Red Passion, Green Envy

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Dear Jess,

Let me first say: this recipe has been on my list of ‘to make’ since the Flank Steak. This is the other dish that involved red meat. Six months later here it is, and I must say: it was well worth the wait.

Last Christmas my brother Bill got me The New Brooklyn Cookbook by Melissa Vaughan and Brendan Vaughan. It consists of ‘recipes and stories from 31 restaurants that put Brooklyn on the culinary map. It is amazing! Normally I read cookbooks like novels anyways, but this one… Oh my. It’s heaven to read. There are amazing pictures of all the restaurants as well as an article about the history and personality of each restaurant and it’s owner(s). Following that, each restaurant provided 2-3 of their recipes (all with pictures.)

Now, as much as I love this book, I have not (until now) ventured to make anything from it. Why? Because these are no ordinary recipes. They are gourmet. They are fancy. They are high maintenance. Now, I love these types of recipes… but this summer has not given me enough time to attempt such a thing. Until now. The wedding is in the past tense and I am finding time to do things the long way. Welcome to my newest adventure:

Grilled Hanger Steak with Horseradish Whipped Potatoes, Creamed Spinach, and Sauce Bordelaise
Serves 6, The New Brooklyn Cookbook, Page 116-118

For the sauce bordelaise
2 tbsp canola oil
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1/4 cup)
4 celery stalks, cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Spanish onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups dry red wine
4 cups homemade or prepared veal stock, such as D’Artagnan Veal Demi-Glace (we used beef broth… it’s all we could find)
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
Coarse salt

For the whipped potatoes
1 1/2 pounds russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp creme fraiche
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the creamed spinach
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 pound spinach, coarse stems discarded, leaves washed and drained
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Six 10 to 12oz hanger steaks, trimmed of fat, sinew, and center connective tissue (we learned that you can only get these at a slaughter house. So we used Rib Eye Steaks instead)

1. To make the sauce bordelaise, heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion, ad garlic and saute until the vegetables are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add the wine and reduce until almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 20 minutes. (We needed 30 minutes) Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is lightly syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 1 hour. (It never got syrupy for me. I think we needed at least 2 hours for this to happen. Next time I will make this in the afternoon to be sure.) Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pan, season to taste with salt, and set aside.

2. To make the potatoes, place them in a large pot and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. Combine the butter, cream and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and keep warm.
4. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then immediately pass them through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the potatoes and stir to combine. Fold in the creme fraiche and horseradish and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

5. Meanwhile, make the spinach. Melt 1 tbsp of the butter in a large saute an over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the spinach, and saute, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Set the spinach in a colander to drain for 10 minutes.
6. Combine the milk and heavy cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and keep warm.
7. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the flour and cook over medium heat whisking constantly, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Turn the heat to low and add the thoroughly drained spinach to the pot. Stir to combine well and cook until just heated through.

8. Prepare the grill for cooking or heat a ridged grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Grill the hanger steaks on both sides, about 10 minutes total for medium-rare. Allow the steaks to rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices.

9. Reheat the sauce bordelaise over low heat in a small, covered saucepan.

10. To serve, divide the potatoes among 4 plates. Top with creamed spinach and sliced steak. Drizzle with the sauce bordelaise.

I know. It looks like a lot. A LOT. However, the most important thing I learned from this one (which seems to be consistent throughout my life) is to take your time. Do one thing at a time. There was one moment when I got too many things going at once (to try to save time) and I burned my arm, burned the shallots and couldn’t whisk what needed to be whisked constantly.

That being said, the end product was delicious. Even though our sauce didn’t turn out (which I am told is an art to actually do… I will one day perfect it) the flavours and aromas were sublime. The potatoes in particular were a nice touch with the horseradish. To then be topped with some tasty (and a tiny bit spicy) spinach and a hunk of red meat… well… I will let you draw your own conclusions.

I look forward to trying more ‘tricky’ things from this book. It gives great opportunity for learning.

I love you,


Best Restaurants in America If you eat out in the U.S.A. and want the best dining experiences possible, this guide is for you What makes a good restaurant a “best”? Food that’s better than just good, of course. A dining room and a level of service that suit the quality of what’s on the plate. A good wine list (which doesn’t always mean an encyclopedic one), good beers and/or cocktails where appropriate. And then the less easily quantifiable stuff: personality, imagination (or intelligent commitment to a lack of same), consistency. 101 Best Restaurants in America (Gallery) When we were a young website, way back in 2011, we drew up our first 101 ranking ourselves, making a list of the places where we, The Daily Meal’s editors, liked to eat. Taking into consideration our mood, our budget, and where we happened to be when we get hungry, how would we vote, we asked ourselves — not only with our critical faculties but with our mouths and our wallets? Where would we send friends? Where would we want to dine if we had one night in this city or that? By this method, we ended up with a shortlist of 150 places. Then we argued, advocated, and cajoled each other on behalf of restaurants ranging from old-fashioned to avant-garde, ultra-casual to super-fancy. Finally, we invited an illustrious panel of judges (restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers) from across America to help order restaurants via an anonymous survey and tallied results to assemble a ranked list. Upstairs, the simple Scandinavian-style dining room is kitted out with tables that look like tangled tree trunks, carved by Tom senior. The ingredient-led 12-course tasting menu is constantly changing (you might spot one of the chefs picking a final herb flourish outside minutes before it hits your plate). Starters could include a mouthful of smoked eel and apple, or an exploding dumpling of ox cheek and lovage. A crapaudine beetroot slow-cooked in beef fat is meaty in texture as well as flavour, and local lamb is paired with turnip and mint. Even the bread with sour butter is sensational. Afterwards you’ll be grateful for the walk through the village to a pretty rose-covered house where some of the nine bedrooms have antique oak four-posters and copper bateau baths. Wake to the sound of cows mooing in the next field and head back to the inn for a simple breakfast of sheep’s yogurt with fresh berry compote and house granola or toasted brioche heaped with mushrooms and a duck egg. Unsurprisingly, the most talked about restaurant in Yorkshire is often full, so book it quick. By Tabitha Joyce.

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