Monday, December 18, 2006

party of two

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking
if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.

Alright, so I don't usually do this. I mean, eat red meat. But special occasions (like my birthday) call for special meals. And sometimes, I think, there couldn't be anything better. Last Friday, the opportunity presented itself and we forged ahead with these epic but easy-to-prepare selections. These are all very heavy dishes, so keep portions small and enjoy...

Reservation for You and Me, Party of 2...

Blue Cheese Salad
Filet Mignon Medallions
Baby 'Bella Mushrooms in olive oil & Merlot
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary
Creamed Spinach

Wine: 2002 Ravenswood Merlot

You'll have good luck with this meal if you start the potatoes first.
For the Roasted Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary, you'll need:
2 medium-sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic, either pressed or finely chopped
2 T. rosemary, fresh or dried
3 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Dice potatoes, place in roasting pan.
2. Chop the garlic, mix with potatoes.
3. Add the olive oil, toss with potatoes and garlic.
4. Sprinkle rosemary on top.
5. Bake, uncovered at an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Stir every 15, 20 minutes.
6. When they're done, salt to taste.

While the potatoes are baking, you can easily assemble the creamed spinach and blue cheese salad.

Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cook time: As long as it takes for the steaks to cook.
For the creamed spinach, you'll need:
2 small ramekins (important!)
1 large leek
2 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
1 package frozen, chopped spinach (thawed, drained).
2-3 oz. cream cheese, softened.
2 tbs. flour
3/4 C. milk or cream
1/2 C. fresh grated parmesan

1. Finely chop the white end of the leek/discard the rest.
2. Finely chop the garlic, and mix with the leek.
3. Add olive oil to garlic/leek mixture, sautee on low for 3-4 minutes, until leek becomes transparent.
4. While the leek/garlic sautees, whisk together flour and milk in a small saucepan.
5. Add thawed, drained spinach to leek and garlic, sautee for 2-3 minutes on L/M heat.
6. Whisk in 2-3 ounces of softened cream cheese to milk mixture.
7. Mix spinach & Cream sauce together, stir until blended.
8. Add 1/2 C. parmesan, stir until blended.
9. Spoon creamed spinach mixture in two small ramekins (you'll have leftovers, but more ideas on creative uses for that to follow). This is a heavy dish so the ramekins will aid in portion control for maximum enjoyment/minimal pain.
10. Set aside...and...

Stir your potatoes! Then...

Start on the Blue Cheese Salad:
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Cook time: 0 minutes.

You'll need:
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
Blue Cheese Dressing
Blue Cheese, crumbled for garnish

Easy: Chop the salad and the tomatoes. Sprinkle on crumbled blue cheese. Serve dressing in a dish with a spoon. One-two-three-yum!

When you finish your salad, you can take your potatoes out of the oven, set them on the stove, uncovered (if you have a heat lamp in your kitchen, this is a great time to use it, if not, then just stick them in the oven for 2-3 minutes after the steaks, you'll be good to go!)

Now is a good time to uncork your wine, and start cooking the Baby Bella Mushrooms to put on top of the steak.
Prep time: As long as it takes you to open a bottle of wine.
Cook time: 10-15 minutes.

You'll need:
1 small package of Baby Bella (Crimini) mushrooms
3-4 T olive oil.
1/4 C. Merlot
Salt to taste

1. Start by sauteeing the mushrooms in the olive oil.
2. When they begin to cook, add Merlot.
3. Salt to taste when they are nearing done.

For the Filet Mignon Medallions, you'll need:
4 - 4 oz. Medallions

After you've taken your potatoes out of the oven, arrange your rack so your steaks will be 3-5 inches away from the heat source. Put the ramekins of creamed spinach on the bottom shelf in the oven to cook at the same time as the steaks.

Put your oven on BROIL setting, and place the filet medallions on a meat roaster with a rack, on the top rack of your oven (3-5 inches from the heat). Remember to keep your oven door ajar to keep the heat circulating.

For rare filet, broil for 3-4 minutes on each side.
For medium-rare filet, broil for 5-6 minutes on each side.
For medium-well filet, broil for 7-8 minutes on each side.
For a well done filet, broil for 10 minutes on each side.

When steaks are done to your taste, take them out and let them sit for 2 minutes. Snip string before serving. Be careful when removing the ramekins of creamed spinach from the oven, they are hot, hot, hot. You can serve the spinach in the ramekin by just setting it on the plate when you serve everything else (you may want to sprinkle more parmesan on top of it to garnish, right before it's served). Good hosts will warn guests that it's a hot dish. After that, just relax...and enjoy the yum!

Uses for leftover creamed spinach:
1. Bagel spread
2. Omelette topping
3. On a hot sandwich with prosciutto and ciabatta bread.