Thought for the day from the amazing Julia Child . . .
Words to live by!
Quote attributed to Julia Child via QuotesDaddy.com.
Thought for the day from the amazing Julia Child . . .
Words to live by!
Quote attributed to Julia Child via QuotesDaddy.com.
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.
Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing
Mushroom Stuffed Filet Mignon with Cognac Peppercorn Sauce
Boursin Mashed Potatoes
Bacon Wrapped Green Beans
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 Hennessy)
- 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
(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.
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.
Well, folks, Valentine’s Day is almost here again and we’ve decided that we don’t like going out to a restaurant anymore to celebrate the day.
There are too many other sweethearts clogging up our favorite places on that evening. And, ahem, we don’t like to wait.
Besides, we like cooking something perfect at home. Just the way we like it.
Here’s what we did last year. Steak and lobster. You can’t go wrong with that. And it was fabulous. But I’m wanting to change it up at least slightly. You know, keep it fresh.
So what should I cook? Here are the parameters:
Got any cool ideas? Send ‘em my way!!
Kabobs are fantastic as a meal or even appetizers.
At our huge family shindig we set them out and let the people decide.
Kinda like a democracy. But not.
Here are Sandy’s thoughts on creating the perfect kabobs. We used tenderloin tips that were so, so tender. Pay close attention to Sandy’s tip about soaking the wooden skewers. Advice worth its weight in gold!
One of the ways to save money while you are eating great is to maximize your usage of your groceries. Although perhaps an obvious point, take it to the extreme. Buy a great cut of meat like a whole tenderloin. To insure even cooking, you will want the piece to be symmetrical, which because it is a natural product, means you will have to trim off the ‘tail’ end. And if you have access to a wholesale tenderloin, you will also trim the ‘chain’ meat. What to do with all of these trimmings? Have a great ‘second’ meal with your delicious meat – make kabobs! Kabob-ing also stretches your budget by adding lower cost items (veggies) and decreasing the portion size of the meat.
Kabobs also work with less tender cuts of meat, but you will have to marinate the meat overnight to make it tender. Kabobs made with tenderloin tips are quick and easy to put together, and any marinating should be brief and just to enhance flavor. An important tip if you are using wooden skewers – SOAK them for about ½ hour in water before you skewer anything with them – lay them in a 9×13 pan and just cover with water before you start prepping anything else. If you don’t soak them, they will burn and disintegrate on the grill and all of your subsequent work will be wasted – still tasty, but not so pretty.
For 4 People
1# Tenderloin Tips or Sirloin
Vegetables, including sweet onion, garlic cloves, multi-colored bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini or corn on the cob would also be tasty and pretty. Also possible would be par cooked root vegetables, such as red potatoes or carrots.
Cut the meat into about 1 in chunks. Season the meat well with salt, pepper, garlic and/or onion powder or your favorite steak seasoning. Cut the vegetables into appropriate sized chunks, probably a little larger than the meat. If you are using red potatoes or carrots, cook them briefly in boiling water until they can be just pierced with the sharp tip of a knife. Toss all of your vegetables in a large bowl with a few tablespoons of oil, olive or your favorite, and season well with your favorite seasonings. There is no rule for how to skewer the shish kabobs, but variety is always pretty. Even people who may not eat the red peppers or onions still may appreciate how they look on the skewer and how they season the meat as it all cooks together.
Cook the skewers over a medium high grill until they reach your level of desired doneness.
Serve with a rice pilaf.
If you care to marinate the meat, here is a quick recipe:
1 cup red wine
½ cup fresh herbs
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1-3 cloves fresh chopped garlic (1-2 tsp)
Freshly ground pepper
Combine the ingredients, and pour into quart sized zip bag. Add meat, seal and remove air and refrigerate up to 2 hours, turning every 20 minutes.
What an amazing day for our country.
We now have installed the 44th president — a peaceful transfer of power. The way it’s supposed to be.
We have no royalty in the United States (Paris Hilton not withstanding) so our current and past presidents want YOU to know they are not going to dine as such on your dime.
Check out what’s being said about their menu selections from a recent lunchtime “meeting of the minds” involving past presidents and our current president . . .
The economy being what it is, it was in none of their interests to have the media report they had dined on champagne, caviar and foie gras, and so aides were at pains to point out that the five ordered from the White House Mess, the navy-run staff restaurant that is nevertheless, to be candid, one or two notches up from the average office canteen. The menu is described as “traditional American”, and during the outgoing president’s time in office has featured the White House Signature Steak, the West Wing Burger, spaghetti marinara, shrimp prepared with herbs and mustard, and a dish called Chocolate Freedom blending patriotism and calorific overload in a single dessert.
