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Posted August 10, 2010
Much More Than Steak
First off: this is a really BIG book, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Secondly, I learned a new trick from it that I wish I'd known years ago (to bake bacon rather than fry it). My experience with this book was a good one from start to finish.
Chef Rick Tramonto has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and owns three Chicago area restaurants: Tru, Tramonto's Steak and Seafood, RT Sushi Bar & Lounge. A James Beard Award winner, a competitor on Top Chef Masters, Top Chef and Iron Chef; he was also named a Top Ten Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine in 1994. He has published six cookbooks before 'Steak with Friends.' He's already tested and proven his cooking mettle. This book is meant to bring all he knows, and his experiences as a professional chef, to the home cook. He succeeds quite well at doing so.
"The title of this book says it all: This is about eating steak dinners with good friends and enjoying all that implies," states Tramonto. Except it doesn't stop at steaks. It also includes hot and cold appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches, fish and seafood, sauces, stocks, dressings, marinades, and syrups, other meat and poultry, side dishes, and desserts. Shew! The book does devote a number of pages to steak, in fact, there are three chapters alone on the subject. There are enough recipes in this book (150) to cook complete meals from starters to desserts for at least a year. (I didn't do the math so maybe it's only six months.)
In addition to the recipes Chef Tramonto throws in many 'how-tos,' and 'abouts' such as 'About Oysters,' followed by 'How To Shuck an Oyster,' or 'Notes on the Steak Recipes,' with 'How to Choose a Great Steak.' Helpful color photographs and diagrams are also sprinkled throughout. Cocktail recipes usually thematically tied to the recipe on the same page also pop up. Music and cooking play an important part of Tramonto's cooking process; something I understand as most professional kitchens I've worked in usually played very loud, heart-thumping music during the many hours of prep. He is a proponent of cooking to music and periodically makes recommendations of specific artists. His taste seems to be fairly run of the mill pop and rock. For example his recommendations for cooking cold appetizers are: Billy Joel, Elton John, The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, The Goo Goo Dolls, and The Allman Brothers. Hmmm, not exactly cutting-edge choices! Still an interesting, and unique, addition to the recipes.
I was only able to try a handful of recipes, and since steak is the star of the book I tried those first: Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce, Bone-In Rib Eye with Bordelaise Sauce, and Steak au Poivre. The first two were cooked on an outdoor grill, and turned out beautifully; the old-fashioned French sauces included (separate recipes). The Steak au Poivre was prepared on the stove top. All three preparations are familiar steak standards. Tramonto's cooking instructions including how long to cook for medium rare, medium and well done were spot on. It had been awhile since I'd make a Béarnaise, or Bordelaise, or even an au poivre sauce and it was fun. There's a reason eating beef this way is so popular -- it's really, really good.
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Posted May 16, 2010
A JOY TO READ - A PLEASURE TO FOLLOW THE RECIPES
Leafing through Chef Rick Tramonto's latest cookbook makes you feel as if you're visiting an old friend, an ebullient, welcoming fellow who is passionate about several things - family, friends and food. He describes his home entertaining thus, "We play music as we cook, we swap ideas and stories, in short, we have fun. We anticipate the meat but we love the process...." STEAK WITH FRIENDS invites all of us to join in the process.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Beginning with Cold Appetizers renowned chef Tramonto offers 150 mouth watering recipes that are not only super tasty but also easy to prepare. He takes us step by step, lets us in on some secrets as to how to choose and grill a perfect steak, and even suggests what music to listen to while cooking.
Tramonto is, of course known for his way with beef and he offers recipes for everything from Beef and Barley Soup to Beef Wellington. His favorite accompaniment for a steak? Twice Baked Potatoes with Irish Cheddar. Wonderful when you have company as they can be prepared a day ahead of time, refrigerated, and then given a second baking.
As those who have enjoyed any one of his restaurants know Tramonto's expertise is not limited to beef. His Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Grilled Ramp Pesto is a sure winner, and the Sauteed Sea Scallops with Mushrooms and Balsamic are amazing.
Not to worry, he also has an active sweet tooth providing Vertical Banana Splits (irresistible with peanut butter, peanuts and semisweet chocolate. Diets are forgotten when served one of these or his Killer Chocolate Pudding. Garnished with white chocolate and sprinkled with artisanal salt this pudding is a prize winners.
One of my favorite parts of a cookbook, especially one compiled by a chef as accomplished as Rick Tramonto, is the Sources section. I was sure he would know only the best providers, and he certainly does! Lamb from Jamison Farm (jamisonfarm.com) was used to prepare Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Grilled Ramp Pesto. Slightly pink, fork tender, seasoned with the Pesto and sprinkled with mint everyone deemed the lamb the best they had ever tasted.
For the Sauteed Sea Scallops with Mushrooms and Balsamic we worked with scallops from Foley Fish of Boston (foleyfish.com). Based in Texas it was heaven to receive fresh from the sea scallops carefully packaged and delivered overnight. Golf ball size these lovelies were served three to a plate and covered with mushroom sauce. The texture and taste of the scallops brought oohs and aahs from all.
Chicago's Stock Yards (stockyards.com) was our source for aged prime beef for grilling. Also packed with care and shipped overnight it is of the finest quality, tasteful, and unbelievably tender. We also learned that Stock Yards not only supplies Chef Tramonto but also some of the finest restaurants throughout the country.
STEAK WITH FRIENDS is a stellar cookbook holding not only delicious recipes but also personal reminiscences and a list of topnotch resources for all to enjoy.
- Gail Cooke
Posted May 30, 2011
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Posted November 3, 2010
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