Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Classic Meals: Steak Frites

When lavender comes to mind, I think relaxation, sachets and hand soap. However, I also think earl grey tea, madeleine cookies and now... Steak Frites! Yes, bizarre I know, but I read years ago about an old school restaurant in LA that used to smother steaks in lavender blossoms. I tried it and let's just say nubby strong smelling blossoms were everywhere and muscled the steak into whimpering submission.

However, about a month ago, I bought a bag of lavender from the farmer's market to add to tea and to make a Lavender Lemon Poundcake (will post that recipe on Thursday). This weekend, after I made the poundcake, I decided to make Steak Frites with Hollandaise Sauce. Then I remembered that lavender steak and thought hmm, lavender and lemon go together, lemon is integral to Hollandaise, why add some lavender to the Hollandaise. It was thrilling and delicious and best of all, I got the lavender scent without the crunchy overwhelming blossoms. 

I've never made french fries or Hollandaise before so here are a couple things I learned:

I searched online for methods on how to make the perfect fry and decided to go with the easiest technique: tossing the potatoes in oil and roasting until brown. No need to soak or fry to get a soft on the inside and somewhat crunchy on the outside fry. Though, if you're going for a McDonald crunch, then you might need to soak and fry. 

As for the Hollandaise, I looked to Julia Child and her tiny book, Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of CookingHer recipe is flawless, but her troubleshooting tips didn't work for me. I went too fast in pouring the butter into the egg yolk mixture, the sauce broke and became an oily mess. Julia suggested mixing a tablespoon of the broken sauce with a tablespoon of lemon juice to make it creamy and smooth again. It didn't work. However, I brainstormed and broke an egg yolk into a bowl. Then I ever so slowly mixed in the broken Hollandaise while whisking like a demon. The broken sauce is so hot, it will cook the egg yolk. 

Phew! That was a complicated post. While it only takes an hour to make everything, I recommend trying this out for a weekend dinner when you don't mind a little sweat.

Steak Frites with Lavender Lemon Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise Sauce was inspired by Julia Child
(For the most part, this is an easy meal. However, the Hollandaise requires some serious arm strength. Also, while the recipe calls for two sticks of melted butter, I don't think you need that much. When the sauce starts coming together, taste every so often as you continue adding butter. I think one stick of butter should suffice.)

What You'll Need:

2-3 boneless steaks like a strip steak (We always eat local grass-fed beef)

For the French Fries:
3 large Russet Potatoes cut into long sticks about a quarter inch thick and patted dry
2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp fresh Rosemary finely chopped
1 tsp Salt

For the Hollandaise Sauce:
3 egg yolks
2-3 tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp plus 1 cup cold Butter
1 tbsp Lavender Blossoms
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Place a silpat (or parchment paper) on a cookie sheet and spread out the potatoes on the sheet. Drizzle the olive oil, rosemary and salt over the potatoes. Toss well and pop in the oven. Every 15 minutes, move the potatoes around with a spatula. Be gentle as they can break apart. Cook until browned. 40-50 minutes.

Place a pan over a medium high heat. Pat the steaks dry and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Test the pan with a teensy flick of water. If it sizzles, it's ready. Place the steaks in the pan and cook 6-8 minutes per side until medium rare. Remove from the pan and put aside to rest.

In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of butter and the lavender. melt the butter over a low heat and let the lavender infuse into the butter for about 10 minutes. Strain out the lavender and set the butter aside.

In another small saucepan, add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously for a minute or so until slightly thickened. Add the lemon juice and whisk. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and place over a low heat. Stir constantly. Once the eggs thicken up a but, add the second pat of butter and continue whisking. Once the  mixture starts to lighten in color and become thick and creamy, start adding teeny little dribbles of the melted butter all while stirring very vigorously. Continue this way until half the butter is incorporated then taste a bit and see if the consistency and flavor is how you like it. If so, then remove from heat and pour the Hollandaise into a serving bowl. If not, then keep adding butter up until this last drop!

To serve, place a steak on each person's plate and drizzle a little Hollandaise on top. Add a few french fries and start digging in. While ketchup is the standard dipping sauce for french fries, when I have Hollandaise at my fingertips, I always use that. Bon Appetit!

Approximate Dinner Cost:
Groceries: $15
Cost per Meal: Expect 3 servings of steak and french fries. However, there should be loads of Hollandaise left over. I haven't tried heating up the leftovers, but will let you know how it works.

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  1. Greasy french fries with sweet, romantic lavendar...it just sounds so....wrong, yet soooo right!

  2. I've read recipes for blender Hollandaise, and it doesn't seem nearly as finicky as the stovetop variety. The Pioneer Woman has a step-by-step method on her blog.

  3. Sophia, I had to think about it for a while, but I tell ya, it really really works.

    Limes - I'll have to look into that blender method. If I can make it easier, I'm game.

  4. ". I tried it and let's just say nubby strong smelling blossoms were everywhere and muscled the steak into whimpering submission."
    That says it all! Nicely put, Peggy.

  5. I think I would have screwed up the sauce--no matter how many tips I had. But I love the idea of using lavender (and other unusual herbs/spices). It just adds that little extra punch to make something unusual and special.

  6. Can't believe how tenacious you are, Peggy. I'm sure I would have thrown out the Hollandaise without coming up with the kind of solution you did. Story of my life as a cook.

  7. I'm so impressed that you made all this. Not sure I'm up for it but I enjoy reading about it!

  8. Thanks everyone. If it weren't for you all, I certainly would've thrown it all out and thrown a temper tantrum:)

  9. I love the lemon and lavender flavouring the sauce. Elegant! That's a gorgeous first picture too! Well done on battling the Hollandaise!

  10. When lavender comes to mind, I think labor. "They" kept saying it makes you go into labor, but after lathering my body with it, I can tell you for a fact it doesn't. Sorry, just a painful reminder of being 10 days overdue... :)

    Love your food though! Great pics.



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