Foodiva's Kitchen: FFWD - Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

Friday, April 29, 2011

FFWD - Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak


As mouthwatering as it eventually turned out, this week's recipe had me slightly worried from the word go. We are not big meat eaters in this house and whenever I've cooked it, things like steak magically come out rubbery or burnt. My official food-tasters like their meat well-done, so to me that means "over-done", which isn't really the same thing, is it? Anyway, to cut a long story short, I don't really know how to cook the perfect steak, so more often than not we try not to eat it at home.

Then French Fridays with Dorie throws out this recipe and I am forced to face my....what is it....fear? Weakness? Idiocy? And because I cook meat the way I do, I tried to stick to Dorie's method of cooking the filet mignon as close as possible in the hope that maybe this time, it will turn out fine. By a stroke of luck, I still had my substantial stash of Sarawak peppercorns in the pantry, waiting for their earthy heat to be released.

My stash of Sarawak pepper, and what happened when I
tried to bash them in a plastic bag (ie. holes happened!)

I had bought bags of the stuff while on vacation in Sarawak last year (we are neighboring countries), and though I use it fairly often in my cooking, I still had too much left. This pepper steak recipe was perfect, and the coarsely cracked pepper requirement meant that I got to bash them to my heart's content. Of course, I tried to be cocky about it all and placed the peppercorns in a ziplock bag, poised for bashing. Wrongest move! The plastic bag ended up full of holes due to the sharp bits of cracked pepper... Mental note: next time, stick to the mortar and pestle or the kitchen-towel-wrapping method as suggested in the book.

Young papaya shoestring frites with crispy basil

I followed Dorie's steak-cooking method to a 'T', but did opt to change things up with the accompanying sauce and fries. Using Cognac or any other liquor was out of the question (and not because I'm a member of AA), so I boiled the sauce down with juice pressed out of a very ripe pear instead. Close enough. Then instead of adding the full measure of heavy cream, I halved that and added another half of coconut cream. That gave a lovely sweetness and a tropical touch to the sauce.

Now the frites. Do you remember when I mentioned the low-carb diet going on in this house? (Hint: it isn't me). That forced me to think about alternatives to potatoes. Later on, I went to the market and found these green, young papayas that were on the verge of being ripe but not quite there. Instantly, papaya frites seemed like a really good idea. The young fruit's firm texture is similar to potatoes except that it's not starchy which would probably make it less crisp when fried. I thought I'd give it a try anyway.

A mandoline helped slice the papaya very thinly as I wanted to make shoestring-style fries. You have to really watch the heat on this one as papaya caramelises very quickly. While the strips remained fairly soft in the middle, the edges were wonderfully crispy. I also threw in a handful of aromatic Thai basil leaves into the hot oil at the very end and lifted these out with the papaya. If you've never fried papaya this way before, then you should, the frites tasted hea-ven-ly...

Before and after cooking: Not much difference, is there?

The steak was cooked on the rare side - just for me. While I wasn't used to the pinkish hue of the meat inside, it proved as tender as the thumb I bashed during the peppercorn massacre above. Simply juicy and lovely!



That's it from me this week, I think. It's been a rather busy week, no, month full of blogger's events and challenges (why do I do this to myself?). I'm going to take a blogging break this weekend starting this afternoon, taking in the Wedding-of-the-Century shenanigans going on across many oceans from here. I will, of course, make time during the commercial breaks to check out the other FFWD members' variations of this dish!

Happy weekend to all!

44 comments:

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

What a lovely and unique presentation and interpretation of this dish. Gorgeous!

Foodiva said...

Thanks Mardi, for checking in! I can't wait to see what you and the other Doristas come up with... You're all so mega-talented!

Cakelaw said...

Your juicy steaks are making me hungry. My family actually prefers their steaks well done - I am the black sheep who likes medium rare. The papaya frites are an unusual take - I have never seen this done before, but it sounds good.

Foodiva said...

Cakelaw, your family and mine alike. I'm also the odd one out who loves the taste of blood in my mouth! Yes, the papaya frites are a bit unusual, even for me. But I'm glad I went there because they taste divine!

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

Amazing flavors for the best looking steak! I am taking notes on how to make steak as fabulous as yours! This is another pleasant surprise from your kitchen that wowed everybody that saw it! Super!!!

Foodiva said...

Arthur, thanks for kindly saying that about my steak. You really have to get Dorie's book, Around My French Table, to be able to appreciate how easy it is to achieve this juicy meat dish. I can't wait for you to join our cooking group!

Lizzy said...

Gorgeous, vibrant photos! My boys like their beef practically mooing, so rare is good at our house :)

Foodiva said...

Thanks, Lizzy. Your boys should come over to my house for a bit of moo-ing steak, then! At least I'll have some fun company. LOL.

ken said...

My, your steaks look wonderful, and your accompaniments truly delicious and... complimentary. I bet it was great with that coconut cream in the sauce also!

Heather said...

Beautiful pictures! Your steak looks absolutely perfect!

Foodiva said...

Many thanks, Ken and Heather. Appreciate you coming by!

Allison said...

Love your creativity with the recipe. Don't know when I'll be willing to make a change as I found the original so divine, but that coconut milk is enticing!

Christina said...

I love your colorful plate of food! So beautiful and creative!

Steph said...

So cool! I love the papaya fries...I have to try them. And, your steak came out perfect!!

Kris' Kitchen said...

What a lovely post...your sides look terrific. Papya fries look like a good idea that I need to try. Beautiful meal.

Foodiva said...

Thank you, fellow Doristas! I thought the meat on it's own was colorful enough, but didn't realize I had a whole range of palette on my plate. The colorful papaya, basil and blood red radicchio salad certainly complemented the steak well!

Christina said...

I love the idea of the papaya and your pictures are gorgeous!

yummychunklet said...

Your food styling makes me so jealous of your skills! This looks amazing! Sorry about the holes in your bag.

Cher said...

The papaya frites are such a lovely idea.
And yes - everything needs to stand still for the Royal...
Beautiful job.

Adriana said...

What a beautiful, inspired, and colorful plate! I need to incorporate some of your tropical twists with the papaya frites with fried basil and the coconut milk.

sanyaliving.com said...

Your steak and sides look so beautiful!
I can totally identify with rubbery and burnt steaks!
But there's nothing of the sort in your gorgeous photos.

amanda @ fake ginger said...

Mmm, I bet the sauce was amazing with the pear! What a great idea! It all looks fantastic!

michelle said...

Such a beautiful dinner! :)

Sorry you had a pepper-bashing mishap. I think I was a few smacks away from holes in my bag too. Perhaps a mortar and pestle is the way to go!

Sis. Boom. said...

All so beautiful! The thing with these sauces is that they can just be anything. I love your changes!

Ei said...

As everyone else has said, wow! That plate looks beautiful! I'm very intrigued by the papaya frites, too. I found myself holding a papaya in the supermarket yesterday, but I put it back because I wasn't sure what to do with it besides it eat raw. This looks mighty tempting.

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Your entire dish is stunning. Cooking meat is my weakness too in the kitchen, you did an amazing job cooking it. And the papaya fries. MUST try, very cool.

Mary said...

I love the spin you've put on the original recipe. It looks fantastic and I'd love to have been at your dinner table. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Kathy said...

Your photos are stunning and I love the idea of papaya frites! All I can say is lovely!!

Michael Toa said...

Oh Yum! That steak is cooked perfectly Maya. Yum!
Hope you're enjoying the royal wedding. I thought it was very good.

tricia s. said...

My mouth is watering after reading your tweaking to include pear juice and coconut cream. Amazing. And the papaya frites sound out of this world as well. So glad you had a successful week when being hesitant to start with. Nana took a "buy" this week after doing alot of Easter cooking and I figured I owed my family the chance to do steak right. Glad I tried it, as usual....

Pacheco Patty said...

I just read your comment about my knife rest and I laughed out loud, too funny! I saw those little animals for the knives at a friend's house in France and I was determined to find them;-)
Now I have them, I am determined to use them every chance I have;-)
First off I want to say your steak is cooked just the way I like it,yum and second I want to say that I would follow you to the end of the earth for a taste of your veggie side dish, oh I love the look of the fried basil with the papaya frites. I feel like I've seen veggies for the first time, you are a true talent girl, thanks for sharing;-)

Foodiva said...

Michael, the royal wedding watch was good fun...I loved the extraordinary hats! I mean, Princess Beatrice's hat alone now has a Facebook fan page with over 16,000 fans....amazing! LOL.

Foodiva said...

Patty, you're too kind and I'm humbled by your comments. To be honest, cooking out of Dorie's book has made me see many things differently for the first time as well! Probably out of need more than anything else.

As for those lovely knife rests of yours, they have made me determined to find some for myself...haha!

Betsy said...

I love your tropical take on this dish. I agree with everyone else, the papaya frites look amazing. Gorgeous photos, as always!

Jenny (VintageSugarcube) said...

Have I reminded you lately that you're a freak'n genius? Pear juice? and Coconut milk? I'm swooooning. These are the kind of recipes magazines need to publish. I'm not kidding. Bon Appetit? Saveur? Are you listening? And I'm such a HUGE fan of peppercorns, I'd love the little story about Sarawak, as I wasn't familiar with that county or it's fantabulous peppercorns. As always, I love learning something new from you!! Muah darling. :)

Tammy said...

Gorgeous photos! And I love how you made the dish your own and followed your diet preferences.

Mother Rimmy said...

Incredible job on this meal. The steak is cooked to perfection and the color of the papaya shoestring frites is amazing!

Kristi

onewetfoot said...

I love your variations for the frites and the sauce. Sounds wonderful! Your presentation is making me want to try a little harder in that department, too.

Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane said...

Wow, this looks like some really nicely cooked meat! I like the colours of this dish. I also just wanted to stop by and say I like your blog :)

Foodiva said...

Thank you, Jenny doll. Thank you, Doristas! I nearly did a tofu steak but naaah... it just wouldn't be the same!

Foodiva said...

Xinmei, thank you. Just been to your blog and I must say, it's...no, YOU are amazing! Forget about doing economics in Cambridge, go open up a bakery, pronto!

Celia said...

I'm totally with you on the rare steak - and on the steak fear; looks like you conquered it well! What's really got me drooling, though, is those fries; I'm going to be thinking about them all day...

Victoria said...

I love that you participated in FFWD but did it under your terms, replacing potatoes with papaya for the fries. What a great idea that I would have never considered! I'm a fan of carbs, so potatoes will always be on my menu, but this a great change from the usual!

Spicie Foodie said...

Peppered steak is my husband's favorite way to eat steak. Steak is a hard thing to master because how quickly it can go from rare to burnt! It took me a while. We eat ours rare or medium rare and it's the best way! I love your papaya frites, how unique. You're just awesome!

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