Steak Florentine, Done Sous Vide

Steak Florentine

Steak Florentine is something very special, and it doesn’t require much more than a grill, to be honest. That said, I wanted to do something that was still a perfect steak and yet figure out how to do it sous vide (2 hours at 120 degrees F). I came close, but left the steak a little too long in the sous vide bath. So the result probably looks a little more brown than I wanted, but aside from that, the result was actually very good.

First, let’s talk about a steak Florentine. The traditional way is to start with a Porterhouse steak that’s about 2 inches thick, placed on a hot grill in a vertical position for about 20 minutes, then flipped on each side for about 5 minutes. After all that, the steak is still rare, believe it or not. There are some extras you can do with the steak, flavoring it with garlic or even rosemary, but int the end, the result is still just a beautifully grilled steak.

For my version, I skipped the vertical phase, using the sous vide to get the steak (which I rubbed with garlic) and used a grill to get the sides done, using maybe two minutes per side. The result, when stripped from the bone and sliced, had the very good Steak Florentine flavor and comparing it to other more traditional versions I think it worked well. As I said earlier, I’d probably remove the steak from the sous vide a bit earlier, but it really didn’t change the flavor at all.

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Just Right Today, Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos

So I wanted to take another stab at tacos last week and the very best thing I had on hand was some chicken thighs, which were fresh and very juicy (if that’s a word I can use with chicken thighs). And when it was all done, I actually really liked these chicken tacos and wanted to share them here in Discovery Cooking

One of the great things about tacos is that almost anything goes in them (provided it has some Mexican flavors and loads of Chilis). Apart from that, almost anything else goes. The recipe below is how I did this little treat.

It also gives me a chance to do something else I’ve wanted to do for a couple of months, which is to explain what’s going on here at Discovery Cooking. Yes, I’ve moved to Cleveland, Ohio (well Sheffield Lake, anyway) and I’m really about a two-three block walk from the actual Lake Erie. And while that’s good, as is the fact I’m living by myself, which is interesting and occasionally something of a pain, it’s sort of changing the way I cook. I don’t generally have three or four people to cook for these days, and I’m still learning that part of the puzzle. So for now, I’ll probably be posting a little less as I reconfigure what I do here, and eventually, I’ll get back to a better posting schedule and I hope some new ideas. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, here are the chicken tacos. They’re very good.

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Pesto Rotini

Rotini Pesto

I’ve talked several times here in Discovery Cooking about pesto (traditional and some variations), but I’ve never really done an actual post by itself, with or without a little pasta. So that’s where we’re gonna work at today. A beautiful, traditional preparations, done the way I think most Italians would do it.

For this post, I used rotini, but you can make many kinds of different pasta with it. Personally, I tend to like the kind of pasta that let’s you pick up the pesto, like rotini, shells, and even spaghetti — which actually works pretty well. And by the way, there are a lot of non-pasta recipes that also are brought alive with a little (or maybe a lot) of pesto. Done right, it might well be the best pasta sauce ever. It’s got a green from basil, a bit of the nut flavor from the pine nuts and some Parmigiano Reggiano. It also has a great olive oil flavor, as well. 

What makes pesto the best? It’s all in the ingredients. The top basil you can get your hands on, the freshest pine nuts you can get, good Parmigiano Reggiano in a piece, some garlic and some good, mild flavored olive oil — something you might enjoy eating with a bit of bread, for example. For my pesto, I use an Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which gives me a very good finish. You may want to experiment to find one that you like.

Here is the recipe:

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Chicken and Waffles — Sous Vide Edition

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles apparently is a thing that goes way back, although I came across it only recently. I still haven’t figured out whether it’s a big breakfast or an interesting dinner. Either way, I guess it combines wonderful fried chicken, waffles and in my case, a very tasty bourbon-maple syrup topping. Oh yeah — it’s also done sous vide — which makes it just superb, in my opinion.

So for those who aren’t familiar with sous vide (are there people like that still?) we start out with the chicken, cooked sous vide at about 150 degrees for about two hours. For this recipe, I boned the chicken (except for the legs) before cooking with just a little oil and garlic. When that’s done, I used some flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, then fried the chicken until the breadcrumbs were just the right color. Because all the chicken is cooked to 150 degrees and left long enough to kill off any bacteria, it’s fresh and very juicy. 

While the recipe is cooking, I made the waffles, which are just the way the manufacturer says they should be, including a little buttermilk, then got to work on the bourbon and maple syrup mix, which is very easy but very flavorful. 

While I made this for dinner, chicken and waffles could easily cut down the chicken and make it into a quick breakfast.

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Curry Meatballs, Finally I Got It Right…

Curry Meatballs

Curry meatballs are something I’ve tried to make before and just didn’t care much for them. This time, the meatballs were delicious and it came together rather easily. In fact, now that I have a good idea what I’m doing, it may well be time to see if I can come up with some variations. This version really hits the spot though.

My original plan was to start with ground lamb, but, this being Cleveland, it seemed that finding lamb turned out to be much more of a hardship that one would hope. Yes, I can find it, but not without more time than I had on this particular day, so I opted instead for  beef, pork and veal, in what the butcher’s call a meatball mix. And rather than go through a lot of trying a lot of different ingredients (as I have in the past) I decided to try just a little coconut milk, a nice round of yellow (or golden) curry in a powder form. Add in lots of onions and garlic and, of course, some noodles.

The resulting curry meatballs were very, very good, even though the recipe turned out to be much simpler than I used to do, with less spectacular results. Sometime simpler is better, I guess.

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Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles aren’t anything all that special. They’re sugar cookies with a bit of cinnamon/sugar coating on the outside and not much else. Funny though, they’re one of those things that everybody loves, and if you’re heading to a little party (as I am later this weekend) they’re a must. This time around, the specialty here is that the snickerdoodles are made with butter and bread flour, a trick I learned from King Arthur’s Flour, and which I can recommend without reservations.

So apart from the butter and bread flour — both of which may not make a lot of difference — the REAL reason I make these cookies is because of something else in my mind, anyway. Snickerdoodles were something I could always count on my mother to make, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also as just a welcome home or about any other good reason she could think of. They were never a big deal, but they almost always were there, just in case you needed a little something.

I miss them, and her.

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Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin oatmeal cookies are a special treat here in good ‘ol Cleveland, and one of those things that, after I’ve made them, I can’t figure out why I’ve waited so long to do that. They could be one of the best I make, although that depends on who you ask, I guess. And this time around, I am headed off to a party over the weekend, so this treat will probably sell out rather quickly, I would think.

The recipe is very simple. It does, however, require good oatmeal (none of that instant variety) and uses butter (definitely no margarine). There is something special about good oatmeal — especially steel cut oatmeal if you can get it — that adds a special quality to the finished cookies. And the butter. There is something about butter that really makes the cookies soft and, basically, just more “cookie-like” if I can make that a word.

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