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Kitchen Story: Roll a Steak and Glaze a Cake

May 12, 2011

I read descriptions of rolled entrees, with their spirals of good stuff rolled up in steak or chicken, and I always intend to try one and usually stop myself short from lack of confidence.  They often are rather fussy recipes, these involtini, roulades and such, and my happy place in cooking tends to be more of the toss-it-in-a-pot-homey-comfort food genre.  So when I read about some braciola recipes made with tomato sauce, stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs, it started feeling more like my kind of dish. I had no idea what to make for dinner on Sunday last, and I just went to the store to see what looked nice. The thin top round steaks looked nice, and I remembered reading about braciola, and decided to try it…without a recipe. This could be great or this could be tragic (pronounced “trah-jeek”). I thought about what I would like inside it, and opted for some proscuitto to give it a salty hint, reminiscent of saltimbocca recipes.  Then I knew it had to have cheese, and one would be Pecorino Romano for its melt-ability and tangy flavor. Then, next to the Romano in the store was a wedge of sharp provolone – a cheese I’m not familiar with. Provolone is a smooth, nice melting cheese, but doesn’t have tons of flavor, but something that is sharp sounded good.  Ingredients in hand, I went home and tried to put everything together.  The recipe follows, as best I can remember what I did. It came out nicely, I think.  And even when the cheese melted and escaped during the initial sear, by heating the sauce in the same pan, the cheese got incorporated into the “gravy”.

The cake in tonight’s dinner is remarkably easy – put almost everything into a bowl, mix it up, add the last item, and bake.  The cake is moist, rich, and sweet – just what you want from a pound cake.  But the glaze is what takes it over the top, so to speak. It’s one of those glazes that you blend to drizzle consistency, and then you have the MOVE to get it on the cake before it sets up.  It basically provides an icing, that is very sweet and very buttery/vanilla-ey. Decadence. I doubled the recipe this Sunday in order to have one to send to a dear friend. I don’t recommend doing that unless you have an industrial mixer…I almost killed my Kitchen-Aid, and that would indeed be tragic.  Both cakes came out, but I could not get my %@*%9 together enough to pack and send the cake to Colorado.  So I’ll have to try again…but first find the place to send it, get the box and the packing materials, and then make the cake.  Or I’ll just send cookies.  And get him to visit us soon!

Braciola without a Net*

4 6-7 oz top round steaks

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (I use Penzey’s mix of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and cracked rosemary)

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped

approx 7 oz Pecorino Romano, grated

approx 7 oz Sharp provolone, grated

4 slices of proscuitto

8 large basil leaves

Olive oil

32 oz jar pasta sauce

28 oz can whole tomatoes (Italian seasoned works nicely)

Pinch red pepper flakes

*”Without a Net” is my code for dishes that I made without an actual recipe. Verrry scary.

Place each steak between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound it with something heavy (I used a rolling pin, but if you have one of those meat mallets, aka a unitasker, you can use that). You just want it tenderized and flatter.  It will startle the animals and annoy your spouse who is watching TV, but you gotta have some room to put the stuff on the inside. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Combine the seasoning, parsley, and cheeses in a bowl. Place a slice of proscuitto on the steak, then two basil leaves, and then place a ¼ of the cheese mixture on top. Press the filling down to help it adhere. Starting at one end, roll up and tie with string in two places to hold it together.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or pot, until it’s shimmering and brown the rolls on all sides until gorgeous, brown, and seared. Yes, cheese will leak out.  It just happens, don’t freak.  It will all combine in the sauce, so stop worrying.  Once they are all seared, remove them to a dish to rest, while you heat up the sauce.

Place the sauce and tomatoes in the pan.  The pan is scorching hot.  Be careful.  Stir, break up the tomatoes with a spoon and taste.  Add red pepper flakes to your liking…they are spicy, go easy.  Taste and season with salt and pepper. Put the meat back in the pan, nestled into the sauce, cover, and lower the heat.  Simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally and turn the meat over a couple of times.

Serve over pasta or whatever starch suits you.  Don’t forget to cut off the strings!

Toffee Pound Cake

Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking

16 servings (HA, not bloody likely!)

CAKE

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups buttermilk

½ cup margarine or butter, softened

¼ cup shortening

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

1 (6-oz) package almond brickle baking chips (or toffee chips, or Heath® Bars)

GLAZE

1/3 cup margarine or butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt® or 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, combine all cake ingredients except toffee chips at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in chips. Pour batter into greased and flour pan.

Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool upright in pan 10 minutes; invert onto serving plate. Cool completely.

In medium saucepan, heat 1/3 cup butter until light golden brown; remove from heat. Blend in powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add water until glaze is smooth and of drizzling consistency. Immediately spoon over top of cooled cake, allowing some to run down sides.

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