In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ninety-Eighth Post ~ "Mandie's Fancy" Steak!

Today was a red-letter day.  Not just because it's a full moon, or because it's the anniversary of the October Storm, but because today I met with my awesome adviser and awesome committee and defended my dissertation proposal.  Ten years of higher education have led me to this moment, and after today, I can see that I'm that much closer of reaching my goal of achieving a Ph.D.  Mind you, I still have to collect data, analyze said data, and do a heck of a lot of writing between now and May...

But today felt good.

So I decided to celebrate with food and wine.

: : PAUSE : :

This summer, I was a "party aid" for a dear friend, Vivian, whose mother-in-law was celebrating a milestone birthday.  There were many amazing dishes and terrific people at that party, but to be honest, the one thing that really stood out to me was the fact that I never realized what a turophile Vivian is.  That's "cheese lover/expert" to those of you who didn't realize that there's actually a word for this sort of thing.

Yancey's Fancy Steakhouse Onion Aged Cheddar Cheese.  That became my new love at this party.  I confess that as I prepared the cheese plate, this block of cheddary goodness was divided in a "one piece me, one piece plate" kind of way.  Being the fabulous person that Vivian is, she bought me some the last time she was at Yancey's Fancy.  It sat in my fridge for a perfect moment.

And I decided that NOW was that moment.

: : UNPAUSE : :

So after a successful defense, I drove to Wegmans and bought a petite sirloin and some other things:

~ 1 petite sirloin
~ Good handful crimini mushrooms
~ 2 shallots
~ fresh thyme

You'll also need:
~ Yancey's Fancy Steakhouse Onion Aged Cheddar
~ Coarse ground sea salt
~ White wine

I also stopped by Premier and bought an "unadvertised special" bottle of Codici Primitivo Salento.


My most observant readers may have noticed that there's been a lack of black pepper in my posts of late.  I have learned over the past months that what I've been euphemistically considering a food "sensitivity" is, in reality, a food allergy.  I, the Accidental Chef, am confessing to you now: I am allergic to black pepper.  Not allergic in the "keel over and die" kind of way - more in the "carry Benadryl and request restaurants not to use it in my food" kind of way.  So I've cut black pepper from my cooking, but there are certain dishes that, if I weren't such an oddball, I'd be sprinkling liberally with the stuff.  Coarse ground.  Mmmmmm....  So, assuming you're not as sensitive as I, feel free to add black pepper to this meal.

(I secretly think that the "Accidental Chef Who's Allergic to Black Pepper" belongs on the Island of Misfit Toys... But anyway...)


After answering some emails and playing with Ginny, I decided to have an early dinner.

I learned about using repeat ingredients (cooked different ways) to create an overall harmony in a dish while providing textural variety on ABC's The Chew.   Over a few episodes, I've seen chefs Mario Batali and Michael Symon use this concept to marry a few ingredients into a really interesting dish or two.  I decided to try this idea with thyme, crimini mushrooms, shallots and olive oil.

After starting the toaster oven heating (broil, 350) I sliced the mushrooms and set them aside.  Next, I finely minced one of the shallots, two slices of mushroom and some thyme and added it to about 1 tbps olive oil to make a coarse pesto of sorts.  I added some salt and some dry white wine.

In a stick-free pan, I added the other shallot (coarsely chopped) to some olive oil and dry white wine with some thyme and sea salt.

I put the steak on a piece of parchment and topped it with a good spoonful of the mixture.  I put it in and set the timer for five minutes.  In the mean time, I grated some cheese into a bowl.  This cheese is a little on the soft side, but I was still able to grate it.  Immediately after grating it, I put it in the fridge.

When the five-minute timer went off, I started the oil, wine, thyme and coarse-chopped shallots simmering in the pan.  I turned the steak and topped the other side with the pesto mixture.  Back in it went for another five minutes.

In the mean time, I started the mushrooms sauteing away merrily with the already-simmering ingredients.  When the timer went off, I topped the steak with the shredded cheese (about 2 tbsp in all) and popped it back in for the remaining 3 minutes.  In that time, I finished the mushrooms and readied the plate.

I'm including a photo to show what the 5+8 minute scheme amounts to with a tenderloin of this cut.  I realize, after seeing the photo, that I like my steaks pretty rare.  Adjust the time to your liking, but remember that it only takes about three minutes under a broiler for the cheese to toast perfectly.

The pairing of the food to the wine was perfect.  Using shallots rather than garlic gave the meal a nice sweet onion overtone without ever being too pungent.  The shallots that were mixed with the mushrooms were sweet and well-cooked, while the ones that went under the broiler maintained a crispiness that was a nice pairing to the rare meat.  The topping of Yancey's Fancy Steakhouse Onion gave the whole meal a certain richness without ever being "overboard."  And as the tasting notes suggest, the Codici Pimitivo Salento was a rich, earthy wine that both complimented the meal's flavors and cleansed the palate between bites.

All in all, a great meal, and a fun return to blogging after a few weeks away!

Yours in the love of great food, wine AND cheese,

The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.