Sunday, May 25, 2008

Virginia is for steak lovers

I am visiting my boyfriend, who lives in Northern Virginia, for the week. Making dinner for him is always quite the challenge, as our tastes are very different: he is a staunch carnivore who loves his steaks and hamburgers while I prefer steamed tofu and veggies. I finally caved in, and agreed to make him a steak dinner, but with a few healthy twists. Instead of drenching the steak in A-1, I decided to pair it with a refreshing chimichurri sauce (adapted from Emeril Lagasse), a sauce typically used in Argentina. I also made a black bean, corn, and tomato salad with a lemon olive oil dressing--a perfect summer salad--and brown rice as side dishes. This way, both my boyfriend and I were supremely satisfied and fantastically full after our meal. It can be a great menu for Memorial Day as well. Here are the recipes:

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar (I substituted red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (substituted 3/4 T dry oregano)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (1 3/4 to 2-pound) skirt steak

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic and shallots. Pulse until well blended but do not puree. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Remove 1 cup of the chimichurri sauce from the processor and transfer to a non-reactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap and reserve at room temperature for up to 6 hours. (If cooking steak another day, refrigerate sauce and return to room temperature before serving.)

Season the steak with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt on each side, as well as 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper per side and place in a large, resealable plastic bag. Add the remaining chimichurri sauce from the processor. Seal bag and refrigerate the steak for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Once the steak has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush the excess chimichurri sauce off the steak and set the steak over the hot grill. Cook for 6 minutes on the first side. Rotate the steak 45 degrees, and cook another 6 minutes. Turn the steak over and continue to cook until the steak is done, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Once cooked, lay the steak on a clean cutting board, and allow it to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing across the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Serve with crusty bread and the reserved chimichurri sauce.

**Since I did not have a grill, I seared the steak in a pan with olive oil for 30-45 seconds on each side. Then, I cooked it in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-15 minutes (depending on how you like your steak cooked, I did mine medium well). Make sure, if you have more than one steak, not to put them too close together on the pan. Otherwise the steaks will "sweat" rather than broil.

Even without a grill, the steak came out moist, tender, and full of flavor!

Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad (adapted from

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
a 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
a pinch cayenne (I added much more than a pinch--about 1 t)
4 large Boston lettuce leaves, rinsed and spun dry (optional)

In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, oil, and salt to taste. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce leaves, with salt and black pepper to taste and let salad stand, stirring once or twice, 15 minutes for flavors to develop. Line 2 plates with lettuce and divide salad between them.

Van a comer! (Let's eat!)


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who needs the Statler?!

With the school year already over and my departure from Cornell fast approaching, I can only think of one thing---an entire summer without the Statler sweet potato fries! I must admit that I am a sucker when it comes to anything with sweet potatoes--sweet potato pie, candied yams, and most of all, sweet potato fries. Every day I walk into the Statler (one of Cornell's many campus eateries), I try to resist but succumb every time to their crispy yet tender, sweet yet salty goodness.

Since I am going to be without the Statler, and Cornell, for the next few months, I decided to try making sweet potato fries on my own. Instead of frying them in a huge vat of oil (like the Statler does, which made me slightly ill when I found out), I wanted to take a healthier route. I roasted mine in olive oil with a little bit of butter. The results were fantastic! I ate almost the entire batch by myself. These fries make a wonderful, healthy snack and, if you are a sweet potato addict like me, will surely satisfy your next craving!

Sweet Potato Fries
(Makes 2-3 servings)

1 1.5 lb sweet potato
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 t salt (plus extra to taste)
1 t pepper (plus extra to taste)
Dash of brown sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and then slice into french fries or wedges.
3. Melt 1T of butter. Mix with the 1 T olive oil.
4. Drizzle the butter and olive oil over the fries. Toss together with your hands and make sure the fries are all well coated. Season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle some brown sugar for some added sweetness.
5. Arrange the fries on a baking sheet, and make sure they are not too close together or overlapping one another (this will cause the fries to steam and become mushy). Bake for 18-22 minutes, flipping them over after about 10 minutes.
6. Take them out of the oven and enjoy!



Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fatty Salad, or "There is nothing sexier than cutting into a poached egg."

It's finals week, so I'm doing three things:
1. procrastinating from studying
2. making myself a nice dinner every night to procrastinate from studying
3. blogging about my nice dinner to procrastinate from studying.

Since it's finals my diet has not been superb (read: One day this week I ate a whole bag of potato chips and drank 3 red bulls). Because of this, I've been trying to make my dinners filling and semi-healthy. Last night I made grilled chicken breast and green bean casserole. Tonight, after being inspired by Antonia in the salad challenge on last night's Top Chef, I made a fatty salad with poached egg on top! mmmm, I can't begin to describe how much i love poached egg salads. I'm very picky about my poached eggs - yolks MUST be runny, then you don't even need salad dressing. This is a problem because I can't poach an egg to save my life. But tonight I wanted it so badly I bit the bullet and...lo and behold it came out in one piece!
Here's the construction of the fatty salad:

Step 1: lettuce. Something a fatty salad needs to make it at least a little bit healthy.

Step 2: bacon. mmm.

Step 3: Caramelized onions, corn, a shaving of gruyere cheese (this was all leftover from the Cornell Gourmet Club potluck on the weekend).

Step 4: poached egg! Seasoned with a little paprika, pepper, and salt. Yum!

Eggs in one piece? check. Runny yolks? check. A salad so dense I could survive in it for a week? check.

In case anyone else is a foodie who can't poach a proper egg (it's ok, you don't have to admit it, it'll be our secret) here's a great resource that don't demean you:

I hope this brain food pays off in my final tomorrow...

Banana Bread!

My mom makes the best chocolate chip banana bread in the world.
So I stole her recipe and now I make the best chocolate chip banana bread in the world. It's golden and moist and chocolatey and not too bitter and it's perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Or for breakfast. Or for dessert. Or for a midnight snack. Any time really. It's so simple yet so delicious!

Here's our secret recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (it used to be 1/2 cup but the more the merrier)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Eat a lot.



Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Spectactular Slope Day Brunch

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Slope Day, it is an end of semester celebration, where students start the day brunching and bbq-ing (among other things...) and end with a concert on Libe Slope, in the middle of campus. Michelle and I thought what better way to start out the day than with a festive, delicious brunch? We decided on a menu of fruit salad, a variety of pancakes (banana, chocolate chip, and blueberry), scrambled eggs with sauteed onions and grated cheese, and cinnamon coffee cake.

To my surprise, the coffee cake ended up being one of the favorites. The recipe was so simple, and the cake was moist and sweet as can be. I added a streusel crumb topping to the top, which was a lovely addition. Here is the recipe (adapted from

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and a pinch of salt and in another bowl stir together the sour cream and the baking soda. In a large bowl cream together the butter and 1 cup of the granulated sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream mixture and stir the batter until it is combined well. Pour the batter into a buttered 10-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl stir together the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon and swirl the sugar mixture into the batter. (** Add about half of this mixture to the batter. For the other half, soften about 1 1/2-2 T of butter and mix into the sugar. Sprinkle on top for a streusel topping.) Bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, transfer it to a rack, and let it cool.

This coffee cake is sure to make your next brunch a success. Happy baking!