Archive for the tomatoes Category

Lomo Saltado

Posted in beef, entrée, french fries, tomatoes, upscale peasant with tags , , , on 9 November 2009 by restaurant refugee

I’ve written previously about my affinity for elevated peasant food.  There is no dish that typifies that more than Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish of steak, vegetables, and French fries typically served over white rice.  My take on this dish internationalizes it a bit by marinating the steak in soy sauce and Bordeaux, and serving it over orzo rather than white rice.  The staples are the same.

1 skirt steak

1 large potato

2 medium rip tomatoes

1 serano pepper

1 can of black beans

5 cremini mushrooms

8 peeled cloves of garlic

1 medium ripe tomato

2 medium shallots

1 package of orzo

1 bottle of soy sauce

1 bottle of inexpensive Bordeaux

Canola oil, or another oil with a high flash point

Freshly ground pepper

Using your chefs knife, smash four clove of garlic and give them a rough chop.  Dice one of the shallots and place them in a dish with the garlic and the skirt steak.  Add enough soy sauce and wine, in equal measure, to cover the steak.  Rub the steak vigorously and liberally with freshly cracked perpper before marinating it.  Allow the meat to marinade for at least one hour but preferably two to three hours.

Cook the orzo to within a measure of al dente – there will be another cooking cycle that will finish it.

Cut the potato into French fries of your preferred thickness – I prefer a medium width just a touch larger than McDonald’s fries.  Soak them in water for an hour or so.  Rinse the black beans. Slice the shallots, mushrooms, and cerano pepper, and the remaining cloves of garlic.

Near the end of the marinade cycle, heat the oil to just before the flash point.  Don’t forget to salt the oil.  Place half of the French fries in the oil (placing them all in at once would lower the temperature of the oil too much and prevent the crisping of the potato.) Drain the fries and place them in a large covered sauté pan.  Fry the remainder of the potatoes.  Drain them and place in the sauté pan.

Drain most of the remaining oil so that there is just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic to that pan and cook until softened, add the peppers, mushrooms, shallots, black beans and tomatoes in that order, adding each ingredient when the last is almost cooked. Drain them all to remove any excess oil from the vegetables.  Sauté the black beans and add them to the

There should be just enough oil left in the pan to cook the steak.  Cook the steak for ninety seconds on one side and turn it.  Immediately upon flipping the steak place the pan in a 365 degree oven for five minutes.  Let the steak rest for five minutes before slicing diagonally across the grain.

While the steak is cooking, add the orzo to the sauté pan and heat over medium heat with a pat of butter until all ingredients are equally dispersed and hot.

Deglaze the pan with a cup of wine, add a pat of butter and a heavy splash of cream.  Whisk the mixture until smooth and pour over the orzo-vegetable mixture.  Sauté it until evenly coated.

Serve in bowls and top with pieces of the sliced steak.


Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini

Posted in bisque, crostini, prosciutto, Soups, tomatoes, Vegatables on 14 October 2009 by restaurant refugee

It was supposed to be a Fall Friday dinner – hearty foods, rich and lush flavors – but Mother Nature decided not to fully cooperate.  Temperatures spiked into the 80s but I had already decided that “Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese” was on the menu.

The dish is listed in quotes because it is a playful take on the children’s classic (which is something that I love when I’m sick – in case any of you ever need to know.)  This Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini is a low and slow dish that can be made faster – I am listing the “fast” way because that is the one I use most frequently.

Roasted Tomato Bisque with a Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Crostini – Serves Six

  • 30 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 pint of cognac
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 ounces of freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 12 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces Prosciutto di Parma
  • 1 country-style baguette
  • 3 ounces of Gorgonzola

Thinly slice the shallots and set them aside.  Chop the garlic and set aside.  Cover both with a damp paper towel.

In a stock pot, melt one stick of butter over low-medium heat.  When mostly melted, add the flour to the pot and whisk until blended.  Add a sprinkle of salt and lower the heat.  Stir frequently.  The mixture, also known as a Roux, will require near constant attention – stir several times per minute – and will get progressively more brown.  roux-tan-This picture* is pretty close to the color you want.  It will take about 30-45 minutes to achieve this color.

If you have a Sous Chef in the kitchen, turn over the final fifteen minutes of stirring of the roux to him/her while you melt some butter in sauté pan and add the garlic.  Let it simmer for a few minutes and add the shallots and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Once the roux is almost at the right color, add a half a pint of cognac to the sauté pan.  Strike a match (or tilt your pan if you’ve got a gas stove) to burn the alcohol away leaving just the flavor of the cognac.  While this fire looks really cool in the kitchen, stop showing off and blow it out already.  Add it directly into the roux, stir once, remove from heat and cover.

In the same sauté pan add a pat of butter and melt over medium heat.  Slice the basil into strips and add to the pan.  Let simmer for a couple of minutes and add most of the rest of the cognac and repeat the trick with the fire.  Add to the roux pot.

