May 26, 2012

Roast Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragout

This Food Network inspired recipe was just about the most delicious steak I've ever made. Ragout is a derivative of the French verb "ragouter," meaning "to stimulate the appetite," and is typically a thick, rich, well-seasoned stew of meat, poultry or fish and sometimes vegetables. In this case, it was done with mushrooms and was amazing. Of the major cuts of beef, the short loin is the most tender. "Tenderloin" comes from the short loin and can be sold as tenderloin roasts or cut into filet mignon steaks. The recipe below yields about 8 servings. Enjoy!

1. You can find high quality beef tenderloin at the more specialty grocery stores. It's a little on the expensive side but much less than you'd pay for filet mignon at a nice restaurant.
2. Be careful not to leave the ragout on the heat too long or it will become too thick.
3. Though the recipe calls for a variety of mushrooms, if those are too difficult to find or are too pricey, you can just go with the white button mushrooms and the taste is still excellent.

Beef Tenderloin
2 ½ pounds center-cut beef tenderloin roast, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs butter

Mushroom Ragout
1 lb mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini, or white button
2-3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1/2 cup Marsala
1/3 cup heavy cream

Beef Tenderloin
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Season the beef all over with salt and a generous amount of pepper.

4. Add the oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the butter and swirl to melt.

5. Add the beef and sear until mahogany brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total.

6. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 degrees F. for medium-rare, about 25 minutes.
7. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, tent it very loosely with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
8. Serve with the mushroom ragout.

Mushroom Ragout
1. Clean and quarter all the mushrooms and put in a bowl.
2. Heat 2 Tbs of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the mushrooms and spread them out evenly in the pan.

3. increase the heat to high. Let the mushrooms cook undisturbed until they brown, then shake the pan to turn them over.
4. Add the additional butter along the sides of the pan as the mushrooms cook if the pan seems very dry.
5. Continue to cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.

7. Season the mushrooms with the salt and pepper and add the thyme.
8. Pull the pan off the heat and add the Marsala.

9. Return pan to the heat and scrape up any of the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
10. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil.

11. Remove from the heat and serve.

May 19, 2012

Baked Herb and Parmesan Fries with Lemon Garlic Aoli

These fries are delicious. The combination of the herbs, Parmesan and the lemon garlic aoli will keep you eating these until your plate is empty, and even then you may have to sneak a few from your friends. Very easy to make, they're even somewhat healthy given that these are baked, not fried. The recipe below yields 4-5 servings, depending on whether or not these are the core dish or a side. Enjoy!

8 large potatoes
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
8 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups mayonaisse
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs freshly grated Parmesan
4 Tbs lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
2. Cut the potatoes in half, lengthwise, then repeat.

3. Cut lengthwise into quarter inch thick pieces.

4. Place fries in a large mixing bowl.

5. Add garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil.

6. Mix until fries are fully coated.
7. Place fries on a bakeware liner lined sheet pan, ensuring that each fry lies flat.

8. Bake approximately 20 minutes then using a spatula, flip each fry.
9. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes.
10. Place in serving dish and sprinkle parmesan on top of the fries.

1. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl

2. Transfer to small individual size bowls for dipping

May 15, 2012

Havarti Stuffed Pesto Burgers

This is one of my favorite burgers of all time, probably because I love fresh pesto, combining the tastes of basil and roasted pine nuts, and I also love Havarti. The best thing about this burger is that the cheese cooks on the inside of the burger, making for a very soft and gooey center. This is not the kind of burger you would need to add ketchup or mustard to, though we do like to add tomato, lettuce and sometimes avocado. The recipe below yields 8 very large burgers. Enjoy!

4 lbs ground beef
2 10oz jars of basil pesto
2 eggs
8 large slices Havarti cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
Lettuce, Tomatoes, Avocado, etc. (optional)

1. Mix 10 oz pesto into ground beef until well incorporated

2. Mix in eggs

3. Add salt and pepper
4. Divide beef into 16 equal patties
5. On top of 8 of the patties, add 1 heaping Tbs of pesto

6. Add one slice of Havarti, folded, on top of pesto

7. Add additional patty on top, then seal closed by pressing sides together

8. Combine mayo and remaining pesto

9. Grill on low heat
10. Garnish with Pesto mayo and other ingredients

May 14, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles

This delicious side dish was created by a local friend, Julie Ahrens. The green beans were tender and the combination of the crispy bacon, sweet brown sugar and the touch of soy make this one a keeper. The recipe below yields 10-12 servings. Enjoy!

1. Have your ice bath ready to go. If you wait until the green beans are done blanching, you may end up over boiling them while you scramble to get it ready.
2. These bundles make a great vegetable for a main course or could be used as a formal appetizer.

1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
8 bacon strips, cut in half and cooked but not crisp
6 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp soy sauce

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
2. Heat a large post of salted water to a rolling boil.
3. Place green beans in pot and cook for 3-5 minutes.

4. Remove the beans from the pot with a strainer and place them in ice water. Drain.

5. Place about 8-10 beans on each bacon strip.
6. Wrap bacon around beans and secure with a toothpick.
7. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

8. In a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, garlic salt and soy sauce.

9. Brush generously over bundles.

10. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp and beans reach desired tenderness.

May 5, 2012

Torched Pears with Mascarpone and Prosciutto

I had this amazing appetizer at Lugano in Salt Lake City and loved the flavor profiles so much I knew I would have to try it out. So simple to make, the combination of sweet pear, crunchy brulee topping, creamy mascarpone, salty prosciutto, tangy balsamic reduction and bitter arugula makes this so craveable! The presentation is nice too - very elegant. The recipe below yields 12 servings of half a pear each, though I've found it's always good to make extra in case someone wants another helping, even if that someone is me. Enjoy!

1. When choosing your pears, make sure they're a nice shade of yellow, indicating just the right firmness. You don't want them too hard as they'll be too difficult to eat.
2. To reduce the balsamic vinegar, simply place it in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the volume has reduced by about half. This occurs through evaporation and thickens the liquid while also intensifying and sweetening the flavor.
3. Avoid the temptation to place the pears under a broiler during step 4. Though you might brulee the top of the pears, the heat in the oven may reduce the moisture in the rest of the pear, depending on how long they're in the oven.

6 Bartlett Pears, ripe
12 Tbs Sugar
8 oz Mascarpone
12 thin slices Prosciutto
12 basil leaves
Arugula, small pieces for garnish
4 oz Balsamic Vinegar, reduced by about 1/2

1. Cut top off pears, then cut in half
2. Using a melon ball scooper, scoop out the seeds leaving a small hole

3. Pat dry with towel
4. Spread 1 Tbs sugar on each half, then brulee using a butane torch

5. When cool, add just under ¾ oz of mascarpone cheese into the center of each pear half

6. Add one slice of prosciutto onto the mascarpone

7. Drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar on the top of the proscuitto
8. Crown the pear with a basil leaf
9. Place arugala on the plate around the pear
10. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top of the arugula