I wrote this entry 1.5 weeks ago and proceeded to accidentally delete as I was attempting to post it! POOF, it was lost into the internet ether…. So alas, here goes the second attempt.
I just finished reading Clementine in the Kitchen, a food novel by noted food writer and journalist Samuel Chamberlain. This book is nothing short of fantastic for those as passionate about food as I am. From the first page I was instantly hooked and found myself laughing out-loud on numerous occasions. For a short book with over half the pages filled with recipes, that says a lot about the quality of the prose. In short, paraphrasing from the introduction of the book, it is a gastronomic diary of an American family living in pre-WW2 rural France and their most cherished possession, Clementine (and her treasured recipes), the faithful cook worthy of a Cordon Bleu.
Thoroughly inspired, I have been on a French-cookery binge for the past 1.5 weeks. Last Sunday I decided to make the fairly straight forward Steak Béarnaise – with a twist. Having already prepared Chuck steak roulades, the Béarnaise Sauce was a last minute sauce substitution, and it actually worked amazingly well. The Chuck steaks were pounded paper thin and stuffed with julienned cooked sausage and pickle, a loose interpretation of a dish my Polish Babcia used to make.
For the Béarnaise, I wanted to make it slightly lighter and ideally, less assaulting to the waist line and I happy to report that it worked without compromising on the taste, texture or unique zesty, buttery, velvety-ness that is the Béarnaise Sauce.
1 stick of butter (standard recipes usually call for 2 yikes!)
2 egg yolks
1/4 white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar, which I didn’t have and this didn’t impact the end result)
3tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1tsp lemon juice
1 minced shallot
For the sauce, put the vinegar, shallots, 1/3 tarragon leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small pan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to a few tablespoons. Cool slightly.
Place the cooled mixture with the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender and blitz for 30 seconds. With blender on, slowly pour the warmed butter. Add the remaining tarragon leaves and blend only for a second. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon of white wine. Keep at room temperature until serving. Alternatively, you can just put the ingredients in a jar and mix by hand, this works just as well, it simply requires a bit more elbow grease.
Cook steaks to medium rare and immediately pour warm sauce on top.