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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

04/15/2018

~Tangy-Sweet Strawberry White-Balsamic Vinaigrette~

IMG_6772Strawberries are no stranger to salads -- spinach and strawberry salads with poppyseed dressing were trendy on restaurant menus in the 1970's.  Those salads caused me to experiment with strawberries, when appropriate, in place of tomatoes, in salad recipes using a variety of other greens and proteins too.  It was only natural that I would experiment with sweet and savory salad dressings containing strawberries too.  This vinaigrette recipe is the one that captured my strawberry loving heart.  My Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Cheese and Arugula Salad (pictured in the background), is not only perfect for Spring, it's dazzling dressed with this vinaigrette:

IMG_6687For my strawberry vinaigrette:

8-10  ounces fresh strawberries, cut into quarters (8-10 ounces after removing leafy green tops)

10  tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup honey

1/4  cup strawberry jam or strawberry preserves

1/2  teaspoon salt

1/2-3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

6  tablespoons vegetable oil

IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689~Step 1.  Place the strawberries in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  Using a series of 15-20 rapid on-off pulses followed by the motor running for 15-20 seconds, puree the strawberries.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the vegetable oil.  With motor running, process until thoroughly combined and smooth.  With motor running, through the feed tube and in a slow, steady stream, drizzle in the vegetable oil.  Dressing will be smooth and emulsified, and, there will be a generous 2 1/2 cups.  Leftovers (if there is leftover vinaigrette) store great in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

For drizzling or dipping, even on an all-strawberry salad: 

IMG_6792Tangy-Sweet Strawberry White-Balsamic Vinaigrette:  Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; appropriately-sized food-storage containers with tight-fitting lids.

IMG_5827Cook's Note:  I have no idea who prepared the first salad.  Whoever it was, I'm guessing it was an accident, and likely a result of hunger.  Gathered from fields, around streams and in wooded areas, greens, an herb or two, mushrooms, flowers and berries and/or seeds would stave off hunger.  As time passed, a pinch of salt, later, a squirt of citrus, next a splash of vinegar, last: oil.  To learn what I know about vinaigrette, read:  ~ In the Beginning:  Demystifying Basic Vinaigrettes ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

04/13/2018

~ Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Cheese and Arugula Salad ~

IMG_6752Strawberries aren't just for dessert, and, if the Northeast ever gets a break in the weather, the local strawberry season will be just around the corner.  That said, the California-grown Driscoll's strawberries I found in the grocery store yesterday are plump and sweet, and, one of the man-sized flank steaks my husband picked up at Sam's Club today are going to team up for a hearty, sweet-and-savory, main-dish salad for a delightfully-carnivorous Sunday dinner this evening.

IMG_6671Strawberries are no stranger to salads -- spinach and strawberry salads with poppyseed dressing were trendy on restaurant menus back in the 1970's.  Because of those spinach salads, I began experimenting with strawberries, when appropriate, in place of tomatoes, in select recipes.  There's more.  When it's a main-dish salad I'm wanting, unlike many, who pair salads containing strawberries with mild-flavored proteins like chicken or shrimp, as a card-carrying carnivore, trust me when I tell you, the strawberry holds it own next to bold-flavored meats like beef and lamb.

Something sweet, savory, salty & super-crunchy too:

IMG_6682For the salad:

1  2-2 1/2-pound flank steak, broiled and rested as directed in my recipe for Melanie's Perfectly-Cooked 18-Minute Flank Steak

IMG_51303-4 whole heads hearts-of-romaine, the "hearts" being the inner leaves from the typical bushy head (about 12-16 ounces total weight), leaves torn into small, bite-sized pieces or cut chiffonade-style (into 1/2" strips or ribbons), washed, dried (preferably through a salad spinner) and chilled until very crisp

2-3  cups baby arugula leaves

1-1 1/2  cups very thinly-sliced (shaved) red onion, cut into half-moon shapes, half-moons cut in halves or thirds

2-2 1/2  cups ripe, hulled strawberries, sliced 1/4"-thick

1-1 1/2  cups blue cheese crumbles

1-1 1/2  cups (about 8-ounces) store-bought or homemade candied pecans

IMG_6571 IMG_6571 IMG_6571 IMG_6571 IMG_6595~Step 1.  Place a 2-pound flank steak on a disposable aluminum broiler pan and season with sea saltand peppercorn blend.  Place 5 1/2"-6" under preheated broiler for exactly 9 minutes.  Remove from oven, flip steak over (there's no need to season the second side), return to broiler and cook 9 more minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to rest 9 minutes.  Holding a chef's knife at a 30º angle, slice steak into thin, 1/8"-1/4" thick strips. Note:  This is enough meat for one large or six individual, main-dish salads.  To make it ahead, wrap cooked, rested and unsliced flank steak in plastic and refrigerate overnight.  Return to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then warm it (warm not hot) in microwave, about 90 seconds.

IMG_5152~ Step 2.  Slice flank steak in half lengthwise, then, while holding the knife at a 30º oven, thinly-slice each half into thin (1/8"-1/4"-thick) strips. Roll each strip up roulade-style*. *Note: A roulade (roo-LAHD) is a fancy French term for a thin slice of raw or cooked meat rolled around a filling then secured with some kitchen twine or a toothpick.  If the meat is raw, the roulade is cooked after rolling, if the meat is cooked, the roulade is ready for serving.

IMG_6712 IMG_6712 IMG_6712 IMG_6712 IMG_6732 IMG_6732 IMG_6805~Step 3.  To assemble one large or six individual-sized salads, on one large platter or six salad plates, layer and arrange the ingredients, in the following order:  The greens (romaine and arugula that have been briefly tossed together), red onion, strawberries, beef roulades, blue cheese and candied pecans. Drizzle with strawberry vinaigrette (recipe below) and serve with additional dressing at tableside:

IMG_6772All dressed up in a tangy & sweet, very-berry vinaigrette:

IMG_6687For the strawberry vinaigrette:

8-10  ounces fresh strawberries, cut into quarters (8-10 ounces after removing leafy green tops)

10  tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/4  cup honey

1/4  cup strawberry jam or strawberry preserves

1/2  teaspoon salt

1/2-3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

6  tablespoons vegetable oil

IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689 IMG_6689~Step 1.  Place the strawberries in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  Using a series of 15-20 rapid on-off pulses followed by the motor running for 15-20 seconds, puree the strawberries.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the vegetable oil.  With motor running, process until thoroughly combined and smooth.  With motor running, through the feed tube and in a slow, steady stream, drizzle in the vegetable oil.  Dressing will be smooth and emulsified, and, there will be a generous 2 1/2 cups.  Leftovers (if there is leftover vinaigrette) store great in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

IMG_6809Tied-together in every delightfully-colorful Springtime bite:

IMG_6812Strawberry, Steak, Blue-Chees and Arugula Salad:  Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups dressing and 6-8 large, main-dish servings of salad.

Special Equipment List: 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" disposable aluminum broiler pan (the kind with the corrugated bottom); cutting board; chef's knife; food processor

IMG_1104Cook's Note:  Want a super-easy super-strawberry Spring-Summer dessert to serve after your salad? Nothing could be finer than my super-special recipe for ~ Creamy-Dreamy No-Bake Strawberry Key-Lime Pie ~.  Think Spring.  Sigh.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)

04/10/2018

~My 18-Minute Philly-Dilly Flank-Steak Cheesesteaks~

IMG_6664Knowledge is power.  As the 2018 "Dilly-dilly" Bud Light, Super Bowl commercial spiked in popularity, then filtered into the mantra for the Eagle's super-bowl victory parade in the form of "Philly-dilly", my curiosity caused me to research it -- and I'm glad I did.  I'm here to report "dilly" is a real word, and, as per Merriam-Webster, it's a noun that comes from an obsolete adjective that refers to something "delightful", "remarkable" or "outstanding", which describes with perfection:

My latest take on the cheesesteak -- The Philly-Dilly.

IMG_6532

If you have never eaten a cheesesteak sandwich in Philadelphia proper, you've never eaten a cheesesteak.  Like the soft pretzel, the iconic Philly cheesesteak just tastes better in The City of Brotherly Love.  Whether you're standing outside on a sticky-hot sidewalk next to a street vendor in Summer, or inside, doing the "Philly lean" over a counter in a sweaty-windowed sandwich shop in Winter, the experience, on several levels, cannot be duplicated elsewhere.  Many have tried, many have come remarkably close, but everyone agrees:  Philadelphia owns this sandwich.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07e2ba65970dA Philly cheesesteak is always made with high-quality, nicely-marbled, thinly-sliced, rib-eye steak. For example:  This 1"-thick rib-eye would be cut, while partially frozen, lengthwise into 5-6 thin steaks.  The meat gets cooked quickly, on a large lightly-greased flat-top griddle, getting chopped up as it cooks.

IMG_6562The flank steak, in terms of taste, texture and price holds its own next to any premium steak, plus, it's the perfect alternative for the home cook who wants to cook the steak indoors.  While I occasionally pan-sear it, my favorite method is to cook it under the broiler.  My foolproof broiler method takes all the guesswork out of it too.

Trust me when I tell you, my Philly-dilly's are dilly-dilly.

IMG_6600I'm only making one cheesesteak, in an 8" nonstick skillet today, because one is all I can eat, and, I'm on-my-own for dinner this evening.  I'll make more sandwiches tomorrow, with the leftover flank steak (enough for five more cheesesteaks), when Joe gets back home.  I've included my instructions for reheating leftovers in the recipe below. That said, to prepare multiple (2-4-6) sandwiches, be sure to use an appropriately-sized 10"-, 12"- or 14"-skillet to feed your family or friends.

While steak broils in the oven, onions caramelize on the stovetop.

IMG_6633For each 6" cheesesteak:

2  teaspoons salted butter

1/2  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

2-3  super-thin-slices deli-style provolone, or Velveeta if it's yellow cheese you crave

3/4  cup thinly-sliced rare-cooked and still-warm flank steak, prepared as directed in my recipe:  Melanie's 18-Minute Perfectly-Cooked Flank Steak

choice of optional toppings:  1/4 cup mild or hot, well-drained yellow pepper rings, sautéed bell peppers or mushrooms, &/or, 2-3  tablespoons red tomato-based pizza-type sauce

1  6"-8" high-quality, semi-firm Italian or brioche submarine-shaped roll

IMG_6571 IMG_6580 IMG_6580 IMG_6580 IMG_6595~Step 1.  Place a 2-pound flank steak on a disposable aluminum broiler pan and season with sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Place 5 1/2"-6" under preheated broiler for exactly 9 minutes.  Remove from oven, flip steak over (there's no need to season the second side), return to broiler and cook 9 more minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to rest 9 minutes.  Holding a chef's knife at a 30º angle, slice steak into thin, 1/8"-1/4" thick strips. Note:  This is enough meat for six cheesesteaks.  To make it ahead, wrap cooked, rested and unsliced flank steak in plastic and refrigerate overnight.  Return to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then warm it (warm not hot) in microwave, about 90 seconds.  Slice and proceed with recipe as written.  While flank steak is broiling and resting, caramelize the onions as follows:

IMG_6628 IMG_6628 IMG_6628 IMG_6628 IMG_6531~Step 2.  In an 8" nonstick skillet, melt butter over low heat.  Add the diced onions.  Adjust heat to medium, medium-high, to gently and slowly sauté, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized to desired degree of pretty brown, 16-18 minutes, regulating the heat carefully during this process.  Adjust heat to low and arrange provolone slices over the onions, followed by the still-warm sliced flank steak.  

If desired, sprinkle a favorite topping or two over the top of the meat to customize your sandwich to your liking.  When cheese has melted, about 30-45 seconds, remove skillet from heat.

IMG_6532IMG_6532IMG_6532IMG_6532~Step 3.  Place your favorite roll (split open) on a piece of aluminum foil.  With the aid of a spatula, while tilting the skillet on an angle, slide/push the contents of the skillet directly into the roll, much like you would slide an omelette from pan to plate.  Wrap the sandwich tightly in the foil and set aside, about 1 minutes, to give the roll time to steam/soften a bit.  Using a serrated bread knife, slice the sandwich in half (a diagonal is nice), remove the foil and serve immediately. 

Delightfully, remarkably, outstanding?  You betcha.

IMG_6544It's a dilly of a cheesesteak -- It's a Philly-Dilly Cheesesteak!

IMG_6554My 18-Minute Philly-Dilly Flank-Steak Cheesesteaks:  Recipe yields 6, 6"-8" flank-steak w/caramelized-onion cheesesteaks.

Special Equipment List:  11 3/4" x 8 1/2" disposable aluminum broiler pan w/corrugated bottom; cutting board; chef's knife; appropriately-sized nonstick skillet; spatula; aluminum foil; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7c6bf05970bCook's Note:  Another take on the cheesesteak, and a favorite here in my kitchen, is my recipe for  ~ Philadelphia-Style Cheesesteak-Pizza a la Mel ~.  While it is luscious topped with my recipe for ~ Melanie's 18-Minute Perfectly-Cooked Flank Steak ~, I've written it with other options too.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)