asparagus

Red Wine and Horseradish Marinated Beef Strip Loin with Caramelized Onions

I don't eat beef often, but when I do I like it to be a thick, juicy steak that's packed with flavor and served with a couple of buttered veggies. Caramelized onions are a great topping for steak. They are so versatile and adaptable. Sweat them, grill them, brown them... they can be found in a wide range of recipes. Onions are cooked so often here that we have a running joke about it. "Mmmm, something smells good..." Just how sauteeing onions can turn the ham-handed novice into a fantastic cook, marinating your meat can turn a cheap cut into something quite delicious. Marinating adds flavor but also acts as a tenderizer. Here, the acidity in the wine will tenderize the meat by breaking up the bonds that hold the proteins together, this is also called denaturing.

Enjoy!

Asparagus Amandine Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

• 2 strip loin steak, about 300g each • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil • 1/4 cup red wine • 2 tablespoons prepared or fresh grated horseradish • salt + ground black pepper

In a bowl large enough to hold both steaks, mix the oil, wine and horseradish together. Add the beef and season with a pinch of salt and a few crunches of blackpepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Maple Caramelized Onions

• 2 medium onions, thinly sliced • 3 tablespoons butter • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a medium pan, on high heat, brown the onions in the butter, stirring often for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are a nice dark brown. Lower the heat if it gets too hot. Finish with the maple syrup and set aside.

Cooking It

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. In a pan, heat up a drizzle of oil. Sear the steaks 2-3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper. If you want the steaks rare, this should about do it for a 1" thick steak. If you want them cooked more, transfer them to a small tray and finish in the oven until desired doneness. Top with horseradish and caramelized onions.

Three Easy Sides

For some reason, the side is often treated like some kind of random bonus or extra on a plate. Something to help ensure that when you finish everything there, you are full. In restaurants I prefer it when each main course has its own accompaniment. Usually, though, whatever you order comes with the same thing - steamed veg, baked potato or rice; boring. It's all about combining ingredients that go well together and taking advantage of different flavors and textures to create a dish. A lemony fish benefits from a garlicky side, a spicy chicken from a sweet sauce and a tender steak from crunchy french fries. I highly recommend the book The Flavor Bible, it'll get your brains going on the subject.

I came up with these three easy side dishes without making a trip to the food store.

Each serves 4-6

Sweet Potato Wedges, Herbed Sour Cream These works with a steak or a burger and are also a great appetizer.

-3 medium-sized sweet potatoes -4 tablespoons sunflower oil -1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) -salt + black pepper

Preheat the oven at 425F. Cut the potatoes in wedges, fairly thin. In a large bowl mix them with the oil and seasoning. Put on a baking sheet. Throw a few sprigs of thyme on top. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Herbed Sour Cream -1 cup sour cream -small handful of chives -small handful of parsley -juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients together.

Asparagus Amandine This is great with fish and a roasted tomato sauce.

-1 bunch of asparagus -1/2 cup sliced almonds -3 tablespoons butter -juice of 1/2 lemon -salt

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the asparagus in water for about 2-3 minutes. Don't overcook, they must stay crunchy. Remove and put them in ice-cold water. Put the butter in a sautée pan and heat until it's sizzling. Sauté the asparagus for 1 minute then add the almonds and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat, squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Garlicky Squash Purée

I'd serve this with braised meats. You can pretty much use any type of winter squash. I used a sweet lightning squash and a spaghetti squash.

-2 medium-sized or 1 large squash -2 cloves garlic, finely chopped -2 tablespoons of butter -1 tablespoon cream -salt + black pepper

Cut each squash in half, empty them, and trim off the skin with a knife. Cut the flesh in 1" cubes and put it in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the cubes are completely covered. Cook on medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until you can cut through them easily with a knife. Drain with a colander. Then return the squash to the pot. Add the garlic, butter and cream. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.