Beef

Steak au Poivre

July 12, 2014
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Like most classic dishes, steak au poivre has as many versions as there are colors in a jumbo box of crayons. Food historians think that the dish originated in the Normandy region of France in the 19th century. Lore has it that it was a favorite late night meal in bistros and bordellos due to the reported aphrodisiac qualities of pepper. By the early 1900′s the dish was popular in Paris and Monte Carlo restaurants, yet there’s no shortage of controversy there either. Several French chefs of the era laid claim to Steak au Poivre. The popularity remains today and you are likely to see a version of a pepper crusted steak with covered with a sauce made in the same pan on every American steak house menu and most French bistros.

Traditionally, Steak au Poivre is made with beef tenderloin (filet mignon) but rib eye, New York strip …

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How To Make Veal Stock

May 3, 2014
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In a previous post featured Stocks 101, all about the ease, affordability and impact of making a great stock from scratch. Since we’ve already covered making a chicken stock, the next stock in your repertoire should be a beef or veal stock.

Everyone should make a true veal stock at least once to experience the wonder of the flavor it imparts to a dish. Veal stock is typically used as the base for French onion soup and in meat sauces. Cook book author and food writer Michael Ruhlman says that veal stock has the “qualities of humility and generosity—it brings out and expands other flavors without calling attention to itself” and this is true. Take a small amount of veal stock demi-glace, swirl it with butter, and you have an instant sauce for homemade pasta. Add shallots to that swirl and it’s perfect over a grilled steak. Veal …

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Good Crud

December 4, 2013
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When I was a kid we were poor. Like welfare, food stamps, free school lunches poor. I am not ashamed of this, it helped form the self reliant and frugal person I am today.

I remember standing in line with my mother for assistance and noting that the other women and children in line did not look much like me but that was more observation than shame (Oakland CA, where we lived in the early 1970′s was predominantly African American). I remember my mom using food stamps when they were still paper coupons and not a plastic card, and shopping at the “Dented Can Store” when you could get 10 cans of corn for a dollar and who cared if they were dented? School lunch tickets were my normal.

Again, it was all ok by me because my mom was a really good cook and most of the time we …

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Permission to be Imperfect (Beef Soup with Wild Rice)

January 3, 2013

One of the pleasures of being a comfortable cook and having some basics on hand is that you can throw together something to eat at (relatively) the last minute. Case in point; after the holidays I had a little over a pound of beef from a standing rib roast. It was beautifully cooked rare, and I anticipated that we’d make sandwiches with the leftovers. But days passed and for whatever reason, it was still there. Suddenly I found myself with this delicious piece of meat, and a need to make something with it, lest I allow it to spoil.

I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry cabinets pulling out remnants from past meals (half a diced onion leftover from brunch, a couple of ounces of sliced bell peppers leftover from making pizza, about of cup of dried wild rice in the cabinet, etc) and slowly the meal came …

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How To Make Meatballs

March 7, 2012
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I was never a Girl Scout, but I am always prepared.

Make that almost always prepared. 

Every year we throw a New Year’s Day brunch party. Over the years it has grown to about 40 people, complete with pounds and pounds of bacon, kick ass Bloody Marys, Hoppin’ John, crepes, pizzas and more. Two years ago, the party which started before noon, lasted well into the evening. We literally ran out of food (gasp!) with a dozen people still in the house. They didn’t go home until we ran out of booze. Alas, I was unprepared.

This year I vowed to be ready. What would be better to whip up in a flash but homemade spaghetti and meatballs?
A couple of days before New Year’s my mother shared with me her recipe and together we made 80 meatballs and a vat of sauce. The plan was to heat …

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Cannellini Bean Soup With Beef, Roasted Eggplant and Orange Gremolata

December 7, 2011
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Last week was one of the most personally challenging in recent memory. You know the expression “when life hands you lemons…”? Last week, life threw oranges the size of softballs at me. The week included the death of our beloved cat Basil (ode below), a wicked cold which left me gasping for breath (still am), and hurricane force winds (in Los Angeles!) which caused damage to our roof, left debris all over our yard and left us without power for 36 hours, all while I was working extra long hours. Any one of those things alone could leave a girl searching the heavens and asking “Why me?”, yet all together, I just had to laugh (after I stopped crying) and say “Seriously??

The last thing I wanted to do was cook, and for the most part I didn’t. But when I read about the “Souperbowl” challenge

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