Steak & Peppercorn Sauce with Potatoes Dauphinoise

I adore classic dishes, and when executed well it is heavenly. Steak is one of those classic dishes that I love, though hard to execute well to my specific liking. Cooked too long and the beef becomes too tough to eat, cooked not long enough and it becomes too rare to eat for some. It is therefore not an easy dish to cook for anyone, a challenge for any chef or cooks to cook this dish with exact precision meeting the requirement of the ‘eater’. It is to no surprise that I have come across hundreds of cookbooks and sites with the varying definition of medium-rare, well done and so on which also varies by countries and regions…
This recipe and the cooking time guidelines are from my experience of cooking ‘steak’. Now, steak executed to my liking aside, it is also a challenge to find an excellent and authentic bearnaise sauce, peppercorn sauce and chimichurri sauce. I am therefore in a mission and have to admit had been so in the past ten years to hunt across the world for the best steakhouses that serve these sauces well.
Since I have featured my favourite bearnaise sauce recipe in this blog, I thought it would be only fair to post peppercorn sauce this time.

Rib-Eyed Steak with Bernaise Sauce and triple cooked chips

I hope you enjoy this newly tested peppercorn sauce recipe; I will soon embark on a challenge experimenting on chimichurri sauce. Providing I don’t burn the kitchen down or my phone as I did last time. I will share the final edible version of my chimichurri sauce experiment.

Serves 2
KITCHEN KIT: knife, chopping board, a medium size bowl, a small whisk, a heatproof casserole dish, two saucepans, two wooden spoons, a griddle pan and a tong.

Ingredients:

For the steak:
• Two steaks of your choice, (I prefer sirloin, tender and well-marbled with fat)
• 3-4 tbsp of good quality oil
• Pinches of salt and pepper

 

For the peppercorn sauce:
• 2 tbsps. Of black and pink peppercorns, crushed with a pester and mortar or bashed with a rolling pin.
• 50g. of good quality unsalted butter
• 1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
• 100ml brandy (optional)
• 100ml rich beef stock
• 70 ml double cream
• Pinches of salt

 

For the sides- vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise:
• A bunch of tender stem broccoli
• 1 tbsp. of butter
• 4 medium size Maris Piper or red-skinned desirée potatoes peeled and sliced with a mandolin (3-4mm).
• 2 cloves, garlic peeled and bashed with a rolling pin
• 200 ml double cream
• 200 ml full-fat milk
• Pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper
• 70g grated gruyere cheese

 

Cooking Method:

For the steak:
• Season your steak by rubbing the olive oil, salt and pepper all over it.
• Place a griddle pan over very high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the pan is smoking hot, this will give the steak a smoky flavour. Add the steak and cook to your liking. Leave the steak to cook without turning it regularly. Once cooked, leave on a clean plate to let it rest for 5 minutes, serve at room temperature.

 

For an ideal cooking time of a 2-2.5 cm thick sirloin steak
• Medium rare: 2 min each side
• Medium: 2.5 mins each side
• Well-done: 4-5 minutes each side

 

For the peppercorn sauce:
• Place a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and cook them until translucent.
• Add the brandy and let the alcohol evaporates for 3-4 minutes, add the beef stock and let it boil for another 3-4 minutes.
• Reduce the heat to low and add the cream and crushed peppercorns. Stirring constantly to heat the cream gently.
• Season with pinches of salt.

 

For the sides- vegetables and potatoes dauphinoise:

For the tender stem broccoli:
• Place the griddle pan over very high heat, once smoking hot add your tender stem broccoli. Cook for 5-7 minutes until they are charred and soft. Turn them occasionally to cook all sides of the vegetables. *Use the same griddle pan you used to cook the steak to cook the tender stem broccoli, the vegetables will absorb the flavour of the steak.

For the potatoes dauphinoise:
• Brush your heatproof casserole dish with butter.
• Heat oven to 190C
• Meanwhile, place your saucepan over medium heat, pour the double cream, the milk and add the garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer then add the sliced potatoes.
• Cook and stir gently for approximately 3 mins. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
• Remove and discard the garlic. Next, remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place in your casserole dish. Pour over the garlic-infused cream over the potatoes and scatter the grated cheese.
• Baked in the oven for 30 min and until the potatoes are cooked and brown on the top.

