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First "Shoestring" Chef, a Steak Master, Returns

NEW YORIK - If you like steak, Michael Lomonaco is your man.

He's the executive chef and managing partner of what many consider New York's finest steakhouse, Porter House. That followed stints at "le Cirque", "21 Club" and "Windows on the World."

Back in 1997, Lomonaco happened to be the first to don our "Chef on a Shoestring" hat.

Vote on Next Week's "Shoestring" Main Course
"Early Show" Recipes Galore!

Each week, we feature a different "Shoestring" chef, who tries to make a three-course meal for four on the measly budget we give him or her - it's "risen" to $40 now.

But in 1997, Lomonaco, already a superstar chef, had only $20.

Today, he sought to prepare a delicious dinner consisting of London broil and Stuffed Acorn Squash, chased with a classic dessert, all on that $40.

We've added some attractions since '97:

Now, every "Chef on a Shoestring" is automatically entered in our "How Low Can You Go? Competition, in which the "Shoestringer" with 2011's lowest ingredients total gets asked back to cook our year-end holiday feast.

And viewers get to vote each week for the following week's main course.

MENU
•  Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese
•  Soy Glazed London Broil
•  Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash
•  Apple Brown Betty

FOOD FACTS

(Source: Epicurious.com)

Butter lettuce: One of two varieties of head lettuce (the other being crisphead). Butterhead lettuces have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. The flavor is sweet and succulent. Because the leaves are quite tender, they require gentle washing and handling. Boston and Bibb (also called limestone) lettuce are the two most well known of the butterhead family. The smaller Bibb is highly prized by gourmets. Both Boston and Bibb lettuce are sometimes referred to simply as "butterhead" or "butter" lettuce.

Beets: Commonly known as the garden beet, this firm, round root vegetable has leafy green tops, which are also edible and highly nutritious. The most common color for beets (called "beetroots" in the British Isles) is a garnet red. However, they can range in color from deep red to white, the most intriguing being the Chioggia (also called "candy cane"), with its concentric rings of red and white. Beets are available year-round and should be chosen by their firmness and smooth skins.

London broil: This section of the hind leg of beef extends from the rump to the ankle. Since the leg has been toughened by exercise, the round is less tender than some cuts. The top round, which lies on the inside of the leg, is the most tender of the four muscles in the round. Thick top-round cuts are often called butterball steak or London broil, whereas thin cuts are referred to simply as top round steak.

Acorn squash: A somewhat oval-shaped winter squash with a ribbed, dark green skin and orange flesh. The most common method of preparation is to halve them, remove the seeds and bake. Acorn squash may then be eaten directly from the shell.

Apple Brown Betty: Dating back to colonial America, betties are baked puddings made of layers of sugared and spiced fruit and buttered bread crumbs. Though many fruits can be used, the most popular is Apple Brown Betty, made with sliced apples and brown sugar.

RECIPES

Roasted Beets, Boston Lettuce and Blue Cheese

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS:
2 pounds red, yellow, or candy-striped beets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head Boston lettuce, washed and torn into large pieces
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Put the beets in a bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat the beets with the oil.

Transfer the beets to a roasting pan, and roast until tender to a knife-tip, 15 to 20 minutes for very small; 45 minutes for very large. Remove the pan from the oven and let the beets cool for 15 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, slip the beets out of their skins using paper towels to grasp them and a paring knife to help loosen the skin. Discard the skins, quarter or slice them into eighths. Wear disposable plastic gloves to keep from dying your fingers red.

Add cleaned Boston lettuce to a bowl, toss with the crumbled blue cheese and divide among 4 plates

Divide the beets among the salad plates, drizzle with the remaining oil and give each a squeeze of lemon juice; serve.


To see Michael's other recipes, go to Page 2.

Soy Glazed London Broil

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup soy sauce, low sodium
1 cup dry sherry
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 - 2 1/2 pounds beef steak top round London broil, about 1 ½ inches thick
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 bunch scallions
Kosher salt & ground black pepper

METHOD:

Make the soy glaze: Place soy, sherry, sugar and grated ginger into a saucepot and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer and reduce by half; remove from pot and cool thoroughly-this may be done 2 days in advance.

Place London broil into a deep dish, large enough to contain the beef and soy glaze; marinate the beef with half the soy glaze, refrigerated, for 3-4 hours or overnight.

To cook, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat; add the oil to the pan, season the London broil with salt and pepper and add to hot pan, searing for 3-4 minutes before turning. Cover and cook the other side for 3 minutes until the beef at center registers 125°F on an instant read thermometer.

Remove the London Broil from the pan and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Slice the London Broil at a 45° angle, across the grain, into thin slices, serve with some reserved Soy glaze as a dipping sauce.

Walnut-Acorn Squash

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS:
2 large acorn squash, split from top to bottom into two halves
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

METHOD:

Heat an oven to 375°F.

Put the four halves of acorn squash, cut side down, into a baking dish, add 1/2 inch water and place into the oven; bake about 40 minutes, or until tender.

Pierce the skin of the squash with the tip of a knife to test for doneness, when soft to the touch remove the squash from the oven.

Discard the remaining water in the baking dish, turn the squash over and fill the cavity of the squash with walnuts, divided equally; evenly sprinkle each with dark brown sugar and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.


Apple Brown Betty

Yield: 4 portions

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 pint heavy cream

METHOD:

In a large bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, dark brown sugar and melted butter.

In a glass pie dish, building the Betty in layers, pat one third of the crumb mixture over the bottom; spread half of the apples on top, then pat on another third of the crumbs over the apples, finally cover the apples with the remainder of the crumbs and tamp down gently.

Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.

Spoon portions out into pudding dishes and top with a drizzle of heavy cream.


So, how did Michael do in our "How Low Can You Go?" competition?

Beet Salad
beets $2.49
Boston lettuce $1.99
lemon $.69
blue cheese $3.99
total $9.16

London Broil
soy sauce $2.19
sherry $2.49
ginger $.39
London broil $7.48
scallions $.99
acorn squash $5.96
walnuts $2.99
total $22.49

Apple Brown Betty
breadcrumbs $.99
apples $2.99
heavy cream $1.19
total $5.17

Grand total: $36.82

The year is still very young, but here's our Leaders Board so far!:

1. Michael Lomonaco $36.82
Porter House

2. Patti Jackson $38.52
I Trulli