chile marinted steak

Chile-Marinated Flank Steak

Yield: Serves 4 as a main course or 6 to 8 as part of a salad

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and patted dry
½ cup ancho chile paste
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 2-pound flank steak
Lime wedges for serving
With a mortar and pestle, or the back of a chef’s knife, pound or mash the garlic to a paste.

Pour the olive oil into a blender, add the cilantro, and blend on high speed to purée. Add the garlic, ancho paste, cocoa powder, and lime juice and blend to combine. The marinade will be thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Trim any fat from the flank steak and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a baking dish and season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover one side of the meat with half of the marinade. Flip over and cover the other side with the remaining marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Thirty minutes before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator. Wipe off the excess marinade.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

Sear the meat on both sides, turning once, over medium-high heat. Then move the meat to indirect heat to avoid burning the marinade, and grill, turning once until rare to medium-rare. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 15 minutes.

Thinly slice the meat against the grain. Serve with lime wedges.

Cook’s Notes: •Ancho chile paste is available in Mexican markets and specialty food stores, or you can make your own.

Pour hot water over dried ancho chiles to cover, and let soak for 20 minutes, or until the chiles are softened. Drain and purée in a food processor to make a paste. Eight ounces of dried anchos will make about 2 cups of paste.

Flank steak can also be cooked in the broiler, 3 to 4 inches from heat, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.


Roasted Squash

Roasted Squash with Nib Vinaigrette

Yield: Makes 6 Servings

One 4-pound butternut squash, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and seeded
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons cacao nibs, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, finely minced
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta

Position the racks in the lower and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Trim the ends of the squash and cut off the neck portions from the bulbs. Place the 4 pieces of squash cut side down on a board, and cut into ¼-inch slices. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Lay the slices on the prepared baking sheets and roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and soft. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette and cook the pancetta.

To Make the Vinaigrette:
Combine the remaining ½ cup olive oil, the vinegar, nibs, and shallot in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Drain on paper towels. When it is cool, chop or crumble into small pieces.

Place the squash in a large bowl, add about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette, and toss gently to coat. Arrange the slices on individual plates or a large platter. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with the pancetta. Serve warm.



Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 12 Cupcakes 

For the Frosting

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10 Tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
1 large egg
¾ cup whole milk

For the Frosting

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat, until it just begins to simmer. Add the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl and let cool for about 2 hours, or until the ganache has thickened enough to frost the cupcakes.

If you’d like for it to thicken faster, place the ganache in the refrigerator. The ganache will thicken around the edges first, so be sure to stir it every 5 minutes once it has begun to set. Remove it as soon as it has thickened, warm to room temperature and stir. 

For the Cupcakes

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 12 muffin cups (¾ -cup capacity) with paper liners.

Stir together the flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until pale, light, and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.

Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately in two batches each, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Continue mixing until the batter is uniform in color. 

Fill the muffin cups about full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back slightly when pressed in the center.

Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack, then remove and allow to cool completely on the rack.

Once the frosting has thickened, dip the top of each cupcake in it and then twist as you lift it out, or spread a small amount of frosting on top of each cupcake. If the frosting becomes too firm to spread, warm it slightly in a microwave or over a double boiler, stirring gently.