Valentine’s Day Peppercorn Filet
Wine Suggestion: 337 Cabernet ($13), Mettler Cabernet ($23), or Coppola’s Rosso ($8). If you don’t drink wine, try some Hi-C or Tang. Or, if you have not achieved that level of humor in your relationship, go with water or something.
Steak: What you need
- 3 Tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked (see pictures below)
- ½ Tablespoon Kosher salt
- 4 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus 2 teaspoons
- 2 Center-Cut Filet Mignons, 2 inches thick, 7 to 8 ounces each Get these from someplace legit, like a butcher or high-quality market. Don’t run down to 7 Eleven and get the Buy 1 Get 1 Free package. You’re going to spend around $15-$25 on these steaks, but it’s worth it
Red Wine Reduction Sauce: What you need
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ Stick of Butter (unsalted)
- ¼ Tablespoon of Salt, ¼ Tablespoon of Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon minced Garlic
- ¼ Tablespoon of Parsley (chopped)
Blue Cheese Sauce: What you need
- 3 Egg yokes, whipped
- 2 teaspoons of diced shallots
- ¼ Cup of Blue Cheese
- ¼ teaspoon of Salt, ¼ Tablespoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Chives (minced)
- Suggestion: make potatoes the day before, and reheat in the oven 30 mins before steaks are done. Or, make potatoes after you add the pepper when steaks are sitting for 45mins to an hour. Timing is everything with cooking.
- To crack peppercorns, use pestle and mortar, or use bottom of heavy pan to crush the peppercorns. Don’t make them too fine – just give them a rough cracked texture.
- Heat 5 tablespoons of Olive Oil in small saucepan at Medium Low heat, and add cracked peppercorns, until simmering.
- Suggestion: Turn on your fan over the stove – I have triggered the smoke alarm in my house with this recipe several times, and nothing ruins a romantic evening like the smoke of burnt pepper filling your home while your spouse has to open all the windows and doors on a freezing cold night fanning the smoke out with a towel. You’ve been warned.
- Continue to cook at simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until pepper becomes fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When mixture is room temperature (10 minutes), add salt to mixture.Dip the steaks with oil/pepper/salt mixture, thoroughly coating top and bottom of each steak with the mixture.
- Wrap steaks with plastic wrap and press gently to make sure peppercorns stick to the steaks; let stand at room temperature for 45 mins.
- Suggestion: Set timer as helpful reminder.
- While you are waiting, adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. You want the baking sheet to be nice and hot when you add the steaks.
- Prepare sauce. This step is optional, or you can substitute your own steak sauce. I like a Red Wine Butter reduction Sauce, or a Blue Cheese Sauce with my steak.
- Red Wine Butter Sauce: Warm 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pot over Medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds (Do Not Burn!). Add ½ stick of butter and salt and pepper, and stir mixture thoroughly. While stirring, add ¼ cup of red wine slowly and then the ¼ tablespoon of chopped parsley, stirring until alcohol burns off and sauce marries, about 8 mins. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Blue Cheese Chive Sauce: You will need to understand how a double broiler works, and you will have to give all of your attention to it – this sauce is easily ruined because it involves eggs. And no one wants eggs with their filet on a romantic meal, unless you are in college. Put water in a good sized pot with 3-5 cups of water, and bring to a low boil. Then put a smaller pot that fits inside the first pot on top of the boiling water, making sure the water does not spill out onto the stove top, AND MAKE SURE YOU DON’T BURN ALL THE WATER OFF, or you will have a ruined pot. Add all ingredients, and constantly whisk until mixture begins to thicken, about 2 mins. Keep warm until you serve.
- When your waiting is up, melt ½ stick butter in the skillet. Then, heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until faint smoke appears, 2 – 3 minutes. (Again, make sure the fan is on). Put the steaks in skillet and cook until dark brown crust has formed, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not move the steaks – leave it in one place to form crust, until it needs to be flipped. Use tongs to turn steaks and cook until browned on second side, about 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and transfer steaks to hot baking sheet that has been in the oven. Roast 3 to 5 minutes for rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare to medium. Do not open oven or flip steaks during this time – I know it’s tempting, but try to resist. Transfer steaks to wire cooling rack and loosely cover with foil for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices in the steak to evenly distribute. Then serve, adding sauce on top, or on the side. Add potatoes or veggies on side.
Parmesan Basil Smashed Potatoes
I love, and I mean love, basil. I would eat it in anything. Well, almost anything. So whenever I’m cooking, I always look for a way to get basil in there somehow. I have always enjoyed making smashed potatoes, but I’ve never been truly happy with the flavor. In one of my experimental moods, I made the basic recipe, divided it up into small bowls, and started to experiment. A little basil and Parmesan later, and this recipe was born. I hope you enjoy!
What you need
- 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
- ¾ cups unsalted Butter
- 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened*
- ½ cups (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 20-25 fresh basil leaves
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. The smaller you cut the pieces, the faster they cook. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 30 to 35 minutes. While they’re cooking, set out the cream cheese to soften, grate the cheese and set aside in a bowl. Then wash and finely chop basil. When the potatoes are ready, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.
Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot to smash. Use a potato masher, a fork, a wooden spoon, or really anything you can find that will do the trick to smash these babies.
Add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, and about ½ cup of half-and-half, and smash together thoroughly. Add Parmesan cheese and basil to potatoes and mix together. Taste and groan. Then add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir well and place in a serving dish. Feel free to add more basil or Parmesan to the top after serving. In my humble opinion, you can never have too much cheese or basil.
Note: Another great part of these potatoes is that you can make them the day before and pop them in the fridge. Just take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time, and put a few little pats of butter on top, just for a little extra flavor. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.
Swim 1,000m for time.
Do this however you are most comfortable, free style, breast stroke, butterfly ( I am so impressed by anyone that can do the butterfly!), even backstroke. Just do it as fast as you can, but don’t been fooled. This will really get your heart going.
Keep an eye out for our next post, which may involve homemade Creamy Tomato Basil soup (without using cream).