Thursday, December 1, 2011

November 12: Bacon-Wrapped Beef Supper Salads

4 slices bacon
4 1-inch-thick beef tenderloin steaks
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
   Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling the steaks

3 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 romaine lettuce heart, chopped
2 cups chopped arugula
4 plum tomatoes, halved and cut into half-moons
1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and thinly sliced

16 caper berries, for garnish
16 large good-quality olives, for garnish
   Crusty bread

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Line up the bacon on a meat-safe cutting board and center a steak across each slice of bacon. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then wrap the steaks in the bacon. Do not overlap the bacon, just let it travel around the meat like a stripe on a barber pole. Add a generous drizzle of EVOO to the pan and add the steaks. Cook the bacon-wrapped steaks for 4 minutes on each side, or until the bacon is crisp and the meat feels like it is just beginning to firm up. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.

While the meat is working, in a salad bowl, combine the shallot with the mustard and vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes.

Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of EVOO in a slow stream. Add the lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, and artichokes and toss to combine. Season the salad with salt and pepper and divide among 4 plates.

Slice the meat on an angle into 4 slices per steak. Arrange the meat on the salad and serve with the caper berries, olives, and bread.


This is one of Rachael Ray's "Super Supper Salads." It was pretty good. I liked the balsamic dressing. The veggies were good (but the lettuce was a little bitter), and the meat was good. I cooked it a little longer than called for because I don't like my meat rare. I used mock tenderloins, and I think I like them better than real ones (gasp). Something about the tenderness of the steak ruins the flavor. I think it tastes like liver. Anyway, I really liked this salad. The bacon just makes it better. :)

November 11: Lemon and Artichoke Risotto with Shrimp

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups warm chicken stock (keep over low heat on the stovetop)
1 pound small peeled, deveined shrimp
   Zest of 1 large lemon
1 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well and chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
   A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
   Dark green salad

Preheat a deep, sloped skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, garlic, and onions. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, add the rice, season with salt and pepper, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.

Add the wine and cook away, 1 minute. Add a few ladles of the warm stock, just to cover the rice. Stir frequently and continue to ladle in stock until the rice is cooked al dente, and the risotto is very starchy, about 22 minutes total cooking time. Add the shrimp about 15 minutes into the cooking process. Stir in the lemon zest, artichokes, and rosemary.

Add the peas in the last minute or two. Stir in the cheese, adjust the pepper, and serve with the chopped parsley.


This was a good version of the risotto. It is the second variation. I used jumbo shrimp, coarsely chopped, instead of the small shrimp because that's what I had on hand. The flavors worked really well together.

November 10: Zucchini Pizza

   Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 pizza dough rolls from a tube, such as Pillsbury brand
   Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
2 cups ricotta cheese
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 medium to large zucchini

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle EVOO on one large or two small cookie sheets, then roll out the dough. It's already in a rectangular shape; just pat it out a bit. Poke with the tines of a fork, season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with the garlic. When you remove the dough, cover it evenly with the ricotta cheese. Top the ricotta with a layer of mozzarella cheese, then return it to the oven on the center rack and cook until golden, 12 to 13 minutes more.

Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Trim the ends off the zucchini. Cut the zucchini into thin strips lengthwise, no more than 1/4 inch thick. Trim a sliver off the skin on one side if you need to make the zucchini more stable while you slice it. Fill the dry skillet with a single layer of the zucchini strips and cook for 5 minutes, turning once. Remove to a cutting board and repeat.

When all of the zucchini is cooked, pile a few slices at a time into stacks. Cut the cooked zucchini across into thin sticks. Pile the sticks together and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the sticks across the pizzas in the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time.

Serve large squares of the pizza hot from the oven. Ah, Roma!


RR says: "This is a pizza I discovered on a trip to Rome as I wandered the side streets with my mom. It became such a favorite of mine that, on a return trip I made in the cold late fall, I think I ate hot, half-kilo blocks of it every day for a week. This is my at-home version. I love the feeling of giant slices of this hanging from my mouth. It really brings me back to Roman Holidays." I must not have read this recipe very well. It really doesn't even look like I followed the instructions. The store was out of the pizza dough tubes, so I bought the already-baked crusts. They're so much easier, and I didn't have to do the first step of baking them. I just warmed them for a couple minutes. I didn't read the part about cutting the zucchini into slices lengthwise, so I just julienned them. I guess that worked too. The pizza is really pretty good, but I think it could do with some more veggies... like more zucchini or some tomato sauce instead of ricotta. The garlic does make the ricotta taste better, though. Not so bland.