Saturday, July 27, 2013

Recipe: Glenn's Pepper Steak

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for TwoThis is my third attempt at this recipe and I am now satisfied with it. It is a family favorite known as "Goop", thus this is Goop 3.

Serves 6.


1 pound top round steak or London Broil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces button mushrooms
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
4 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
Table salt and black pepper


  1. Cut the steak in half horizontally, for example converting a 1½-inch thick steak into two ¾-inch steaks.
  2. Slice the steak across the grain into thin strips, ⅛- to ¼-inch thick.
  3. Clean the mushrooms and cut them each into thin slices.
  4. Remove the stem and ribs from the bell pepper and cut it into thin strips.
  5. Clean the celery and cut it into ½-inch pieces.
  6. Peel the onion, cut it in half pole-to-pole, and cut each half crosswise into ¼-inch slices
  7. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  8. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
  9. Add half of the beef and cook, with stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove the browned beef, add the uncooked beef, and cook, with stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. If necessary to prevent burning, add additional vegetable oil.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium and add all of the browned beef, the mushrooms, onion, celery, and bell pepper.
  12. Cook with  frequent stirring until the onion starts to soften, about 10 minutes.
  13. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  14. Add the remaining ingredients, including the juice from the tomatoes.
  15. (If you're serving this over steamed white rice, start the rice now.)
  16. Simmer with occasional stirring, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the vegetables are heated through, about 20 minutes.
  17. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  18. Serve over steamed rice.
Cut the steak in half horizontally.

Then cut across the grain creating long, thin slices.
Prepare vegetables: bell pepper, celery, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.
Measure the seasonings.

In two batches, brown seasoned beef strips in vegetable oil.
Add the vegetables, stir, and cook until the onion starts to soften.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the vegetables are heated through, about 20 minutes.

Recipe: Peach Pie

Based on a recipe from the July 1995 Cook's Illustrated. Serves 8.

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.  


Pie Dough
11¼ ounces (2¼ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
⅓ cup ice water
Peach Filling
3½ pounds peaches (about 6 cups)
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 small lemon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger (optional)
¼ teaspoon table salt
3-4 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and sugar until mixed.
  2. Cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes and scatter them over the flour mixture.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour, about five 1-second pulses. 
  4. Cut the shortening into pieces (it is softer than the butter so harder to make into uniform pieces, but that's OK) and scatter them over the flour mixture.
  5. Cut the shortening into the flour with 1-second pulses until it is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal. The butter pieces should be no larger than the size of a pea.
  6. Turn the mixture into a small bowl.
  7. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the ice water and sprinkle the rest on the dough.
  8. Press the dough together with a rubber spatula, adding up to 1 tablespoon of ice water if the dough does not come together.
  9. Divide the dough into two portions, one slightly larger than the other, and dust each lightly with flour. 
  10. Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap, pressing it into a 4-inch disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. Peel, pit, and slice the peaches.
  12. Zest the lemon yielding 1 teaspoon zest.
  13. Juice the lemon yielding 2 teaspoons juice.
  14. If using, mince the crystallized ginger. Feel free to use less than a full tablespoon if you want less ginger flavor in the finished pie.
  15. Toss the peaches with the sugars, lemon juice, zest, tapioca, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger (if using). Let stand for 15 minutes.
  16. Heat oven to 400° with a rack in the lower-middle position.
  17. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  18. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into small pieces.
  19. Roll out the larger dough disk into a 12-inch circle about ⅛-inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
  20. Fit dough into a 9-inch Pyrex pie plate leaving the excess hanging over the edge.
  21. Add the peach mixture to the pie and distribute the butter pieces on top of the peaches.
  22. Roll the smaller dough disk into a 10-inch circle and place on top of the peaches. 
  23. Trim the edges leaving ½-inch of dough overhanging the pie plate and tuck this dough underneath itself so it is flush with the edge of the pie pan.
  24. Using a fork, press the two pieces of dough together around the circumference of the pie.
  25. Cut four slits at right angles to each other in the top crust.
  26. Place pie in freezer for 10 minutes.
  27. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until the top crust is golden, about 20 minutes.
  28. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue baking until the top crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 35 minutes.
  29. Cool on a wire rack until juices have thickened, 1-2 hours, and serve. 
Pulse flour, salt, and sugar to mix, add cubes of cold butter, and cut butter into flour.
Cut chilled shortening into the flour mixture.

Add ice water and press with rubber spatula to bring the dough together.

Press the dough into two 4-inch disks, wrap, and cool in refrigerator.
Gather ingredients for filling: sugars, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, tapioca, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.
Peel, pit, and slice peaches, add other filling ingredients, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll out dough for bottom crust and fit to pie dish, add filling, and dot with butter.
Roll out top crust, add to pie, trim and fold under edges, press with fork, and cut slits for steam to escape.

Bake, cool on a wire rack, and serve.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Recipe: Simple Steak Diane

Based on a recipe for "Steak Diane" in Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1974).  Serves 4.

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday Dinner for Two.


