Tag Archives: steak

All About Steak

11 Sep

grilled steak Canadian Beef

When most people think about steak, they picture a thick-cut, well-marbled piece of beef cooked on a hot grill and enjoyed, maybe with some mushrooms, Caesar salad and a glass of red wine. While this isn’t wrong, it’s only one piece of the whole steak picture.

Did you know there are actually three categories of steak, with each category representing a different preparation style for different cuts of beef? Here’s a quick look at the three categories:

Grilling Steak: This category includes beef cuts that are tender and flavourful enough that they can be prepared very simply and cooked on a BBQ or indoors in a hot cast iron pan. When I’m craving beef, this is often what I want to cook. A great sirloin can seasoned with just a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe a drizzle of olive oil, then cooked to a perfect medium-rare. It’s a perfect meal for a beautiful summer evening, as far as I’m concerned. Check out this simple grilled steak recipe from the Canadian Beef website.

Marinating Steak: This is a steak that can be cooked on the grill, but needs a little more prep work to make the meat tender and flavourful. Cuts in this category are perfect candidates for your favorite marinade. Go Mexican with Carne Asada, or try some Asian flavours.

Simmering Steak: Simmering steaks need to be cooked slowly in liquid to ensure they come out fork-tender. Check out these simmering steak recipes for one-pot meals you can leave to cook in the oven or the slow cooker while you spend time doing other things.

If you want to learn more about different types of steaks and pick up a few cooking tips and recipe ideas, consider joining Canadian Beef for a Twitter party on Thursday September 13th at 8:30 p.m. EST. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #loveCDNbeef.


I’ve been given a set of four CUTCO steak knives to give away to one lucky reader of Communal Table. I have a set of these myself, and they’re sharp and a good weight, with a comfortable grip – everything I look for in a good steak knife.

To win, just leave a comment telling me what you’d use your new steak knives for. A simple grilled steak? A blade steak simmered slowly in beer? Maybe teriyaki-marinated flank steak? Whatever it is, let me know. I’ll draw a winner from all comments left by noon EST next Sunday, September 16. Good luck!

Cutco steak knives Canadian Beef



Summer School In Session at the Drake Hotel

24 Jun

Drake Hotel Hot Dog

Jenny and I make no secret of the fact we love Toronto’s Drake Hotel. It’s a great place to see a band, or meet friends for a couple of drinks, or go for a great brunch (I could eat their southern-fried chicken and waffles every day if not for the fact it would probably eventually stop my heart), or for dinner. Aside from the talented staff behind the bar and in the kitchen, the Drake has a vibe that just makes it a special place.

We’ve always loved the look and feel of their dining room. So it came as a surprise a couple months ago when they announced they were going to rip out the current dining room and start from scratch. The trigger for this drastic change was the Drake Hotel’s Dining Road Show, a series of here-and-then-gone concepts that are scheduled to be introduced throughout the rest of 2011.

I was lucky to get an invite to a preview dinner this week, where the Drake unveiled its first stop on the Dining Road Show: Summer School Dining Hall. The concept, which in true summer school fashion will run from now until September, saw the dining room completely transformed. Tables are made from old bowling alley lanes, walls are lined with old bookshelves, school photos, trophies and other academia memorabilia. I was too busy focusing on the food (and having camera issues), so I didn’t get any good interior shots, but check out this review for a look at the new digs.

Both the food and drink menus have been revamped as well. Chef Anthony Rose designed the new food offerings to remind diners of some of the food they may have eaten in the school cafeteria, but he’s presenting the dishes in the “grown-up comfort food” style he’s mastered over the years. We were served a rather shocking amount of food (I’ve actually left photos of a few dishes we tasted out of this post), and there were some definite must-order items: the rather-phallic-yet-delicious veal footlong dog pictured above; a lobster roll full of big chunks of lobster meat and substantial enough to share between two or more people; meaty dungeness crab cakes that are big on flavour and low on filler; and an insanely good 32-oz cowboy steak from Cumbrae’s that’s meant for two but easily able to feed at least double that.

