Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ridiculously Easy Recipe: Blue Cheese and Chive Steak Butter

My husband turned 26 this month and for his birthday I made bacon-wrapped steaks and macaroni and cheese for his special dinner. I’m a sentimentalist, and I can’t help thinking about the very first meal I made for him, back in the summer of 2004.

It was the weekend before he moved away to college, and my wonderful older sister offered us her apartment (She even bought us the beer to use as a base for the cheese). I made grilled steak strips and cheese fondue in one of those fondue pots with the little Sterno cans people used to give to one another at Christmas. By the end of the meal, the cheese was burnt to the bottom, but my, it was delicious! Years later, I realized that wasn’t exactly how fondue is done, but Jeff appreciated my efforts to woo him with food.

The steaks were a little pricier than I would normally buy, but it was a special occasion and still less expensive and more special than if we had gone to a local steak house. They were pre-bacon wrapped, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic, then quickly seared in butter on the stove top, and finished in a 400-degree oven to a perfect medium-rare for ten to fifteen minutes.

What really made these steaks pop was the blue cheese and chive butter I prepared in the morning. Creamy gorgonzola cheese with tangy chives is the perfect complement to the savory, rich taste of these steaks.

Spoiler alert! You will need at least 2 hours (prep plus chill time) to prepare this recipe!

Plan accordingly.

Blue Cheese and Chive Steak Butter

Makes (roughly) 12 servings

½ cup or 1 stick salted cream butter, softend

¼ cup gorgonzola, or other blue cheese

2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped or 2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp chopped chives

Sprinkle kosher salt

Ground pepper

1. In a small bowl or food processor, combine all ingredients but chives and mix until well blended and most of the blue cheese chunks are smoothed out. Stir in the chives last.

2. Spread butter into plastic wrap or parchment paper and twist into a log shape- about 6” long. Twist and seal the ends, then refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

3. To serve, remove from the fridge and cut into ½ inch coins. Float on top of fresh-cooked steaks. The residual heat from the meat will melt the butter. Use one coin per 4 ounces of steak, or to your taste (we love butter!)

4. Re-wrap and use within a week, or freeze for up to a month.

Questions? Comment below!


Shauna E!

Quick and Dirty Q&A

Q. I can’t find blue cheese or chives/ I don’t like blue cheese or chives. Any other suggestions?

A. If you aren’t a fan of blue cheese or onions, there are many other variations you could do. Try adding prepared horseradish and bacon bits (stir in at the end as if they were chives). Sundried tomatoes and parmesan cheese would be another great flavor combination. Replace the chives for parsley, dill, or rosemary. Replace the blue cheese with feta or finely shredded cheddar. The trick is to add each ingredient slowly and taste occasionally until you find a ratio that works for you.

Q. I don’t eat steak, but this butter sounds delicious. Any other uses for it?

A. Tons! You could use this butter to finish off grilled veggies, fish, chicken, or even pork. Replace it for normal butter (1-to-1) in recipes for pasta or rice. If you do choose to use it as a replacement, make sure you omit or adjust any garlic or salt so you don’t over season!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Technique of the week: How-To Make Perfect Bacon

Breakfast dinners, also known as “brinners”, are a fantastic way to use up leftover potatoes, eggs, and those little end pieces and scraps of cheese. In our home, breakfast dinner is usually some sort of scrambled eggs with cheese and onions (I ALWAYS have leftover onion scraps that I need to use up!), skillet potatoes, and bacon.

Mmm, bacon! It’s salty, it’s savory, it’s the perfect complement to most meals, especially the fabled brinner.

Initially, I began cooking bacon on the stove top, in a skillet. This led to more burns on my arms than I’d ever had working the popcorn machine at the movie theater. Bacon in a skillet is hard to keep from overlapping, and therefore you end up with many pieces burned, or worse, under-cooked.

Later on, I learned that bacon on an electric griddle works well, in a pinch. However, due to the lack of convection, you have to turn it half-way through and hope you that you or the bacon doesn’t get burned.

Finally after some research (a combination of internet queries and calling my cooking mentor aka my mother) I learned that the most uniform and crispy bacon is cooked in an oven! Seriously, the best solutions are always the most simple (and the laziest!) This technique is as simple as setting your kitchen timer.

Perfect Oven-Cooked Bacon

You will need:

1 lb bacon

1-2 foil-lined cookie sheets (for easy clean-up!)

Convection oven


1. Arrange bacon strips in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets. (Use multiple cookie sheets if you need them-the trick is not to overlap the strips.)

2. Place cookie sheets in a cold oven, then crank the heat up to 400 degrees.

3. Walk away. I’m serious. Just walk away.

4. Let bake until crispy, about 20 minutes. Be sure to check on it around 15 minutes to insure it hasn’t begun to burn!

5. Allow bacon to cool, then pat off excess grease with paper towels.

6. Enjoy!

Questions? Comment below!


Shauna E!

Quick and dirty Q & A:

Q. Why shouldn’t I pre-heat my oven? Won’t the bacon undercook?

A. Slow-roasting the bacon is the trick here. A cold oven insures the bacon has enough time to cook through and crisp up without shocking it initially with too much heat (which will cause burning and chewy spots!)

Q. What kind of bacon is best to use?

A. I usually just buy whatever is on sale, but it is important to look at make sure there is a good meat-to-fat ratio on your selection. Some brands I tend to like are Smithfield, and Hormel.

This technique has been tested with pork bacon only, but one could presumably use it just as well with turkey bacon however I would recommend keeping a closer eye on the bacon to prevent burning, as turkey bacon has much less fat and will dry out faster!

Q. A pound of bacon is 16 slices, which is too many for me to eat in one setting. What can I do?

A. You have two options here. For one, you could use only half or a few slices of the bacon in the oven, then (tightly) wrap the package back up and pop it in your freezer to be used up at a later date. Be sure to use a smaller baking sheet and pay closer attention to the time to prevent overcooking.

The other option is to cook the entire pound at once, but slightly undercook it by a few minutes. Let the bacon cool completely, then freeze what you won’t use immediately and to de-frost, pop in a microwave for 30 seconds or until crispy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Shauna E's Easy Eats!

Welcome to Shauna E's Easy Eats, the blog dedicated to helping new home cooks create simple, delicious meals on a shoe-string budget. Here you will find step-by-step recipes, tips and techniques and all sorts of savings!

Who is Shauna E?

I'm Shauna, formerly the author of the blog, The College Gastronome. After moving out of my parent's home and gaining some weight, I've gone back to the values of home cooking my parents instilled in my childhood. You can read that inaugural post here.

My recipes are geared towards home cooks with little experience in the kitchen, but all are welcome. Recipes are in a step-by-step format, usually with pictures and always followed by a quick-and-dirty, question-and-answer session to dissect any complicated ingredients or techniques the reader may have.

If you're still confused or unfamiliar with something in a recipe, you can always feel free to comment below!

Questions? Comments? Click below!

Simple, delicious, done!

Shauna E :)