Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jamie Oliver’s Steak with Herbed Salsa and a recipe for Sweet English Peas

        Food and Wine devoted their entire March 2011 issue to Healthy Recipes.   And I’m happy to say, they also included something called “A Week of Healthy Wines” in which their Executive Wine Editor, Ray Isle, set out to spend a week of healthy wine drinking.  Some of his findings: A 2008 analysis of 40 European table wines showed everyone of them contained pesticide residues, including known carcinogens.  Isles managed to find Organic wines from $11 to $30 all of which he praised highly.  Then he went on a Resveratrol binge.
Donut or Wine?
Donut or Wine? 
Resveratrol, found in red wines, prolongs cell life which of course leads to the belief that you can prolong your life by drinking wine with plenty of the stuff in it. Pinot Noirs from cool climates are particularly high in resveratrol.  This finding led into a list of 5 Willamette, Oregon, Pinot Noirs running $20 to $ 30 each.  You can see them all at their website:

But the chart that  thrilled me the most was the one comparing calorie counts for Fast Foods vs Wine.   A Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnut at 190 calories equaled 1 2/3 glasses of Pinot Blanc.   Bye Bye, Krispy Kreme.  A large fries from MacDonald’s loaded 500 calories onto your tray.  No thanks, I’ll take the 4 1/3 glasses of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon.  And that Taco Bell Taco Salad with salsa?  I’d much prefer the 1 ¼ bottles of Charles Krug Chardonnay I can have in its stead.  But back to Jamie Oliver…if I can find my way after all that wine.  
It’s no surprise that Jamie Oliver would land in any magazine featuring healthy recipes.  If you watched “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, you’ve seen how he took on school lunches in the most obese city in the US, Huntington, West Virginia, and transformed them into healthy meals.  Now he’s back for a second season, this time centered in Los Angeles. But if you thought things were bad in Huntington, just wait until you see what kids in LA get to eat.  It's really revolting.  Serving children the worst unidentifiable food-like objects, the Los Angeles Unified School District just plain refuses to have Jamie in any one of their schools.  So Jamie is taking his campaign to the people...the very few people in Los Angeles who apparently care at all what is making their children diabetic and unhealthy and obese. Jamie appeared crushed in his first show.  Let's see where this goes.  But if you care about kids and what they eat, this eyeopener is on NBC Tuesday nights at 8 pm.  My guess is that if anyone ate the delicious steak recipe I'm about to give you, they'd jumped on Jamie's bandwagon fast.   

Today’s recipe is one of the most satisfying ways I’ve eaten healthy in a long time.  It features a wonderful piece of lean beef topped with a terrific salsa.  There’s something very spring-like in the flavors.  The acidity of the salsa with its lemon, mint and cilantro overtones is a perfect complement to the char of the meat.  I can scarcely wait to try this on a charcoal grill but I got a great results using a cast iron pan and cooking the steak on the stove top.   It’s quick too—you can get it on the table in 30 minutes flat. 

The second recipe is one for English peas.  Right now, Trader Joes has bags of shelled peans.  Because of the way the store is laid out, the check-out lines pass the vegetable section.  I’ve stood watching as the line moves along amazed at how irresistible shoppers find these peas.  I was one of them.  I took them home, vividly remembering when I was a very little boy picking peas with my Grandfather, then shucking them and then handing them over to my Grandmother who cooked them smothered in cream and butter.  They were delicious but they hardly qualified as “healthy”.  So I looked for a recipe for English peas.  I quickly found one attributed to Paula Deen,  the doyenne of Southern cooking on the Food Channel.  Now I have nothing against the woman but I am “just not that into her.”   And when I show you her precise recipe, I think you may understand why:

    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
    2 cans (14 1/2-ounces) English peas, drained
Melt the butter in small pot and add the peas. Cook over medium heat until peas are warm.
Much more fun than this recipe were the comments posted by people who’d tried it. “I think I got your recipe mixed up [probably because it was too complicated] I used 2 cans of butter and 1/4 cup of peas and I suffered a mild heart attack. I hope you will improve this recipe to make it clearer and simpler for those of us who didn't go to culinary school. Other than those complaints, it tasted fine.”  I mean does this really constitute a recipe? I think not.

        I was able to find a recipe that was wonderful.  It was submitted to by someone calling themselves “TrueBrit”.  It let you use fresh peas or small frozen ones. It has a wonderful flavor that Andrew raved about.   I liked it very much too.  That was until I spied a frozen package of peas in Trader’s Joe’s freezer “ Minted Peas, tender green peas in a minted butter”.  I took those home and quite honestly they were every bit as good as fresh.  But here, for those of you far from Trader Joe’s is the recipe.

