Yesterday, my sister and I went to New York, ostensibly so she could do some research on the Guimard Metro entrances (the MOMA has one), but also so that she and I could eat and shop. More on that later, though. This post is about the meal we had the night before our big trip.
Our train to NYC left Baltimore at 8:12 am Tuesday, so Erin spent Monday night at my house. Even though she's spent more nights in our guest room than anyone else, and she's related to me, and she's still in college and will, therefore, eat or sleep pretty much anyplace, she's still officially a guest, and deserving of a nice dinner.
I decided that Monday night would be a perfect time to break in my new copy of Barefoot in Paris. Blithely ignoring the fact that we'd eaten red meat on both Christmas Eve and Christmas, I planned to make Barefoot's filet of beef au poivre (substituting strip steaks for the filets - my sister might be a guest, but it's not necessary to break the bank for her), matchstick potatoes (also from Barefoot) and a green salad with chevre toasts.
Unfortunately, none of the Barefoot recipes are online, and I am fairly certain I'd be breaking several copyright laws by posting them here. Also unfortunately, I got so busy talking that I forgot to take any pictures. But I can describe, and warn against doing, well, several things I did.
First: the salad. Salad with chevre is a Pollard house staple, mostly because I love, love, love goat cheese. Monday, I used a super fragrant bag of organic herb salad from Trader Joe's as the base (HIGHLY recommend) and a crotin of Montchevre four-pepper chevre, also from Trader Joe's, as the cheese. I toasted a few baguette slices, slathered them with cheese and stuck them under the broiler for a minute until they were just slightly melty (and the toasts were, well, black, but who's counting). I tossed the greens with a simple sherry vinaigrette (1 tbl sherry vinegar, 3 tbls good olive oil, 1 tsp dijon mustard, salt and pepper), placed two baguette rounds with cheese on each salad and was good to go.
The salad was great. I am good with salad.
The matchstick potatoes were also a hit, which was a little surprising since it was the first time I'd made them. I got to use the julienne attachment for my fancy mandoline for the first time ever, so that was fun. After peeling and julienning what seemed like a TON of potatoes, I decided to try my luck with frying.
I heated some canola oil (the only oil I had in any kind of quantity) and cooked the fries in batches, draining once they looked crispyish, then salting and covering with rosemary and keeping warm in the oven. Overall, the fries were good and very French - skinny, crisp on the outside but tender on the inside, and flavorful. Cooper thought a little too flavorful - he would've used less rosemary - but that's the little stuff.
So the fries were also pretty good.
But the meat. Now, I cook red meat fairly often, so I do have some experience with it. Unfortunately, I'm what you could definitely call an erratic chef, at least when it comes to the stove. And don't get me wrong - dinner wasn't horrible. My sister thought it was great. Cooper and I thought it was...ok.
As Barefoot recommends, I coated the steaks in pepper and a little sea salt. That part's no problem. Then I cooked in butter and oil - also no problem. They were a touch on the rare side, but not a big deal. So far, pretty good.
But then came the sauce. It's the kind of sauce I should be able to make with my eyes closed: shallots, beef stock, cognac. All stuff I keep in the house. Stuff I cook with regularly. Should be super easy.
Unfortunately, I was in a rush. By the time I got to the sauce, the salads were on the table, and I was anxious not to let the cheese get cold. As a result, I didn't let anything cook long enough. The shallots were a little underdone. The beef stock was OK, but the cognac definitely needed to burn off some more. The whole meal ended up tasting a little like a shot. As Cooper said, as he topped off his wine, "I probably don't need this, since I'm getting drunk off the sauce."
Really, it wasn't terrible. But I also oversauced my meat, as I am wont to do, making my frites soggy. And potent.
But otherwise, it was a decent showing. Not my best work, but not my worst, either.
As a result, I'm not sure how much I liked the recipe. It wasn't as good as the Steak Diane I made last month...but that could be all a result of user error.
I guess I'll just have to try it again.
Tomorrow: Thai and chocolate in the Naked City.