Thursday, May 28, 2009

Filet Mignon for the 40th!

My husband Gary turned 40 this month, a big event in anyone’s books and for me time to get cooking planning a meal that would blow the socks off the man I love and leave a food memory for years to come. My plan was to have a huge birthday bash with scores of friends but alas, being the introvert that he is, the ‘do’ of his dreams was an intimate dinner party hosted in our home with special guests that have meant something to him over the past years. Close friends flew in from Colorado and Dallas for the occasion and we gathered in abandon to let the celebrations begin.

I allowed just a couple of my ‘foodie’ friends to bring appetizers including my ‘China-Latina’ friend Deborah who made her famous Chinese Spring Rolls and Chef Ford Fry who made his own soft tacos, Shredded Pork with Guava Sauce topped with Cilantro and finely shredded cabbage along with killer White Sangria. And to top off the appetizer frenzy I baked a couple of my husband’s favorite brie-en-croute dishes with brown sugar, brandy and pecans….and that was just for starters!

When it came to the entrée of choice for the evening I decided on marinated, pan seared and roasted whole beef tenderloin, and actually, I prepared two of them. We then served the beef on top of some grilled asparagus spears with Potato-au-Gratin on the side. It turned out to be wonderfully elegant…

When shopping for beef I always remember my fathers advice, a beef farmer, who advised me to look for marbling in my meat, those thin streaks of fat that give incredible flavor. And so I found just the plump specimen, and was inspired to create a delicious sauce with choice wine and peppercorn. Most chefs use shallots in this sauce but I love the sweet mild flavor of the Vidalia contrasted with the peppercorns. I think it turned out great, and now you can have a go….

Happy birthday G !

Pan Seared Filet Mignon with a Cabernet Peppercorn Sauce
(serves 6)

6 beef filet mignon
3 whole black peppercorns (crushed)
1 ½ tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
½ cup sweet onion (very finely chopped)
2 Tbsp Flour
¼ cup cabernet red Wine
¾ cup of Beef Stock
2 Tbsp pink peppercorns in brine (drained)
4 Tbsp whipping cream


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Season steaks with crushed peppercorns and kosher sea salt. Sear fillets in butter and oil in a medium/high pan for 2 minutes for rare, 3 minutes medium rare and 4 minutes for well done on both sides. Transfer to an ovenproof dish.

Place steaks in oven.

Meanwhile sauté the finely chopped onions in the pan juice with the pink peppercorns. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add red wine and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the beef stock stirring with a wooden spoon.

Remove steaks from oven to rest.

Pour any juices from the steaks in to the sauce and reduce slightly. Add whipping cream and taste to adjust seasoning.

Strain sauce and serve straight away drizzled over steak.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Baked Fish and Potato Pie

Last week a friend flew in from the UK to see us, Ged Maloney, the sales manager for Punjana Tea ( ‘Ulster Kitchen’ favorite!) However, on the way from England Ged had lost his luggage and was a bit stressed out, so, right then I knew there was a need for some old fashioned Irish comfort food to ease away those traveling blues…

The first thing that came to mind was my grandmother’s ‘Fish and Potato Pie’ with a garden salad and crusty bread, and so here it is in all it’s glory. We love this food, and it’s very much an Irish favorite. If you stay in Ireland for any length of time someone is bound to serve you some version of this tasty dish….. (Pies are also great for company because they can be prepared an hour our two ahead of time and quickly baked 30 minutes before serving with all the pots and pans washed up to give you time to enjoy your guests)

As for what fish I used?….smoked haddock or cod, which would be authentically Irish were not available at short notice, so I improvised with the popular Southern white fish Tilapia instead, and I must say and we were very happy with the texture and flavor.

As always, cook what is fresh and local and take the freedom to substitute the fish catch that is most fresh and native to where you live. Hope you are able to take this recipe and cook for the next weary traveler that crosses your path!


Judith, the Irish Foodie

Three Fish Melody Potato Pie


½ Lb haddock (skinless and boneless)
½ Lb Salmon (skinless and boneless)
½ Lb Shrimp (de veined)
1 ¼ pint milk
1 bay leaf
4-5 peppercorns
3 Tbsp butter
1 shallot (chopped)
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp parsley (chopped)
Sea salt and pepper
2 Tbsp Sharp Irish Cheddar Cheese


3 ½ Lbs potatoes (peeled and cut in quarters)
2 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
¼ cup sharp Irish Cheddar Cheese


Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a roaring boil. Reduce temperature and allow potatoes to simmer for 15 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Place haddock and salmon in a large wide brimmed saucepan and pour over milk. Add bay leaf and peppercorn. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce to simmering cooking for 12-14 minutes or until fish is flaky and cooked through.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove fish and place in a shallow dish. Strain and discard peppercorn and bay leaf reserving liquid.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in large sauté pan and cook shrimp for 1-2 minutes. Transfer shrimp over fish.

Add 2 Tbsp butter to pan and sautee shallot for 2 minutes to soften, add flour and cook for 1 minute to make a roux. Add reserved liquid, lemon juice, parsley, salt and Irish cheese.

Pour sauce over fish and shrimp.

Cream potatoes, milk, butter and salt and pepper using potato masher. Spoon over fish and flatten with a knife. Sprinkle over cheese.9. Bake for 35
minutes. Broil for a minute