Reverse-Seared Steak

I love beef, it’s rich and packed with flavors and essential nutrients, and among all the dishes one can make with beef, steak is my favorite. There are many ways to cook a steak, a grilled steak is always great because the charred grill marks just add that perfect amount of smokiness, but not everyone has a grill and most griddles don’t get to a high enough temp to cook the steak & char the surface properly. The pan-seared steak is another classic, it’s simple and effortless, the full contact with the pan allows short cooking time and creates a lot of “fond” (the bits that stick to the pan) which if you deglaze it with some wine or stock, make a great sauce. However, there is still too much moisture in the meat, thus preventing the pan reaching a high temp and makes the surface soggy. And for both method to work properly, the meat must be allowed to rest to achieve even cooking, and a lot of the juiciness of the steak is lost during that time. The solution to fix the problems of both method is called “Reverse-Searing”, you roasted it first in a low temp oven to cook it, then sear it to create the crust, this way, you don’t need a big grill because all you need is an oven, meat thermometer, and pan.

There are 3 main advantages if you reverse sear a steak:

  • Less “gray ring” – for those who enjoy a good tender, rare or medium rare steak, there’s nothing worse than a gray ring of well-done meat wrapping around the tender juicy goodness. The slow cook in oven allow the meat to cook more evenly, kinda like sous vide, with an all pink cross section
  • Better browning: By cooking it in an oven, most moisture on the surface is removed so the outer surface can be browned perfectly! This is why I prefer severe searing than sous vide because when you sous vide a steak and then sear it, the surface is too wet for a pan to reach a high temp for browning
  • Easier & cheaper: With this, you have more time, for people who sear or grill their steak, a rare to a medium rare might just be 30 sec difference in cook time, whereas the low temp oven extends that to about 10 min. Also, you don’t need a big grill or an expensive sous vide machine which costs about 100+ USD, all you need is an oven, a meat thermometer (about 10 USD), and a pan

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1 – Prep:

Choose the right meat, even though almost any cut of steak works, my personal favorite is a thin 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick cut rib eye, it is both flavorful and tender, and marbling of fat makes it super juicy, a nice thick strip would also work well for reverse searing. Season your meat generously with salt and black pepper, then place them on a baking rack over a roasting tray. Preheat the oven to about 120°C or 250°F, you can set it to any temp as long as it’s within the 93°C/200°F – 135°C/275°F, lower temp allows the meat to cook more evenly, but it takes a lot longer.

Step 2 – Slow Roasting:

Place the entire tray in the oven, and roast until the center temperature hits about 5°C/10°F below the final temperature at which you’d like to serve the meat, this would take any time from 30 min to 1 h, really depends on the cut you use. Try to get the temp once every 8 min or so. Also, you need a good/accurate thermometer for this process, but there’s no need to break the banks for one, a small usually costs thermal-pen less than 10 USD and is very reliable.

Step 3 – Searing:

About 2 min before the steaks reach 5°C/10°F below the ideal temp, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over high heat, you want the oil to smoke just a little bit, which means the temperature is at about 200°C/400°F. Add the steaks with a tablespoon of butter and cook it until it’s nicely browned on the first side, which should take about 45 seconds. Flip the steak and cook the second side, and don’t forget about hold it sideways to near their edges.

Step 4 – Serving:

DO NOT REST! Cut it up and serve it straight away, the steak is already evenly cooked in the oven, so there’s no need to rest the meat!

 

 

Advertisements

Cured Salmon

Among all the fishes out there, salmon is probably my favorite, you can smoke, sear, grill them or even eat it raw. For a lot of people, eating raw fish might be a little out of their comfort zone, so, as a stepping stone, I will make them try cured salmon. This recipe is extremely simple, you can add any spices to customize your cured salmon. In this recipe, it is important to try to use North Atlantic salmon, this is because pacific salmon has a tendency to have parasites.

You’ll need:

  • 400 g brown sugar
  • 175 g kosher salt or flaky sea salt
  • 1 to 2 lb Atlantic salmon fillet (no thicker than 1 1/2 inches/3.5 cm, skin on, pin bones removed)

How to make this:

  1. Mix together brown sugar and salt (So, this is just the most basic curing mixture, both the sugar and salt are crystals, which gives them the property to absorb moisture, but you can also add extra spices and herbs of your choice, I like to add black pepper, coriander seed, and sliced fresh fennel to my curing mixture)
  2. Place half of the mixture on the bottom of a container, whip the salmon try and place the salmon on top of the mixture, then bury the salmon using the rest of the mixture
  3. Seal the container and place it in the fridge for about 72 hours
  4. When you take it out after 72 hours, the dry mixture that covers the fish should have turned into a thick paste or liquid. Rinse with some ice water, then slices and serve.

