Archive for December 13th, 2007

This past weekend my niece Laura (John’s sister’s daughter) came down from London to do some shopping with me. I tested a dinner menu that we will be serving on the 19th. This is quite possibly the BEST beef I have EVER had. The small 750g beef was $33.00!!!! But really worth it.

Photo and recipe from Epicurious.

Beef tenderloin in a port wine sauce


1 4- to 5-pound trimmed whole beef tenderloin, tail end tucked under, tied every 3 inches
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 cup ruby or tawny Port (or a really good heavy red wine)
Beef Stock

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely cracked in mortar with pestle or in resealable plastic bag with mallet

For beef:
Sprinkle entire surface of beef tenderloin with coarse kosher salt. Place beef on rack set over large rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered at least 24 hours and up to 36 hours.

For sauce:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots; sauté until soft, 3 minutes. Add Cognac, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon cracked pepper and cook until liquid evaporates, 1 minute. Add Port; bring to simmer. Add all of beef stock. Boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Strain into medium saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids in strainer. DO AHEAD: Can be made 24 to 36 hours ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and chill.

For roasting:
Let beef stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Rub beef all over with oil; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Return beef to rack on baking sheet and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 125°F for medium-rare (135°F to 140°F in thinnest part), about 30 minutes. Remove roast from oven and let rest 15 minutes.

Bring sauce to boil; whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut off string from roast. Cut roast crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with sauce.

TEST-KITCHEN TIP: Salting in advance, also called dry brining, is often done to improve the texture of sinewy cuts of meat. But it also works magic on tender cuts, amping up flavor and juiciness. It sounds counterintuitive; for years the accepted wisdom was that pre-salting dries out meat. But the moderate salting you’ll be doing here does the opposite. Water is first drawn out of the meat and then gets reabsorbed; this saltier, more flavorful moisture helps intensify taste. What’s more, the exterior of the tenderloin dries out slightly, making it quicker to brown in the oven.

Green Beans with Caramalized Shallots (From Epicurious)
2 pounds haricots verts or slender green beans, trimmed
1 pound medium shallots
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Cook haricots verts in boiling salted water until tender, about 4 minutes (or 6 minutes if using green beans). Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in several layers of paper towels. Seal in plastic bag and chill.
  2. Cut off and discard ends from shallots. Cut shallots lengthwise in half, then remove peel with paring knife. Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until shallots are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature.
  3. Add haricots verts to shallots in skillet and stir over medium-high heat until heated through, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatos (this is my recipe)
2-3lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 large head garlic
Olive oil, sea salt

  1. Make a pouch out of parchment paper, put garlic in centre (no need to trim or cut) drizzle generously with olive oil and sea salt, and cover completely with parchment and then with foil. Roast in a hot oven 375F for 45 minutes or until garlic is really soft. Let cool slightly.
  2. Remove cloves into a blender – they should just fall out (emersion blender also works). Add olive oil that was used to roast. Add cream or milk or make a nice thick cream. Set aside.
  3. Boil potatoes until soft.
  4. Put potatoes through a potato ricer (this is important to get rid of the chunks).
  5. Whip with an electric mixer beater and add the garlic purée. Add milk or cream to achieve desired consistency.
  6. Keep whipped potatoes warm over a bain marie (a double boiler with simmering water or make one up yourself using a pyrex bowl over simmering water). This is the only way the potatoes will not dry out.

Read Full Post »

Again with the mint…LOVE IT! This seems weird, and it is, but I have to tell you, it’s fantastic. Both JT and I were skeptical – really a lovely crunch and minty taste. Go for it, not expensive and easy!!!!

PeppermintBark (click to print)

Original recipe from Martha Stewart

Makes 36 pieces.


  • 1 (7.5-ounce) package hard peppermint candies, unwrapped
  • 1 pound white chocolate, chopped (do not use chips)
  • 2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • Nonstick cooking spray


  1. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; line with waxed paper. Place candies in a doubled resealable plastic bag; seal, and wrap in a kitchen towel. Using a rolling pin or skillet, crush candies into tiny pieces. Sift to separate crushed candy from fine powder, reserving fine powder for another use; set crushed candy aside.
  2. Place white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in rice cereal.
  3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet; using a spatula, spread evenly to a 1/4-inch thickness.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed candy; with a piece of waxed paper covering entire surface, press in gently. Chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes (no longer, as candy will begin to soften).
  5. Peel waxed paper off. Break bark into 2-inch pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: