Saturday 12 October 2013

Steak Frites for Dad: Scotch Fillet, Sweet Potato Fries, Roasted Tomatoes and Everything Dressing

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. ~Jim Valvano

Dads as a species are notoriously difficult to buy presents for.  My dad was no exception.  But I'd like to think gifts don't always have to be things you buy per se but could also be things you do.

So along with obligatory socks and ties, my gifts to dad were small things done with great love.

As a kid, for my dad, I would crawl out of bed in the early hours to watch a rugby game, a tennis grand slam final, or FIFA world cup.  Just for dad, I would relinquish the remote so he could watch the racing even though there was something really good on E!.  And only for my dad, I would sit with him and listen through entire BeeGees, Celine Dion and Albert Hammond albums.   

My dad was my hero.  His gift to me was that he believed I could do anything I put my mind to.  So what's a little BeeGees now and then in comparison huh?

Yesterday was dad's birthday.  He would've been 57 had it not been for the big bad cancer that took him 8 years ago.   

So every year now, my gift to him is still to cook something he loved.  To remember him. To celebrate him. To show how much I love him and miss him.

{rocking it bruce lee style since way back}

One of the things dad loved the most was a good steak.  So this year for dad's bday meal I made steak frites with Scotch fillet, Homemade sweet potato fries, Roasted tomatoes and Everything Dressing.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Because each element is made from scratch, all up this meal can be a little time consuming and bowl consuming to put together but boy oh boy is it worth it!  Each part of the meal is a knock out on its own and can easily be mix-and-matched with less elaborate side dishes for more accessible weekday meals.

The Fries

These homemade seasoned sweet potato fries are just little naughty and a little bit fiddly to make but were oh so crispy and tasty that I will forgive them for the copious amounts of oil splatter, for smoking up my kitchen and for using a million bowls and pans.

The frying was by far the most time consuming part of this whole meal.  This is mainly because I don't have a deep fryer so if you have a nifty frying contraption this part might actually be easy peasey for you.  You need to get the oil hot enough to seal off the chippie but not so hot as to burn the chip before the inside has had a chance to get all light and fluffy and sweet.  I haven't gotten the hang of the whole deep frying business yet so the ones that were good were really really good and the ones that were bad were on the smokey end of crispy.

I did also try and bake some of the fries in the oven in an attempt to make a healthier version of the fries but they went chewy and then went charcoal.  Less than ideal.  The fried ones were infinitely better tasting if somewhat worse for your arteries. 

The Steak

We splashed out and got some beautiful scotch fillet.  Cooked to just right: medium rare for C, and like my dad: rare or blue for me.  You really can't beat a good steak.  So buttery and tender and juicy, offset perfectly by the tangy Everything Dressing.

The Everything Dressing

I call this my "Everything Dressing" because I use it on absolutely everything.  It is pretty much a modified salsa verde and can turn anything from ok/shmaverage to kick ass to the power of awesome.  It's tangy, herby, salty and utterly addictive.

You will see that there are anchovies in the recipe.  Do not be afriad. The anchovies come in peace. Seriously, the anchovies really make it so don't leave them out if you can help it - you don't actually taste fishiness at all - just an totally moorish salty smokiness.

We love this dressing on grilled fish fillets, roasted veges (especially pumpkin), poached eggs on toast, on salads, stirred through pasta / orzo, or even on dahl curries.... I really mean everything.

And last but not least: The Roasted Tomatoes

Roasting brings out the very best in tomatoes.  The roasting intensifies the sweetness and tomatoiness.  And this is by far the easiest part of this meal!  You just whack them in the oven and leave them till they are done.  Easy as.

Steak Frites meal for Dad

Serves two

Roasted Tomatoes
6 vine ripened tomatoes
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.  Prepare your baking tray by lining with tinfoil and drizzling some oil on the foil.  Carefully wash the tomatoes to not dislodge them off their vines. Place on the prepared baking tray.  Drizzle a little more olive oil on the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

2. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the tomatoes. 

Homemade seasoned sweet potato fries

4 medium sized sweet potatoes (kumara), washed, skins left on (or peeled, up to you!)

cold water to soak

1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon peri peri seasoning or cajun seasoning 
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour
~3/4 cup cold water

extra salt to season

1. Cut the sweet potatoes into large chunky fries/wedges.  Soak in cold water for around 15 minutes.  (NB: While you are soaking the potatoes, you can cook the steak)

2. In a separate large bowl mix flour, paprika, garlic salt, salt, periperi seasoning and black pepper.  Start by adding 1/2 cup cold water and add Tablespoonfuls at a time to get to a thinnish batter that dribbles smoothly.  I found I needed around 3/4 cup water.

3.  Drain the sweet potato pieces, and dry with paper towels / tea towel.  Drop all the kumara pieces into the batter and mix well to evenly coat.

4. In a large deep pot, heat 1-2 inches of canola/vegetable oil until it sizzles when you drop some batter in.  Using tongs, pick a piece of sweet potato, shake any excess batter and place into the hot oil.  Be very careful of hot oil splatter!  After about 5 seconds, put in another fry and so on until you have a single layer in the pot with decent amount of room.  Turn each piece after around 3 minutes on each side or until golden grown.

5. When golden brown on both sides, drain on a place with paper towels.  Season lightly with salt.

2 x Scotch Fillet steaks
freshly ground pepper
olive oil

1. Get your steaks out of the fridge just as you are starting to prep things at the beginning so they have time to get to room temperature.

2. Heat a heavy based frying pan with a little olive oil.  Fry steaks for around 3 minutes on each side for medium rare (depends on how think your steak is though!).  Season with salt and pepper and place on a plate to rest for 15 minutes covered with tinfoil to keep them warm

Everything Dressing

4 cloves of garlic
4 large anchovy fillets
2 Tablespoons of capers
2 large handfuls of flat leafed parsley,
1 large handful of coriander and/or basil
Juice from 1/2 lemon or around 3-4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on how salty your anchovies are)
freshly ground black pepper

1. Either chop everything up finely before putting in a bowl to add the lemon juice, oil, and seasoning or put everything in a food processor and whizz it all up.  Taste and adjust to your preference (I find it always needs a touch more salt and lemon).  Keep in an airtight jar for a couple of days only (herbs will start yellowing after that).

1 comment:

  1. Another awesome tribute to your dad, thanks for sharing it with us. Those battered kumara chips do sound amazing, pity they were a hassle to make.
    Btw, I love your alternative name for salsa verde, sounds much less wanky. :P Might have to start using it myself. Now I just need to find a catchy new name for 'bouquet garni', I feel like a plonker pronouncing it correctly.



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