepper.

Quick Sauteed Rosemary Carrots
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces Matchstix Carrots
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary

Heat the oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat; stir in the carrots, salt and rosemary and cook for 3-4 minutes just until tender-crisp.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curried Couscous

It's Barefoot Thursday!
Barefoot Bloggers are a group of bloggers that twice a month prepare a (almost always) delicious recipe from the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten. This weeks recipe was selected by Ellyn of Recipe Collector and Tester . She chose Curried Couscous from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook.

Well I'm going to be totally up front with you...I did not want to like this recipe. I have long turned my nose up at all things "curried"-and honestly only because of the smell; I just can't stand the smell of curry. But I made the recipe thinking Ina has never steered me wrong and why would I let my aberrant fear of curry stand in the way of a potentially delicious dinner?

Well..she did it again-it was a fabulous recipe. I made one omission and one addition (and one little tweak-for personal taste). The omission was the raisins/currants. I only like raisins if they are covered in chocolate and since I did not think that chocolate would be a good addition omission seemed the only option-my kids were grateful for that. (And speaking of my kids, they don't really care for nuts so while I did add the almonds to the final dish I photographed the dish before stirring them in!)

The addition was to take an entire rotisserie chicken, dice and toss in...it was delicious and made it a meal.

And now for the tweak...I am almost embarrassed about the tweak. In my heart I knew that Ina would know just the right amount of each ingredient, but when it came to adding in the curry my olfactory receptors seemed to take over and make me decrease the curry to 1/2 teaspoon...it was curried enough.

Curried Couscous
Copyright, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and the red onions, mix well and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.
(Sorry about this photo...it's been dark and rainy around here the last few days and so hard to get a bright shot!:))

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Avocado Oil and a Seductive Tomato

I have made evident in the past my love of the avocado; so it should come as no surprise that the other day while I was perusing my supermarket for something interesting I was drawn to a bottle of avocado oil.

Hmmm oil of an avocado...I knew it was "fatty" fruit (albeit the "good" kind of fat), but it honestly never occurred to me that there was such a thing as avocado oil; into the cart it went and off I went to find something to use it with.
During the "non-local-tomato-months" I am generally a purchaser only of those mini plastic containers of grape or cherry tomatoes since I often find the supermarket tomatoes to be gritty and flavorless. Well here we are June in Connecticut and obviously no one is harvesting tomatoes at any of the farms around here, but for whatever reason the Heirloom tomato selection at our local Whole Foods was looking rather seductive and quite honestly I could not resist a shapely and bright, yellow tomato. It was settled I would use my avocado oil for a salad using the yellow tomato, herb salad mix, and fresh mozzarella cheese.
This past weekend my H and I enjoyed a few glasses of a tasty Argentinian Malbec, but (shockingly) did not finish the bottle. Not being one to let tasty wine go to waste I decided to make a reduction to add to my salad. I had about 2/3 of a cup left and reduced it down to a tangy little tablespoon and swirled in a touch of honey-it was a perfect accent.
The avocado oil gave a lovely essence of avocado flavor to the salad. I am certain that a diced avocado added to the salad would be over the top delicious so in the future that is the only change I will make. But for today I'm cutting a few calories at lunch so that I can enjoy the tasty Carvel Ice Cream Cake I bought for my DH for his birthday today!

Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Avocado Oil and a Honeyed Malbec Reduction
2/3 cup Malbec
1/4 teaspoon wildflower honey
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
3 large yellow Heirloom tomato, each cut into 6 slices
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 8 slices
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 teaspoons Avocado oil
2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil

In small skillet over medium high heat reduce the Malbec to 1 tablespoon; stir in the honey, pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Divide the greens between 4 serving plates. Scatter the shallots over the greens. Alternate the tomato and the cheese and fan over the greens on each plate. Season each salad with the salt and pepper.

Drizzle each salad with a teaspoon of the Malbec reduction and two teaspoons of the oil. Garnish each with the fresh basil.

Yield: 4 salads