Bon appetite!

Ivory on Sunset, Los Angeles

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Category: Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar
Cuisine:  Western, American
Price Range on Average: USD $12- $16 cocktail and main course at USD $35-$100
Ambiance: Chic and Glamorous. Amazing View.
Address:Ivory on Sunset, Mondrian Los Angeles, 8440 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Tel: +1 (323) 848 6000
Website: http://ivoryonsunset.com
Opening Hours: Dinner, Sunday-Thursday 5pm-10:30pm and Friday-Saturday 5pm-11:00pm, Breakfast, Everyday 7am-11:30am, Lunch, Everyday 11:30am-5pm, Brunch, Saturday-Sunday 10:30am-3pm,  Cocktail Hour, Monday-Friday 4pm-6pm
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
Although Ivory serves good food, I love it best for its breath taking views of Los Angeles and for its open space. If you want to see the Los Angeles City landscape over a nice drink in a lovely setting then Ivory is the place for you. The atmosphere is usually busy and certainly very glamorous, usually frequented by celebrities with their agents, film producers and directors. If you want a quiet spot, request for a corner table by the window as I did during my recent visit, you’ll certainly get a very nice view of Los Angeles.  I love taking photographs of city views and often make an effort to take nice shots of the places I visit. Aside from fantastic views, their smoothies are for me the crown jewels. Ivory’s pineapple & mango and strawberry & banana smoothies are both made from sweet fresh fruit; lovely and refreshing perfect for the L.A heat. The best way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

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NB:
Pictures by Angelie Torne and la.eater.com

Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant, Los Angeles

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Category: Restaurant
Cuisine: Delicatessen and Restaurant
Price Range on Average: USD $15 – $20 a sandwich
Ambiance: Classic old school Deli from a 1950s film noir movies, populated by L.A Cops.
Address: 704 South Alvarado, Los Angeles, 90057 California, USA
Tel: +1 213-483-8050
Website: http://www.langersdeli.com
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8AM – 4PM, closed Sundays and select holidays
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
Located across from historic MacArthur Park, Langer’s is a cultural heritage institution in Los Angeles. Founded in 1947, Langer’s Delicatessen and Restaurant has been serving their famous #19 Pastrami, Swiss Cheese and Cole Slaw Russian Dressing for the last 66 years.
Their Pastrami sandwich is truly exceptional. Their #55 – Corned Beef with Cole Slaw and Russian Style Dressing is dish that should not be missed too.

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Finally, Langer’s also serves heart-warming boiled Chicken and vegetable soup with Matzo balls and noodles. One of my all time favourite soups. The portions are big but if you have room, have side dishes too. Langer’s also serves comforting chili cheese fries. Personally, being a small person I found that the hot Pastrami or Corned Beef sandwich is more than enough to satisfy my appetite.
Always packed with regulars and a batch of L.A. cops, that makes Langer’s feel like you just step into a scene in a 1950’s film noir movie, this place offers great heart warming dishes and an ambiance. The decor  takes you back in time and reminds me of LA diners of 1950’s. I love Langer’s and certainly a place that I am sure I will keep coming back to. The service is quick, ambiance is fun and the food is great, what else can you ask for? Well there is just one for me – they don’t serve Italian espresso. Just drip-coffee. Which I guess makes it all the more authentic, but if you have a caffeine addiction like me make sure you grab an expresso in the morning before you order #19. Aside from that I would highly recommend Lanager’s to all those who want to try a fantastic hot pastrami sandwich and experience a truly local L.A diner.

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All American Fluffy Pancakes

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I’ve always love pancakes. As a child I always look forward to fluffy pancakes for breakfast drizzled with real maple syrup. I used to look forward to pancake day and during my recent trip to New York my childhood obsession to pancakes resurfaced when I had this wonderful buttermilk lumberjack pancake at Comfort Diner in 214 East off 45th Street. I then wondered why I haven’t had pancakes in ages. So as soon as I landed in LA the following day I couldn’t resist having pancakes for breakfast again. In LA there’s nowhere better than The Griddle Cafe on Sunset boulevard for the ultimate pancake experience of a life time. An institution in its own right that’s certainly worth a visit when in LA. The Griddle Cafe’s pancakes are the giants of the pancake world. The pancakes are fluffy and tasty and made from buttermilk. Here’s my take on of the ultimate fluffy American pancake. I hope you enjoy it!

KITCHEN KIT:
A spatula, a crepe frying pan, a whisk, measuring spoons.

Makes: 6 pancakes

Ingredients:
1. 150g. plain flour
2. 1 tbsp. baking powder
3. 1/2 tsp. of salt
4. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
5. 1 tbsp. caster sugar
6. 250 ml. of full fat milk or buttermilk
7. 2 medium size eggs
8. 30g. of unsalted butter (cubed into small pieces)

Process:
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and caster sugar into a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the milk and eggs.
2. Pour the milk and egg into the flour mixture and, using a whisk, beat until the batter is smooth.
3. Heat a frying pan over a low heat and add a knob of butter. When it’s melted, add a ladle of batter. When the pancake begins to bubble, turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.

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Serve with real maple syrup, berries and cream.

Note: To make a fluffier pancake substitute the plain flour with self-raising flour. If you do decide to use self-raising flour you still need to use baking powder.

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Pinches Tacos

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Category: Restaurant
Cuisine: Mexican, serving tacos, burritos, tortas and taco soup.
Price Range on Average: USD $2.00 – $3.15 a taco
Ambiance: Humble but flavoursome
Address: 8200 W. Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood CA 90046, California, USA
Tel: +1 323-650-0614
Website: http://www.pinchestacos.com/home.html
Opening Hours:  Open 7 Days a week, Mon-Wed    9am-Midnight,  Thurs-Sat 9am-3am and on Sundays 9am-10pm
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
The best taco in L.A!
Pinches tacos is a family run business, with six branches across California. The Anaya family’s mission statement is to provide customers with the best taco experience by using high quality meats and seafood, fresh garden vegetables, hand made tortillas and high quality artisan breads. They found through experience, that keeping things simple is a good recipe for success and happiness.
I certainly couldn’t agree more. They got it just right.

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Pinches Tacos is well known with the locals, there is always a stream of people popping by to sit and have a quick meal at Pinches. Cars keeps coming by too to have take away from this humble place that serves amazingly delicious tacos.
Pinches tacos may not be in line with the setting of Ivory or of L.A’s 24/7 Standard restaurant or even the glamour of Chateau Marmont opposite. It is not a place to be seen nor it is about the glamour of L.A. It’s humble and authentic and that’s why I love it so much. Pinches is all about the heart warming, simple and absolutely authentic Mexican food that they serve.
They serve the best pinches tacos and a particular favourite of mine is the Asada taco of grilled angus beef and Carnitas a citrus scented pork best eaten with a homemade cold Horchata drink (a ground rice and cinnamon sweet drink, sometimes also made with almonds).
Although, there are good Mexican tacos at the Central Market in downtown L.A, pinches is still one of my all time favourites. I love the humble setting, friendly service and above all the delicious tacos. It does not matter what time of the day or day of the week I come. The food served has been continuously and consistently been of the same excellent standard. If you happen to be in L.A this is place not to miss for a good authentic Mexican tacos.

 

Randy’s Donut Inglewood, California, USA

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Category: Donut Shop
Cuisine: Serving donuts, sandwiches and bagels.
Price Range on Average: USD $0.95 to $2.00 a Donut
Ambiance: Drive-thru only no seating.
Address: Randy’s Donut Shop 805 West Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90301, USA
Tel: +1 (310) 645-4707
Website:http://randysdonuts.com
Opening Hours:  24 hours, 7 Days a week
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
Close family, friends, colleagues or even acquaintances can attest for my love or should I accurately say obsessions for macaroon, French patisseries and all sorts of desserts. A trip to Paris or anywhere in France will certainly involve a stop at a French Patisserie shop just so I can have a nice tarte aux pomme, chouquette or tarte aux citron. As my lovely family and friends read this blog, I am sure they will be shaking their heads as they remember the times I’ve dragged them on a very long detour trip just so we can try a patisserie, ice-cream or dessert that I’ve read about somewhere.