Recipe for Sweet English Peas
1 lb tiny peas
2 ounces butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh       mint or 1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook peas in a small amount of boiling, salted water, until tender (if using frozen peas, follow package instructions).
2. Drain, and set aside.
3. In another saucepan, heat the butter, and add the peas, mint and sugar.
4. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, tossing to mix.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Recipe for Jamie’s Oliver’s Steak with Herbed Salsa

Jamie’s recipe called for flank steak.  I used New York strip steak instead which was cut to about ½ - ¾ inch thick.  “Tomatoes on the vine” are reliably red and ripe at this time of year here.  I wouldn’t wait til the local varieties arrive.  This is like a taste of Spring on your plate.  And lord knows we could all use some Spring. 

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
One 1-pound flank steak
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil


1.   Light a grill or heat a grill pan. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes with the scallions, cilantro, mint, jalapeño, garlic and lemon juice. Season the salsa with salt and pepper.
2.   Rub the steak with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until nicely charred outside and medium-rare, 3 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a carving board; let rest for 5 minutes. Top with salsa and serve.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bobby Flay’s Salmon Burgers with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

       I like Bobby Flay.  For quite a few years, I worked above his ‘store’. That would be his highly successful Mesa Grill (102 Fifth Avenue (15-16th St), NYC  Tel: 212-807-7400). At Mesa, his take on Southwestern cuisine virtually introduced New York to the flavors of that part of the country.  Of course, along the way, he reinvented dishes left, right and center.  There were his scrumptious Blue Corn Pancakes with Barbequed Duck.   And then there was the spicy heat and sweetness of his Ancho Chile Honey Glazed Salmon.  So when I ran across Bobby’s recipe for Salmon Burgers in “The Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes” Volume 13 (Food and Wine Books, American Express Publishing Corporation 2010), I couldn’t wait to try them.

Bobby, Hands-On at one of the Palaces

        Lately, Bobby has started to build his own Burger Empire.  He has 5 Bobby’s Burger Palaces scattered around New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.  Since they are nowhere near where I am, I cannot vouch for any of them but I do know that one my favorite burger chefs tells me Bobby’s Burgers are the real deal.  And Bobby knows enough about burgers to have written the cookbook that got him into Food and Wine’s “Best of the Best”.  It’s called   “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes” (Random House 2009) and you can buy it right here.  Oddly, however, while the book serves up the Salmon Burger recipe, Bobby’s Burger Palaces do not.  The burgers there are all Beef, Chicken and Turkey.  There’s not one seafood item on the menu. My guess is if enough people try this recipe, they’ll start asking for it next time they hit the Burger Palace. 
        To appreciate this dish, you really should go the whole nine yards. And please, this is a really simple recipe.  It just has a lot of ingredients.  The meaty salmon pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the hoisin sauce. And don’t leave off the spicy Asian influenced slaw.   The pickled ginger that tops it really sets it apart from ordinary cole slaw.  There’s nothing here that you can’t readily find in the Asian aisle in most supermarkets.  Hoisin itself is sometimes referred to as the ketchup of Asia.  It’s truly ubiquitous. And with the popularity of Sushi at an all time high, pickled ginger isn’t all that hard to find either.   Use your food processor to chop the fish. It makes life much simpler. Here’s the recipe: 

Recipe for Bobby Flay’s Salmon Burgers with Hoisin Sauce and Asian Slaw

For the Hoisin Barbecue Sauce:

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

For the Salmon Burgers

1 ½ pounds fresh salmon
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns, split; toasted if desired. ( I used 7 Grain buns but any hamburger bun can be pressed into service)

For the Slaw:

2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup thinly sliced pickled ginger, plus more for garnish (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ small head of red cabbage, finely shredded
½ medium head of napa cabbage, finely shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
First, make the Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the hoisin, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar and cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
(The sauce can be made 1 day in advance, covered, ad refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.)
To make the Salmon Burgers

To form the burgers, cut the salmon into large pieces and then coarsely chop in a food processor. Do not overprocess. (Alternatively you can chop it by hand with a sharp knife.)
Divide the salmon into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each potion loosely into a ¾-inch-think burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.
Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Meanwhile, make the slaw.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring once, until soft, about 1 minute.
Stir in the cabbage, season, with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar, sesame oil, and cilantro. Let sit at room temperature.
To cook the burgers, heat the oil in a sauté pan or griddle (nonstick or cast iron) until it begins to shimmer.
Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper. Cook the burgers until golden brown on the bottom sides, about 3 minutes.
Turn over, brush with some of the hoisin barbecue sauce, and continue cooking until medium-well, about 3 minutes longer.
Place the burgers on the bun bottoms, drizzle some hoisin barbecue sauce over them, and top with the slaw.
Garnish with pickled ginger. Cover with the burger tops and serve immediately.

Serves 4