It's time for another 4 Ingredient Challenge. One of the best things about doing the 4 Ingredient Challenge each month is the opportunity to cook with ingredients I've never used before. In this particular case I was "forced" to use two new ingredients: Kumquats and Beets. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have a recollection of having eaten a kumquat once when I was a kid. For some reason I seem to remember eating one at a roadside produce stand on a trip to Mount Palomar. It's strange how the mind works, that something like that would still be stuck in there. As for beets the only time I've ever eaten beets was the pickled kind you find in a salad bar. They always tasted okay covered with huge globs 1,000 Island Dressing and croutons.
The four ingredients for the December Challenge are: flank steak, kumquats, beets and gnocchi. After some research I decided the way to go was a salad with chopped flank steak, beet gnocchi and candied kumquats. And you know what? It came together quite well. The flavors all blended together with a balsamic vinaigrette. And the colors were amazing!
This was the most time consuming and labor intensive of any cook I’ve ever done. It was days in the making. The easiest part of the process was what we consider the main ingredient of our challenges the protein. In this case it was flank steak.
Here in Northern California we are experiencing our biggest rain storm until since 2006 so I used my Char-Broil RED gas grill with my GrillGrates to grill up the meat. The steak was seasoning liberally with Char-Broil’s new “All-Purpose Seasoning.” The flavor profile with some of the herbs it contains matched quite well. This is a great all around seasoning.
The blowing wind and rain was a bit of a distraction so I over shot my intended medium rare and ended up with medium. It wasn’t quite as juicy as I wanted but it still didn’t have that over done texture you get with flank steak when you screw it up. Fortunately I caught it just in time.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups kumquats
Make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two. While the water and sugar come to a boil cut the kumquats in half and remove as many seeds as you can.
When syrup has boiled add the kumquats and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. When done remove the kumquats, with a slotted spoon to a rack. Keep heating the syrup until reduced to a thicker syrup. Spoon the reduced syrup over the top of each cooled kumquat.
I found a great recipe for Beet Gnocchi at Eat A Beet. I’m really thankful to have found this recipe it made the whole meal possible.
- 3 small beets, trimmed
- 1lb ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divide
Preheat oven to 450?. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool 15 minutes and slip skins off.
Grate coarsely. Place 3/4 cup of beets in large bowl (reserve remaining beets for tomorrow’s salad) Stir in ricotta, egg, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 cup flour.
You can make it ahead up to this point and refrigerate. Lightly dust baking sheet with flour. Place remaining 1/2 cup flour in small bowl. Measure out tbsp-sized scoops of dough and coat with flour.
Roll with a gnocchi board or a fork to get the traditional indentations, or roll into a 1 1/2 inch log and gently press the center with your fingertip to make slight indentations. Transfer gnocchi to prepared baking sheet. Can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Put a large, well-salted pot of water on to boil. Cook gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 2 minutes. Cook about another minute, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Place gnocchi on plate and sauce appropriately. Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.
Additional participants in this month’s Ingredient Challenge include:
Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ – ENTRY HERE
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world. Somewhere along the way things got out of control…
Rob Bergstrom of In To The Flames- ENTRY HERE
Rob launched Into The Flames in the summer of 2010 as a way to share his passion for cooking, eating, and exploring food.
Marc Van Der Wouw of Grill Adventures-ENTRY HERE
Grilladventures by broadcastmarc is started on march of 2010.I started the BBQ thing when I was 30,before that we eat a lot outside.have fun,but when the kids came in our life We start serious cooking.Most of it is realy healthy I think;-)The grill has a special place in my heart,We love to do things outside..Everything I make is an adventure,and sometimes we use the books.We try to grill as much as we can year round.
Bob’s Brew & Que – ENTRY HERE
Bob started Bob’s Brew and ‘Que in August of 2009 with the intent of sharing his views on food and drink. Originally focused on BBQ and Homebrew, it was inevitable that the influences of his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area and it’s wealth of ingredients as well as his heritage as an American of Japanese ancestry would help focus his blog, as it has his approach to food and drink.
Chris of Nibble Me This – ENTRY HERE
The Nibble Me This website was created to share Chris’ misadventures in live fire cooking. ”I have no culinary training….I’m just entertaining myself with fire and food”.