So, tonight, in honor of American presidents past and president — and heck, let’s throw in all Americans everywhere – I urge you to create your own “Signature Steak” and promptly gobble it up.
Fanfare, speeches and motorcades are optional.
Do it for your country. You know you wanna.
Excerpt courtesy of justsamachar.com.
Photo courtesy of foxnews.com.
I always like winter recipes that make me feel warm and satisfied.
And this one does not disappoint.
It’s a different take on the typical lasagna recipe. It’s got arugula and spinach mixed in with tasty ground beef.
Try this one on those freezing, wintry nights!
Beef, Arugula and Spinach Lasagna
Heat oven to 375°F. Brown ground beef with garlic in large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8-10 minutes, or until beef is no longer pink, breaking up into 3/4-inch crumbles. Pour off drippings; season with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in pasta sauce. Set aside.
Combine arugula and spinach. Set aside. Combine ricotta cheese, egg whites, basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in small bowl.
Spread 1 cup meat sauce over bottom of 11-3/4 x 7-1/2-inch glass baking dish. Top with 3 noodles, half of the ricotta mixture, half of the spinach mixture, 1/2 cup mozarella and 1-1/2 cups meat sauce. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 3 noodles and meat sauce.
Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in 375°F oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until noodles are tender and sauce is bubbly. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake uncovered 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand, loosely covered, 10 minutes before serving.
Oven-ready noodles and prepared pasta sauce makes this a breeze to prepare. Make double and freeze for future meals.
Photo and recipe courtesy of TxBeef.org.
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know my sister-in-law Sandy takes every meal to another level of flavor-infused goodness.
Even something like tacos become THE BEST TACOS YOU’VE EVER HAD.
Here, Sandy tells us just what she did to wow our family with a smorgasbord of flavors, colors, and amazing scents — all the things that make a great meal.
Taco Night. Our first meal in Florida as a large group came together pretty quickly. Nothing fancy, but everyone really enjoyed it. I think there were about 14 of us on taco night, and this meal came together in less than an hour.
I think the secret to good tacos is using good quality beef and cooking it well, without quite as much seasoning as those little packages suggest you use. Try using a little less (I use only about a third a package per pound of meat) and seasoning the meat with a little salt and fresh ground pepper and your favorite salsa or picante sauce. This is a super quick meal that is fun for a crowd, and can really be put together very quickly if you get organized. Do all of your chopping to start, then start on what takes longest. Get your guests to help – chop garnishes, make margaritas, etc.
0. Prep Garnishes and/or recruit volunteers to prep garnishes and get drinks going.
1. Begin Rice. Dice all of the onions needed for the recipes (1 ½) and peel and dice carrot for rice. Start rice pilaf by cooking vegetables, and then adding rice, cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and set timer for 20 minutes.
2. Begin Black Beans and Taco meat : chop bacon and add to cold frying pan. Turn heat to medium and cook bacon until brown, add beans and picante sauce and cook over low heat until thoroughly warmed thru and beans are tender. Meanwhile, heat oil and begin taco meat preparation as directed below. Add liquid to beans as necessary to prevent beans from burning. Mash beans as desired with potato masher, fork or handheld blender.
3. Preheat oven for crispy taco shells when the rice has just a few minutes left. The taco shells take less than 5 minutes to warm up- don’t let these suckers burn, they go quickly!
Quick Tacos for a Crowd
1 Tbsp Canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced small
3# Ground Beef, 85%-95% Lean Ground Sirloin or other good quality Beef
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 pkg taco seasoning (for 1# ground beef)
Heat oil over medium/high heat in large heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan until shimmering, then add onion and cook until translucent. Add ground beef, salt and pepper. Cook until ground beef is brown. If there is excessive fat, beef may be drained at this point. Add taco seasoning and water as directed on package. Cook as directed, adding salt and pepper and or hot sauce as necessary and to taste.
Scrumptious “Refried” Black Beans
6 strips bacon, chopped
2 cans black beans or “refried” style black beans
½ cup picante sauce or salsa
½ cup cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
Spanish Style Rice
2 carrots, peeled and diced
½ onion, diced
1 package yellow rice, plus water for package directions (may substitute ½ cup picante sauce for ½ cup of the water called for on the package directions)
Taco bar Condiments:
Diced Avocado or Guacamole
Crunchy Taco Shells
With the inauguration of President-Elect Obama coming up, I got to thinking, what does one eat at an inaugural ball?
