Sunday, March 7, 2010

A colorful meal

Ink purple gastrique, crimson and deep orange roasted roots, beautifully browned rib steak, lime green celery was a colorful meal. Tasty, too. We hadn't gotten through all of our CSA box from the previous week, so there were a few things I needed to cook: celery, beets, butternut squash, and carrots. The last three automatically spelled roast-done. As for the celery (I had two big heads), my first thought was to make a puree of celery soup. Lissa had a hankerin' for some steak, and even more so for a berry gastrique to go along with it. My vision for celery soup shifted towards a thicker potato-based puree upon which the steak could sit, and around which said gastrique would swim. So there. That's the menu in a nutshell. Let's get in to some more details.

The roots and squash. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coarsely chop butternut squash, carrots and beets. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed skillet and toss in a couple of peeled garlic cloves. Once the garlic starts to brown, add the roots (and the curcubite), two springs of rosemary and stir to coat in the oil. Cover with lid or foil, and put in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Season with salt and black pepper. I was recently fortunate enough to receive a birthday bag of French flacons de sel (thanks Dick!), so that was the salt I opted for to season my roasted veggies.

On to the puree...

Two potatoes, two big heads of celery. The papas get peeled and diced, then the celery gets sliced. Put the tubers in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. If you work in a restaurant or like to do dishes more than I do, then boil a separate pot of water for the celery. I, however, simply removed the taters with a slotted spoon then plopped the cel-ry into the same water. Both will only need to cook for about 5 minutes. Once tender, drain in a colander then puree in a food processor with salt, pepper and some parsley. A touch of cayenne or a splash of hot sauce would also be a welcome addition.

For the gastrique, I used a bag of frozen mixed berries I had on hand. I emptied the bag (about 2 cups) into a saucepan along with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 chopped onion, 1/4 cup of sugar, a tablespoon of black peppercorns, and a couple teaspoons of minced ginger. Let reduce by half and strain. If it's still not thick enough, whisk in a tablespoon of cold butter cut into chunks (this is referred to as mounting with butter, by the way).

As for the ribeyes, I seasoned them on both sides and then pan fried them over medium-high heat in a dry heavy-bottomed pan (not non-stick). 4-5 minutes on each side, taking care to not move the steaks as they cook, will should render a beautiful brown crust and a medium-rare temperature. If you prefer to measure the temp, take the steaks off at 120-125° and let them rest for 10 minutes. These gorgeous grass-fed beef steaks came from the fabulous Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz, CA. Check out for the grass-fed farmer nearest, you know what I mean. is also a great source for information on the environmental and health benefits of grass-fed animals. Happy eating!

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