Chef brings home cookin’ to home
By 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.
The consumption of raw or undercooked meat may increase the risk of food-borne illness.
- 1½ 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 6 slices applewood-smoked bacon
- 2 cups yellow onion small diced
- 3½ 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
- Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven or pot until crisp. Remove and crumble into pieces.
- 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).
- 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.