Friday, March 18, 2016

Seared Steak Salad with Dijon Fennel Vinaigrette

     A Steak Salad Entrée Is A Nice Choice For Spring!
     All it takes is a sense of design to make a salad look classy.  A Composed Salad has all the ingredients arranged on the plate with planned design that has a sense of order.
     When creating a Composed Salad presentation, it is best to picture where the featured ingredients will be placed before assembling the salad.  Some chefs prefer to draw a plate diagram when planning a Compose Salad presentation, especially when the same salad will be served to several guests.  Other chefs like to make a Composed Salad example, then photograph the salad for future reference.  Either way, planning the Composed Salad is the first step, then the plan is followed so every one of the Composed Salads look exactly the same.  
     When creating a Composed Salad, key design elements to keep in mind are focal point, flow, design pattern and marrying complimentary flavors.
     • The focal point should be the center of the plate and the design of the salad should look good from the vantage point of the guest or any vantage point at the table.
     • The design pattern should be appealing to the eye and the pattern should lead the eyes of a guest to the focal point.  The design should take color into account when selecting ingredients, but flavor always should take precedence.
     • The ingredients should be arranged with flow in mind.  For example, overlapping sliced ingredients creates a cascade effect.
     • When deciding which ingredients should be placed next to each other, always favor marrying complimentary or contrasting flavor combinations.  For example, place sweet onions next to tomato, because the marriage of these two flavors tastes good together.
     • A good mind set for designing a composed salad is to not think of the task as being a project.  It is better to think of designing a composed salad as being like composing music or art.  Then the hands will follow the artistic mindset.
     • Avoid garnishes that are not integral to the recipe or presentation.  Avoid using gimmick garnishes or animated garnishes.  Animated garnishes are carved vegetables that resemble something that they are not.  All garnishes should fit in with the theme of the recipe and all garnishes have to be edible.  Leafy herbs are the most common integral garnish.  If the composed salad design looks great, then no additional garnishes are needed.  
     There are many vinaigrette recipe variations.  Some chefs say that a vinaigrette always has a precise proportion of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  The 3 to 1 vinaigrette proportion is not always correct!  The oil to vinegar proportion should be tailored to best suit the food items that the vinaigrette is served with.
     Acidic ingredients, like lemon, can take the place of a portion of the vinegar when making a vinaigrette.  For example, when designing a vinaigrette for something like shrimp and romaine lettuce, add 1 teaspoon of lemon, but add 1 teaspoon less of vinegar when making the vinaigrette.
     Vinaegrette texture is another important choice.  For some items, a fully emulsified smooth vinaigrette is the best choice.  A partially emulsified vinaigrette is another style.  A stirred "loose" vinaigrette that is not emulsified at all is yet another vinaigrette texture.  Each of these 3 vinaigrette styles creates a unique visual effect.
     Dijon Fennel Vinaigrette:  
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.  (1 generous serving)
     Step 1:  Place 2 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 pinch of ground fennel seed.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of coarsely chopped green leaves from a bulb of florence fennel.
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients.
     Set the mixing bowl aside for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Step 3:  Add a very thin stream of 2 1/2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil, while gently whisking.
     Add a thin stream of 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil, while gently whisking.
     Step 4:  Place the vinaigrette in a ceramic cup.
     Let the vinaigrette stand for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Stir before serving.
     Salad Set-Up Plate:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée size salad.
     Step 1:  Mound 2 1/4 cups of mixed baby lettuce on the center of a plate.
     Step 2:  Arrange these items around three quarters of the lettuce mound.  (Leave 1/4 of the lettuce mound open for the sliced steak):
     - 1 thin sliced button cave mushroom
     - 2 to 3 slices of sliced plum tomato
     - 1 to 2 thin slices of Bermuda Onion
     - 1/4 cup of thin sliced florence fennel
     Step 3:  Top the lettuce mound with:
     - A few thin strips of sweet pickled red bell pepper
     - A few mung bean sprouts
     Step 4:  Garnish the salad with a few small green fennel top sprigs.
     Set the salad set-up plate aside.

     Seared Steak Salad with Dijon Fennel Vinaigrette:
     Eye Of Round Steak is very lean, so this steak can only be cooked rare to medium rare, when it is used for a salad.  I chose a small Eye of Round Steak for the salad in the pictures above.
     If you prefer a temperature of medium to well done, then a small Top Sirloin Steak is a better choice.  
     Step 1:  Season a petit 5 to 6 ounce steak with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
     Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Sear the steak on both sides till it is cooked to the desired finish temperature.
     Step 2:  Let the steak rest on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan for about 1 minute.
     Step 3:  Cut the steak into long thin slices.
     Fan the steak slices outward from center on the ungarnished section of the lettuce mound.
     Spoon some of the Dijon Fennel Vinaigrette over the vegetables and lettuce.
     Spoon some of the vinaigrette on the plate around the edge of the sliced steak.

     Viola!  A very nice light steak salad for lunch or dinner!

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