Saturday, March 20, 2010

chef it yourself top chef challenge: edible flowers, shallots and beef

For the last three months I've been promising Anamaris of Chef it Yourself that I would participate in her Top Chef challenge.

This month I finally got my s*@t together in time to do it.

Each month Anamaris names a couple of "mystery" ingredients to base a meal around. This month it was edible flowers, choice of lamb, pork or beef and shallots.

Do I seem calm about it?

I totally shouldn't because the words "edible flowers" completely scared the bejezus outta me.

For a while I wasn't even sure I could get my hands on any flowers. I mean, yeah we're seeing some signs of early spring around here but by that I mean all the snow is gone leaving everything looking dirty and barren.

We're not exactly awash in a riot of spring blossoms.

Then it occurred to me that we have an amazing organic greenhouse nearby. Cookstown Greens is this amazing place that's been producing heirloom veggies and organic wonders for almost 20 years.

They mostly supply professional chefs and restaurants but that worked out just fine for me as it fed in nicely to my delusions of real chef-itude.

Hooray for encouraging the crazy!

So I ordered a mixed bunch of flowers and had absolutely no idea what I was getting.

When I got the flowers home I found nasturtiums, violas, corn flowers, pinks and phlox. I did some taste testing and devised a plan of action.

The nasturtiums were the most interesting to my palate. They have this peppery hit to them that I really liked so I wanted to feature them.
Et voila, nasturtium pesto! I thought the peppery note would go nicely with our other mandatory ingredient, shallots, so I added some of those to the mix as well as toasted walnuts and a little garlic. It was yummy.

With the other flowers I decided to make an infusion and use them in a shallot sauce to go over my sauteed sirloin steaks. The flavour and scent of the infusion was mild but added a unique layer to the shallot sauce.

I'm pretty darn pleased with how everything turned out - if I do say so myself.
Nasturtium Pesto
2 cups nasturtium flowers and leaves
1 tbsp diced shallot
1 tsp garlic minced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup olive oil
Season with s&p

Process all ingredients together.
Please play with the amounts of ingredients here to get a flavour and texture that you're happy with.

Flower Infusion
2 cups edible flowers (corn flowers, phlox, pinks)
2 cups water

Bring flowers and water to a boil and allow to steep together to infuse flavours.

Shallot Sauce
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots finely diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
good splash of white wine
1 cup flower infusion
1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Season with s&p

Melt butter with olive oil in saute pan.
Add garlic and shallots.
Saute until translucent (about 30 seconds).
Add wine to deglaze pan.
Allow wine to evaporate.
Add flower infusion and citrus zests.
Bring to boil and simmer to thicken.
Finish sauce with 2 tbsp unsalted butter.
Season with s&p.

Sirloin Steak
2 portions
Season with s&p

Pat steaks dry and season.
Heat pan to smoking.
Add steaks.
Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare.

Verdict: Yummy spring/summer meal.

Mostly impressed with myself for being capable of pulling my act together on a deadline!


Heiko said...

I really like the sound of that nasturtium pesto. I shall try that once my nasturtium has made an appearance. Did you read my recent post on my spring tart made from violas and primroses?

Anonymous said...

This looks so good, what did the flower infusion taste like?

That's Ron said...

yummo! never had flower before.. wat sort of flower is tat?

Anonymous said...

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Justine said...

wow your pesto look great and what creativity you have!

Jenn said...

The flower infusion was very mild. I knew the flowers I stewed had notes of citrus and honey so I decided to play those up by adding the citrus zest to the shallot sauce.

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