Monday, September 27, 2010

FILET MIGNON w/ RED WINE SAUCE - a recession meal

a recession meal

OK – in what universe is a filet mignon dinner a recession meal? That’s not a trick question. Last week we had two – I repeat – two filet mignon dinners for two for about $10.00 a meal. How? By finding two large filets on sale at our local supermarket for 5 bucks a piece. Two steaks for two meals for two. 2x2x2.

Because I love steak and it was our anniversary ‘week’ – we didn’t freeze either filet. Instead, Richard promised to make me two steak dinners as an anniversary present.

He originally intended to make his own simple red wine sauce, but after a brief online search, he found one he liked better - from Giada De Laurentiis.

To ‘complement’ the meal, he picked up an amazingly delicious $45 bottle of a 2004 Chateau Petit Faure De Soutard St. Emilion for under $10.00 in a “discontinued” sale bin.

I loved the meal so much – he did a rerun the next night …

For two nights we ate like Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette. But no cake!

Filet Mignon with Red Wine Sauce
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis & The Food Network

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 35 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 servings (note: this is for 6 not for 2)


• 6 (4 to 6-ounce) filet mignons
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 1/2 cups dry red wine


Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper and drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add the garlic and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the wine. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Strain the sauce into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids in the strainer and return the sauce to the saucepan and bring back to a slow simmer. Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into small 1/2-inch chunks and whisk in the sauce a little at a time. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place filets on each of 6 dinner plates. Drizzle the sauce over the filets and serve.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Chicken Paillard w/ Fresh Tomato Salsa & Arugula

OK – I’ve told you about Suzanne’s ‘Monday’ chicken piccata and blogged about her ‘Tuesday’ chicken paillard w/ lemon-parsley butter and seared red chard… Delicious dishes Richard made from recipes found in “Suzanne Somers’ Eat Great, Lose Weight” cookbook.

Well, I’m here again w/ my one-woman campaign to return Suzanne Somers to her rightful place as a top tabloid celebrity by blogging about a third chicken dish Richard found in that cookbook and made on Wednesday: chicken paillard w/ fresh tomato salsa and arugula. Light, simple and oh so satisfying. And another dish I would proudly serve ‘company’ made even lovelier paired w/ a bottle of Ferrari-Carano fume blanc (for the non-oaky crowd) or Ferrari-Carano chardonnay (for the oaken bucketeers)… Check out my Ferrari-Carano blog for more details.

Or, how about a nice pinot noir such as the Smoking Loon 2008 (the wine we had), a lovely wine for a moderate price (under $10.00).

And, who knows - after the ‘media’ reads my blogs, we might see Suzanne on Entertainment Tonight cooking up a chicken dish for Thursday… or, perhaps, her chicken recipes will propel her to Food Network stardom. You can never tell what a one-woman campaign can wrought.

Whether she returns to her former super celeb-dom or not, the truth is these chicken dishes are really good and inexpensive – the latter being a very relevant factor in these economic times.

Chicken Paillard w/ Fresh Tomato Salsa & Arugula
Serves 4

Chicken Paillard:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Garnish: 1 bunch arugula (or your favorite green)


4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 bunch flat-leaf parley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice from ½ lemon
salt & freshly ground black pepper


For Salsa: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside to let the flavors combine. (Do not refrigerate or the tomatoes will get mealy.)

For the chicken: Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Place each breast flat on a chopping block and slice in half through the middle to make it half as thick (w/ your knife parallel to the chopping block).

Place each slice between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound w/ a mallet until he chicken is ¼ inch thick. Season each breast w/ salt, pepper and rosemary.

Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and as many of the chicken pieces as will fit in the pan w/o overlapping. Brown for 2-3 minutes on each side and set aside in an oven on warm. Repeat for remaining chicken.

Line 4 dinner plates w/ fresh arugula. Arrange 2 pieces of chicken on top of the arugula on each plate and garnish each plate w/ a large spoonful of salsa.

Brava Suzanne.

