Recipes: Perfectly Prepared Steak, Roasted Carrots and Parsnips With Crispy Shallots, Easy Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Celebratory Coconut Cake

Table of Contents Roasted Carrots and Parsnips With Crispy ShallotsEasy Homemade Buttermilk Ranch DressingPerfectly Prepared

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips With Crispy Shallots

Serves 2 to 4.

Note: You’ll have extra shallot oil and crispy shallots, and you’ll be glad you do. Drizzle both or either on pizzas, pastas or salads. They upgrade everything. Crispy shallots and oil are adapted by Kerri Westenberg from Travis Lett’s “Gjelina” cookbook.

For shallot oil:

• 2 c. olive oil

• 5 shallots, thinly sliced

For carrots and parsnips:

• 5 carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise

• 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthwise

• 2 tsp. fresh thyme, plus 2 sprigs

• Zest of one lemon

• Salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. As it heats, add shallots and cook, stirring, until they turn a deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined dish to drain.

Pour all but 2 tbsp. of the shallot oil into a heatproof jar. It can be stored up to 7 days.

Return frying pan with shallot oil to burner, turn heat down slightly (but not all the way to medium) and toss in carrots and parsnips, cut-side down. Add two sprigs of fresh thyme to pan. Cook until carrots and parsnips begin to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes.

While vegetables cook, stir together 2 tablespoons of crispy shallots, 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme and lemon zest.

Season caramelized vegetables with salt and pepper to taste, and scatter the shallot-lemon zest mixture on top just before serving.

Easy Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This homemade salad dressing tastes so fresh, it is worth the small effort. It is adapted by Kerri Westenberg from Donald Link’s “Real Cajun.” To mimic the ranch salad from Burch, drizzle it over bibb lettuce. Burch’s had grilled onions; I toss in cauliflower, cucumber and radishes.

• 1 bunch scallions

• 1/2 c. buttermilk

• 1/4 c. sour cream

• 1/4 c. mayonnaise

• 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

• 1/2 tsp. dried basil

• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper


Chop scallions, including green parts. Purée the scallions in a food processor or blender. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse or blend until it is smooth.

Perfectly Prepared Steak

Serves 2.

Note: These basic concepts shared by chef Isaac Becker can be used for any size steak. I went with a 14-ounce New York strip for two servings.

• Any size well-marbled steak such as New York strip or rib-eye

• Maldon or Kosher salt to taste, as much as 1 tsp. per side for 14 oz.


Bring steak to room temperature, removing from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a grill or fry pan, preferably cast iron, until it’s hot enough for meat to sizzle on contact. Salt meat liberally. In a pan, turn after one side is crusty and dark brown. On grill, look for dark grill marks; beware of fire flare-ups and move steak to less heated spot if needed. Use an instant-read thermometer to measure the steak’s internal temperature and take off heat when it reaches the following temperatures, according to your preference:

Rare: 95-105 degrees

Medium-rare: 110-125 degrees

Medium: 130-140 degrees

Medium well: 145-155 degrees

The steak’s temperature will continue to rise off the heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Celebratory Coconut Cake

Serves 10 to 12.

Note: Kerri Westenberg adapted this recipe from “Birthday Cakes,” by Kathryn Kleinman. If you want some color and crunch, toast the coconut used to decorate the cake by placing it on a rimmed baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn.

For cake:

• 3 1/2 c. cake flour

• 1 tbsp. baking powder

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 3/4 c. (11/2 sticks) butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing pans

• 1 3/4 c. sugar

• 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 tsp. coconut extract

• 1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk

• 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

For frosting:

• 8 oz. cream cheese, chilled

• 3/4 c. butter, at room temperature

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 3 c. powdered sugar

• 1 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut


To prepare the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter the sides and bottom.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

In another large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the coconut milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.

With clean beaters and bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until medium-firm peaks form. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter to lighten; gently fold in the remaining whites.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle of each layer comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, remove parchment paper and let cool completely.

To prepare the frosting: Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until well blended.

To frost, place one cake on plate, top down to make the bottom layer. Spread about 1/4 cup of frosting over the bottom layer. Center second cake on bottom layer, top up. Spread the remaining frosting over top and sides of the cake. Lightly press coconut over entire cake.

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