Monday, 16 April 2012

Kat vs How to Eat: Steak Bearnaise and Langue du Chat

I approach this recipe with some trepidation, not so much because of the sauce but the dawning realisation I have never actually cooked a steak. Perhaps this is why I am single I muse making a mental note to explore this idea further. The thing is massive slabs of meat just don’t speak to me. Perhaps it was the 10 years of being a vegetarian but there’s just something very caveman about it that I can’t deal with. In fact I am sure it was the very fact of being taken to Gaucho only to order the burger that was, if not completely, in part responsible for killing off one particular relationship, the disdain being palpable.

A week of searching high and low and I am no closer to tracking down the elusive chervil of which the recipe talks. Some sightings claim it to be a chive like herb, and The Oracle frowns at me and tells me to use parsley. To my surprise I am not entirely laughed out of the greengrocers in Blackheath who have at least heard of it and helpfully offer to order some in. However I decline as I am keen to crack on and Nigella does tell me not to punish myself over it.
I enter Tesco in Covent Garden to grab some butter, which has I am told with great fanfare, been reopened after a re-fit designed to make my life shinier and easier. Balloons, people handing out baskets, money off coupons, lovely. Lucky they mentioned it really as silly me had been under the impression they had been forcibly closed down because of all the rodent friends running around.

Easy option
I wonder to where the butter should be. I wander up and down a couple of times and check myself – cheese, yoghurt, milk.... I am definitely in the dairy produce section and am clearly going mad. I accost a member of staff who proudly leads me right back to the cheese and then starts scratching his head. It should be here he helpfully offers. I’ll get a manager he decides. Manager is no clearer. We all agree we are definitely stood where the butter should be and isn’t. I give in and wander off, eventually colliding with a new fridge by the gluten free aisle where I eventually locate the butter. Technically it is gluten free think, but I am not completely convinced by the new classification system. I don’t think Dewy would approve.

I finally get home and gather everything together, taking a sniff of the tarragon which I am surprised to discover smells like liquorice. I shove a handful in my mouth and chew and yes, definite liquorice cartwheels come to mind. I am not sure how I feel about this but crack on regardless. I chop up shallots and tarragon and shove them in a pan with some white wine vinegar, reduce the lot and shove it through a tea strainer, leaving me with some frankly dubious looking brown liquid.

Undeterred I once again add an unholy amount of butter to a couple of egg yolks, while whisking for my life over a bain marie.  I add the brown muck, some lemon juice and seasoning and put to one side in tepid water while I tackle the big lump of dead cow (rib-eye) I am confronted with. I wonder how to cook it and shudder at the memory of a first date I once had in a French restaurant. It was a proper one, with French staff who looked like they pitied my Englishness the second I walked through the door. Not wanting to be completely ridiculed by either the surly French waiter or my new beau I gritted my teeth and ordered my steak medium-rare. I sat back resigned to my bloody fate and listened in horror as my date decided to fly in the face of social convention and order his well done. I was speechless (no mean feat).
In the end I decide to go medium, follow the instructions on the steak packet (which may not be from a proper Butchers, but did have a picture of a smiling farmer on the front so it sort of half counts), and end up with something completely over-cooked. I serve it up as recommended with some green leaves and French bread to ‘mop up the juices’. It is fairly delicious if I do say so myself although I can only manage half at best and I do feel incredibly decadent eating steak on a Wednesday night, at home, on my own!

I meant to crack on with the Langue du Chat (cat’s tongue) biscuits but frankly I am too full to move and so it takes until Sunday to use up the egg whites. Now I have had these before so I know exactly how they should taste. Unfortunately something is lost in translation and although they look a rough approximation of how they should they are chewy where they should have a snap and plain when they should resonate with vanilla. I have no idea where I went wrong, except that the consistency of the mixture was never the stiff paste it was meant to be and I should have followed my instincts and added more vanilla essence. I sulk for a while then stick a chocolate and coffee loaf in the oven to make up for it, much better!
Chewy - bad
Kitchen wisdom gained:
  • Steak isn't just for eating on dates.
  • There's no chervil in South London. Although if there is it might be masquerading as parsley.
  • If at first you don't succeed, cook something completely different to make yourself feel better.
Chewy - good
Domestic Goddess score out of 10:7 - the steak was overdone but the sauce was the main event anyway and it's easily rectified next time. The biscuits would have been far far better out of a packet. The chocolate and coffee loaf had nothing to do with anything.

Final score: Nigella 2 - Kat 1

1 comment:

Adam said...

Eating blood to impress a very Bella of you! The cat's tongue for dessert is a little vampirish too. Check for bite-marks.