Company dinner

We had friends over for dinner last night.  We had been meaning to get together and finally got it on the books as a result of a Words with Friends word.  I scored the word Coquilles and got a ton of points.  Martha responded that she hadn’t had Coquilles St. Jacques for ages.  That cinched it – we scheduled dinner and I made Coquilles St. Jacques as the first course.  For the entree – slow roasted beef tenderloin with oven roasted asparagus.  For dessert, strawberries with balsamic vinegar.  If it sounds weird, go ahead and try it anyway – they were out of this world!  Here are the recipes:

Coquilles St. Jacques (serves 4 as appetizer)

  • 3 TB butter
  • olive oil
  • 1TB flour
  • 1/3 cup of seafood stock
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 – 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 TB minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 6 scallops, rinsed, dried and cut in quarters

Preheat oven to 400.

Melt 1 TB butter over medium heat and whisk in flour, stirring constantly.  Slowly add seafood stock, whisking as you go.  Then add half and half and curry powder.  Stir over low heat.  Cream sauce should be thick but if it gets too thick, add more liquid (either seafood stock or half and half.)

(You can either do the next step concurrently with the first step if you are pressed for time like I was or do them separately.)  Melt remaining TB of butter and about 1 TB olive oil in another pan.  Saute shallots over medium heat until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook  for about 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add Cognac and increase heat so the alcohol cooks off.  Reduce heat and combine with cream sauce.  Add scallops to mixture, stir well to combine and divide among gratin dishes.

Mix panko, parsley and cheese in a small bowl and pour in about 1 TB of olive oil.  Sprinkle mixture evenly on top of gratins and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly.  Serve hot.

Beef Tenderloin 

We always used to cook tenderloin at high heat until we discovered this slow-roasted technique.  Meat is moist and tender.

  • 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • coarsely ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 275.  Brush filet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check temperature – when a thermometer registers 125, your meat is rare.  If you want medium rare, cook to 135.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for about 20 minutes and then carve and serve with sauce of your choice.  Our friends wanted to know how the beef had been cooked – it is so consistently rare throughout, they thought we had cooked it sous vide.

Mustard Horseradish sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 TB whole-grain mustard
  • 1 TB horseradish
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Whisk together to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Asparagus

  • Asparagus (tough ends broken off)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese

While salmon rests, turn oven up to 450.  Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Balsamic strawberries

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 5 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • sprinkle fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Let sit in a glass bowl covered.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Family party

Today is my mom’s birthday so we’re having a little family party.  I figured everyone had probably had enough turkey so we’re having beef tenderloin.  As sides, roasted asparagus and truffle mashed potatoes.  Here is what we’re having:

Beef Tenderloin 

We always used to cook tenderloin at high heat until we discovered this slow-roasted technique.  Meat is moist and tender.

  • 1 beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • coarsely ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 275.  Brush filet with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Check temperature – when a thermometer registers 125, your meat is rare.  If you want medium rare, cook to 135.  Remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for about 20 minutes and then carve and serve with sauce of your choice.  Tonight’s pick:

Mustard Horseradish sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 TB whole-grain mustard
  • 1 TB horseradish
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Whisk together to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Roasted Asparagus

  • Asparagus (tough ends broken off)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.  Spread asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 5 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Nice and crisp.

Truffled mashed potatoes

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 oz white truffle butter
  • grated Parmesan cheese

Put potato chunks in a saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 – 25 minutes until tender.  Drain and return to saucepan.

Heat half and half and butter over low heat until butter melts.  Add truffle butter to mixture off heat.

Beat potatoes in the pot with a hand mixer and then slowly beat in hot truffle cream.  Season with Parmesan cheese and pepper.  Serve hot.

Gingerbread

Instead of a cake, I made homemade gingerbread for dessert.  My mom loves gingerbread and it isn’t quite as decadent as some other options we considered (the mocha mousse cake).  Here is the recipe:

  • 9 TB butter
  • 1 can Lyle’s Golden Suryp
  • 2 cups plus 2 TB flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 baking soda
  • generous TB ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter 2 9 inch round tins and line with parchment paper.  Melt butter and Lyle’s syrup together.  Remove from heat.  Sift flour and spices together into a mixing bowl.  Pour syrup butter mixture onto dry ingredients and mix well.  Add egg and milk and beat thoroughly, being sure to scrape down sides of bowl.  Divide batter between two pans and bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  You can sprinkle it with powdered sugar if you like but it’s awfully good plain.

While I was out…

Just because I had book club did not mean that my husband would starve.  I fixed my quick tilapia and oven roasted asparagus for him while I was whipping up my appetizers.  This is one of those great quick weeknight dinners and tilapia is an inexpensive fish!

Tilapia with butter caper sauce

  • 1 tilapia fillet per person
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 tsp capers

Combine flour and paprika.  Dredge tilapia in flour mixture.  In a heavy pan melt olive oil with 1 tsp butter.  Cook fish about 4 minutes a side.  Meanwhile, melt remaining butter with capers.  When fish is done, pour melted butter caper mixture over fish.

I served it with asparagus that I tossed with olive oil and roasted at 400 for about 6 – 7 minutes.  I added a little bit of Parmesan cheese.

Rosemary chicken and ??

I made the rosemary chicken but had leftover asparagus in the fridge so cooked that instead of the planned zucchini.  This is a great and easy weeknight dinner – if you want you can put the chicken in the baking dish with ingredients in the morning and refrigerate – then all you have to do is pop it in the oven.  Feel free to use any herbs that you like, if you prefer something other than rosemary.  If you want leftovers for a sandwich, cook some extra chicken breasts.

Rosemary Chicken

  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast per person
  • 1 TB Lemon Juice
  • 1 TB White Wine
  • 1 TB Olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried Thyme

Put chicken breasts in a ceramic or glass baking dish.  Top with herbs and pour liquids over top.  Either marinate or put directly into 350 oven for 35 – 40 minutes.  Serve with stir-fried zucchini or oven roasted asparagus.

Zucchini

  • 2 – 3 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • herbs of your choice – basil, marjoram, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, etc.

Heat saute pan over medium heat.  Heat oil and add zucchini.  Sprinkle with herbs and saute, stirring regularly until zucchini is soft.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

  • 1/2 lb Asparagus
  • 1 tsp Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese

Wash asparagus and break off tough ends.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 450 approximately 5 minutes or until tender (a little less if asparagus is very thin, a little more if very thick).  Sprinkle with small amount of parmesan cheese and serve.