Nashville Hot Chicken

There are three things I absolutely love about Tennesse, the sweet & oaky Jack Denial whiskey, tender & juicy Memphis style BBQ, and the infamous Nashville hot chicken. As fried chicken goes, this is as good as it gets, a perfectly golden crispy crust hides the most tender & juiciest meat, smothered in a layer of hot & spicy butter/lard, served on top of the plainest white bread to soak up all its juicy goodness, creating a truly “finger-lickin’ good” fried chicken.

Even though in Nashville, the true originator and the populizer of this style of fried chicken, Prince’s and Hattie B’s, pretty much set the gold standard for all hot chicken, you can still find this signature dish of Tennesse almost on every street corner. However, if you don’t live in Tennessee and want to try this amazing dish, it’s actually not that hard to make at home since it’s based on traditional southern fried chicken, which the best of the best is almost always made at home.

IMG_9941

So, here’s how to make this.

You’ll need:

  • 1 whole chicken (or 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts & 2 wings)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pickle brine
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 egg
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

How to make this:

  1. Mix together the buttermilk, pickle brine, egg, hot sauce, salt, and pepper using a whisk, then soak the chicken in the marinade for about 4 to 6 hours
  2. Combine the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Dry the chicken using some paper towel, then coat the chicken with the flour, dip it in the buttermilk marinade again, then coat it with another layer of flour
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy-duty pot (like a dutch oven), fill it half full and heat it till the oil reaches 150C or 300F degrees. Then fry them for about 10 to 13 min, and let them sit for about 10 min
  4. In a small pan, heat up the butter & lard over medium heat, then add the cayenne, paprika powder, and brown sugar, turn off the heat, then stir for about 2 min or until the sauce turns smooth
  5. Smother or brush on a layer of sauce, serve it over some white toasts or waffle, with some pickle chips

The “Casanova” Burger

A while back, The Cheese & Burger Society published a list of delicious burgers, and on top of that list, is the “Casanova” burger, made with Swiss cheese over a 10 oz patty with ham and sauteed mushrooms over some potato rolls. However, to me personally, after making this burger, I realized that this recipe has several issues, first of all, the hams are a bit hard to chew, so you can’t get a clean bite; second, the potato rolls are a little too soft, and make the burger feels super light; and third, the sauteed mushroom just fell off when you eat it. So to fix it, I changed the recipe up a little, first, we are going to use some seared prosciutto instead of ham, then instead of the sauteed mushroom, we will cook them with a béchamel sauce, and switch the potato buns to kaiser roll. So here is a better, beefier and easier to eat this version of the “Casanova” Burger. This recipe makes one burger

IMG_5408

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb 80% fat ground beef
  • 1/2 small shallot (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 strip thick cut bacon
  • 3 thin slices prosciutto
  • 5 medium size Crimini mushroom
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 kaiser roll

Hoe to make this:

  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces, finely mince the shallot and garlic, then in a pan over medium heat, sear the bacon bits for about 2 min, then add the shallot & garlic and cook for another 3 min or until the bacon bits are mostly crispy. Place them in large bowl and let them cool down, then mix it with the ground beef
  2. Slice the mushrooms, then cook them in the same pan over medium heat with the butter for about 1 min, then mix in the flour, lightly toast the flour to get rid of the raw taste, then add the milk and stir constantly or until it turns smooth, add ground nutmeg if you want to take this to another level, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir until the sauce turns thick
  3. Form the beef mixture into two 6 oz patties, make it a little wide than the bun so when they are cooked, they shrink a bit and fits the bun perfectly. Heat up the pan over medium-high and cook each side for about 3 min per sides for rare, 4 min for medium or 5 min for well done. Place the cheese on top, cover the pan, then turn off the heat and let it sit for about 2 min or until the cheese melts, let the patties rest for another 5 min after cooking
  4. Sear the prosciutto over medium heat until it turns semi-crispy (about 2 min), the prosciutto is usually very salty thus we don’t need any salt in this dish. Toast the buns and brush the buns with some butter for better texture and flavor
  5. Spread the Dijon mustard on the bottom bun, the mayonnaise on the top, then on the bottom, place 2 slices of cooked prosciutto, then the 2 patties, then another slice of the prosciutto, with the béchamel mushrooms on top

IMG_5443

 

Tofu Burger Patty

First of all, I just want to say that after 3 days of researching and experimenting on how to make a great vegan tofu patty, I have the utmost respect for those who gave up meat and decided to follow a more environmentally sustainable path. When I made this recipe, I tried my best to keep it simple with easy to find ingredients, while mimicking the taste and texture of meat, with a similar amount of essential nutrients. Since this recipe has a lot of steps, you can make a lot of them and keep them in the freezer, and reheat them when you need them. This recipe makes 3 -4 patties.

You’ll need:

  • 340g/12oz firm tofu
  • 110g/4oz crimini mushroom
  • 85g/3oz breadcrumbs
  • 50g/2 oz dried kidney beans (or any beans you like, I choose kidney beans because they are rich in iron)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed & 3 tbsp water(if you are vegetarian, just use an egg)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp marmite or vegemite (it’s a yeast extract that adds a meaty flavor to the patty, it’s also very salty, so don’t put any salt in the mixture. It might be hard to find them in the US (Amazon maybe?), but they are pretty common in Europe and Australia)

Hot to make this

  1. Soak the kidney beans overnight in cold water, rinse and boil them the 2nd day, drain the beans then mash them into a thick paste
  2. Ground some flax seed into a fine powder, then mix 1 tbsp of the powder to 3 tbsp of cold water, mix evenly, then place in the fridge for 15 min or until it thickens
  3. Mince the mushrooms and cook them in a pan with some oil over medium heat for about 5 min
  4. Wrap the tofu with a tea towel or linen/cheesecloth, then squeeze out as much water as you can, an easy way to do this is to twist the 4 corners together and continue twisting them, the water will be pushed out slowly due to pressure. In the end, the tofu should have the texture of very wet sand
  5. Then, mix the dried tofu, mushroom, bean paste, flax water mix, breadcrumbs, olive oil,  black pepper, garlic powder, salt and marmite/vegemite(optional), mix them until everything are evenly distributed. You can blend them a little more in a food processor for a smoother texture, but the difference is not very significant
  6. Press them in a large cookie cutter into the desired shape and size, you can use your hand but the result tends to crack and crumble at the end
  7. You can either place them on an oiled parchment paper over a baking tray and bake them in a 175C/350F oven for 20 min, the advantage of this is that it’s healthier and you can make a large amount of it at once. Or you can pan fry them in some oil over medium-high heat for about 3 min each side, you get a better crust this way, but’s not very efficient if you are making these in large quantity
  8. Serve them over some buns or bread with whatever you want

Pan-Seared Steak

One of my favorite things in the world is steak, no matter if it’s T-bone, sirloin, or ribeye, but my all-time favorite is filet mignon, just a perfect piece of meat. So, how do one cook the perfect steak at home? The simplest method is pan-sear, and here’s how to do it.

IMG_7202

You’ll need: any cut of meat of your choice, cut to about 1-inch thick; salt; pepper; clarified butter; meat thermometer

  1. Trim the extra fat off the steak, then try the steak as much as possible. Rub the steak with salt and pepper, place it on a rack over a plate and let it dry brine in the fridge for at least 4 hours, up to 15 hours
  2. Brush off the extra salt and let the steak sit on a rack to reach room temperature, this step is very important
  3. Heat up a pan on high to about 260C/500F, add in the clarified butter
  4. Lay the steak in the pan, let it continue to cook for 2 min, until the bottom is browned, then flip and sear for another 2 min, try not to move it so that the crust can form
  5. Place the meat thermometer in the center of the steak, until the temperature reaches your desired doneness
  6. Let the meat rest for at least 10 min before serving

New York-Style Cheesecake

So we did a couple brunch recipes for Valentine’s day, so I was thinking, why not also do a couple deserts? So here is a smooth, light and creamy classic New York-style cheesecake that can cheer anyone’s day! This makes an 8-inch cheesecake, which is a lot, but if you use a 6-inch springform pan, which is perfect for 2, just cut the amount in half.

img_2939

You’ll need: 2 cups ground graham crackers; 8 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 lb cream cheese; 3 eggs; 1 cup sugar; 2 cups sour cream; 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to make this:

  1. Mix the butter and ground graham crackers until they have a similar texture to wet sand, then pour them into a 8-inch springform pan, then press it down until they are packed, chill in a fridge so the crust hardens
  2. In a large bowl, cream the room temp cream cheese until they turn smooth, then add in the egg, sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract, mix evenly, try not to whisk in too much air to prevent the surface from cracking, you can also chill it in a fridge for 30 min to get rid of all air
  3. Pour the filling into the crust, wrap the bottom with aluminum foils, place it on a baking tray and pour in some hot water in the tray, cover the cheesecake with an aluminum foil teepee, then bake it in a 160C or 325F degree oven for an hour
  4. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the cheesecake inside for at least 45 min, then let it rest till they reach room temp, then chill them in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is that when there’s a drastic temperature change, the surface contracts but the bottom doesn’t, so it creates a crack