Saturday, September 18, 2010



… or Monday or Wednesday.

Last week Richard decided to dive into our bag of Costco frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I’m on an “on again-off again” NuAtkins “this is my diet forever” lifestyle and right now I’m “on again” – sort of. We’re also trying to budget our food money – sort of. So… it was low carb, cheap dinners last week.

Hidden away in our ‘eat lite diet’ cookbooks was Suzanne Somers’ “Eat Great, Lose Weight” –

a book I don’t think either one of us ever opened.  So... Richard opened it.  Now, I don’t claim to know whether her “Somersize” recipes will reprogram my metabolism, give me more energy or help me shed a few pounds as claimed (Suzanne doesn’t quite have the figure she had on the book cover some 15 years ago when it was first published – menopause is not a girl’s best friend – no pun intended) – but the dishes sounded good and we did have those gazillion Costco chicken breasts in the freezer.  So…

… Monday became chicken piccata night which was “light and lemony and yummy,” just like she promised. And it had capers. I love capers! And it was only pennies!  So…

… after such a promising start, I asked Richard to take pictures while he prepared Tuesday’s chicken dish: chicken paillard w/ lemon-parsley butter (lemons from our lemon tree, parsley from our herb pot garden – no expense there) w/ seared red chard. And, again, as Suzanne promised, it was “a simple, great meal… Fresh, delicious and satisfying.” It really was good. Could-make-it-for-company-good. So I thought I’d share.


Serves 2

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 shallots, finely diced
juice from 3 lemons
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 bunches red Swiss chard, coarsely chopped


Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry. Place each breast flat on a chopping block. With your knife parallel to the chopping block, slice the breast in half through the middle to make it half as thick.

Place each slice between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound w/ a mallet until ¼ inch thick.

Season each breast w/ salt and pepper.

Heat a skillet over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and as many of the chicken slices as will fit in the pan w/o overlapping. Brown for 2 minutes on each side, then set aside on a shallow baking pan in an oven on warm. Repeat w/ remaining chicken.

Place the chicken pan over medium heat and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallots, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce by half. Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and whisk into the pan until sauce is smooth.

Remove from the heat. Stir in additional salt, pepper, and the parsley. Keep warm.

Heat a wok or large skillet over very high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the chard, quickly cooking until just wilted, about 1 minute.

Season w/ salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken over the chard on a platter and top w/ the lemon butter sauce.

Wednesday – Chicken Paillard w/ Fresh Tomato Salsa and Arugula! Can’t wait.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BREAKFAST FOR DINNER - Shrimp & Basil Frittata


Shrimp & Basil Frittata

I grew up in the age of ‘Mad Men.’ But Mom was more Harriet Nelson than Betty Draper. She loved being a mother to my brother and me. She actually liked baking cookies. I helped. She even made us ‘mother and daughter’ aprons (of course, she sewed!) And Dad was no Don Draper. Yeh, he wore a suit and tie and hat to work and came home every night and had a cocktail or a cold beer before dinner. But, he loved his wife and knew how to have fun w/ his children… organizing hide & seek w/ the neighbors’ kids on a summer’s night, teaching us how to play baseball or just throwing us into a pile of autumn leaves which always started a ‘leaf fight’ which would result in his raking the leaves in the yard all over again. And, like most men of the era, he wasn’t a cook except for the male ritual of barbequing meat on the weekends, weather permitting… or the fried hot dog and beans on Saturday nights in front of the TV (we were only allowed, and only occasionally, to eat dinner in front of the TV) when he would let Mom ‘take the night off and relax’…though I think she still did the dishes.

But I like to think that Dad would have embraced cooking if he had been raised in a later era because, when the mood hit him, he moved from those traditional male cooking ‘roles’ and made breakfast for dinner. On Sunday nights. Why? Because after our usual ‘Sunday after church’ meal of a roast and potatoes and veggies and rolls and desserts – whew - Sunday dinner had to be a light supper… So, with a flourish (he had studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, after all), my father would get out the waffle iron or frying pans and whip up pancake/waffle batter or break those eggs and slice that bacon. And oh, how those morning cooking smells wafting thru the house after dark made me giddy… as if we were all breaking some unwritten law. It was fun and thrilling and I’ll always remember how cool I thought my Dad was for bending the ‘dinner rules.’

