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Dinner Rush! Flank Steak with Romesco Sauce

I’ll never forget the first time I tried romesco sauce. When I was still a student in culinary school, the cuisines of the Mediterranean kitchen were always my jam. Foods from Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and the northern coast of Africa were a welcome hard left turn toward progress, inching ever farther from the canned pea dinners of my youth

Spanish Day was always my favorite. Assortments of tapas marched into place, shoulder to shoulder on a broad stainless steel table, ready for eatin’. The chef instructor in K8 (that was the classroom number) was particularly fond of tapas, so I was quickly schooled in the ways of romesco — a traditional Catalan sauce made with sweet roasted peppers, toasted nuts, sherry vinegar and garlic. Some people even put stale bread in the mix to thicken things up. It was like the most amazing almond and red pepper pesto I’d ever had.

Earlier this year I was working on a shoot with Marc Forgione — you know, the Iron Chef — and, as one does, he made romesco as part of a video on condiments. It was on this otherwise unassuming day, with one fell spoonful, that my romesco virginity was reclaimed and then shattered into a million delicious pieces. Lesson learned going forward: You’ve likely not really tried something until an Iron Chef makes it for you.

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Dinner Rush! Hanger Steaks with Ginger-Cranberry Sauce

Hanger Steaks with Ginger Cranberry Sauce

With Turkey Day just around the corner, everyone seems to have their knickers in a twist about turkey, stuffing and all that nonsense. Sure, it’s all delicious (and don’t even get me started on the binge-fest known as “dessert”), but I’m getting a bit of a head start on the unsung, fail-safe hero of the Thanksgiving table. I’m giving it up for the cranberry.

Pigeonholed into a can-molded, jellied sidekick to turkey or juiced companion to vodka and lime, the breadth of the cranberry’s abilities is far-reaching and delicious. Think of it as going great with more than just poultry or booze. Take a hanger steak, for instance. It is rich, meaty and sings in perfect harmony with the tart, acidic flavor of cranberries.

This time of year, picking up fresh cranberries is easy-breezy, but when the cornucopias and tinsel find their way back into the holiday storage bin, remember the humble cranberry (he does live in the freezer section in the off-season).  Think what a great companion he was at the holidays, and savor that all year long.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Best Recipes for Father’s Day

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