A simple September feast
Lately we have been enjoying more vegetables than ever thanks to the season’s harvest. Tomatoes, zucchinis and pumpkins are part of our everyday meals, and I have been enjoying coming up with new ideas on how to cook them. It brings such a sense of achievement to have grown, picked and cooked food that is so fresh, and it’s been nice to take a break from meat. However, yesterday, my appetite screamed for a juicy entrecôte steak. Sometimes a sublimely grilled steak is unbeatable. Teamed with a ballon de rouge (glass of red wine), I can’t think of a more utopian meal. Simple and perfect.
As a side dish, I usually prepare a Béarnaise sauce and french fries, or steamed spinach drizzled with olive oil and lemon. Since I am cooking in a pumpkin themed week, I wanted to make an opulent classic pumpkin gratin with Comté cheese (just like my grandmother’s version), but I also wanted to try a very simple roasted version with olive oil, rosemary and garlic. They are very easy to prepare so I made both. The kids preferred the roasted version, the adults loved the gratin version. I loved both.
2-3 good-quality entrecôte steak – (my cuts are very large, so 2-3 are enough)
Pumpkin gratin with Comté cheese:
600 g pumpkin (deseeded, diced in cubes and peeled)
150 g grated Comté cheese (or any of your favourite cheese)
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
1 small clove of garlic
A pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Wash, peel and deseed pumpkin (if you want to save time just boil with the skin on and slice off when cooked – it will be much easier). Dice coarsely in cubes and place in a large pot of salted water (1 litre). Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Return to pot and ‘dry’ out the mash on a medium heat stirring constantly for 3 minutes. This will dry it out and prevent it from being too watery when baked as pumpkin is a very watery vegetable. Place mash in a bowl, add eggs, 1/3 of the cheese, crème fraîche, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Rub garlic all over roasting pan. Place mash in the roasting pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake in a preheated oven (200°C) for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden on top.
Roasted pumpkin with rosemary and garlic:
500 g pumpkin (sliced in a crescent shape, skin left on)
A bunch of rosemary
Olive oil to drizzle
5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled and cut in two)
Coarse sea salt and pepper to season
Wash pumpkin, slice in a crescent shape and deseed. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper and place sliced pumpkin. Drizzle with olive oil, season with rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook in a preheated oven (200°C) for 30 minutes or until golden, turning them over midway.
Cooking the entrecôte:
Fry your steak on a griddle or frying pan. Heat a frying pan or griddle on a high heat, and when the pan gets very hot, add a tsp of oil. Fry steak on both sides – I like mine medium, so about 2 minutes on each side.
Here are three golden rules when cooking steak: 1) Always take out the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking. 2) Salt the steak before cooking it. 3) Do not move of touch the steak when cooking. Just let it sizzle.