Hey, you guys! Long time no see, and this is totally my bad. I've been drowning at work (and subsequently drowning in chardonnay at home) which leaves little time for taking Food Pictures or writing Blog Posts About Food. But I'm back and want to catch you up on some food I definitely cooked this fall but haven't actually recapped until now. Let's do this!
Like all White Girls Of Privilege, I overuse "literally". But bear with me -- I was inspired to make this dinner literally in August. J and I sadly had to attend a wake on a Friday afternoon and headed to a very early happy hour afterwards. We headed to one of our favorite Upper East Side places, T-Bar. It's a steakhouse on 73rd and Third, has a great bar, and a rollicking elderly Early Bird crowd.... with whom we dined the night in question.
We sat at the bar, ordered some drinks, and chose their Vietnamese Shrimp Roll to nosh upon. It was cool and crunchy and the dipping sauce was salty, rich, and absolutely to die for. By the time we finished the app and our drinks, we had decided to snag a table for dinner - it was probably ten minutes to 6 pm. Glorious!
The biggest inspiration from our impromptu night out? The rosemary olive French bread. Their bread basket has a broad selection of carbs, but the olives in focaccia directly lead to that recipe. We each had filets, doused bite after bite in their immaculate au poivre sauce, and filled in the blanks with their sautéed corn and feta casserole.
Days later, I realized I wanted to re-create all of the deliciousness. The menu had two main parts and a side dish.
Part 1: Vietnamese Shrimp Roll 'salad'
- 1 lb cleaned, deveined, tail-on shrimp
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium cucumber
- fresh mint
- 1/2 box Annie Chun's maifun rice noodles (not a paid endorsement, they're just skinny and delicious!)
Hoisin lime Sauce:
- juice of one lime
- 2 T hoisin sauce
- 1 T rice wine vinegar
- 1/8 tsp Chinese five spice
- squeeze of sriracha
- 1/3 cup canola oil
First, I boiled some water and poached the shrimp for about 3 minutes, reserving them into a colander and squeezing off the tails. Then, I cooked the rice noodles in the shrimp poaching liquid (cooking with the tails on add a TON of flavor, FYI). Then, I shredded the carrots and cucumbers in my food processor. I mixed the hoisin lime sauce, chiffonaded the mint, and then tossed all of the ingredients together.
Part 2: Schezuan Peppercorn Steak Au Poivre
Inspired by our filets mignon with au poivre sauce, I took a cue from the Vietnamese salad and chose Schezuan peppercorns.
First, I generously coated the steak with the peppercorns. They're a little spicier than regular black peppercorns. Imagine the faintest red chili pepper flavor in the background of that big, bold, spicy black pepper flavor. It's so fabulous.
I seared the steaks in a skillet - it looks like tuna, right?? - and weighed them down with a cast iron pan on top to be sure that the peppercorns really baked in. Once seared, I transferred them to a baking dish to finish cooking in the oven.
For the 'au poivre' sauce:
1/3 cup beef stock
1 cup heavy creap
1 T Dijon mustard
I poured the beef stock into the same pan where I seared the steaks to soak up all of that delicious peppercorn flavor. I then melted the mustard and whisked in the heavy cream.
Woo! Are you still with me? I also re-made T-Bar's corn and feta side dish. I cut kernels off of a fresh ear of corn. I love this tip I've seen on TV -- put a tiny bowl in a big bowl, stand the ear of corn on the tiny bowl, and when you slice off the kernels, they fall into the big bowl. Easy peasy.
I heated the corn in oil, seasoned with a pinch of salt and a few twists of cracked black pepper, and mixed with about 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese. Sweet and tangy perfection.
I will say this -- there are few things on this planet that I love more than dining out at a fancy Manhattan steak house. There is nothing like it. That said, this 'knock off' meal was a hit! For a Saturday night at home, each piece of this was so sublime and tasty. The steak? Perfectly cooked with that super spicy peppery flavor. Full disclosure: the whole peppercorns will probably break your teeth out of your jaw, which I learned after my first bite, so I ended up scraping most of them off and relying on the mustard cream sauce. But the searing process sealed in so much of the peppery flavor so taking off that rock solid crunch was a good thing! The Vietnamese shrimp noodle salad? Holy cow. There were a lot of leftovers of this that I brought to work for lunch. It is perfect served room temperature. The soft, tender noodles paired perfectly with the nice bite of shrimp, and the spiciness of the sauce mixed beautifully with the sweet carrots and cucumbers. Oh, and corn + feta is math I can do. The whole meal was a home run!