Recipe Review: Grilled Flatiron Steaks with Tomatoes and Tapenade

This recipe is from Bon Appetit June 2012 and Chef Jeff Cerciello’s Farmshop restaurant in Santa Monica, CA.  Flank, hangar, or skirt steak is marinated in a spicy citrus wet rub and then cooked on the grill (or grill pan if preparing indoors).  The steak definitely needs to be seasoned well with salt to enhance the flavors of the marinade.  An important step in preparing any steak is to let the meat rest after grilling, which allows the meat to cool enough such that the juices in the steak distribute evenly within the meat instead of spilling all over the plate (see a detailed explanation from The Food Lab).  A key component of this dish is the olive and caper tapenade, which contrasts nicely with the steak and the tomato salad.  The steak is paired with watercress and a fresh tomato salad, best made with heirloom tomatoes instead of supermarket beefsteak tomatoes.  There was a recent article in the New York Times about how engineering the perfect-colored supermarket tomato has had the unintended consequence of sapping the tomato of flavor since the critical gene mutation is important for both color and flavor.  No wonder those beautiful supermarket tomatoes taste so bland!  Overall, the dish turned out pretty well, and it’s a pretty easy summer dinner.  Note: Leftover marinade works well with chicken.

Link to recipe here.

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Recipe Review: Fish Fillets with Tomatoes, Squash, and Basil

Cooking in parchment paper helps to seal in steam and moisture and concentrate flavor.  There are several recipes from the June 2012 Bon Appetit magazine that highlight this technique.  In this fish recipe, fish fillet like cod or halibut (I used tilapia) is layered on top of a bed of shallots, tomatoes, summer squash, and basil.  A little bit of white wine and olive oil combine with the fish and vegetables to make a nice, light sauce.  Baking time in a 400 F oven is 10-15 minutes.   This dish was mildly flavored, but healthy and easy to do on a weeknight.

Link to recipe here.

Subscribe to Bon Appetit here.

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Torn Croutons, Burrata, Basil

Heirloom tomatoes are a magnificent summer treat and are highlighted in this salad by Suzanne Goin, chef of Luques in Los Angeles.  Sunday Supers at Luques is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.  Chef Goin makes seasonal, delicious food.

Notes: burrata is a creamy cheese encased in a mozarella skin.  It bursts open when you cut into it.  Burrata is sold at Trader Joe’s.  You can substitute mozarella or ricotta. You can also substitute approximately 1 tsp of dried oregano for 1 Tbs fresh oregano

Adapted from  Sunday Suppers at Luques, by Suzanne Goin and Teri Gelber

Time: 30 minutes, Servings: 6

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Torn Croutons, Burrata, Basil

1/3 pound country white bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
1/2 garlic clove
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes in assorted sizes, shapes and colors
1 tsp. fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound burrata cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 to 3 Tbs. small fresh basil leaves

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Cut the crust off the bread and tear the remaining loaf into 1-inch pieces. Using your hands, toss with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, squeezing the bread to help absorb the oil. Toast on a baking sheet, stirring a few times, until the croutons are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic and 1/4 tsp. of the kosher salt to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the vinegars and the remaining 6 Tbs. olive oil.

Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut half into wedges and set aside; slice the rest 1/4 inch thick. Season with the fleur de sel and pepper. Cut the burrata into 12 slices. Arrange the tomato slices and burrata on a large platter. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette.

Toss the heirloom wedges and cherry tomatoes gently in a large bowl with the shallots, the remaining 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, a pinch of pepper and 3 Tbs. of the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette if desired. Add the croutons and gently toss.

Pile the salad in the center of the platter. Scatter with the basil leaves.

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