Chef brings home cookin’ to home

 

Nikki Headshot - Photo by Andrea HunterBy Jon Fortenbury

While a journalism student, Nikki Elkjer was the quintessential host, gladly offering munchies to friends who were indulging a drink or two. So when her husband suggested she go to culinary school, it made sense.

After years of being a chef at restaurants and catering companies in the greater Austin area, Nikki started her own personal chef business in 2007. She customizes meals for people in Austin, Round Rock, and Georgetown and does culinary demonstrations, specializing in Spanish Italian fusion.

“It’s always been important to me to sit around the table with my family,” says the Round Rock mom of three, “and that’s something I can really offer to clients, taking away the stress of having to fix dinner.” Nikki will deliver food to clients but prefers to use their kitchens to cook and serve meals featuring dishes like the ones she shares here.



Print Recipe
The consumption of raw or undercooked meat may increase the risk of food-borne illness.

Ingredients

  • lbs beef sirloin or tenderloin trimmed of all fat
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh sage chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • Gorgonzola crumbled
  • 1 lb small beets (8-10) scrubbed and trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Instructions

  1. Tie the beef with twine to create a uniform shape. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat and sear the beef on all sides for color. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Combine the herbs, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and coat the beef evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before slicing.
  3. Remove the beef from plastic, cut off twine, and slice the beef into thin pieces. Place 1 piece between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and tenderize. Do this with the smooth side of a mallet. Start from the middle and work your way out, creating a circle. The finished product should resemble a thin slice of prosciutto.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the beets in a small roasting pan. Add the olive oil and ¼ cup of water. Toss the beets in the liquid and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Roast until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife, about 1½ hours. Let the beets cool slightly and then peel away the skin. Slice into thin pieces.
  5. For each serving, place 3 pieces of Carpaccio on a cold dish. Arrange thinly sliced roasted beets along 1 side of the beef. Sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola and squeeze fresh lemon juice over. Finish with a sprig of rosemary.



Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 2 cups yellow onion small diced
  • cups corn kernels fresh or canned
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb fingerling potatoes sliced thin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven or pot until crisp. Remove and crumble into pieces.
  2. Add diced onion to pot drippings and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn, thyme, and garlic. Cook that for 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep the garlic from burning. Stir in broth, heavy cream, and potatoes. Bring that to a simmer. Cover and cook about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender (test by poking with a knife or fork).
  3. Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a blender and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot and stir in salt, pepper, and bacon pieces.



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Ingredients

  • 1 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 7-oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce puréed
  • 2 lbs raw shrimp peeled and deveined, tails on
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb linguine
  • ¼ cup butter at room temperature
  • cups Romano cheese grated
  • tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup arugula

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, reduce (boil) orange juice to ½ cup. Lower heat to medium and add sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and pureed chilies. Simmer about 20 minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Toss the shrimp with olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked, about 2 minutes. Toss the shrimp in the orange chipotle glaze.
  3. Bring a quart of salted water to boil over high heat. Your water should taste like the sea. Add the linguine and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water and set aside. Immediately toss the hot pasta in a large bowl with the butter to coat, gradually adding the cheese and pepper. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Add a few tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to help combine the cheese, pasta, and arugula. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Place linguine in a large pasta bowl. Top with orange chipotle shrimp and some of the drippings from the cooked shrimp. Finish with a few Romano shavings.



Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 package lady fingers
  • 1 cup espresso or dark roast black coffee
  • 4 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups mascarpone cheese

Instructions

  1. Lay the lady fingers out on a cutting board and baste with a combination of the coffee and liquor, using a pastry brush. Line the inside of martini or wine glasses with a single layer of lady fingers. Allow for overlapping.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together the mascarpone cheese and sugar. Spoon mixture into glasses and finish with a sprinkle of cocoa, cinnamon, and a sprig of fresh mint.



Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups coconut unsweetened and grated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 eggs separated
  • 1 vanilla bean

Instructions

  1. Heat a small skillet, add sugar, and heat until the sugar has liquefied and become transparent. Raise the heat and stir slowly until the sugar reaches a light brown color, but be careful not to burn the sugar. Carefully pour the caramel liquid into flan molds or soufflé cups, turning each mold to coat the bottom evenly and completely. Allow to cool.
  2. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium high heat to boiling. Add the coconut, reserving a small amount for garnish, and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Split the vanilla bean pod and scrape the beans, adding both to the hot milk. Add the condensed milk and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks together until creamy and stir them into the cooled coconut mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until they are frothy. Add a pinch of salt and continue beating until the whites are stiff. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Pour mixture into the flan molds and cover. Place in a water bath and cook at 350° F for about 1½ hours. When flans are done, a skewer inserted into the center of the flan will come out clean. Allow to cool. To unmold, place the flan mold in a pan of warm water for a few minutes, invert and remove molds.

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