While some restaurant chefs guard their house specialties as great secrets, Chef Louis Szathmary, owner-chef on The Bakery restaurant in Chicago, enjoys sharing his best and most popular dishes with people who want to cook them at home.
They are published this month in The Bakery Restaurnat Cookbook ($12.95, CBI Publishing Company, Boston). Writing the foreword for the new book, Anthony Athanas of Anthony's Pier 4 Restaurant, Boston, says that the book's recipes "welcome you to a voluminous series of delightful adventures in fine cosmopolitan cooking -- with practical instructions that readily explain how to prepare them." Anthony also points out that many of the Chef's Secrets in the book are of value to professionals as well as home cooks.
When Chef Louis opened the Bakery in 1963, he had decided there would be no doorman, no parking lot -- no pretence of any kind. There would also be no Tiffany lamps, no French fries, and no jukeboxes. Instead he has fresh flowers, gleaming silver, excellent service and, most important, good food.
Here is a recipe from his new cookbook. Beef Stroganoff 2 tablespoons finely minced onion 1 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon oil 1 cup beef consomme 2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon tomato puree, or 1 tablespoon to mato juice 2 teaspoons Chef's Salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 by leaf, washed, optional 1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced beef tenderloin 2 tablespoons hard 1/2 cup beef consomme 1 to 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms 1 tablespoon butter 2 cups sour cream 8 firm white mushroom caps, roughly equal size
Saute onions in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until limp and transluscent, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the consomme, stir , and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix flour, tomato puree, or tomato juice, 1 teaspoon Chef's Salt, and black pepper into remaining 1/2 cup of consomme. Stir until smooth and pour over onions. If you wish, add bay leaf. Simmer sauce over low heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scroching. Remove bay leaf after 10 to 15 minutes.
Sprinkle meat with 1 teaspoon Chef's Salt and divide into 3 even portions. Place 1 tablespoon lard in large heavy skillet. When it heats to the smoking point, add 1/3 of meat and saute for a minute or so, turning constantly. Remove to a serving platter. Repeat with second tablespoon of lard and second portion of meat, then with third. With third portion, you won't neeed to add more lard.
After cooking meat, pour 1/2 cup comsomme into pan and, with a spatula, loosen bits and pieces stuck to bottom of pan. Strain liquid into sauce. If you wish, saute thinly sliced mushrooms in the same pan with 1 tablespoon butter , or simply saute with last part of meat. If you like the sliced tenderloin done medium or medium well, cook longer.
Dilute sour cream with 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, then add sour cream to remaining sauce. This method prevents sauce from curdling. Ladle hot sauce over meat.
If you wish, cut 8 mushroom caps and saute them in a very small amount of fat in a hot pan, stems up.This way the surface of the mushrooms will brown but the carved design will remain white. Place decorated mushroom caps on top of sauce and serve stroganoff with noodles or rice. Serves 8.
Chef's Secret: It is best to make the stroganoff from tenderloin tails or tenderloin tips. Buy them already trimmed or trim them yourself. Roll each piece tigtly, wrap in aluminum foil, and place in the freezer for an hour or so. Then cut on a diagonal into very thin slices, preferably less than 1/4-inch thick.
The bay leaf, which is optional, gives an authentic taste to the stroganoff sauce, but if you don't remove it after 10 to 15 minutes of simmering it will overpower the sauce. I suggest you wash the bay leaf before you add it. Its taste and fragrance will be much better if you wash it in tepid water, rubbing the surfaces with your fingers.
Suggestions for carving the mushroom caps: Classic French cuisine uses the term "turning" to describe the preparation of the mushroom caps. It is done by pressing a small, very sharp paring knife at an angle to the top of the mushroom and guiding it with the thumb while turning the mushroom. If you try it a few times, the mushrooms will look very pretty.