A Chef Abroad
A pair of delicious recipes for the international appetite
Story and photos by Andrea LeTard
Travel and food go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine what people do on vacation who don’t like to eat. But then again, is there anyone who doesn’t like to eat?
My husband and I are constant travelers. We make good use of our vacation days by taking several weekend trips a year. That way, we’re only forced to take off a Friday or a Monday, thus only use one vacation day for one vacation. It works beautifully, and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves to travel but feels like there are never enough vacation days in the year. As for big trips abroad, the best way to keep vacation days in the bank is to take them during extended work holidays – Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas are perfect times to travel and not miss out on too many vacation days.
So why all the travel advice? Because if it wasn’t for strategically planning how to use vacation days, I would have missed out on two of the most memorable trips that now inspire many of my recipes. We went to Rio de Janeiro over Thanksgiving one year and to Italy over Independence Day another year, and both the recipes included were inspired by those trips.
Brazilian cuisine, known for its heaping servings of meat and delicious sauces, always comes to mind when I’m creating a new steak recipe. We had chimichurri sauce for the very first time in Brazil, and when I got home I created my own version – this Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce over Cauliflower Puree. Italy, known for simple, fresh pasta dishes with few ingredients inspires all my pasta dishes. When we were in Italy we experienced truffle hunting with a truffle trained dog, and every truffle he found was used in our cooking class where we learned to make gnocchi from an Italian lady who had been making it her entire life – the true Italian way. This Homemade Truffle Gnocchi is as authentic as it gets.
Travel is priceless when it comes to food inspiration. It’s also something you’ll never take for granted if you do a lot of it. The memories, experiences, and stories last a lifetime – and so will these recipes.
Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce over Cauliflower Puree
Grocery list (4 to 6 servings):
· 1/2 cup parsley - chopped
· 1/2 cup cilantro - chopped
· 4 garlic cloves - chopped
· 1 tsp dried oregano
· 2 tsp ground cumin
· 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
· 1/2 tsp kosher salt
· 1/2 lemon - juiced
· 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
· 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
· 1 small cauliflower head -
cut into florets and steamed
· 1 garlic clove - chopped
· 1/4 cup Parmesan
· 2 tbsp fat free cream cheese
· 1 1/2 tbsp butter
· 1/2 tsp kosher salt
· 1/4 tsp pepper
· 1 (2 to 2 1/2 lb) flank steak
· Olive oil
· Kosher salt
· Fresh cracked pepper
Homemade Truffle Gnocchi
Grocery list (4-6 servings):
· 1 lb russet potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
· 2 eggs – lightly beaten
· ½ tsp kosher salt
· ¼ tsp pepper
· 1 ½ all-purpose flour –
plus extra for dusting and rolling
· 2 tbsp truffle butter
· ½ cup heavy cream
· ½ tsp truffle salt (or Kosher)
· ½ cup parmesan –
freshly grated, plus more for serving
· 1 tsp corn starch – optional
· Fresh truffles or truffle oil – optional
1. In a food processor, add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, oregano, cumin, red pepper flake, salt, lemon, and red wine vinegar. Blend until it all comes together, then stream in the olive oil until smooth. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
2. In a blender or food processor, add the steamed cauliflower, garlic, Parmesan, cream cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Blend on high until smooth and silky.
3. Heat a cast iron or grill pan to medium high heat. Brush flank steak on both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Pan sear or grill the steak for about 4 minutes on each side for medium rare. Cover in foil and set aside for at least 8 minutes to rest. Slice into thin strips across the grain.
4. Build plates by spreading a large spoonful of cauliflower on the bottom of each plate. Top with the flank steak strips, then finish with a heaping spoonful of Chimichurri sauce.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke small holes all over the potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until slightly overdone. Let cool then cut in half longways. If you have a ricer, you can push the potatoes through the ricer. If not, using a cheese grater, grate the potato on the smallest grating side until the entire potato, aside from the skin, has been pushed through the grater and onto a clean work surface. Discard the skin or any rough part of the potato. The texture of the grated potato should be fluffy.
2. Pour the egg mixture over the grated potatoes, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover the potato mixture with about ¾ cup of the flour and start to combine lightly with your hands (the key to fluffy gnocchi is lightly handling the dough and not overworking it). Once combined and as the dough becomes sticky or sticks to the board, add more flour. Continue to add more flour as you lightly mix it together. You will know when it’s finished when it holds together and is not too dry or not too sticky.
3. Cut the dough into 4 even pieces and roll each of the 4 pieces into a ½ inch rope, lightly flouring the pieces as needed. Cut the dough into ½-inch gnocchi pieces, flouring the dough as you cut them and keeping the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet or work surface.
4. When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Begin to prepare the truffle sauce by heating a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter and let melt. Add the cream and salt, and let come to a slight boil. Simmer the sauce until it thickens. For thicker sauce, whisk in the corn starch. Add the grated parmesan and grated fresh truffles if using them.
5. Boil the gnocchi for about 2 minutes or until they float to the top of the pot. Using a pasta strainer, add them directly into the cream sauce and stir to combine. Add more parmesan to the top and fresh sliced truffles or truffle oil if desired.