I still love breakfasts for dinner. I don’t do it often, but it’s still a ‘thrill’ … like I’m getting away w/ something I shouldn’t and this past weekend Richard stepped into my father’s shoes and made breakfast for dinner. Enjoy! I did.

A Russ Parsons Recipe from the Los Angeles Times

Servings: 6 as appetizer, 4 as main course


2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (both green and white parts), about 4 onions
1/2 pound peeled small shrimp (70 to 100 per pound)
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 to 10 leaves of basil, torn into small pieces

1. Heat the broiler. Melt the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Add the green onions and cook until they've softened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they are firm, about 5 minutes.

2. While the onions and shrimp are cooking, beat the eggs, salt and basil with a fork in a mixing bowl just until the yolks and the white are thoroughly mixed, but don't overbeat, which can make the frittata dry.

3. Add the egg mixture to the pan with the onions and shrimp and stir well to combine.

Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook, without stirring, until the eggs have set, leaving only a top layer uncooked, about 10 minutes.

 Place under the broiler until the top is browned and puffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. To unmold the frittata, let it cool slightly in the pan. Use a spatula to loosen it along the sides, and then bang it firmly on a cutting board to release the underside. Slide it out onto a serving plate. Serve either hot or at room temperature. If you're going to refrigerate the frittata, let it warm to room temperature before serving.

Each of 6 servings: 148 calories; 14 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 9 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 279 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 225 mg. sodium.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


(this ain’t Campbell’s)

By popular demand (well, a request from one of our dinner guests last night) here again is the recipe for Melissa Clark’s creamy, garlicky (or not garlicky – still delicious) tomato gazpacho and those oh, so tasty crunchy percorinos.

Melissa Clark’s
Creamy, Garlicky Tomato Gazpacho w/ Crunchy Pecorino
a/k/a parmesan crisps


6 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound) cored & roughly chopped
1-1/2 cups (12 oz) plain sheep’s-milk or regular yogurt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for serving
12 basil leaves, roughly chopped, more for serving
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 scallions (white & light green parts), roughly chopped
2 Ice cubes
1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, more to taste
A pinch cayenne pepper
Ground black pepper to taste


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese into a thin layer in skillet; let melt and brown on bottom, about 30 seconds to one minute. Use a spatula to flip cheese; let cook until evenly browned on both sides, about a minute more. Transfer fried cheese to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat w/ remaining cheese, working 2 tablespoons at a time. Break fried cheese into large pieces.


Use a silpat atop a baking sheet, they come out perfectly if you do.
Otherwise, a baking sheet with wax paper on top, but sometimes there are sticking issues.

Place thin circles of grated parmesan on the silpat or wax paper. About a two inch circle each for however many you wish to make.

Bake at 350 for ten minutes.

Take out, let cool, handle gently


To make soup, place tomatoes, yogurt, olive oil, basil, garlic, scallions, ice cubes, salt, vinegar, cayenne and black pepper in a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste and add more salt & vinegar, if necessary. Pour into small bowls and garnish w/ pieces of fried cheese and chopped basil. Drizzle soup liberally w/ olive oil.

If you can’t eat or don’t like garlic – this soup is just as delicious w/o it.

Monday, September 6, 2010



One of the most amazing meals of my life was made by Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in Yountville, a town in the Napa Valley, so when I heard that he was opening a Bouchon (another of his restaurants) in Beverly Hills, I did a happy dance in a pas de deux w/ my tongue.

