Marie's Kitchen -- A taste of Alsace and more with Steve Ryall


I met and interviewed Jenn Ryall in August 2012, when I highlighted the Mom’s Club of Bethany Beach. Jenn, Mom’s Club secretary and activities coordinator, told me that her husband, Steve, is a great cook and used to work in high-end restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook: Steve Ryall poses at a counter in his home, the day before Hurricane Sandy rolled through town. Ryall provided some of his favorite recipes for this week’s column.Special to the Coastal Point • Marie Cook
Steve Ryall poses at a counter in his home, the day before Hurricane Sandy rolled through town. Ryall provided some of his favorite recipes for this week’s column.

It’s my good fortune that he graciously agreed to be in my column, although it was a challenge for him to provide accurate ingredient measurements required for my readers, because he’s used to adding a dash of this and a handful of that when he cooks. I appreciate his attention to detail in today’s recipes.

I enjoyed visiting the busy Ryall household with pretty little Madison and fluffy puppy, Sasha, vying for attention. Jenn and I have been keeping in touch since the Mom’s Club column, so it’s always a treat to chat with her.

Steve was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Montgomery County, Md.

“We moved to Delaware for a lifestyle change,” he said.

Steve first became interested in cooking when he was 16 years old.

“My grandmother used to cook French dishes for my Alsatian grandfather,” he said. “But real mentoring began from an executive chef when I worked at a little bistro in Gaithersburg, Md.”

Steve recalled his first major solo kitchen trial.

“I prepared a lemon meringue pie. It looked great, but it tasted a little too sweet and had a soupy middle. My football buddies ribbed me for weeks afterward, for taking pictures of the pie. But practice makes perfect! I believe that most recipes are meant to be used as a base to incorporate personal tastes,” he said.

Steve doesn’t limit himself to one or two types of cooking.

“I like all kinds of cooking, but mainly comfort foods. And I love to experiment with smoking different meats,” he said.

Steve’s hobbies are “my kids, Bradley and Madison. I don’t really have time for anything but family. I’ve pleaded with my wife to allow me to try my hand at auto racing, but she claims that my life insurance policy isn’t big enough!”

Jenn and Steve don’t have a set cooking schedule during the week.

“We play it by ear, but once a month we have date night, and that’s always my night to prepare dinner,” he said.

As part of Steve’s “lifestyle change,” he went back to school to finish up an accounting degree.

“I currently have the support of my sugar-mama (wife) while I’m studying to sit for the CPA exam,” he said with a smile.

My daughter and her family and my husband’s three children and their families live far, far away. Energetic young people bring great joy to my life, so I say thank you to the Ryall family of Bethany Beach for welcoming me into their home and providing great recipes along with lots of laughter — especially on the day before Hurricane Sandy came to town.

I love the combination of ingredients in Steve’s Asian Chicken recipe. Although I can’t eat chicken, I think this recipe will also work well with turkey cutlets or thin slices of turkey tenderloin, and maybe pork tenderloin, as well.

Asian Chicken

Ingredients:

? 2 large chicken breasts, sliced as thinly as possible

? 2 cups apple juice

? 4 tablespoons soy sauce

? 3 level tablespoons granulated sugar

? 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

? 6 dashes garlic powder

? Salt and pepper to taste

? 2 level tablespoons corn starch mixed with cold tap water to a pasty consistency

? 3 tablespoons sesame oil (divided)

? 1/2 onion, finely julienned

? 1 medium green bell pepper, finely julienned

? Cooked rice

Method for Asian Chicken:

Combine apple juice, soy sauce, sugar, teriyaki sauce and garlic powder and bring to a boil while whisking; add a dash of sesame oil and a small dash of salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and add corn-starch mixture. Lightly simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture reaches a sauce-like consistency.

Heat a separate large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of sesame oil. Once the oil is heated, sauté the onions and green pepper until onions are almost translucent. Add the chicken and stir often. Once the chicken is cooked, turn down the heat to low; add the apple juice/soy sauce mixture and let simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve over your favorite rice. Yield: 4 servings.