4 ounces button mushrooms
1 clove garlic
⅛ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
fresh parsley
1 pound beef tenderloin, filet mignon, or boneless ribeye steak
Kosher salt and black pepper


  1. Clean the mushrooms and cut them into thin slices.
  2. Peel and mince onion to make 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
  3. Peel and mince the garlic or press it through a garlic press.
  4. Mince parsley to make 2 tablespoons minced parsley.
  5. In a medium skillet on medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter.
  6. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and Worcestershire and cook until the mushrooms are tender.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and add the parsley.
  8. If necessary, cut steaks horizontally so they are about ½-inch thick.
  9. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, taking care not to burn the butter.
  10. Season the steak with salt and pepper.
  11. Cook the steaks in the butter to medium, about 3 minutes per side.
  12. Serve with the warm mushroom butter sauce.
Prepare sauce ingredients: sliced mushrooms, minced onion, salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire, butter, parsley, and garlic (now shown).

Melt butter, add the remaining ingredients, and cook until the mushrooms are tender.

If needed, cut the steak in half horizontally, then season with salt and pepper.

When the mushrooms are tender, add the parsley and keep the sauce warm.

Cook the steaks in butter for about 3 minutes a side for ½-inch steaks.

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Mousse

Based on a recipe from February 2006 Cook's IllustratedServes 8.

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday Dinner for Two.


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brandy
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup plus two tablespoons chilled heavy cream


  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, being careful that the whites are not contaminated by any yolk.
  2. In a double boiler (a heat proof bowl placed in a sauce pan of simmering water, the bowl should not come in contact with the water) melt together the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder (if using), water, and brandy, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks, 1½ teaspoons sugar, and salt until the mixture turns light yellow, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolks and whisk to combine.
  5. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment at medium-low speed until frothy, 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add 1½ teaspoons sugar and increase the mixer speed to medium-high.
  7. Beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
  8. Whisk about one-quarter of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
  10. Put the empty mixing bowl back on the stand mixer, add heavy cream, and beat with the whisk attachment on high until soft peaks form. 
  11. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture.
  12. Transfer the mousse into serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
In a double boiler, melt together chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder, water, and brandy.

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and water.

Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks.
Whisk one-quarter of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate then gently fold in the rest.

Gently fold in whipped cream, transfer to serving bowls, cover, and chill before serving.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recpe: Chili Chocolate Cookies

Based on a video recipe for "Michele's Chili Chocolate Cookies" from Food Wishes. Makes 20 cookies.

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.


½ cup dried currants
2 tablespoons Kahlua (or brewed coffee)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs (room temperature)
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips 


  1. Heat oven to 350° with racks on the lower middle and upper middle positions.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  3. In a small sauce pan, combine the dried currants and Kahula (or brewed coffee), bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and set aside.
  4. Using a double boiler, melt together the unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, and butter. (This can also be done in the microwave but you need to take care to avoid burning the chocolate.)
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  6. Add sugar and eggs to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat with whisk attachment on medium speed until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes.
  7. Mix in vanilla.
  8. Mix in chocolate mixture.
  9. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients.
  10. Fold in the currants and chocolate chips.
  11. Using a #30 disher (2.5 tablespoons), drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.
  12. Bake for 10-14 minutes until just set, rotating and switching the baking sheets half way through.
  13. Remove from the oven, cool cookies on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  14. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Bring the currants and coffee to a simmer then set aside to cool.

Carefully melt together the chocolates and butter.

Whisk together flour with the other dry ingredients.
Beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.

Mix in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture.

Fold in the dry ingredients, currants, and chocolate chips.
Drop the dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake until just set.

Cool, serve, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Recipe: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Based on a recipe for "The Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Cake" from the March 1998 Cook's Country.   8-12 unhealthy but delicious and worthwhile servings.

Read the story behind this dish in Sunday, Dinner for Two.


8 large eggs, cold
1 pound bittersweet chocolate
½ pound unsalted butter
¼ cup brewed coffee or liqueur (optional)


  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper and coat the insides of the pan with vegetable spray.
  2. Wrap the sides and bottom of the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and place it in a roasting pan.
  3. Bring a kettle or medium sauce pan of water to boil.
  4. Heat oven to 325° with a rack in the middle position.
  5. In a large bowl set on a sauce pan with barely simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate with the coffee (if using) until smooth and warmed to about 115°. (You can do this in the microwave, too, but be careful not to burn the chocolate; interrupt the microwaving frequently to stir the melting chocolate and butter.)
  6. Beat the eggs until doubled in volume, about 5 minutes using a stand (medium speed) or hand (high speed) mixer.
  7. Fold ⅓ of the beaten eggs into the warm chocolate mixture until only a few streaks of egg remain.
  8. Fold in half of the remaining egg until combined.
  9. Fold in the remainder of the beaten egg until completely combined.
  10. Pour the batter into the springform pan.
  11. Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and add boiling water to cover the bottom half of the springform pan being careful that the water does not rise higher than the foil.
  12. Bake until the edges of the cake are just set and the center of the cake is cooked to 140°, 20-25 minutes. (If using a 9-inch pan, 16-20 minutes.)
  13. Move the springform pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  14. Cover and refrigerate overnight to mellow.
  15. Remove the cake from the refrigerator for 30 minutes then move it to a serving plate.
  16. Cut and serve with whipped cream or a rich vanilla ice cream.
The only ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs, and brewed coffee. And the coffee is optional.
Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper, spray the sides, line the pan with foil, and place in a roasting pan.

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate with the coffee.
Beat the eggs until light yellow, fluffy, and doubled in volume.
Fold the eggs into the chocolate mixture in three batches.
Add boiling water to the roasting pan and bake at 325°.