In later years, it seems to have gotten out of hand, these balls. At last count, the Obamas will be attending 10 official inaugural balls.
I’m so confused. We need 10 of these?
There’s no way they can eat at all of them.
So I decided to check out the menus from simpler days. You know, when they only had ONE inaugural ball to attend.
Here’s President Lincoln’s inaugural ball menu. So cool . . .
Did you see all those beef choices? And what is beef a la mode? Or beef a l’anglais?
Whatever they are, they sound delectable. Perhaps one could spread some Calfsfoot and Wine Jelly on them?
Back then there was no tofu or soyburger in sight. I always knew I liked that Lincoln.
Menu courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.
At our little castle in the sand over the holidays we were very spoiled by the food.
Great meals just kept on coming.
One night we enjoyed bacon-wrapped filets with oven-baked potatoes and veggies.
Most of us in the house were in at the word “bacon.” But, then, we were treated to buttery-tender filets that were to-die-for.
There was, however, a word of warning on the box that I must show you . . .
The Kansas City Steak Company totally had our number. They knew they were dealing with pigs who would just dive right in — pin and all. Thanks, guys! You saved us an emergency trip to the dentist in a state none of us live in. Appreciate ya.
To start the meal, first, Sandy pan-seared the filets after sprinkling each filet with the seasoning that came with the steaks.
She also cooked the bacon a bit and re-wrapped them. You can see them above being placed on aluminum foil and then sent out to the grill to be manned by the cutest griller around. (Okay, it was my husband.)
Why the foil? Because we don’t trust other people’s grills. Remember, this was a rented house. Plus, that grill had seen better days and we weren’t taking any chances with this meat.
Some in our group like their filets pretty well-done and not so thick. So we simply cut one in half so we had two filets that were half as thick. Voila!
While those were grilling we worked on the sides. We made oven-baked potatoes that were quickly cooked in olive oil, salt and pepper in a skillet and then baked in the oven.
Here is the final product (after the pins were removed). This baby didn’t last long after the picture was taken.
By the way, this was our Christmas Eve dinner. A special and exciting night for us all. Can you imagine a better meal?
Well, wait ’til you see what else we cooked that week . . .
Over the holidays, we had a total of 18 people staying in a rented beach house. Plus, other visitors who did not stay overnight.
So . . . food had to be ready and available at all times. We couldn’t keep enough of it around.
There were so many stomachs to feed and I heard the phrase “Salt water makes you extra hungry” more than I can count.
Thus, appetizers seemed to rise high on the totem pole fast because it appeared to tame the beast for a while.
Nothing like 18 fussy people on your hands.
We DID NOT want that.
We were there at the oceanside, so crabcakes seemed a fun thing to try. And they were a hit!
That’s the only good photo I got because as soon as we put them out they got eaten. Well, devoured.
Here were the instructions for preparing these:
Remove cakes from vacuum pouch and place on a plate. Put plate in refrigerator and allow cakes to thaw for 1 hour before cooking. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of oil or margarine. Place cakes in pan and allow to cook for 6 minutes on each side or until the outside of the cakes is golden brown and the inside is hot.
And that’s exactly what we did. They were yummy. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.
Here’s what they’re supposed to look like if you don’t have 18 impatient people salivating over the plate . . .
Nice, huh? Try ‘em next time you have guests to feed.
They’ll thank you by leaving you a plate full of crumbs.
Bottom photo and preparation instructions courtesy KansasCitySteaks.com.
. . . is a MEAL.
That’s how the old slogan goes. And we decided to test it out.
It’s so easy to make this Sloppy Joe recipe, even a monkey could do it. Although, for liability reasons, you really wouldn’t want a monkey messing around in your kitchen.
Just brown a pound of ground beef in a skillet until it’s no longer pink and drain.
Then, mix in a can of Manwich and stir until it’s mixed through and hot.
Serve the mixture on hamburger buns and you’re done!
Sandy toasted our buns in a little butter on a skillet, but she’s like that. She has to go and make absolutely EVERY meal extra delicious.
Did I mention Cheetos were on the menu too? Who doesn’t like a Cheeto every now and then?
This was such a quick and easy lunch and it was a big hit for us beef-eaters. My eight-year-old nephew ate two of them.
Does that make him a REAL MAN now?
For that matter, if I ate one does that make ME a man?
I’m so confused . . .
Top photo and recipe courtesy of ConAgraFoods.com.
While we were on our holiday vacation Sandy prepared a number of meals that dazzled us all.