Now, Chef Keller is a very busy man – what w/ The French Laundry, the Bouchons and Per Se in Manhattan and can’t be cooking in all his restaurants at all times… But one of the qualities of an excellent chef is the talent to recognize other great chefs, so he brought in Rory Hermann, formerly the Private Dining Chef at Per Se, to be the executive chef at Bouchon Beverly Hills.

One of the great things about getting older (well, there has to be one ‘great’ thing at least, right?) is that birthdays are often extended celebrations – sometimes for weeks. This year was no different when my dear friend Cindra took me for a belated b’day lunch at Bouchon.

I arrived a few minutes early, allowing me to absorb the bistro’s décor. Maroon velvet banquettes w/ nail head borders… tables covered w/ crisp white linen… a French ‘mosaic’ (sort of Aztec-y in design) tile floor… huge mottled mirrors w/ dark wooden frames behind the banquettes… a coffered ceiling w/ sky blue borders and a large rectangle chandelier… Burgundy ceramic pots stuffed w/ tall red gladiolas surrounded the room against buttery ‘sponged’ walls… There was a marble-top dark wood island station… brass sconces w/ globe shades… dark ‘bamboo’ café chairs w/ butterscotch leather seats and French themed whimsical murals near the ceiling’s trompe l’oeil border… and that’s just the restaurant’s main dining room… there’s also the bar and outdoor balcony seating decorated to ‘match.’ I loved it all!

Cindra arrived, and as we sipped our celebratory bloody Marys, we read the luncheon menu and the specials written on a blackboard above one of the banquettes…

… a leek & Roquefort cheese quiche sounded good or maybe the truite aux amandes (pan-roasted trout w/ haricots verts, almonds & beurre noisette)… ah, but there were moules au safran (Maine bouchot mussels steamed in white wine, mustard & saffron served w/ French fries – I love mussels!). Wait a minute - what about the saumon poele (pan-seared Scottish salmon salad w/ summer vegetables & mixed greens) or the terrine de foie gras de canard served w/ toasted baguette… or how about the Croque Madame, a grilled ham & cheese sandwich on brioche w/ a fried egg, mornay sauce & French fries (grilled cheese for grown-ups – I love grilled cheese)… the choices continued. What to order? What to order?

Then I saw it! Right there on the menu!!! Le Burger Bouchon (grilled prime beef burger on a homemade brioche bun w/ bibb lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, homemade butter pickles & French fries). If you’ve been reading my blog you know what I ordered. But a burger at Bouchon seemed almost sacrilegious! I mean, this was Bouchon! French! A Thomas Keller ‘child.’ But ever questing for superb burgers, I had to taste what Rory Hermann would do w/ one. Cindra, a fellow burger lover, joined me and we almost apologized when we ordered them. Were we ‘ugly food Americans’???

I told our waiter about my hunt around the country for each ‘town’s’ perfect burger and, I have to admit, biting into this wonderfully juicy patty topped w/ melted aged cheddar cheese was another reason for my tongue to do a happy dance except my mouth was too full. All the ‘healthy’ stuff I requested on ‘the side.’ I like my burger unadorned w/ garden ‘stuff’ – or anything really – it’s about tasting the meat and cheese, and this bare Bouchon burger was ‘best in show.’ The meat was delicious and cooked to my perfection (and the way the French like their beef)… rare – but not raw.

Hearing about my burger quest from our waiter, Chef Hermann joined us to find out my reaction. He’s a warm, very friendly man and when I told him how much I loved his burger meat, he explained that it’s his own blend of chuck, sirloin and brisket. Brisket! Who would have thought? We talked burgers and ground beef blends and about a few rival chefs. He’s a big fan of Nancy Silverton (and her restaurants) and is looking forward to her new burger joint opening in The Farmers’ Market.

It was time for my b’day dessert – 3 mini chocolate brownies shaped like wine corks w/ a crème anglaise and topped w/ ice cream. 2 die 4!

Thank you, Cindra.

I can’t wait to go back to Bouchon and try all those other dishes on the menu… I mean, you can’t have a burger every time. Or can you?!

235 No. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills CA 90210