January 31st, 2009

Oh Wise One

Thought for the day from the amazing Julia Child . . .

Words to live by!

Quote attributed to Julia Child via QuotesDaddy.com.

January 29th, 2009

To Sauce or Not to Sauce?

Well, so, that is the question.

When a great cut of meat is involved do you sauce it or not?


Denny Howell over at MLive.com gives us one option . . .

Sauce or no sauce?
That’s a big question when you have a good cut of steak. I waiver back and forth depending on the occasion and the rest of the menu, I think a sauce can truly finish the flavors. This was the case on Saturday when cooking for a dinner party.

Now I’m not talking about A.1. Steak Sauce. I’m talking about classic finishing sauces; a Merlot reduction, a Mushroom sauce or Bearnaise. Saturday happened to be a Creamy Cognac Peppercorn sauce with Morel Mushrooms.

I really liked the sauce and the rest of the dinner guests thought it was great! Not only did it go well with the steak but I thought the flavor of it with the mashed potatoes was really harmonious.

Dinner Menu:
Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing
Mushroom Stuffed Filet Mignon with Cognac Peppercorn Sauce
Boursin Mashed Potatoes
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Serves 6

Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing
The Spicy Caesar dressing is very quick and easy. Just take your favorite creamy caesar dressing and add one or two finely chopped
chipotles and about 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce.

For the Grilled Romaine, cut the romaine heats in half lengthwise brush the cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper then place on the grill until slightly charred.

Serve with anchovies, croutons and grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Tri-Mushroom Stuffed Filet w/ Creamy Cognac Peppercorn Sauce
– (6) 6-8oz filet mignon steaks
– 1 1/2 oz. dried portabella mushrooms
– 1 1/2 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
– 1 1/2 oz. dried chanterelle mushrooms
– 2 cups cognac (I used
– olive oil
– 1/2 Tbsp butter
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup shallots, minced
– 3 tsp. fresh thyme
– Salt and Pepper

Place all the dried mushrooms in a large bowl. Pour heated, either microwave or stove-top) cognac over mushrooms. Let stand 1.5 hours. Drain mushrooms, while saving liquid for the peppercorn sauce.

Chop the garlic, shallots and mushrooms. Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, saute 1 minute. Add chopped mushrooms, saute another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cool and add fresh thyme.

Cut a small slit into the side of each steak and move the knife around in the middle to make a pocket. Press the cooled mushroom mixture into each steak. You can secure the pockets with toothpicks. Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Outside – Prepare Grill. Arrange coals to have hot section to sear and medium section to finish cooking. Place steaks on hot section and sear for 1 minute, rotate 45 degrees and sear an additional minute, on each side. Move steaks to medium section and grill for 3 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes covered with foil.

Inside – Preheat over to 350. On High heat place the steaks in a grilling pan and sear for 1 minute, rotate 45 degrees and sear an additional minute, flip the steak, sear for another minute, rotate 45 degrees and place in the over for 5-10 minutes depending on steak temp. I recommend Med-Rare.

Creamy Cognac Peppercorn Sauce
– 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
– 4 Tbsp. chopped shallots
– 4 Tbsp. crushed green and pink peppercorns
– 1cup cognac-mushroom liquid (drained from mushrooms)
– 1cup heavy whipping cream
– salt and pepper to taste
– 4 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
– Optional
(18) morel mushrooms

In a saute pan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp butter. Add shallots and peppercorns. Saute until shallots are soft. Add cognac-mushroom liquid and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add cream and simmer until sauce slightly thickens, add optional morel mushrooms. Turn off heat and slowly whisk the remaining 1/2 to 1 Tbsp of butter in the sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper and dill.

Spoon over the top of the filet mignon steaks set over the mashed potatoes. Make sure to get some morel’s on each plate!
Boursin Mashed Potatoes
– 3 pounds potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks (peeled if you don’t want the skins)
– 1 package (5.2 oz.) Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs
– 1/4 cup whole milk
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander. In a bowl, mash the potatoes until they are smooth. Add the Boursin cheese and continue mashing until the cheese is thoroughly mixed. Add the milk and cream and beat in to the potato mixture and salt and pepper to taste.

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans
– 1 pound fresh green beans
– Olive oil
– Salt and pepper
– 1/2lb to 1lb Bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Blanch green beans for 3 minutes. Toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. Bundle about 5-7 green beans and wrap a piece of bacon around the bundle. Place in a roasting pan and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until bacon is cooked.


Photo and excerpt courtesy of Denny Howell at MLive.com.

January 28th, 2009

Making Magic

It was cold this weekend and we wanted something to make us feel better about being mammals and hating the weather.

What better than a hot, juicy piece of steak??!!

First, we clicked on our remote control fire (tres classy) . . .


Yeah, I said we *clicked* it to the “on” position. Carry on.

Then, we found some cool jazz tunes on the Sirius satellite radio . . .


We then began the marinating. Filet mignon in Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, ground pepper (and cayenne pepper for my spicy husband).


After partaking in some wine and reminiscing about the days when we thought jazz was for old fuddy duddies, the steaks were put on the grill in 25-degree weather. Outside.

I watched from the kitchen.

The end result was everything we imagined. Tender, juicy filets to warm the body and spirit.


We then scooped up the kids, put them in bed, read all about sea monsters and retired to the fire-lit living room with the rest of that bottle of wine.

No sitter needed. No dress code. And no tips.

Unless, of course, you count my husband reminding me to click the fire off as a “tip.”

Our evenings at home always far surpass the nights out in the elements because they’re custom-made just for us.


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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

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