Guest edited, prepared & photographed by Bonnie Berry
There is something about Gwyneth Paltrow that makes me want to hate her. She is just too perfect. So when she came out with a cookbook two years ago I balked at buying it. But buy it I did, and boy am I glad. It is a great cookbook, especially for families. There are a couple of recipes that have become standards for us. Then she came out with a new book a few weeks ago and I bought that one too. The timing was perfect. I had just finished an elimination diet and have found that I do better eating less dairy and grains and more protein and fruits and vegetables. And this cookbook delivers on that score. So I made the grilled steak and it was delicious. The four of us were practically fighting over it and that included the kids. It is a pricey piece of meat, but so worth it for a treat every once in a while. The first time I made it, I grilled it and that is how I would suggest you make it if you can. The dish pictured below was done on the stove a few days later because we ran out of propane (go figure!) and although it was yummy, I missed the caramelization that seems to magically happen on the grill. Oh, I also have a thing for sweet potatoes and when I saw this Bon Appétit recipe it had me at bacon. So make them together or separately, just make them… And I will continue to try not to hate Ms. Paltrow, if for no other reason than she is helping me feed my family well.
Four 6-ounce pieces of beef tenderloin, at room temperature
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
8 good-quality anchovies
Leaves from a leafy sprig of rosemary – very, extremely, super-finely choppe
Rub the steaks all over with just enough oil to coat and season generously with salt and pepper. Let the seasoned steaks sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
Make sure your exhaust fan is in good order if you’re cooking inside, then heat a cast-iron pan or a grill over high heat.
Place the steaks in the pan or on the grill and cook until nicely charred on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them over. Cook until the second sides are nicely charred, another 2 minutes. This will give you medium-rare steaks. Cook them longer if you prefer your steak more well done.
Remove the steaks to a warm plate or a cutting board and let them rest of at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring with a spoon, until they dissolve into the oil. Add the rosemary and cook for just 1 minute to let it bloom and lose its woodsy edge.
Slice the steaks, spoon the anchovy mixture over them, and sprinkle it all with a bit more salt.
Dig in immediately.
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
6 medium sweet potatoes (6–8 ounces each)
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons white miso* (fermented soybean paste)
1 2/3-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated (about 2 teaspoons)
2 1-inch pieces scallion (dark-green parts only), thinly sliced lengthwise
*White miso, also called shiro miso, can be found at Asian markets and Amazon.com.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp. Transfer bacon to a sieve set over a small bowl; reserve drippings.
Return bacon, 1 Tbsp. drippings, sugar, and sesame seeds to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar turns the color of milk chocolate, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread out evenly; let cool. Break brittle into shards. Can be done 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400°. Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45–55 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Working over a large bowl, scoop out flesh from 8 halves, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick layer inside skins. Place potato halves on same foil-lined baking sheet. Scoop flesh from remaining 4 halves; discard skins. Mash flesh with a whisk; add eggs, butter, miso, and ginger and stir until mixture is smooth. Spoon or pipe filling into reserved skins. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Bake potatoes until the tops are lightly puffed and golden brown, 30–35 minutes (potatoes will take longer if they’ve been chilled). Top potatoes with bacon-sesame brittle and scallions.
I skipped the whole skin presentation thing. It looks beautiful, but frankly it was too much work for me. So I just put all of the potato flesh (mixed with the eggs, butter, miso etc) in one big casserole dish and baked it like that. It was delicious.