Steak and cake make for instant dinner party in this new cookbook

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  • Susan Puckett, For the AJC

No two foods scream “special occasion” like steak and cake.

But Elizabeth Karmel says she rarely orders them in restaurants because, inevitably, they fail to live up to her expectations. Being a nationally recognized grilling expert and natural-born Southern baker, it’s no wonder the founding chef of New York’s Hill Country Barbecue Market feels she can do a better job in her own kitchen.

For a decade, she taught home cooks those skills in her Steak and Cake classes at the Institute of Culinary Education, where students got to try several varieties of steaks paired with wines, followed by a Karmel’s choices for the perfect slices to go with them. Now, she’s channeled that premise into a concise book that’s as seductive as it sounds: “Steak and Cake: More Than 100 Recipes to Make Any Meal a Smash Hit” (Workman, $22.95).

As the title suggests, the main section of the book matches a steak recipe with one for cake. Steak cuts vary, but all are either chargrilled or skillet-seared, with suggestions for finishing touches and sides dishes. Garlic Smashed Potatoes stands up to the naturally assertive flavors of simple grilled Hanger Steak in a menu that also includes a dreamy-sounding Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cake. New York Strip with Red Wine Butter and Spinach Artichoke Casserole doubles down on the decadence with Homemade Confetti Birthday Cake with a Fluffy White Chocolate Buttercream.

My niece and I had fun making ganache-frosted Retro Chocolate Cupcakes with Sweet Mascarpone Centers (think grown-up Hostess Cupcakes, complete with white-icing squiggles); they would indeed be the perfect nostalgic ending for her Steak Diane with Twice-Baked Potatoes.


inRead invented by Teads

Helpful primers for steak and cake cover buying tips, tools and techniques. Lush photos, charming anecdotes and appetite-whetting descriptions complete the package, and have me hankering to host a dazzling dinner party ASAP.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

Pat Nunnari