Follower Recipe Challenge Announcement

A few days ago, I posted a challenge to my social media followers. Instead of sharing a recipe with you guys, I wanted you to give me something you would like to see me make. Whether that was a something you were fearful of making, wanted to see my twist or just wanted to challenge my home cooking skills.

Here we go…..I will now announce what recipe I will be putting my twist on.


That’s right. Risotto. It will be my own unique take on this Italian classic comfort dish. In fairness and with total transparency, I’ve never  attempted to make risotto before. This will be a completely new challenge that I have never attempted before.

Oh, if that wasn’t interesting enough, I have added a new wrinkle to this challenge. Not only am I going to attempt risotto for the first time, but I am going to attempt two or three variations that suit my culinary point of view!

Two or three versions….do you think I can do it?? Stay tuned because this should be fun!!

As usual, send me an email, comment or let me know what you think!

Special thanks to Erin @312food and LRB @chifoodpaparazzi on Instagram for the amazing feedback! On a side note, you should be following them if you aren’t doing so already!




A New Outlook On Cooking Steak

Mastering the art of cooking a steak is something that is talked about everywhere you look in the culinary universe. What kind of meat, how to season and how much, what kind of pan, proper finishing temperature, and how to treat that piece of meat with the utmost respect.  I, too, have wrestled with all those questions and have had a few failures when it comes to presenting and cooking the perfect steak.

Today…..that is all about to change.  With change comes new insight, new discoveries, and sometimes a little bit of faith. I will say right up front that this method of cooking will break a lot of the standard steak cooking conventions. However this method, if done correctly, will produce an unbelievably delicious steak. I discovered this method from what is becoming my new favorite cookbook, The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez Alt. I am not receiving any kind of financial endorsement from recommending this book. However, I strongly suggest checking it out because it is changing the way I am thinking about food. You can find it on your favorite online book store and you might even be able to find a sample as well.  If you want Kenji’s online bible of steak cookery from his website Serious Eats then click here. If you are ready to get your steak on then let’s do this!


Pan Roasted Steak with Herbs

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ribeye or strip steak, thick cut, preferably bone-in (1-1/4 to 2 inches)

kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

1 half stick of butter

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Butter, fresh rosemary, and fresh thyme.

First up, you have to season your steak. The seasoning doesn’t change in that you want to season aggressively. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the salt you apply won’t adhere or will fall off the steak as you flip it over. So, don’t be shy with the salt.

Seasoned ribeye

Okay, here is the first change we are going to talk about. You want to make sure that you season the steak at least 40 minutes prior to cooking. It turns out the steak goes through three steps in the seasoning process. First, the salt is absorbed into the steak, the liquid is drawn to the surface by the salt, and then it is reabsorbed, which pulls the seasoned liquid back into the steak producing a better flavor.

But wait, why aren’t you talking about that this allows the meat to come to room temperature? Because of how we are going to apply heat in this cooking method we will allow the steak to cook more evenly internally. Therefore, letting the steak coming to room temp is less of a problem. Let’s get into that right now.


First application of heat.

Take a deep breath! I know I have broken the big rule of steak cooking, which is not allowing the steak to form a crust before I flipped it. This is were you are just going to have to stay with me on this. This was my first turn after about 30 seconds of the steak in a cold pan, which is set on medium heat. Make sure you have enough fat in the pan so your steak doesn’t stick when you turn it over. This will make more sense as we go along, I promise.


After another turn or two.

So, I have been turning the steak every 30 seconds at this point. Notice that we are starting to a little color and carmelization on our steak. This is exactly what we should be seeing at this point in the cook.


Make sure to put some heat to the edges of your steak. Don’t want to neglect this beauty in any way!


The caption pretty well covers it, but we want to make sure that we render the fat cap. We are going to put that fat to work later!


Beautiful progress on our steak!

I have continued to flip the steak about every 30 seconds. Except this might have been where I took a little longer because I was refreshing my drink. What?? I was thirsty and had to make sure my supply of whiskey was still good!

Okay, now we are going to take this steak to a whole new level. We are going super cheffy style! Yes, that is a technical term.


Cheffy style!

After a few more turns, now comes the flavor. To the pan, add about a half stick of butter. Yes, I am channeling my inner Paula Deen for a few minutes. Butter makes this better! Keep in mind, I am using a two inch thick bone-in ribeye for this recipe. Next, add two to three sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme. Now. let the butter get hot, brown and foamy. You should also notice an aroma of the thyme and rosemary in the air and that is a good thing.  Now, spoon that butter  all over the steak. We are accomplishing two things here. First, the hot butter carmelizes the exterior of the steak and helps develop an amazing crust. Secondly, the essential oils of those herbs that have cooked in that butter will now flavor the exterior of the steak. In the worlds of Alton Brown, “This a good thing.”


Bubbling butter working away.


Now, you have reached the point the where it is time to take the steak off and let it rest. Yes, don’t forget to let the steak rest. But there is one more thing you want to do….Make sure your sound is on! 🙂



You don’t want to waste any of that beautiful butter infused with those herbs. So, make sure you pour it all over the steak just before you let it rest. If nothing else it is impressive if you are making this for guests.

Once rested, you should have a perfectly cooked mid rare steak. I think I let this rest for a full ten minutes before I sliced it to serve.


Rested mid rare ribeye

Remember at the top of the post, I said you needed to trust the cooking method? Let me remind you why I made that statement. If you look carefully you will notice that mid rare part of the steak pretty well makes up the entire inside of the steak. Think back to when you hard sear a steak and you get that gray band right underneath the surface before the meat becomes mid rare? Might look something like this.


