When I was in Iceland this summer, I had the most amazing salmon I have ever had at the Fiskmarkaðurinn in Reykjavik. It was fresh and butter, served on a bed of pureed celeriac and topped with a fennel and apple slaw. Then, last week as I was working on this post for New Years, I found this photo that I had take of my meal there and was reminded of this amazing dish.
I love Sundays spent slowly cooking as you go about your day. A little bit of cooking, a little bit of housework, back and forth in a lazy, roundabout sort of way. This Sunday I really felt like fall foods and this menu matched my cravings.
This cauliflower tart was from a recipe that I’ve been eying on Epicurious. Creamy and cheesy with caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower, it sounded perfect. The inside ended up being exactly what I wanted but I didn’t love the crust. The recipe called for a store-bought pie crust which was too sweet for an already sweet interior. Next time I will make my own crust. I’m thinking a savory rosemary crust would be delicious.
The salad was made by my dear friend Teagen who happens to be the salad expert (more about her in another post) and was composed of arugula, fennel, roast carrots, avocado, and scallions. It tasted just like fall and the bitterness of the arugula was a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cauliflower tart.
I took a couple of thick cut New York strip steaks out of the freezer. We get them from our local meat CSA and are always excited when steaks are included. At the farmer’s market, I picked up a couple of end-of-the-season peppers and onions. Add to that a balsamic reduction (man, does that stink when you cook it!) and we had a simple and delicious main dish.
Steak with Peppers, Onions, and a Balsamic Reduction
Thick New York Strip Steaks
Sweet Peppers (I used red and yellow), Sliced
Red Onion, Sliced
Balsamic Vinegar (because you are making a reduction you do not need a really good bottle here. I bought a $6 bottle of organic balsamic)
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Liberally salt and pepper steaks. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high. Add steaks and brown on each side. Place on plate to the side.
3. Add onion to same pan that you cooked the steaks in and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes.
4. Add peppers and cook with onions until soft.
5. Add the steaks back to the pan and place in the oven until cooked until desired doneness. If your steaks are not particularly thick and they have already cooked through you can skip this step.
6. Place balsamic in a separate saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer until reduced to about a 1/4 of the original amount and thick. This can be done ahead of time and keeps for several weeks.
7. Rest steaks on cutting board for 5 minutes. Thinly slice and serve in a dish with the peppers and onions and the balsamic drizzled on top.
Arugula and Fennel Salad with Roast Carrots
1. Preheat oven to 400. Thoroughly wash and dry baby carrots. Toss with olive oil and a sprinkling of cumin and place in pan in the oven. Roast until soft and browned, stirring occasionally.
2. Place arugula in salad bowl. Shave fennel with a mandoline or slice very thing with a knife. Add to arugula.
3. Chop avocado and scallions and add to salad.
4. Cut carrots into bite-sized pieces and add to salad.
5. Lightly dress with vinaigrette.
*At the grocery store, the carrots referred to as baby carrots are often those small peeled carrot sticks. Calling these baby carrots is a misnomer since these are actually normal carrots that have been peeled and cut into those weird cylindrical shapes. What I am referring to in this post are actually baby carrots – the kind that you get at the farmers market that are small and still have their greens attached. These are great because you don’t need to peel them before placing them in the oven. If you use regular carrots, you will want to peel them and cut them into smaller pieces.
**Teagen made a dressing of her own concoction. A simple lemon vinaigrette would also be lovely. I like to make mine with lemon juice, a very small amount of white wine vinegar, olive oil, a bit of dijon and a smidge of maple syrup. Not very exact measurements but it depends on your ingredients and taste.
Okay, so I cheated a bit with this dish. I bought pre-made crab cakes. I know, I know. BUT my farmer’s market has a seafood stand that makes amazing crab cakes and I wanted something fast so… Anyways, to make up for it, I made homemade mayonnaise.
I have always been a bit intimidate by homemade mayonnaise. Perhaps it’s the propensity to separate or the need for all that whisking. Whatever the reason, this time I decided to tackle my fears. Homemade mayo requires patience and a whole lot of whisking. So much whisking that my elbow was sore for a good hour after. However, I am so glad I mastered mayo because it really, truly amazing and bears no relation to the stuff that comes out of a jar.
Crab Cakes with Fennel and Arugula Salad and Homemade Mayonnaise
Tomatoes (I used early girls)
1. Place ‘bed’ of arugula on each plate. Cut tomatoes and place around arugula.
2. Thinly slice fennel using a mandoline or a knife if you don’t have one. Place on top of arugula.
3. Mix some of the mayo with lemon juice to taste. This is the ‘dressing’. Drizzle over top of arugula.
4. Fry crab cakes in a small amount of olive oil until golden and heated through. Place on top of arugula and add a scoop of mayo to each crab cake.
*I used this recipe from the NY Times and made it with olive oil: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/12459/Mayonnaise.html