Pour in the tomato sauce, the cream, one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon black pepper.  Raise the heat to medium-low while stirring frequently.  Just before it reaches the bubble point stir in the parmesan – adding the cheese slowly while whisking briskly.  Once all of the cheese has been incorporated, add in the white wine.  Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it simmer.   Taste again – you have been tasting while cooking right? – and add salt and pepper to taste.

If you want an extra smooth consistency, then either run your immersion blender through the bisque or let the bisque cool completely and run it through a blender.  The pureeing is an overrated step, but that is a personal choice.

Slice the baguette on the bias – you want the Crostini to be at least five inches long and one third an inch thick.  Brush them with olive oil, place on a baking pan and into an oven preheated to 375 degrees.  Let them toast for five minutes.  Remove them from the oven and reset the oven to a low broil.  Layer prosciutto atop each piece, and then top the meat with Gorgonzola and return to the oven. Make sure that the oven rack is placed in the middle of the oven and not too close to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted – about five minutes.

bisqueServe with the Crostini on the side of the bowl or directly in the soup as I did and enjoy.

* this picture is not from my cooking but grabbed from somewhere on the interwebs; unfortunately I neglected to save the link.

Sunday Dinner Part I – Avocado & Tomato Salad with Crispy Pancetta

Posted in apples, Avocado, pancetta, salad, salads, tomatoes on 23 September 2009 by restaurant refugee

Sunday Funday is a blast that usually begins with brunch and continues late into the afternoon and often early into the evening.  It usually crowds out one of my other cherished Sabbath rituals: Sunday Dinner.  This most recent Sunday allowed the opportunity to gather a few friends for supper, conversation, some wine, and a little football.  I had only a rough idea what I was planning to serve and decided that I would allow the available ingredients and relative quality dictate the menu.

This plan violated one of my cardinal rules of cooking – I didn’t have a plan.  I did, however, have a ride which made things a good deal easier, and thus proceeded on the schedule of the person driving.  I spun my wheels around the protein sections of Harris Teeter a good three times, and spent at least as much time in the produce area.  Eventually, a plan started to take shape: salad course, pasta, Surf & Turf (lobster was on a deep sale,) and sweet courses.  The salad that I made was as much about blending of textures as it was flavors.


Avocado & Tomato Salad with Crispy Pancetta

Serves Six

One Pint of Grape Tomatoes

One ripe Avocado

Two ¼ – 1/3 inch thick slices of Pancetta

One Tablespoon Garlic Infused Olive Oil

Two Teaspoons Aged Balsamic

¼ Cup Diced Spring Onions

One “Finger” of Basil Leaves

One Tablespoon of Shallot Confit

Sea Salt to taste

Fresh Pepper to Taste

IMG00032Halve the grape tomatoes and place in a salad bowl.  Roll several fresh basil leaves into a cylinder about the size of your pinkie finger and slice into thin strips; add to the bowl.  Dice the spring onions and add to the bowl.

The Shallot Confit was something that I had sitting in my refrigerator; it was a byproduct of making some infused shallot oil that I gave to a couple of friends for housewarming and host gifts.  It adds terrific flavor and texture but don’t let it be an impediment to making this dish.  I will write about the instructions for the shallot confit/infused oil soon, but in between time feel free to use some shallots caramelized in butter.  Add them to the salad bowl.

The garlic infused olive oil is also a nice to have and something that I recently made for myself and friends.  In lieu of the flavored olive oil, use extra virgin and add two pinches of garlic powder to the mix.  Add the balsamic to the bowl.  While tossing all the ingredients add the salt and pepper and continue to toss until all ingredients are evenly coated.

Grill the pancetta slices (only if you’re doing something else on the grill or have an indoor grill pan, if not grilling, then cook in a non-stick pan with just a touch of butter) for three minutes on each side.  Once the pancetta has been cooked, halve the avocados and slice them into strips (actually the next time I make this dish I will probably slice straight across the halves such that there will be a whole pear shaped slice of avocado; this will increase the number of avocados required to two; but will make the dishes prettier.) Lay two strips across each plate.

Dice the pancetta and add to the salad while it is still relatively hot but not so hot that it will cook other ingredients.  Toss the salad again and scoop onto the avocado slices.

IMG00033The result is an exercise in creamy, salty, chewy, acidic and fatty balance.  I decided to grate some parmesan atop before serving, but upon tasting it, I don’t think it adds enough to merit inclusion.


The rest of the meal was:

Slow Cooked Pork Ragu with a Tomato Cream Sauce of Tagliatelle Pasta – Friday Post, hopefully

Grilled Lobster Tails & Petite Beef Tenderloin in Peppercorn Marinade with “Smashed” Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus

Petite Apple & Pear Turnovers with hot Caramel dipping sauce – Monday Post