Flank steak with grey band transitioning to mid rare


You  can see the grey band on the meat here. Now look back at the ribeye in the photo just above this one. You can see the distinct difference between the two cooking applications here. I am aware that the flank is a thinner cut and doesn’t have the bone to help protect a bit from overcooking. I just wanted you to see what I saw when I read all this in Kenji’s book. Also, I would happily shove both of those pieces of meat in my face at a rapid rate despite the slight difference in cooking method. In fact, since I cooked and ate them both, I can say there is no wrong way to cook a nice hefty steak or piece of meat. I was stunned, however, with the difference and that the practice of hard searing a steak wasn’t the only way to skin this cat.

Here are a few of my final takeaways about this cooking method:

First, this isn’t something you will make every night. It is pricey to buy a nice hefty steak and everything in moderation is key as I have noted before. Hence the reason I don’t channel my inner Paula Deen very often. It is a little more time consuming to cook a steak this way since you have to be attending the steak most of the way through the cooking process. I would guess this will take about a half an hour in order finish this properly. Let’s face it, sometimes that just isn’t practical.

This cooking method has produced the most flavorful steak I’ve ever had at home. This method is very cheffy, inventive, and can be impressive for friends and family watching you cook. You will astonish your foodie friends when you tell them that this application works! There is nothing better than a waterfall of hot butter all over a big steak. I will let you hold that image in your mind for a few minutes.

Finally, check out Kenji’s online article about pan seared steaks or check out the Food Lab. This is quickly becoming my go to cookbook for all things food. It is totally worth checking out!

Let me know what you think by sending me an email, leaving a comment or sharing your experience trying out this recipe.


Charred Cauliflower Courtesy Of The Purple Pig

This dish came into my life while I was eating in Chicago at the The Purple Pig almost a year ago to the day. I have always loved cauliflower and usually order it anytime I see it on a menu. If you have spent anytime checking out the blog then you know I love to cook with it and eat it as well. It is well documented that you can use cauliflower in a million different ways. It can be used as rice, pizza crust, a veggie steak, buffalo wings, mash potatoes, purees, and the list goes on and on.   As I was saying, I had this dish while I was in Chicago.  If you want to hear the story and relive that moment with me then click here. Do you see what I am talking about?

The premise for this dish is really simple. Take thin cut florets carmelized and nutty, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley, cornichons, and lemon juice. Now put these together in a way where the flavors sing and are perfectly balanced. There was only one thing to do, which was make the dish. The nice thing is you can find all of these ingredients at your local market or grocery store. As usual, you can customize it any way that suits the needs of your family. Of course as I write this I have discovered that I have broken one of my own rules, which is that I cannot get one ingredient locally. Most of you are aware that I live in a smaller town so finding certain ingredients can be tough. For me, in this case, cornichons aren’t available at any local store nearby. That means that I either have to drive an hour to find it or I can order it online. Realistically this isn’t a big deal, but for purposes of recipe testing it sucks! So, I am going to give you the run down for the recipe and I will come back to it when I have the last ingredient and I can test it more.


The finished product.


Charred Cauliflower Planks with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Parsley

***Note: This dish is from The Purple Pig in Chicago, IL. This recipe was created Jimmy Bannos Sr. and Jimmy Bannos Jr. who are owners/executive chefs of The Purple Pig. This is my version of their dish and is not intented to claim ownership or inception of the original dish.

1 medium head of cauliflower, sliced into planks about 1/8′ inch thick

2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 teaspoons chopped parsley for garnish

3 cornichons sliced into rounds

kosher salt

fresh ground pepper

2 tablespoon of olive oil


Core Ingredients


To a large heavy bottomed skillet add olive oil over medium high heat.When pan is hot, lay planks of cauliflower down. Season with salt and pepper. When planks have begun to brown and carmelize, flip over and repeat process.  Make sure to season both sides. You may need to flip a few times to achieve the desired color. The cauliflower should be cooked through and al dente.  If you use a fork the fork should pierce the cauliflower but have a little resistance. You don’t want to the planks to be too soft since it is an important textural component.

Carmelized planks

Meanwhile, toast your favorite breadcrumbs until you have achieved your desired level of doneness. If desired, use gluten free breadcrumbs as a substitute. For my purposes, this was tested with gluten free breadcrumbs.

Remove planks, slice into bite sized pieces and place in dish. Add lemon juice, cornichons, and combine. Top with bread crumbs and garnish with parsley. Dish can be served warm or at room temperature. This makes a great appetizer or can be used a side dish as well.

Pretty simple, right? Absolutely agree! The key to this dish is the balance for textures and flavors to really make it shine. Because this dish has only a couple of ingredients, it can be tricky to manage. Make sure to be patient with yourself. In fact, I tested this recipe three times before I was too full on cauliflower to continue. Plus, my palate had a taken a little beating drinking the amazing little dressing that formed at the bottom with the lemon juice, parsley, and little bits of breadcrumb.

It became clear that although it tasted good and I was happy with the outcome that the dish lacked something. Cornichons. The vinegar, the burst of spice, and a little more texture were needed. I am excited to test this when I have my hands on all the ingredients.

As usual, let me know what you think of this recipe! Email me, leave a comment, send me a message on Instagram, and share your thoughts!

Special thanks to The Purple Pig and Executive Chef, Jimmy Bannos Jr.!!