on May 7, 2014
I'm not a fan of the steakhouse. There's too much testosterone mixed with entitled money in the atmosphere, and most steakhouses really fall down on sides. They think people don't mind spending $100 plus on a piece of beef with a baked potato and a tired vegetable cliche or some salad drowning in blue cheese served as an afterthought. Most people can do any side dish that you find in today's steakhouses right at home, so what's the point of spending all that money. Enter Rick Tramonto, the famous Chicago chef. He's knows his beef and he knows the kinds of crowd-pleasing side dishes that really make a steak dinner the special occasion it really can be. This is a wonderful collection that does include steak classics. Along the way you'll even learn how to replicate the kind of cooking techniques that the steakhouses use to get those amazing cuts of beef to sing on the plate.
on August 9, 2010
First off: this is a really BIG book, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Secondly, I learned a new trick from it that I wish I'd known years ago (to bake bacon rather than fry it). My experience with this book was a good one from start to finish. Chef Rick Tramonto has been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and owns three Chicago area restaurants: Tru, Tramonto's Steak and Seafood, RT Sushi Bar & Lounge. A James Beard Award winner, a competitor on Top Chef Masters, Top Chef and Iron Chef; he was also named a Top Ten Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine in 1994. He has published six cookbooks before 'Steak with Friends.' He's already tested and proven his cooking mettle. This book is meant to bring all he knows, and his experiences as a professional chef, to the home cook. He succeeds quite well at doing so.
"The title of this book says it all: This is about eating steak dinners with good friends and enjoying all that implies," states Tramonto. Except it doesn't stop at steaks. It also includes hot and cold appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches, fish and seafood, sauces, stocks, dressings, marinades, and syrups, other meat and poultry, side dishes, and desserts. Shew! The book does devote a number of pages to steak, in fact, there are three chapters alone on the subject. There are enough recipes in this book (150) to cook complete meals from starters to desserts for at least a year. (I didn't do the math so maybe it's only six months.)
In addition to the recipes Chef Tramonto throws in many 'how-tos,' and 'abouts' such as 'About Oysters,' followed by 'How To Shuck an Oyster,' or 'Notes on the Steak Recipes,' with 'How to Choose a Great Steak.' Helpful color photographs and diagrams are also sprinkled throughout. Cocktail recipes usually thematically tied to the recipe on the same page also pop up. Music and cooking play an important part of Tramonto's cooking process; something I understand as most professional kitchens I've worked in usually played very loud, heart-thumping music during the many hours of prep. He is a proponent of cooking to music and periodically makes recommendations of specific artists. His taste seems to be fairly run of the mill pop and rock. For example his recommendations for cooking cold appetizers are: Billy Joel, Elton John, The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, The Goo Goo Dolls, and The Allman Brothers. Hmmm, not exactly cutting-edge choices! Still an interesting, and unique, addition to the recipes.
I was only able to try a handful of recipes, and since steak is the star of the book I tried those first: Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce, Bone-In Rib Eye with Bordelaise Sauce, and Steak au Poivre. The first two were cooked on an outdoor grill, and turned out beautifully; the old-fashioned French sauces included (separate recipes). The Steak au Poivre was prepared on the stove top. All three preparations are familiar steak standards. Tramonto's cooking instructions including how long to cook for medium rare, medium and well done were spot on. It had been awhile since I'd make a Béarnaise, or Bordelaise, or even an au poivre sauce and it was fun. There's a reason eating beef this way is so popular -- it's really, really good.
on August 13, 2011
I am an experienced recreational cook and was imnpressed with the television cooking segment by Rick Tramonto and consequently purchased his cookbook, "Steak with Friends." I have since used it for many different recipes and find it to be true to a promise for flavor and uniqueness, and offers a wide variety of dishes - not just meats. This will definitely be one of my favorites in the kitchen for years to come. I love it so much, I purchased five more copies to have on hand as last minute hostess/birthday gifts, etc!