Food for me is a pleasure to be shared and enjoyed. Thus, I have made it my mission in life to always take my family and friends along in my food adventures around the world and on many cases experiment my new recipes on them.

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Aside from my French patisserie obsessions there is also no way I will take a plane back to U.K from Italy without having a creamy, heavenly gelato that just melts away under the Tuscan sun. A trip to Italy is not complete without an ice-cream tour.
Equally, there is no way on earth I will take a flight back to UK from L.A without stopping at Randy’s Donuts. My donut obsession started as a child, unfortunately for my mother who introduced me to donut my addiction to the yummy hollow donut did not diminish as I grew older. In fact, the donut obsession just grew with me. As I was growing up I discovered that there were in fact so much more flavours to choose from and try. My love for donuts therefore continues and my Mom certainly encouraged it or should I say shared those donut moments with me.

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Dunkin Donut’s strawberry and lemon frost were once a favourite when I was 7 years old, then there was the munchkins when I was 9, then came the Spanish churros con chocolate and Krispy Kreme and finally Randy’s donuts.

Randy’s donuts are freshly made every day, the old fashion glaze donuts are nice and hollow in the inside, not too sweet, has a lovely crunch to it and they are not stodgy at all. That means you can have two donuts instead of just having one. An opportunity to try more flavours!

Randy specialises in donuts, it’s what they do best and they are certainly well known for it. There’s always a long queue and there will always be, so be prepared to wait if you do visit. Randy’s donut is just a ‘drive-thru’ establishment so there won’t be a place to sit either. It is a bakery and a landmark building in Inglewood, California, near Los Angeles International Airport. It has a giant donut structure that will be so hard to miss. According to Wikipedia the first Giant Donut was built in 1953 there were 10, though only 4 giant donut structures are left today.

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Randy serves a variety of donut flavours that comes in different shapes and sizes. There’s the Texas glazed, raspberry or lemon jelly donuts, long john bar donuts with chocolate and maple syrup and the list goes on and on. Aside from donuts they also sell cookies, bagels, brownies, croissant, coffee, tea, other refreshments and souvenirs for the donut super fans! If you are a donut super fan then I would highly recommend a visit to Randy’s. The gigantic donut structure is so big and visible in the highway that it would be impossible to miss it. When I first saw the giant donut it made me giggle so much that I couldn’t breathe, the donuts at Randy’s are super delicious that it will make your trip certainly worthwhile! Happy donut eating!

 

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The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Santa Monica Boulevard, USA

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Category: American Cafe
Cuisine: Serving croissant, donuts, sandwiches and bagels.
Price Range on Average: USD $6 for a coffee
Ambiance: Busy and Friendly
Address: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Santa Monica & Beverly Glen, 10401 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA
Tel: +1 (310) 234-8411
Website: http://locations.coffeebean.com/usa/los-angeles/beverly-glen-and-santa-monica.html
Opening Hours: Mon- Sun from 5am to 9pm
Last Visited: 2016

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Review:
I love coffee and tea. In all my travels, I will always try local cafes and tea houses, find the time to visit a specialist coffee and tea shops and won’t hesitate to try local chain cafes too.
Although, I love American Diners, many don’t serve espresso or strong coffee. Five cups of coffee in many American diners will probably be an equivalent of a single Italian espresso shot. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a chain just like Starbucks, Dunkin’Donuts, Costa and so on. If you are just like me, in need of a strong espresso in the morning before you can even function then ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ espresso is the place for you. There are many other good independent coffee shop in Santa Monica but if you happen to be having breakfast at a Diner and need to have a good a coffee shot of espresso, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is all over town and you can easily find one. They also serve ice blended coffee which in my personal experience taste so much better with an extra espresso shot and a perfect drink for the afternoon heat of Santa Monica beach. There’s also free wifi and the service is always quick and friendly. Open early in the morning from 5am to 9pm a good place to meet friends and enjoy a cup of coffee with a croissant, a brownie, a bagel or all of the above. Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Milk Shake

