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Sunday, February 11, 2007

m-p-v done right

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Regular readers will know of my periodic rants about unadventurous eaters.....people who maintain that a meal is not a meal unless it includes meat (m), potatoes (p) and vegetables (v...duh). And they better not touch. Or have any weird sauce or seasoning.

Drives me nuts. But that's not to say that m-p-v type meals are precluded from being tasty.....they just have to be done right. Sure, you could have well-done steak, boiled potatoes and frozen vegetables.....but just imagine if you took it to the next level.....a nice thick steak (from a happy cow ;) ), drizzled with a rich green peppercorn sauce......potatoes that have been stuffed with tang and flavour....and a salad befitting its own regional nomenclature.

Now we're talking food. And it's actually courtesy of my brother......he's a more than occasional weekend visitor (not sure if he comes for the food or the company), and tends to be more of a typical m-p-v eater. So he bought me some steak, some massive potatoes, bocconcini and spinach.

And so I played with it a bit, and came up with grilled top sirloin with green peppercorn cream sauce, twice-baked potatoes with horseradish and dijon and caprese salad. And if I hadn't downed nearly a half pound of chorizo while I was cooking, I probably would have eaten a little more. :)

Insalata Caprese
I can't say how much I love this salad. There are billions of version out there, mine's definitely not anything close to authentic....but it's yummy. Generally, this salad consists of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, olive oil and basil. I change it up a bit, but the flavour inspiration remains.

fresh baby greens (mesclun mix, arugular or spinach)
1 pint grape tomatoes
200 g bocconcini (minis)
1 bunch fresh basil
balsamic vinaigrette (1 T balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t fleur de sel, 3 T evoo, 1 T dijon mustard)

1. Arrange greens on a place. Top with grape tomatoes and mini bocconcini.
2. Drizzle vinaigrette and sprinkle basil. Yum.
Oooo....and check out my fun new triangle plate. I'm sure you'll see it again soon. :)
Insalata caprese

Twice-baked potatoes with horseradish and dijon
3 MASSIVE baking potatoes
2 T horseradish
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t black pepper, cracked
1/3 c sour cream
1/4 c whipping cream
garnish - parmesan cheese, paprika

1. Set the oven to 400F. Pierce the potatoes so they don't explode. Bake for about 1 hour (or until soft).
2. Set the potatoes on a flat surface....figure out their most stable side (i.e., so they don't roll over once stuffed). Cut the top 1/2 inch off the potatoes. Hollow them out with a spoon, putting the flesh in a bowl. Be careful, as the baked potato is really brutally freaking hot (yes, I burnt myself yet AGAIN). Meh.
Hollow potatoes!

3. To the potato flesh, add the horseradish, dijon mustard, sea salt, black pepper, sour cream and whipping cream. Use an electric mixer to beat this until it's nice and fluffy. You want a consistency similar to icing, because you want it to be pipe-able, but still hold its shape. Add more liquid if needed.

4. Using a spoon, fill the potatoes until they're just below level.

5. I have a very handy little icing gun (picture above) and works great for simple piping jobs. Since I'm really not a baking/pastry person, this is totally adequate for my needs. I fill it up and use it to decorate the very top of the potatoes.
Decorated, waiting to be browned

6. Top with grated parmesan and or paprika. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. Alternatively, you could fill these with goat cheese, chives, roasted garlic, etc. I used what I had available (which wasn't much), but you can use your imagination a bit for these. People will be super impressed with their pretty potatoes.

Steak with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
2 pounds grilling steak (I like top sirloin due to lack of fat and marbling - it's still quite tender and flavourful too. A good balance all around).
Top Sirloin

montreal steak spice (for grilling)

1. Allow steaks to come to room temperature. Trim of visible fat. Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Spice and grill to desired doneness.

Peppercorn sauce
1 T evoo
1 shallot, minced
3 T marsala wine
1 cup concentrated beef broth (i.e., if you're using bouillon use 2 packages, or if you're using homemade, take 2 cups and boil it away until it's reduced to 1 cup)
1 cup whipping cream
2 T green peppercorns in brine, drained and rinsed (these are fun to find.....ask your grocer if you can't find them!)

1. In a small pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until translucent. Add marsala.
2. When marsala is evaporated, add broth, whipping cream and peppercorns. Boil until it reduces to sauce consistency (about 30 minutes). Serve over steak.

Hubs rocks at bbq'ing.
Dinner time!


Anonymous said...

i have to say, your blog is a pregnant lady's dream... here it is, 4 am and i'm nauseated beyond belief... yet, i find those potatoes you've posted absolutely irresistible... yum!

Freya said...

That dish looks great and I don't even eat steak! I love bocconcini and as for baked potatoes! My favourite potato dish (apart from mashed!)

Brilynn said...

Now that's a meal!
I love twice baked potatoes.

Sara said...

I would like to have that exact dinner myself please! Looks delicious.

Mrs. Spaghetti Bender said...

The quest to find the peppercorn in brie is dead in the water. I know, I know I should have asked someone in the store but honestly, I never see anyone working in the store. I really wanted to try your recipe and drizzle it over our filet mignon for Valentine's day - oh well, I guess I'll have to come up with something else. : (

leslie @ definitely not martha said...

notquiteuptheduff - congrats on your pregnancy! the potatoes are sooooo yummy.

freya - this sauce would be good on other things - chicken, roasted veggies, etc. :)

brilynn - twice-baked potatoes really are a nice treat eh? They take a little time, but I love how you can make them into anything. :)

sara - I tend to eat this dinner about once every couple of months....I'll let ya know. ;)

mrs. spaghetti bender - since you're in Ottawa, I know for a fact that you can find this at: The Budapest Deli (in the market), right overtop of all the sausages, you can find it at Nicastro's (downtown) in small jars, and I've also had luck finding it at Loeb (in Bells Corners). Don't give up! :)

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

You've covered a lot of stuff there. The thing that immediately hit me is how long it is since I last had a steak!

HumanUnit said...

Oooh...brilliant woman. Caprese salad in the winter is possible using GRAPE TOMATOES! Why have I never thought of this before?? I usually torment myself waiting until the summer for perfect tomatoes. Great call.

I'm going to try this peppercorn sauce of yours this weekend if I get a chance to cook for the hubby. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

FYI: i made the potatoes tonight, using roasted garlic... they were divine! :D

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