Gerry Furth-SidesContent Editor/Columnist
Photo-journalist Gerry Furth-Sides has been covering the ethnic and American culinary scene in California since it first came into prominence 25 years ago.
(Gerry Furth-Sides) Capable, inventive Justine Kelly, cofounder and Executive Chef and team at Sun Basket (www.sunbasket.com) keep the key ingredients of crushed peppercorns in the classic, French Steak au Poivre, defined as a dish “prepared or served with a generous amount of usually coarsely ground black pepper”. But she replaces the traditional, heavy ingredients of Cognac and cream that explode the calorie count. Instead th recipe calls for lighter but still rich coconut milk, ghee and chilies used in Indian kitchens. Sherry vinegar is used in place of brandy. Mushroom powder lends a bit of a French touch.
Add the stellar quality ingredients to this the novel combination and it is, in the words of my favorite Tv chef, Maneet Chauhan, “absolutely delicious.” Truth be told, pulling out the ingredients from the bag made me feel a little bit like I was on “Chopped” – except here a recipe is provided.
Sun Basket is a meal delivery service created by Cofounder Kelly that prides itself on making healthy cooking easy, right in tune with many other “new kids on the block.” http://localfoodeater.com/new-pangea-nutrition-brings-mediterranean-diet-to-usa/ Sun Basket differentiates itself a bit by adding organic and non-GMO ingredients in Paleo, Vegetarian, Seafood, Poultry and Family meal kits. Sun Basket’s App allows a subscriber to view all recipes, skip weeks, and manage an account.
What does set Sun Basket totally apart, however, is the extraordinary quality of their ingredients and their truly inventive chefs who come up with enticing new recipes weekly . The other two ethnic-influenced recipes for this week included Orange chipotle-glazed pork with coleslaw and roasted sweet potato and Moroccan lamb merguez patties with warm carrot salad. The chefs’ creativity is also apparent in their own novel versions of dishes, such as the carrots in “carrot salad” done up in julienne form instead of the expected shredded one.
We start with a box at our door, with a carefully packed brown “grocery bag” and a package of beef top sirloin steak. The insulation alone seems to be worth the price of admission. The pieces carry thoughtful instructions to separate and recycle.
Inside this little black bag was the best top sirloin steak I have ever eaten. I remain incredulous that this was Beef “Top Sirloin” Steak. My mom’s family of 15 were major meat brokers in Europe and major players here in the states too, so I know the best. I vouch that this beef is better than your best high-end market’s best, with a texture close to filet and the flavor of ribeye.
Relatively elusive, perishable and prepared ingredients are provided in just the right amount, such as coconut milk and spices. The powdered mushrooms are a very clever “French” touch from perishable mushrooms which are not easily transported. I would substitute shallots, used in the classic French version of Steak au Poivre, for the onion simply because of texture while I understand that they were probably chosen to balance out the lighter milk for heavy cream. Melissa’s Produce easy to peel and slice pearl onions would work too.
Below is the two-page section of the beautiful instruction pamphlet. Fun tips for what kids can join in with are included. A Market Watch section informs the cook of any changes in prep when items are seasonal and replaced with a similar ingredient, such as turnips or sweet potatoes replacing the parsnips. A list of nutrition per serving is also included. I realized I’ve been counting half the calories for a similar meal till now!
Note: It did take twice as long to roast the parsnips and Brussels sprouts, as usual, for a perfectly tender inside and crisped outside. Parsnips were a welcome and original treat at home!
I learned that crusting the steaks on only one side allows you to sear the meat better while building up flavor for the pan sauce. The other half of the peppercorns goes into the sauce, so the great spice flavor is retained.
The following is a recipe for the classic Steak au Poivre recipe on Epicurious.com. I would eat the Sun Basket version anytime! Or any recipe by Sun Basket I have read so far!