Drake Hotel Lobster Roll
Chef Anthony Rose’s 1 lb. lobster roll. Awesome, if maybe a bit heavy on the mayo.
Drake Hotel Crab Cakes
Drake’s crab cakes, full of dungeness crab meat. Yum.
Drake Hotel Cowboy Steak
One piece of the massive 32-oz Cumbrae’s cowboy steak being served at the Drake Hotel’s Summer School Dining Hall. Check out that line of delicious, delicious fat. To paraphrase one famous cowboy, I wish I knew how to quit you, awesome steak.

The Drake’s talented mixology team has introduced a number of new drinks to fit the Summer School theme, from spiked juice boxes to something called The Nurse’s Office, a combination of Famous Grouse, Laphroaig and ginger honey syrup that blew my socks off and made me reconsider my “good scotch doesn’t belong in a cocktail” pretense.

Nurse's Office
This is one Nurse’s Office I’d like to visit on a regular basis.

Once September hits and the kids go back to real school, the Drake’s grown-up summer school session ends and the Dining Road Show’s next stop – Chinatown, 1940s L.A. style – moves in. Until then, check out the great grub being served in their Summer School Dining Hall. 

Tomato Alphabet soup
Tomato alphabet soup. No amount of letters could fix my hatred of tomato soup as a kid, but this one (served tableside out of an old-school thermos) may have changed my mind.


Drake Hotel Flaky
Nothing beats a real Vachon Passion Flaky, but chef Rose’s take is a good way to end a meal in the Summer School Dining Hall.

Seared Sirloin with Grapes, Caramelized Shallots and Port

8 Aug

A few months ago we wanted to test drive our newest cooking tool – a cast iron skillet. Neil had been telling me for a long time how much we needed one and I didn’t really see the point, until this recipe came along. It was the first dish Neil created using the cast iron skillet, and it’s become something of a staple now in our house. It’s quick and easy, but looks impressive. It’s a great dish to make for a dinner party when you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all night but still want to ‘wow’ your friends.

Neil dreamed up this dish on a teeny tiny scrap of paper, as he tends to do when he gets inspired. I love that it came from true inspiration without even looking at a recipe for ideas. The meat itself comes out really flavorful and the sauce just elevates it to another level. The flavors are perfect together. The caramelized shallots balance the sweetness of the grapes making the sauce more rich and savory than just simply sweet.

Grapes and steak – who woulda thunk it?

Seared sirloin w/grapes, caramelized shallots and port:

Season your raw sirloin steak with pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper flakes. Don’t salt the meat until just before cooking, to avoid drawing moisture out. (Actually, there are two schools of thought on when to salt meat, but this is the technique we follow).

Rub the cast-iron skillet with oil. Heat the skillet over high heat for several minutes. When the skillet is very hot, sear each side, a few minutes per side depending on thickness. Turn the steak to sear edges.

We cooked ours to medium rare, more on the rare side. Cook an extra minute or two per side if you prefer medium. Once cooking is finished, remove meat from pan and let it rest for several minutes under a ” tent” of foil, to let juices redistribute inside meat.

Chop 1 large shallot (or a couple of smaller ones)
Cut a bunch of red grapes in half, lengthwise
Grab a bottle of your favorite port and keep it close by… (sneak a sip if desired)

After cooking the steak, add the shallots into the same skillet and cook over medium heat several minutes until translucent. Add the grapes, and cook for a few minutes until they soften and release juices.

Add some ground pepper and sea salt.
Pour in a cup or so of port, cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until port reduces and grapes and shallots get ‘jammy’.

Stir in a pinch of oregano.
Add more port and reduce as needed, so you have a jam-like consistency and the sauce is thick.

To serve, slice the sirloin and plate with a generous amount of the sauce…

Enjoy with a glass of earthy red!

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