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I love peanut butter milk shake, I also adore peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter with caramel and ice cream. I even love peanut butter by itself! I think the only other person I know of who loves it more than I do is Charlotte, a friend of mine who is probably the biggest peanut butter fan out there! She and I used to spend our afternoons at work talking about peanut butter chocolates, peanut butter M&Ms and day dream about it until we both feel hungry and annoyed we can’t have it right away!  I have recently discovered a kids paradise near where I live, a shake shop that sells amazing milk shakes, ice cream, sweets and treats for all ages!!   www.shakeshop.co.uk

I love going to this shake shop and wouldn’t mind queuing for ages amongst the 4-5 years old just to have my regular Saturday treat ‘ the ultimate peanut butter milk shake’. In one unfortunate Saturdays I couldn’t unfortunately go to my favourite shake shop, so I had to come up with an emergency solution and make it at home instead. Not as good as the Witney Shake Shop peanut butter milk shake, serve with crushed Oreo toppings, but it will do as a Plan B option! Here’s my take on a Plan B Peanut butter milkshake!

KITCHEN KIT:

A blender

 

Ingredients Serves 1 (just for me sorry):

1.  300ml full fat milk

2.  4 tbsp. very good vanilla ice cream

3. Reese’s cups (2 packs 6 pieces)

4. 1 tbsp. peanut butter spread

5. A few sprinkles of cocoa powder (optional)

 

The Peanut Butter Shake:

1. Blend or Blitz all the ingredients except for the cocoa powder for 1 minute and done!

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Serve immediately.

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Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is my all time favourite breakfast dish.Probably the only breakfast dish that can get me out of bed earlier than usual, just so I can have more time with my eggs benedict and not rush the enjoyment of eating it.
The last time I made a Bernaise Sauce I had some left over tarragon leaves, I added this into my hollandaise sauce, which made a nice change to the basic recipe below; if you do have some left over tarragon leaves please do try it and hope you enjoyed it too.
KITCHEN KIT:
Baloon whisk, sauce pan and a bowl

Ingredients:
1.  2 eggs
2.  Some water for poaching the egg
3.  3 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
4.  4 slices of good quality honey roast ham
5.  2 English muffins, sliced in half
6.  Some butter to spread over the muffins
7.  Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

 

For the hollandaise sauce:
8.  2 tsp lemon juice
9.  2 tsp white wine vinegar
10. 3 large egg yolks
11. 130g cold unsalted butter, diced
12. Pinch of Salt and pepper (optional)

 

The Muffin and Ham:
1.  Preheat grill to highest temperature, place your English muffin on the grill for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden brown and crisp. Plate, butter and add 2 slices of ham on top of the muffins.
Poaching the eggs:
2.  On a medium sauce pan over a high heat, bring water to the boil and stir in the white wine vinegar.  Lower the heat and simmer gently. Stir the water and vinegar a few times and slowly slide in the eggs one by one. Cook each eggs for about 3-4 mins. Once cooked remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of the English muffins with ham.

The Hollandaise Sauce:
4.  On a sauce pan, over very low heat, whisk your lemon juice and white wine vinegar, add the egg yolks whisking constantly until light and frothy. (the pan should never be too hot for you to touch the sides of it)
5.  Gradually add the butter, whisk constantly until butter has melted.
6.  When the butter has completely melted, turn up the heat to medium-low, whisk continuously until the mixture has thickened.  (If it looks like it might be splitting and the mixture starts to steam, turn off the heat and whisk continuously for a few mins. It is important to keep whisking to prevent it from splitting and to thicken the mixture.)
7.  When the mixture has thickened and is smooth, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and pour over the top of the ham. Garnish with some chopped parsley.


Serve immediately.

Extra Tip:
Hollandaise Sauce-to make sure that your sauce does not split, don’t stop whisking until the sauce has thickened. Keep the sauce under very, very low heat. If it is not easy to control the heat, put your mixture on a bowl, place the bowl on a simmering sauce pan with water also under low heat.