Superstar chef at home

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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How much longer can sitcoms, hockey games and elections compete with cooking shows? Famous chefs have become our new superstars.

Even if you don't watch the food channel, you can't avoid seeing Ina or Gordon or Giada or Mario or Nigella on talk shows with actors, Olympians and politicians. Every day, their exotic recipes are plastered all over our 40-inch screens and, I don't know about you, but they make my kitchen feel downright inadequate.

You have to watch these shows with a grain of salt - no pun intended - because there's no way your house will ever be Kitchen Stadium. Enjoy the moment when the Iron Chefs put bacon custard in the ice cream machine, but don't have the note pad standing by in hopes of jotting down a great recipe for your next family dinner.

I try and be realistic when selecting which of my chef heroes are going to make it into the kitchen, and I go in knowing that substitutions will be inevitable because they could be building a fire on the beach in Spain or digging truffles in a forest in France.

But a few are worth trying, and today I'll share two with you that I can't imagine not having in my go-to file.

Sensational steak sandwich

The winner of that cooking/game show that picks new network chefs makes nothing but sandwiches. Who knew that would be the next big thing?

Some of the combinations are a little strange. They may taste delicious, but I doubt I'll ever try Guy's jambalaya sandwich or Bobby's tandoori chicken with tomato jam. On the other hand, everyone from Tyler to Jamie has featured the "perfect steak sandwich." I took a bunch of their ideas and made what I think is the most practical and delicious version.

This isn't tuna on a bun, so put the effort into it that's deserving of a special meal. Serve with soup and cole slaw and you'll be the real winner. This makes 4 dinner-sized sandwiches. Just a note about the cheese sauce: it should be much thicker and saltier than what you would stir into macaroni, so don't be alarmed.

Horseradish cheese sauce:

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

3 tbsp. flour

1 cup milk

1-1/2 cups (4 oz.) shredded old white cheddar cheese

1 tbsp. each crumbled blue cheese and prepared horseradish (both optional but fabulous)

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Steak:

2 large but not-too-thick rib-eyes or other good quality cut, each about 10 oz.

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Veggies:

1 medium onion, cut into strips

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

Assembly:

1 loaf Italian bread halved lengthwise

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

2 tbsp. mayonnaise

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

4 crisp leaves romaine lettuce

You can go about this in any order you like, but the steak needs to be freshly prepared for best results, so don't start there.

For the cheese sauce, melt butter in a heavy pot and whisk in flour. Cook together a minute then slowly add the milk, stirring all the time. When bubbling hot, thick and smooth, remove from heat and add cheddar, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition until melted. Add blue cheese, horseradish, salt, pepper,and Worcestershire and set aside, keeping it warm.

For the steak, allow to sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking for best results. Rub salt, pepper and oil briskly all over the meat then place in a smoking-hot frying pan. When brown on one side - about 3 minutes - flip and brown on the other. Please don't overcook the steak. Remove and cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same pan, add onion and oil and fry over medium-high heat until starting to colour. Add red pepper and garlic and cook just until fragrant - vegetables should be starting to soften but you don't want them too limp. Butter each half of the Italian loaf and place in a 400 F oven until toasted brown. Spread butter on both halves. Stir together mayonnaise and mustard and divide between the two halves. Put romaine on the bottom. Top with steaks, followed by veggies and cheese sauce. Cut into 4 pieces and try not to scarf it down too rudely.

Best braised moose with tomatoes and olives

Not only do I follow them on television, I'm an absolute sucker for their cookbooks. I will never live long enough to try all the recipes I've collected over the years, and many I wouldn't anyway, but a few have made their way to my go-to list.

This recipe was in one of Jamie Oliver's early books, and featured rabbit. It sounded great, but I had no bunny in the house. I don't think Jamie has ever contemplated moose as a substitution, but boy, was it ever good. A couple of adds and substractions and this winner came out of my oven. This would work perfectly well with a cheap beef roast if that's your pleasure. This amount serves 6 to 8.

1 moose roast, about 2 kg

4 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 sprigs each fresh rosemary and thyme

2 bay leaves

1 whole bulb garlic, peeled and sliced

1 14-oz can (about 2 cups) canned diced tomatoes

2 cups dry red wine

1 cup black olives, pits removed (or any that you like)

Cut moose into 4 relatively even chunks. Combine flour, salt and pepper and dredge moose pieces thoroughly. Brown well in oil in a Dutch oven. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, tomatoes and red wine to pot. Cover tightly and bake at 325 F for 2 hours or until moose is tender. Remove meat and set aside. Discard herb stalks and add olives. Bring to a boil and serve over sliced moose.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, N.L., A1E 4N1.

 

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Kitchen Stadium, Spain, France St. John's

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