“Good Lord! This recipe looks ugly.” You’ve said that before, and you’re about to say it again. This hors d’oeuvre has lots of ingredients, many steps and big, scary challenges like homemade mayonnaise. It’s time to channel Dr. Bob Nakosteen. Dr. Bob was my econ and stats professor during my MBA program. One day, he explained why we hate math.
“When we read a paragraph of prose,” said Dr. Bob, “it contains a certain amount of information. Our brains have gotten pretty comfortable with that ratio of text to info. Math, on the other hand,” he said, “contains a lot more info per character. In fact, a line of mathematical symbols could contain as much information as one or several paragraphs of prose. This is when your head explodes.”
The key is to take a deep breath, change the speed on the record, and break the problem down.
Recipes are the same. The purée mashes together peas and sautéed shallot, simmered in a little stock to add depth and liquid, and seasoned with mint. The vinegar balances the slightly cloying sweetness of peas.
Mayo is simply oil whisked into egg yolks, using mustard to hold it together and seasoned with salt, pepper, lemon juice and wasabi. We chill the seared steak in the freezer so it is firm enough to slice thinly. Then we put it all on toast.
That’s it. Two really short paragraphs that translate all those steps and ingredients below. Sure, it’s four recipes in one (if you count toast), but you can do it. Plus, it looks and sounds really impressive, just like math, so you can tell your friends just how amazing you are. That, my friends, is worth a toast (with a Denver Beer – you’ll have to ask Dr. Bob about that too.).
*Shout out to the Isenberg School of Business at UMASS
Berbere Beef Crostini with Wasabi Mayonnaise and Minted Pea Purée
Minted pea purée:
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 one-pound bag frozen peas
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock
- 1 tbs chopped fresh mint
- 1-2 tbs Champagne Mimosa vinegar*
- 2 egg yolks**
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 1-2 tbs wasabi powder or wasabi paste
- 1 pound sirloin steaks, about 1-1 ½” thick
- 1-2 tbs Berbere seasoning*
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 baguette cut in 1/4″ slices
*Sapore’s Champagne Mimosa vinegar is slightly sweet and mildly acidic. I would substitute a splash of Sherry vinegar. Berbere is a complex spice blend unique to Ethiopian and Eritrean food. It’s got a lot of ingredients, but you can make a simple start with equal parts cumin, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cayenne and paprika.
**The egg yolks in homemade mayonnaise are not cooked. There is some risk here, just like crossing the street or bungee jumping. Buy your eggs farm-fresh from someone you trust. If there are special health risks you are worried about, talk to your doctor or use store-bought mayo and mix in the wasabi powder.
Make the pea puree:
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced shallot and sauté until softened.
- Add peas and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add stock and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add mint, stir through and turn off heat.
- Mash peas in a food mill or a mortar and pestle. You want a little texture to remain. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper. The sweetness of the peas should be light, not cloying.
Make the wasabi mayonnaise:
- Whisk together egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of salt, until yolks are thick and sticky, about 30-60 seconds.
- Whisk in oil, a couple drops at a time, until mayonnaise starts to form. Add remaining oil in a thin stream until incorporated. Mayonnaise can feel quite thick.
- Whisk in wasabi. Let rest in fridge. Before serving, season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lemon juice, if needed.
Season and sear the beef:
- Heat a heavy bottomed pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Cut sirloin into 2″ wide strips. Pat dry and season with salt, pepper and Berbere. The Berbere will need to be a thick rub, because the flavor will only come from the outside of the thinly sliced steak.
- Add 1 tbs vegetable oil to the pan. Heat to almost smoking and add the beef, searing on all sides for 1-2 minutes, until browned.
- Remove beef to a plate, tent and let cool to room temp. Place in freezer until firm, but not frozen. Using a sharp knife, cut beef into the thin slices, 1/4″ or less.
- Place baguette slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned. Remove and let cool. (That was easy!)
- Check the seasoning on the pea puree and the wasabi mayonnaise. Add salt, pepper, wasabi, vinegar etc… as needed.
- Spoon the mayonnaise into a ziplock bag or piping bag. Cut a tiny point off the corner of the bag.
- Top each crostini with a tbs of pea purée. Place a slice of beef over the peas. Pipe a thin stream of mayonnaise over the beef.
- Eat them all because they are so delicious. Make another batch for your guests. Or just bust out the Brie and crackers.