Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Warm-Weather Treat

The weather here is finally feeling like Spring (and sometimes Summer)! Because of this, certain treats take on a different appearance, taking the usual and making it into something else. Case in point: brownies into brownie ice cream sandwiches. These can be customized any way you like, using different flavors of ice cream or adding things to the brownies. They are easy, too, and make a batch of brownies so much more fun! Here are the basics. Put your variations in the comments, and have fun!!

Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches:
(Makes about 12 or so, depending on how big you cut the brownies)

- 1 box of your favorite brownie mix and all the required ingredients
- your favorite ice cream flavor(s), softened but not completely melted (it can be good to do this in the fridge)
- any decorations you like for the edges of the sandwiches: sprinkles, crushed cookies, etc.

Bake the brownies according to the directions, using a 9x13 pan. This will make the brownies thin enough that they are perfect for layering with the ice cream. You can make the brownies cake-like or chewier, depending on your preference. I went with chewier.

Let the brownies cool completely!!!! this process will be a huge mess otherwise. I'd begin with cooling them at least a half-hour on the counter, then moving them to the fridge for some extra cooling. Cut them once they are cooled, making sure to cut them in roughly the same size so they make nice sandwiches.

Pull out your ice cream and cut brownies. Take two brownies of the same size (or as close as you can get them), laying the top side down on a plate. Fill with a scoop of ice cream, gently placing the top layer over the bottom. Decorate the edges with toppings if you desire.

Eating them right away (or close to it)? Place them on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper in the freezer, making sure they're flat. Making treats for later? Wrap each one in wax paper or plastic wrap, and then place them on the cookie sheet.

Let them freeze for at least an hour and then enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Steak Diane (a la Marian Rey!)

Christmas in my family means food-- lots and lots of food. One of the things we love is beef tenderloin, which always seems to get bought in massive quantities. Of course, I don't consider it to be a chore to have to come up with ways of eating the stuff, especially since my sister in law showed me how she makes Steak Diane. Marian Rey makes it for them a lot since it's easy, tasty, and satisfying.

When I don't have beef tenderloin available, I find inexpensive steaks, cut pretty thin since you want a quick cooking dish. Sirloin works great! This is an excellent dish to make when you don't have many supplies on hand. As long as you have butter, olive oil, shallots, and lemons, you have the basic makings.

Here it is for two people. It's a great dish for company. Just increase everything to your liking.

Steak Diane (a la Marian Rey)
- 2 steaks (sirloin, about a half inch thick)
- 2 good sized shallots, minced fine (more or less, according to your taste)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (more if you need it when you saute the shallots)
- 2 lemons, each about the size of your fist
-salt and pepper

Pull the steaks out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan on cooking them. They need to come up to room temperature in order to cook properly. I mean it!

Mince the shallots as finely as you like. Your food processor or a large grater are good for this, too.

Salt and pepper one side of each steak.

In a skillet large enough to fit the steaks comfortably (not crowding as they need to sear and not steam), melt 1 tablespoon butter with the olive oil. Once the butter has melted and begun to foam, add the steaks. Leave them alone for a while! To be specific, this means don't touch them for at least 3 minutes. Salt and pepper the top side.

After your 3 minutes (or a little more if you like your steak a little more done) are up, use tongs to flip the steaks, being careful not to splash the hot oil and butter on yourself. Tongs give much more control than a spatula here. Again, leave the steaks alone for at least 3 minutes.

You'll be able to feel them getting firmer. You can measure doneness by the webbing in between your thumb and index finger-- both fingers together with webbing very flaccid equals rarer, mid-way spread is medium rare, about 2/3 spread is medium, and fully spread is well done. Put them on a plate to rest once they're done to your liking.

Add 1 more tablespoon of butter to the pan, then adding the shallots. Saute them until translucent, scraping the bottom of the pan either with your tongs or a heat-resistant spoon that won't damage your skillet.

Juice the lemons and add the juice to the pan. I prefer to juice them through a strainer to get the seeds, using a reamer to get as much juice as possible. If they feel really firm, microwave them for about 20 seconds, and you'll get more juice out of them. Deglaze the pan with this juice, and taste the sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter if you want (I always want), and adjust the seasonings should you need to. With the salt and pepper on the steaks, you will have given this good flavor already.

Add the steaks back to the pan, warming them through on each side (about 1 minute per side). Serve on a plate with bread on the side for the sauce. Enjoy!