Beef Tartare

Preparing beef tartare came from several inspirations.  I first had beef tartare when I volunteered at The James Beard House and worked with Chef Anthony Goncalves of 42 Restaurant.  The raw capsules of beef melted in my mouth. 

My second inspiration came when I attended the International Food Blogging Conference and Chef Daisley Gordon of Campagne Cafe prepared beef tartare for lunch on day 2. This was by far my favorite dish of the day. 

My third inspiration came from Snake River FarmsSnake River Farms provided all the meat for IFBC and boy oh boy, it’s quality surpassed any other meat that has passed through these lips. 

My final inspiration came from Melissa Davis of Fresh Meals.  Melissa and I met at IFBC and immediately connected.  It wasn’t long after meeting that we began brainstorming ideas to stay connected and work together in the future.  Since we both loved the beef tartare and the meat from Snake River Farms…we thought why not do an East Coast/West Coast collaboration?  The idea is to create the same dish, compare and share the differences in recipes/ingredients as well as techniques.  So, that is what we have done!  

Now, the honest recap of preparing and eating raw beef for myself and reluctant husband.  It’s one thing to order this specialty in the restaurant because they are the professionals and you trust they know what the hell they are doing.  I fancy myself to be quite the Chef and talk a big talk, however my heart was pounding out of my chest as I scoured the kitchen twice, washed my hands too many times to count, froze bowls, spoons, meat and on and on.  The entire time trying to convince my husband we are not going to get sick and he is going to be begging for more.  I am happy to report, no one got sick and I fell in love with beef tartare all over again!

Beef Tartare
Serves: 8

1/2 pound American Wagyu Beef from Snake River Farms, cut in pieces and put through grinder twice
1 organic brown egg
2 T. dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely minced
1 lemon
2 tsp. caper juice
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 T. capers, for frying
4 fingerling potatoes, thinly sliced for frying
1 baguette, thinly sliced
Mixed greens, rinsed
Olive Oil

  1. Remove all sinew from beef and cut into pieces.
  2. Using a clean grinder and a cold, clean bowl begin grinding beef. Run through grinder twice.
  3. While prepping other ingredients, place meat in freezer.
  4. Preparation includes: frying capers in 1 T. olive oil until crispy but not burnt, drain on paper towel.  Frying fingerling potato slices in canola oil until crispy and golden brown, drain on paper towel and season with sea salt.
  5. Add egg, dijon, shallot, squeeze from lemon, caper juice, salt & pepper to meat and mix thoroughly.

Plating Variations:

  • Take a small spoon and place in freezer for a few minutes
  • Using small spoon, fill with olive oil but not to the top or will overflow when beef cannelle is added
  • Form a cannelle with the beef and place in olive oil
  • Place crispy chip on side and a few crispy capers on top


  • Toss mixed greens with lemon juice, dijon, honey, salt & pepper
  • Thinly slice baguette
  • Serve a beef tartare cannelle on plate with mixed greens and baguette slice

East Coast Cooking Notes:

  • Sinew is a thin layer of tendon that appears silver in color.  I use a flexible filet knife to remove sinew in an effort to keep as much of the quality meat as possible.  Simply take the filet knife, lift one end of the sinew with your hand and gently slide the knife underneath the sinew as you pull at the same time, same technique used when filleting a fish.
  • I used a Kitchen Aide grinder attachment to grind the meat.  When I make beef tartare again, I will only grind the meat once.  My version was too soft and lacked texture.
  • To ensure the safety of yourself and others, you must take precautionary measures when preparing beef tartare.  Make sure your kitchen is clean and all surfaces have been wiped down/disinfected.  Wash your hands repeatedly when not using recommended gloves.  Place any mixing bowls, serving utensils and platters in freezer prior to using.
  • Taste your meat!  Test a small piece and adjust seasoning as needed.  You may find that you need more salt or an additional dollop of dijon mustard.
  • To form a cannelle, use 2 small spoons.  Grab a spoonful of meat with 1 spoon and place other spoon on top.  Go back and forth until a tiny football shape is formed. This technique can be tricky, practice makes perfect.

Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.

Melissa’s West Coast Cooking Notes And Full Article Can Be Found Here!

Big thanks to Kathy at Snake River Farms for helping make our Beef Tartare, East Coast/West Coast collaboration a success!

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Beef Tartare

Chef Daisley Gordon at IFBC

Dr. White hearts raw beef!

Beef Tartare setup at IFBC

Beef Tartare


White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? I have been asked how I create recipes for Z is for zest. Not an easy question to answer. When I start thinking about recipes for the site, sometimes I daydream about creating a delectable dish and other times I envision the photo shoot. Each aspect is equally exciting to me. 

This week I volunteered at the Seven Springs CSA Farm. I witnessed the farmers returning from the fields where they had plucked lettuce, scallions, bok choy, radishes and mixed baby greens right from the ground. The volunteers, including myself were responsible for cleaning these items, bagging and delivering all the bags to a co-op here in Roanoke. There is something to be said about being apart of such a process. I can’t express with words how much I enjoyed being outdoors in a serene atmosphere, knowing what was in the ground that day will be in the hands of local families that afternoon.

After my time on the farm, this reinvigorated me to continue my goal of using “in season” ingredients in my recipes. With that said, I knew I wanted to do something with asparagus then I started fantasizing about the photo shoot. Nothing says Spring like yellow and white. I translated this color scheme to white asparagus with a lemon reduction. That my friends is how this recipe transpired and a tiny peek into my brain.

White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 bundle white asparagus, cleaned & trimmed
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. shallot, minced
1/3 cup white wine
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
salt & pepper
1/2 T. butter
4 sprigs lemon thyme, picked

  1. Using a wide, deep pan bring enough salted water to cover asparagus to boil.
  2. Add asparagus and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Dunk asparagus in an ice bath, dump out boiling water and place asparagus back in the same pan.
  4. Using a small saute pan, heat olive oil at medium-high temp.
  5. Add minced shallot.
  6. Saute for 1 minute, shaking pan. Be careful not to burn the minced shallot.
  7. Remove pan from flame and turn away from stove, add wine.
  8. Place pan back on burner and add lemon juice and lemon zest.
  9. Shake saute pan violently and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  10. Add a pinch of sea salt and a couple twists from a pepper grinder.
  11. Add butter and continue to shake saute pan until butter is melted and sauce is shiny.
  12. Drizzle sauce over asparagus and garnish with lemon thyme.

Cooking Notes:

  • Trick of the trade: Where do you cut off the ends of the asparagus? Take one stalk and towards the end gently break in half, it will break towards the end of the stalk. This is an indication where you should cut the other stalks.
  • Dunking asparagus or any other vegetable in an ice bath (a bowl with water and ice) stops the cooking process. If you skip this step, once you are done making your sauce your asparagus will be overcooked.
  • When deglazing (adding wine to sauteed minced shallot) you must be careful. I ask that you turn away from the open flame to avoid a potential fire.
  • Shaking the saute pan violently helps your sauce form and not “break” as they say in the culinary world. And, when I say violently I mean pretty damn hard.

Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.

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White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce