S2E8 (Pressure) – Steak

Employment Update: I am officially putting out the request for any and all assistance in finding a job. Because I am getting soooo sick of resumes and cover letters. Any assistance, tips and connections are welcomed. Since my last post: 1 Job Application, 4 E-mails, Yet another rejection e-mail…

After losing the team challenge, the Red team was sent into the pressure test. However, only two chefs (as picked by the team captain) had to compete to keep their spot. Esther picked Max and Christine for this “honor.” The challenge was to cook three pieces of steak rare, medium, and well done.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 3.58.51 PM

Christine undercooked her well done steak but got the other two steaks perfectly done, and Max was slightly off on each one. As a result, Max was sent home.

tumblr_mjew20n6kY1rdxsr8o2_400

This challenge is probably the most difficult that I have encountered. I have never really cooked much steak and I certainly have not done it to a specified level of doneness. In the past, I’ve just cooked it until I thought it might be ready and then cut through the middle to figure it out from there. I knew that that was not an actual culinary technique so I sought out advice for how to do this properly (without having to poke the steak repeatedly with a thermometer). I found this extremely helpful resource, which I used (in addition to the picture on the right) as a guide: How to Cook Perfect Filet Mignon.

I brought the steaks to room temperature, and seasoned them with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Pepper, Thyme and Oregano. During this time, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees and also preheated my cast iron skillet on the stove. When the steaks were ready to cook, I put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let it heat up. Then, I put the steaks in the skillet and let them all sear on that side for 3 minutes. I flipped them and let them sear for another 3 minutes on the other side. With 2 minutes left on the stove top, I put a pat of butter on top of each steak to keep it moist.

At this point, I pulled off the rare steak and let it rest. I then put the skillet with the other two steaks into the oven. After 3 minutes in the oven, I pulled out the medium steak and let it rest as well. I gave the last steak 4 more minutes in the oven before I took it out to let rest.

image   image

Overall, for my first time making steak without the help of a meat thermometer and not cutting into the steak to check the color, I thought the steaks turned out pretty well. The rare steak turned out perfect and it was definitely the easiest one to do well. The medium steak needed a little more time in the oven. Just by looks, it was more red than pink in the middle but I felt that the texture of the steak was more on the medium side. The well done steak also got pretty close but there was still some pink left in the middle. I was slightly off on each but I now know in the future what needs to be done. (However, that sentiment probably would not have saved me during this elimination). Overall though, the seasoning on the steaks was great and they all stayed moist and delicious regardless of the temperature.

image   image

Advertisements

S1E9 (Team) – Wedding

Employment Update: Sent 4 Follow-Up E-mails, Received 1 Potential Project, Identified 4 Potential Full-Time Opportunities

This week’s challenge had two teams catering two courses for a wedding reception. The first course was a simple Caesar Salad with Goat Cheese Tartlet, and the second course was Filet Mignon and Salmon with Steamed Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes, and Fried Onions. The Red Team served both courses to the Bride’s side and the Blue Team served both to the Groom’s side. Based on both judge and guest feedback about the dishes, the Red Team was declared the winner.

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 12.40.32 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 12.40.50 PM

The first course was really simple, especially since I cheated and bought pre-made pastry dough. But I did make the dressing from scratch by using this recipe: Caesar Dressing Recipe. And for the tartlet, I just brushed the pastry dough with olive oil, sprinkled the herb goat cheese over top, and popped it in the oven for 10 minutes. That really was it and it was pretty good. I wasn’t crazy about the dressing but I may have not whisked it enough because it was pretty thin. The tartlet was really good though and it worked well with the salad.

20131020-171839.jpg 20131020-171847.jpg

The surf and turf dish was significantly trickier though. Each component was simple enough but there were many different components that needed to end up on the plate. To make this entree, I used the following ingredients (broken down by component):

  • Surf and Turf20131020-202323.jpg
    • 1 6-ounce Filet of Atlantic Salmon
    • Salted water for brining
    • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
    • Tablespoon of Butter
    • Pinch of Dill Weed
    • 1 6-ounce Filet Mignon
    • 1 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
    • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Steamed Vegetables
    • 2-3 Carrots, Diced
    • 1/8 of a Yellow Onion, Chopped
    • 1/4 of a Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
    • 1 Cup of Spinach (It was supposed to be zucchini but the zucchini I bought at the store was rotten on the inside so I substituted for spinach since I had it on hand)
    • 1 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
    • Pinch each of Oregano, Sage, Salt, Pepper
    • Olive Oil
  • Mashed Potatoes
    • 1 Pound of Russet Potatoes
    • 1/2 Cup of Skim Milk
    • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
    • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Fried Onions
    • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion
    • 1 Egg
    • 1 Tablespoon of Skim Milk
    • 2-3 Dashes of Hot Sauce
    • Bread crumbs, Salt and Pepper
    • Oil for Frying

Since there were so many components and I went back and forth between all of them, the easiest way for me to explain how I did each is to go through each component one at a time.

Surf and Turf – First, I seasoned the filet with salt and pepper and put the salmon in some salt water to brine. Then, I started a balsamic reduction to go over the beef. I used this as a guide: How to Make Balsamic Reduction. Then, I pan seared the filet to brown it on all sides and popped it in the oven for a few minutes to finish it off. Then, I made a sauce for the salmon with some melted butter, lemon and dill, and pan seared the salmon (just a couple minutes on each side).

Steamed Vegetables – This was definitely the easiest part. I sautéed the onion, garlic, carrots, red bell pepper, herbs and spices in some olive oil until the carrots were tender. Then, I added in the spinach and let it wilt.

Mashed Potatoes – I skinned and boiled the potatoes until they were cooked through. Then, I mashed them with milk, butter, salt and pepper until smooth. I didn’t measure the milk (which was stupid) and accidentally put too much in. They were still good but a little thin for my taste.

Fried Onions – To prep, I sliced up part of an onion, mixed egg, milk and hot sauce together, and stirred up the bread crumbs with some salt and pepper. Then, I just dredged the onions in the egg mixture followed by the bread crumb mixture and threw them into hot oil for a few minutes until they were crispy.

20131020-202338.jpg

Surf and Turf with Mashed Potatoes, Fried Onions, and Sautéed Vegetables

Overall, everything tasted great. My mashed potatoes were a little thin and the fried onions were too salty, but the steak and veggies were perfect. The steak with balsamic reduction is actually one of my favorite things I’ve made for this blog. All in all, a perfect Sunday dinner.