Monday, November 28, 2011

Filet Mignon with Shitake Mushrooms and Cold Green Bean Salad

The Full Menu:
  • Cast-iron filet mignon
  • Sauteed shitake mushrooms with sweet onions (with a hint of ginger)
  • Cold green bean salad with cranberries, blue cheese, and sesame seeds
  • Light red wine sauce

I cooked this meal as a first time dinner date.  I knew my date loved steak, mushrooms, and green beans, so I thought I would try to work all three into the meal. I hadn't planned on the recipe until once I was at the grocery store.  The steak is easy - salt, pepper, and a good skillet is all that is needed.  Mushrooms and sweet onions go naturally together.  For the green beans, I'd only blanched green beans once, so I figured I give it a try.  From eating at restaurants, I knew blue cheese would naturally compliment the steak.

While it looks daunting, this meal is pretty easy to cook.  Its about 10 minutes of prep time (chopping and pre-heating the oven) and about 12-15 minutes of cook time. You'll be sauteing, baking, blanching, and reducing all in 20 minutes.  Good luck sir.
Stove top is ready.

Even though this was a first time dinner date, there was definitely some improvising.  I realized that while cooking the mushrooms, they were drying out (so I added a splash of sherry cooking wine).  Steak filets don't have a lot of fat, so I opted to make a quick red wine sauce (by feel and guessing).  I've listed the recipes below, but the moral here is that you can make real-time substitutions and color outside the lines. Use the recipes below as a guideline:

Cast-Iron Filet Mignon
Cook time: 14 minutes
  • 2 6-8 oz steak filets
  • Freshly chopped rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Preheat the cast-iron skillet to medium high
  1. Coat the filets with the freshly chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  2. Place steaks in skillet.  After 2 minutes, flip.  After 2 more minutes, flip and place in oven.
  3. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.

Sauteed Shitake Mushrooms with Sweet Vidalia Onions
Cook time: Can't remember, 8ish minutes?
  • 1 Package of shitake mushrooms (or other mushrooms
  • 1 Sweet onion (roughly chopped)
  • Small piece of ginger (cut ginger into four 1" chunks, noticeable enough to remove at the end)
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Sherry wine, soy sauce, OR white wine
  1. Skillet to medium-high with a few tablespoons of olive oil
  2. Saute the onions and ginger for about 2 minutes
  3. Add the mushrooms and a dash of salt
  4. Cook and stir occasionally.  
  5. The pan may start to dry out, I added a splash of sherry wine, to keep a little liquid in the pan
  6. Turn off when the mushroom are fully cooked.
  7. Remove ginger chunks.

Cold Green Bean Salad
Cook time: 6 minutes
  • Fresh Green Beans
  • A few ounces of blue cheese
  • Cranberries
  • Vinaigrette dressing

  1. Remove the ends of the green beans
  2. Boil a pot of water
  3. Prepare a separate bowl of ice water
  4. Place green beans in boiling water for 3 minutes
  5. After 3 minutes, transfer green beans to ice water bowl (stops the cooking and makes them crunchy)
  6. Strain green beans once the ice water bath has cooled them
  7. Arrange the remaining ingredients like a salad
  8. Drizzle a little bit of dressing

Red Wine Reduction
Cook time: 4-5 minutes
  • 2 Tbsp. of Butter
  • 1 Shallot
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of Sugar
  • 6 oz Red wine
  1. Saute butter and shallots in a small pot over medium
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. Pour in the red wine and turn up the heat to high to bring to boil
  4. Let the red wine reduce by about two-thirds or so
  5. Strain the liquid into a cup
  6. If the red wine is too bitter, slowly add a little bit of sugar 

Full Meal Checklist
  • 2 6-8 oz steak filet mignons
  • 1 package shitake mushrooms
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 shallot
  • Fresh green beans
  • Cranberries
  • 2-3 oz blue cheese
  • 1 bottle of red wine (to drink and cook)
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Cast-Iron skillet

You should already have these:
  • Butter, Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
  • Sherry cooking wine
  • Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil
  • Vinaigrette Dressing

Monday, November 21, 2011

The secret to fluffy pancakes?

(Disclaimer: More story and less recipe)

After a debaucherous day of Red Bull vodka slushies (yes they make them), baking in the sun at Nats stadium, and getting caught in a monsoon, my friends and I stumbled down to the Capitol Hill bar scene.  We knew Capitol Hill wouldn't judge (where else can you go emanating that potpourri "freshness" of sweat, alcohol, and America?)

More shots. More drinks. And we soon became friends two brothers and their female friend at the neighboring hightop table.  We exchanged incoherent banter and nonsense but quickly realized that the bar was surprisingly empty (though it was July 4th weekend and during the holidays, DC clears out faster than a Trader Joe's in yuppieville).  So the smartest thing to do? Hop in a cab and go do karaoke at Four Courts.

With Total Eclipse from the Heart being butchered by two coeds in the background, the brothers suddenly turned serious.

(For the record, I have no idea how this conversation started)

"Okay okay okay. You ready for this?"


"Are you ready for the secret to fluffy pancakes?"

(I have no idea what I was thinking at this point, either because that was 5 months ago or because I'm not really sure how you answer that question)

"Now this a family secret, don't tell anyone..."

(I think the statutes of drunk limitations have definitely passed at this point)

"The secret. To fluffy to use egg whites instead of eggs."

(A google search revealed there are a lot more people that know about their family secret)

And that was it.

Back to the coeds.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the details of exactly how to incorporate egg-white-fluffiness into the pancake mix. I vaguely remember it being as simple as separating the egg whites into a separate bowl, mixing them rapidly, and folding them back into pancake mix.  However, I can't remember if I could use standard Aunt Jemina mix or if I still need the egg yolks.  If anyone knows, please let me know.  I'll keep you posted if there's any fluffy pancakes for a fourth date breakfast.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Breakfast for Champions

Two women (at separate times) have already told me that they were won over by breakfast the next morning. Who knew that breakfast was such a powerful meal?

So from those two quick conversations, I've learned:
Chex & Almond milk...
probably not the breakfast for champions
(1) To create a tag for blog posts solely dedicated to breakfast.

(2) Always have breakfast ingredients at the ready. Whether its local eggs, english muffins, crisp bacon, cheese, fresh fruits and veggies, or fresh sourdough bread, (but not all at once, Christ, its not an eff-ing buffet), have something on hand.