31 January 2007

Second Course From Cocina Nueva - Steaks and Butter

With just 2 hours to spare before my guests arrived and no groceries at home, I decided to do the simplest sounding , but not unsubstantial, main course in the cookbook - grilled steaks. It took just about half an hour of prep work and 10 minutes of cooking ala minute, which was quite fun to do with friends around chatting and contemplating the doneness of the rib-eye steaks. The little preparation required left me plenty of time to spend on making a great dessert.

The grilled steaks were to be moistened with a very simple reduction of veal stock, water leftover from soaking a handful of porcini mushrooms, and garlic; then served with a pat of pre-made flavour packed butter. It was meant to be a manchego, ceps (porcini) and olive butter, but since I didn't like manchego nor olives, I made a simplified ceps and caper butter instead. This really understated steak was served with steamed veggies, and while asparagus was recommended, I went with snow peas and baby corn instead because asparagus was sold out where I shopped.

Steak is great enjoyed neat - in its barest form with just a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. But with a light, earthy sauce and some flavoured butter softened by the heat of the steak, it is brought to a much higher (and sinful) level. Cafe de Paris butter, a similar home-made butter flavoured with mustard, parsley, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices, to be served with steak is perhaps the inspiration for Jane Lawson's rendition of grilled steaks with butter. It is really delicious and the possibilities for other versions are infinite. But I have a whole roll of ceps and caper butter left to use and that makes me glad that I decided to double the recipe.

Cep and Caper Butter
For 8 steaks

1 handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained and chopped
15 small capers, drained and chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
100g softened butter
salt and pepper to taste

Mash butter with mushrooms and capers until well incorporated then season with salt and pepper.
Scoop onto a piece of cling film and roll it into a log, ensuring that it is fully wrapped then twist the ends to enclose the butter.
Chill it in the fridge (or freezer, if you're rushing for time) until firm.

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