Archive for April, 2012

Sunday Dinner

A visit to a local artisan butcher in San Francisco (www.oliviersbutchery.com) gave inspiration to a lovely little dinner on a recent Sunday for a friend and me. Well that and Patricia Wells updated version of her essential ‘Food Lovers Guide to Paris’, reincarnated as an app for IPhone and IPad. I’ve always loved her reviews, and her descriptions of the many restaurants, bistros, fromageries, chartcuteries, boucheries, patisseries, and boulangeries in Paris are often the inspiration for dishes like this one: a quickly seared piece of ‘onglet’ or hanger steak served on a bed of butter-melted leeks, and topped with a crown of slow cooked crimini mushrooms.

The ‘recipe’ is simple a mostly intuitive. I started with about 2lbs of leeks, slicing them into 1/2 inch coins. I took extra care to wash them as dirt often lurks deep within the first few layers. In a medium sized pot over a low flame in go the leeks with 3/4 of stick of butter. I cover the pot and let the leeks slowly ‘melt’ over the course of the next hour or so. It’s important to keep the pot covered so the leeks steam in the frothy butter. The criminis I slice thinly (you can leave ’em whole too!), and saute over medium heat in my le creuset cocotte with a little olive oil. I lightly salt them to get them to give up there juices. I want them crispy though, but for now I let the juices slowly evaporate to concentrate flavor. Once the crimini juices have evaporated I finish will a little olive oil and some finely minced garlic. Some parsley comes next. Mushrooms done, I turn of the heat.

The onglet is about one pound, and the perfect ratio of fat to lean, well marbled, and perfect. I season with some fleur de sel and freshly cracked black, white, green, and pink peppercorns from the grinder. I sear the onglet in a very hot pan with just a bit of vegetable oil, about 4 minutes per side. Once done, it rests on a plate for about 10 minutes – I’m in no mood to lose any of those flavor juices.

We started with a salad of arugula, roasted beets, and sprinkles of goat cheese, all bound in a lemony vinaigrette. Then I make the ‘plats’: I put down a bed of melted leaks, kept warm on the stove on plates. Then a few slices of the onglet on top of the leeks; seared on the outside, juicy and lavender/pink on the inside, medium rare, emphasis on the rare. Lastly I crown the steaks with a generous tumble of criminis. Voila! Time to eat!! It was a really delicious, simple little sunday supper, one I’d recommend. Onglet is like a secret about to be exposed. It is not too expensive, and as delicious as rib-eye, strip, or chuck. I rarely eat filet mignon because its a) expensive and b) has inferior flavor and texture (in my humble opinion).


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SF Farmer’s Markets: Noe Valley

There are few things more satisfying to foodie and non-foodie alike than going to a farmer’s market. I love going just to see whats in season, and letting whats in season guide your purchases. My favorite times of year to forage at a farmer’s market are spring and high summer: spring for the first-of-season radishes, carrots, artichokes, and strawberries; summer for stone fruits of all kinds, squash blossoms for deep frying, corn, greens, squash, melons, and much much more. A recent trip to the Castro Farmer’s market located on Noe Street yielded beautiful ‘pullet’ eggs from Five Dot Ranch, handcrafted Sauerkraut from xxx, lovely lettuces from xxx as well as some plump, fat, pork kielbasa sausages from Prather Ranch.

























There is always a ton or fresh produce at these markets. When I spied these little bag-fulls of fresh greens springled generously with colorful edible flowers, I knew we’d have one of the best salads in the making!

























At home I make a lovely little salad with the fresh greens and edible flowers topped with a soft boiled ‘pullet’ egg from Five Dot Ranch. My go-to vinaigrette is one adapted from David Tanis, just a minced shallot, salt to taste, and enough walnut oil to emulsify.

























I was amazed by the little eggs from Five Dot Ranch farm. I had never heard of Pullet eggs before and the farmer was happy to explain them to me. They’re somewhere in between a quail egg and medium sized chicken egg in size. The flavor is quite delicious too!

Kraut is one of those things I associate with cool fall days, cider, pork, and well, more pork. Charcroute Garnie is an Alsatian dish from northeastern France that combines sauerkraut with pork sausages, smoked hock, loin, and maybe a little blood sausage thrown in for you good measure. The whole thing gets baked slowly with wine and maybe some good carrots and potatoes. After walking by the Farmhouse Culture stand I told myself, nope, you can’t do kraut in spring. Wrong season. I stopped anyway, sampling the various flavors: carroway, jalepeno, even horserashish-leek. I was blown away! Soon my entire focus was putting together a dinner around this awesome kraut. I chose the classic caraway, which is crisp, properly pickle-y, with the perfect balance of acidity and brine.

























Next stop, Prather Ranch for their version of Polish Kielbasa. Got a little pork loin too. When I got home, I salted the little piece of loin for a few hours in advance of cooking to do a little quick home-cure.

























Assembling the kraut for dinner was easy. A spoon full of duck fat in the cocotte, brown the loin and sausages, remove from pan and deglaze with half bottle of white wine, in goes the kraut and browned meats, then in the oven at 350F for 90 minutes. You want it to be moist, but not too dry or too ‘soupy’.

























The sausages were really really good. Again it pays to seek out the very best products, often for the same amount of money or perhaps just a bit more from what you’d pay for a supermarket product.


























Dinner was really delicious, and satisfying. A good salad, kraut with pork loin and sausages, a nice glass of crisp sauvignon blanc, and the inspiration to keep foraging! Next up in the farmer’s market serious on Devour: Noe Valley

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