Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grilled Steak and Spring Vegetable Salad

By Paul Briand

Spring is here, though you wouldn’t know it from the very unseasonal spring we’ve been having here in northern New England.

But the idea of outdoor grilling was too much of a draw with this recipe, despite the rain and cool temperatures.

This salad of steak and spring vegetables comes via the Associated Press.

Everything goes on the grill -- the sirloin steak (of course) plus the asparagus and artichoke hearts, even the grape tomatoes if you wish. Not so the lettuce.

And the dressing is a light combination of lemon juice and olive oil infused with some Parmesan cheese to smooth it out.

For the dressing:
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
For the salad:
1 pound sirloin steak, 1- to 1 1/4-inches thick, trimmed of fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 cups arugula
Shaved Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)

1. Heat a gas grill to high or light a charcoal fire;
2. For the dressing, in a blender combine the lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Blend until emulsified. Set aside;
3. Season the steak on both sides with the salt and pepper;
4. Grill the steak, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Remove and let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes;
5. Meanwhile, grill the asparagus and artichoke hearts, turning occasionally, until slightly charred and the asparagus spears are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes;
6. Remove from the grill and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces and the artichoke hearts in half;
7. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the cherry tomatoes (as an option, grill the tomatoes until they soften);
8. Thinly slice the steak across the grain and add to the bowl with the asparagus and artichoke hearts. Toss with half of the dressing;
9. In a large salad bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining dressing;
10. To plate the salad, place some of the arugula on each serving plate and arrange the grilled steak and vegetables on top. Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

By Paul Briand

My wife Jane and I love sweet potatoes and all the culinary creations that come from them.

For Thanksgiving dinner, for example, my wife makes a sweet potato puff that is a family favorite. (Note to self: Let’s get this recipe published in time for Thanksgiving 2011.)

We’re also very big fans of sweet potato fries. As we try to eat with our health and weight in mind, they are a favored alternative to regular potato fries when we eat out.

A sweet potato, cooked and baked in its skin with no salt, is low in sodium, and very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium, and a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. Read more here.

I do a variation of Baked Sweet Potato Fries at home that involves a coating of olive oil, black pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Old Bay, by the way, has a lot more uses than crab cakes.

The hardest part of homemade sweet potato fries is getting them to crisp up. To get there, I often will put them under a low broil in the oven for a couple of minutes after they’ve baked.

Here is another variation of sweet potato fries that I picked up from

Given the brown sugar and the salt, these are a little higher in fat, sugar and sodium content.

Note: The amount of olive oil called for in this recipe -- ½ cup -- is way too much in my opinion. You can easily halve the amount and yield the same yummy results.

4 sweet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
¼ cup sage, fresh chopped (substitute 2 teaspoons if from your spice rack)
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees;
2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, sage, brown sugar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss;
3. Spread on a baking sheet;
4. Bake for 40 minutes and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

By Paul Briand

This is said to be the most popular restaurant dish in the United Kingdom.

And this is a simple recipe, courtesy of the McCormick spice people, who packaged together all the spices needed for this dish as part of their Recipe Inspirations.

“Masala” means mixture of spices and that’s exactly what this is -- though I might use a bit of hyperbole and call it an explosion of spices.

The garam masala is a pungent mixture of spices, its origin in India.

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon mixed garlic
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet on medium heat;
2. Add chicken, onion and lemon juice; cook and stir 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink;
3. Add all of the spices (except red pepper) and cook and stir 1 minute;
4. Stir in tomatoes until well mixed;
5. Stir cream into cornstarch and salt until smooth. Gradually stir mixture into skillet;
6. Stir in red pepper to taste, if desired;
7. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low; stirring frequently, simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened;
8. Serve with cooked rice or naan bread, if desired.

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