The picture above was taken at about the time James got interested in cooking. Here is is eight years old sitting on the porch with Jim after pumpkin carving.
The Complete Illustrated Step by Step Cookbook was published in 1989 by Gallery Books. The contents included cooking sections on: French, Italian, German, Greek, Polish, Spanish, Chinese, and Mexican. And each section included: appetizers, soups, vegetable dishes, poultry, fish, beef, pork and desserts. Each recipe provided a full page photograph on the right hand side and a step by step recipe on the left.
I believe this book was the genesis of James’ interest in cooking and his ultimately becoming a Chef. It all started when James and I returned from our Saturday morning trip to the library, bookstore, and grocery store. We walked into the kitchen, I took my new cookbook out of the bag, threw it on the kitchen counter, and started unpacking groceries. Instead of James taking his books upstairs to his room and becoming completely quiet and absorbed with his new books, he stayed in the kitchen with me and began perusing the new cookbook.
That interest, in that specific book, lead him through much learning and his life today. Jim and I witnessed the development of a true passion in James. He always liked, expected, and appreciated good food but had never cooked much. At first it was easy enough, Mommy or Daddy would you make this recipe for dinner? But than it became an obsession, like everything James became interested in. Every night it was something else from “The Book.” Jim and I, were both working 60 hours a week and that’s when we weren’t traveling. Finally James requested his new selection and I snapped! James if that’s what you want great, but you’re going to make it. Up until this time he had played around at making Breakfast-in-Bed, Deviled Eggs, and acting as my prep-cook for Sunday dinner.
It was a learning experience for all us. First he wanted it that night. Teaching was, NO, you need to plan a grocery list. You will have to shop for your ingredients, I’ll help by driving because you’re only eight years old. I’ll also pay for it since you “lazy bugger” don’t have a job. Several days later he produced the exact plate he coveted from “The Book.” He was only slightly mad at me for refusing to buy all new plates to match the picture. The recipe was not that easy, it was executed to perfection, he taught himself a lot in that evening.
And he still had all his homework to do. Jim and I cleaned up. Arg, he knew nothing about clean as you go, but he’s learned since.
The book can still be found on-line but is no longer in print. Just search for “The Complete Illustrated Step By Step Cookbook.” We will also be including from “The Book” recipes in future blogs. Watch for recipes from James’ journey through “The Book.”
Garnished Pepper Steak
2 sirloin or rump steaks – about 4 ounces each
1 clove, garlic – crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot – finely chopped
2 tablespoons, small capers
2 ounces, sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon, flour
1/2 cup, beef stock
2 teaspoons, German mustard
1 teaspoon, Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons, German white wine
1 teaspoon, lemon juice
1 Pinch, thyme
1 Pinch, rosemary
4 baby ears of corn – cut in half
1/2 green pepper – seeded cored and thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper – seeded cored and thinly sliced
2 peperonata – stem and seeds removed and cut in half
2 ripe tomatoes – peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 ounces, bone marrow – optional
- Rub the crushed garlic, salt and pepper into both sides of each steak.
- Heat a large frying pan and brush the surface lightly with oil. Place steaks in the hot pan and press them down firmly with a spatula to seal. Turn over and repeat.
- Remove the steaks to a plate and add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan.
- Sauce: Add shallot, capers and mushrooms to hot frying pan and cook for about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle on the flour and cook to brown slightly.
- Pour on the stock and stir in well. Add remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Garnish: Add corn and peppers to the sauce and return the steaks to the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes until the steaks reach desired doneness.
- Add remaining ingredients, including bone marrow, if using.
- Transfer the steaks to a heated serving plate. Reheat the sauce and spoon over the steaks to serve.