Thursday, 23 October 2014

How to cook the perfect steak

The one thing I seem to get asked more than any other food related question is........

'How do I cook the perfect steak?'

So when we had steak earlier this week I took some quick photo's so I could show you all how we like to cook them in our house.

First off - the cut

Sirloin is a great choice due to is flavour, it's melt-in-the-mouth consistency and a good cut should have the right amount of marbling and fat. Rump is also an excellent choice it is slightly cheaper, sometimes has a bit more fat but is a little tougher in texture - however, the flavour is excellent - I actually perfer the flavour of a rump steak especially for a good old steak & chips meal only pushing the boat out on a sirloin if I want to do something a bit more fancy.

So how to cook it.......

Take your steaks out of the fridge two hours before cooking. This helps to warm the steak and not to 'shock it' when you throw it on the griddle - or lower the griddle temperature either ......

These are the steaks from my local butchers - they are a rump cut and have a nice open grain along with a little fat marbling which will help with the flavour and melt into the meat when cooking to baste from the inside. They also have a good dark colouring which shows that the meat has been hung for a good time which again, will allow the flavours to develop and helps to tenderise the meat.

Now there are two schools of thought on preparing the steak before cooking. I just take the steak and place it on a hot grill. Others like to oil it slightly & season with salt & pepper. I like to season afterwards. The choice is yours really....

To cook the steak we use a long cast iron griddle heated to the highest temperature.

We have had this griddle for about fifteen years so it's well seasoned - which is why I don't need to oil the meat  - I like to leave the griddle to heat for about 10 minutes before cooking so I know it's really hot.

To test I hold my hand about an inch from the surface and if I can't hold it for a count of five then it's hot enough!

When hot enough place your steaks on the griddle - only adding a maximum of 2 at a time any more will lower the temperature and you will end up stewing your steaks rather than frying!

Don't turn your steaks until a good sear is achieved.......

Now it depends on the size and thickness of your steak, and also your tastebuds, how long you should cook it - here's my general guide.....

This is based on a steak thats about 2cm thick

Blue - 1 minute each side

Rare - 1-2 miutes each side

Medium Rare - 2 minutes each side

Medium - 2-3 minutes each side

Medium to well done - 3-4 minutes each side........

Once you've happy with the searing flip it over and cook the otherside...

Now the next step is one of the most important....... You need to let it rest so that all those lovely juices that have been drawn to the surface can relax back into the meat....

So to that end - lift the steak of the griddle and place on a warm plate to rest for about 3 minutes - giving you time to cook your french fries and get everyone to the table!

I like my rump steak rare to medium rare ( but sirloin I have rare) as you can see its seared on the outside but still very rare in the middle...

This steak we served with a stilton & prune salad - the flavours of  blue cheese go really well with steak......

I hope that's been a help.....

I'm off now for an exciting weekend which I will tell you about next week

Have a great weeked what ever your doing
Liz x

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Lemon Baked Mackerel

Andrew and his Godson, Kodai, went out fishing on the weekend and came back with a sizable haul of mackerel - I kept four and sent Kodai home to his mum with eleven! sorry......Kodai's Mum.... but you can have too much of a good thing .......

We often catch mackerel around this part of the coast, along with bass, and I have come up with a number of simple ways to deal with them  -  we are usually away from home and are camping or sailing at the time so simple is important!

Here are two of my favourite ways of preparing & cooking mackerel - they are simple enough that I have done this for beach barbecues and also in the little camping oven on the boat.

First off you will need to clean & gut your mackerel. I like to keep the heads on if I'm baking or grilling them, Just give the fish a quick rinse off and then make a slit along the belly from just passed the gills to the start of the tail. All the insides are to be discarded so give it all a quick pull and it should come out in one piece. Give the insides a quick rinse out and check that the cavity is clean. Now if you don't want to be bothered with this all fishmongers will clean a fish for you so just ask......However, if you've caught the fish yourself I'm assuming that you are not squeamish and can get on with it!

Once your mackerel is clean you can be really simple and just put it on the barbecue or beach fire and just cook it through for a few minutes - this is actually one of the nicest ways of eating extremely fresh mackerel the flavour is superb. I remember when my nephews were little the youngest one, Jason, was sat on the deck of our boat fishing (as he did everyday of that holiday - actually would have 24/7 if we'd let him!) and he caught a mackerel - great excitement & I was summoned to gut and cook - before Jason had finished sorting out the rod and was ready to start fishing again a cooked mackerel arrived for him to eat - he could not believe that a - it was so easy & quick to cook and b - how good just simple pan fried fish can taste! He later became a chef I like to think that this experience influenced his taste buds......good fresh food can not be beat!

Anyway back to my recipes.......first up lemon baked mackerel

to serve 2

2 large mackerel
6 fresh bay leaves
6 slices lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper

Per-heat your oven to 200C/Gas 6

Lay your fish on a baking tray and make 3 deep slices into the flesh. Insert a bay leaf into each slice and then place 3 slice of lemon, per fish, into the cavity. Give all a good slug of olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Pop in the oven and bake for around 12 to 15 minutes. A good way to test if it's done is just to tug the top dorsal fin - if it comes away easily it's good to go if not just pop it back in for a little longer.

Serve with either a simple salad and new potatoes or just with a spicy tomato chutney and a little bread & butter - heaven

Option two is a recipe I devised for those extra mackerel you don't want to waste but done want to eat there and then....

As many mackerel as you want just increase the quantities below to suit
1 lemon cut in rings
1 onion cut into rings
8 bay leaves
some fennel flowers or fennel leaves
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 6

Place the onion, lemon bay and fennel on to a baking tray - spread it out evenly so the fish gets a flavour from each

Prepare your mackerel as described earlier but remove the head and tail as well. Place the mackerel on a board top side up and gently put pressure on the back bone to splay the fish out......

Place on the baking tray,add some olive oil and season with the salt & pepper (be generous with the pepper)

Pop in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes

One it's done leave to coo on the tray and then remove everything and place in an air tight container. Pop in the fridge and it will keep for a couple of days - you can eat it with a salad for a simple lunch or make it into fish cakes. It makes an excellent starter with a little spicy tomato pickle or horseradish sauce.

This dish also freezes really well but use it with in two months as the fish oils always seem to go a bit yucky if you keep them frozen for too long.

The colours on the mackerel skin were absolutely stunning I just had to take some close up picture....

Have a great Wednesday

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Simple Salad

I made this salad last night to go with some seared steaks and it looked so good when I finished (and tasted even better) I thought I would photograph it - sharing it with you for a quick post today......

It was really easy to make. I just washed & placed a variety of salad leaves in a bowl - I used baby spinach, baby kale, rocket and watercress.

I then chunked up a wedge of stilton and threw it (sorry placed it) on top of the salad along with a good handful of chopped prunes.

The dressing was a lime and parmesan mayonnaise.....

To make this dressing - in a bowl add 2 tablespoons of a shop bought mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons natural yogurt, juice & zest of a lime, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan, 1 clove of garlic crushed, a pinch salt and some freshly ground pepper - whisk it all together to make the dressing.

Spoon the dressing over the salad just before serving........ the prunes went really well with the stilton and this salad complimented the steaks rather nicely.

Have a great Tuesday - I'll be covering how I cooked the steaks a bit later in the week......

Liz x