Steve sent me a photo of grilled tuna topped with his recipe for Tomato Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce with Duxelle — a lovely presentation for dinner for four! Duxelle, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms or mushroom stems, onions, shallots and herbs, sautéed in butter and reduced.

Tomato Dill Beurre

Blanc Sauce for

Grilled Tuna with Duxelle

Duxelle Ingredients:

? 4 tablespoons butter

? 2 tablespoons finely diced onion

? 1/2 pound mushrooms, finely diced

? Nice pinch of salt and pepper

? 8 ounces heavy whipping cream

? 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Method for Duxelle:

Add butter to sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper and let reduce until moisture has evaporated. Add heavy whipping cream and let reduce until Duxelle has the consistency of gravy. Turn down the burner to low and add freshly chopped parsley. Cooking time should be 20 to 30 minutes.

Tomato Dill Beurre Blanc Ingredients:

? 3/4 cup white wine

? 3 level tablespoons diced onions

? 1/2 teaspoon (level) tomato paste

? 1 level teaspoon dill weed

? 8 tablespoons butter

? Salt and pepper to taste

Method for Tomato Dill Beurre Blanc:

Before adding butter, please be aware of Steve’s instructions. Note: Butter should be added in quarter-tablespoon increments and only after the previous quarter-tablespoon has melted. A constant whisking motion should be maintained to avoid having the butter separate.

Add wine, onions, tomato paste and dill to sauce pan. Reduce for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Turn heat to low and add butter to sauce pan (see note above) while constantly whisking in a circular motion, one-quarter tablespoon at a time. Once you’re down to 2 tablespoons of butter, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serving suggestion: Place thin layer of Duxelle on center of plate in about a 4-inch diameter. Place tuna on top of Duxelle. Top with 3 to 4 teaspoons of Tomato Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce. Yield: 4 servings.

“I began to enjoy my grandmother’s Coq au Vin recipe around the age of 12,” Steve said. “My grandfather was native born Alsatian (Alsace Lorraine) on the French side, and he requested that my grandmother cook a lot of French dishes. She obliged, of course.”

Steve’s grandfather was a translator for foreign dignitaries and the director of the Berlitz School of Languages in Washington, D.C., and often brought home guests for dinner on the spur-of-the-moment, so making a good impression was important to him.

I know that Coq au Vin means chicken cooked in wine, but, again, I can’t eat chicken. How does Gobble-Gobble au Vin sound? I’ll let you know. And I know that using red wine is the French tradition, but I might try the German white wine tradition (my favorite). Like Steve said above, “I believe that most recipes are meant to be used as a base to incorporate personal tastes.”

Coq au Vin

Ingredients:

? 4 large chicken breasts pounded to 1/4-inch thickness

? 1 clove garlic, minced

? 1/2 small sweet onion, diced

? 1 pound button mushrooms quartered

? 6 tablespoons butter (divided)

? 6 strips cooked, crumbled bacon; set aside bacon, but reserve grease

? 4 pearl onions

? 1 cup all-purpose flour to which kosher salt and white pepper have been liberally added for coating chicken

? 4 tablespoons olive oil

? 2 cups red wine

? 1 bundle of herbs: Tie 2 stalks celery, 2 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme and 1 bay leaf together.

? Kosher salt and white pepper

? Cooked rice pilaf

? Dutch oven for cooking

Method for Coq au Vin:

Vegetables: In a Dutch oven, sauté garlic, onions and mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter until most of the moisture has evaporated; then remove vegetables.

Note: The following instructions tell you how to prepare the chicken, but after the chicken has cooked for about 20 minutes (half done), you’ll want to begin preparing the pearl onions. Pearl onions: Lightly cook pearl onions in the reserved bacon grease for about 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Serve one onion per plate.

Dredge chicken liberally on both sides with flour mixture. Cut in half and add to pan with 4 tablespoons butter and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Set pan over medium heat and sauté chicken. Cook chicken until done and then add the wine, the bundle of herbs and the vegetables to the pan. Add a dash of salt and pepper and simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid mixture reaches a thin gravy-like consistency. Remove herb bundle. Add bacon and salt and pepper to taste and serve with rice pilaf. Yield: 4 servings.

(Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by email at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)