I helped if you count handing her a spatula and stirring sauces while sneaking tastes as “helping.”
I did soak it in and I learned quite a bit — as I always do around her. So, she’s written down her “tips” for making the most tender of tenderloin tips in a delicious red wine sauce. Now we can all refer back to her thoughts when we’re in our own kitchens trying to recreate the yummy goodness she masterfully put together.
These really were so flavorful and the smell filled the house with great anticipation before the meal was ready. We didn’t have to find anyone to tell them dinner was on. They were all salivating around the periphery of the kitchen, waiting to pounce.
May your crowd do the same!
Here’s what Sandy says . . .
This is one of those really flavorful quick dishes that you can prepare pretty easily with a great cut of meat like tenderloin tips. This recipe can also be prepared with a tougher cut of meat (i.e. stew meat) but the meat would have to simmer for 2-3 hours in the sauce in order to tenderize it. In the following recipe, the tenderloin tips are browned first in batches to insure a good crust on each piece of meat. When the sauce is totally finished and the side dishes are completed, table set, etc. the meat is added to the sauce just for a few minutes to re-warm and to cook to desired doneness.
When browning the ingredients, using a lower (medium) heat is intended to prevent the bottom of the pan from getting too brown or burning. If at any point the fond (that brown stuff on the bottom of the pan) is getting really brown, go ahead and use a little wine to deglaze the pan. Just pour in a little, use a wooden spoon to loosen all the brown bits. Pour this liquid in the casserole dish with the ‘done’ items – it will become part of the delicious sauce. If the fond gets really dark, smells burned or even just starts to burn, use water to deglaze the pan, and just dump this little bit of liquid into the sink. Clean the pan well and then add fresh oil, heat to smoking and begin again. You never want to cook meat in a pan that already has burned on the bottom, and you don’t want to make a sauce from a burned fond. You are building up layers of flavor, and the burned flavor will overpower all.
If you do choose to prepare with a different cut of meat which requires longer cooking, reserve the bacon, adding it just before serving (or leave it out).
Tenderloin Tips with Red Wine Sauce
6 slices bacon, cut into 1 in pieces
1 large onion, diced
8oz mushrooms, sliced
Canola or vegetable oil as needed
3 # Tenderloin Beef Tips, cut into like-sized pieces
Kosher Salt, pepper
1-2 cups of a nice quality fruity red wine, i.e. Merlot or Pinot Noir
2 ½ cups good quality well seasoned beef stock (2 cans Campbell’s Beef Consommé)
3 Tbsp Flour
4 Tbsp Water
In a heavy-bottomed large pan over medium heat, brown bacon pieces. When they are crispy and brown, remove to a glass casserole. Add onions to the bacon fat mixture and cook until golden brown. Add mushrooms, seasoning with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. When mushrooms are thoroughly cooked, remove to glass casserole dish with the bacon pieces. Turn heat up to medium high and add about a teaspoon of canola oil, or enough to lightly coat bottom of the pan. Season beef with salt and pepper, add first batch of beef pieces, only enough to barely cover bottom of pan. Each piece should have its own piece of pan ‘real estate’ to cook in. Allow to brown on first side for 1-3 minutes, or until nice and brown, then turn carefully with tongs. When beef is brown on all sides, remove to casserole dish. Repeat with remaining beef until it is all browned. At any point, if the fond in the pan is too brown, clean the pan as directed above.
Add remaining wine to the pan and cook over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to help deglaze the pan. Cook a few minutes until wine is reduced by half. Add beef stock. If using a canned product, I usually add a few small pieces of carrot and onion to the stock at this point to remove the canned flavor. Cook the sauce 15 minutes or so at a gentle simmer, tasting for flavor. If you want, remove carrot and onion pieces from sauce before serving. Meanwhile, prepare either egg noodles or mashed potatoes or rice to enjoy with your beef tips. Prepare a green vegetable. Have a glass of wine.
To thicken the sauce, prepare slurry from the flour, slowly adding the water and stirring until no lumps remain. Add more water until the slurry is the consistency of heavy cream – then add this mixture to the simmering sauce. Stir constantly until the slurry is mixed into the sauce. It will begin to thicken as soon as the sauce boils, but should be gently cooked for an additional five minutes or so to cook out the flour taste.
5 minutes before serving, add beef, mushrooms, meat juices, bacon and onion to the sauce mixture to re-warm and complete cooking. 5 minutes should be about right for medium doneness – test.
Serve over buttered noodles with a green vegetable for a gorgeous and flavorful company-worthy meal.
There will be more to come . . . we’ll talk soon!
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