Roast Filet Mignon

For a holiday gathering or a comforting winter dinner with the people you love; whole roasted beef tenderloin is the perfect centerpiece.

  

Recipe:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 (5 to 10 pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients and rub all over the meat. Let the meat marinate for about an hour. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
  3. Remove the meat from the marinade, pat it dry (removing excess moisture but allowing the seasonings to adhere) and transfer to a warm roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, then check temperature with a meat thermometer; 125 degrees is medium-rare. Remove the roast from the oven and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes covered loosely with aluminum foil.
  5. Serve with your favorite sauces and side dishes. As pictured, I cut the filet into 1/2 inch thick slices and served it with roasted potatoes and arugula salad. Enjoy!

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Pan Fried Dumpling / Gyoza 餃子 / Pot Sticker 鍋


From Beijing to Bali my pantry is always stocked with Asian items, so there’s a good chance that whatever I feel like cooking will often have a Far East twist.

The past week found me filling wontons, pan-frying pork gyoza, boiling lobster dumplings, simmering miso soup and using edamame in several ways; I even blended tofu with strawberries and sugar for a refreshing dessert.

 

Today…it’s all about the Dumpling!

 

 

Here’s the shopping list:

Ground Pork or Chicken or Chopped Shrimp
Bok Choy or Cabbage (chopped)
Ginger, Garlic, Scallions, Onions (chopped)
Dumpling Wrappers
Soy Sauce
Chicken Stock
Egg Wash
Vegetable oil

 

What kind of wrapper should i use? Square or round??
Buy them both and notice the difference.
Traditionally, the round wrappers are made from just flour and water. They are a little thicker and are best used with heavier meat fillings.
The square wrappers are also called wonton skins; they have egg added making them thinner and more delicate. They are best suited for fried wontons, chicken dumplings or shu-mei. I often use them to make lobster or shrimp ravioli…they melt in your mouth!

There are over 50 wrappers in a package so you will get plenty of practice making dumplings.  If there are any wrappers left over you can just wrap them in plastic and store them in the freezer.

      

Making the Filling & Filling the Wrapper

  1. Cook the onions, ginger, garlic & bok choy in a pan until the onions begin to soften.
  2. Add some chopped scallions and soy sauce and reduce soy sauce to half. Set aside mixture to cool.  
  3. Add mixture to your ground meat of choice and mix well.  
  4. Lay out the wonton wrappers and place a small spoonfull in the center.
  5. Brush the edge of the wrapper with the egg wash, fold them over, pinch and seal.
Your dumplings are now ready for cooking.

You can boil them, steam them or pan fry them.

Pan Frying Technique:
Heat some oil in a wide, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Place 8 to 12 pot stickers in the pan and cook until the bottoms are brown. Pour in 1/3 cup of chicken stock or water and cover pan. Reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed.

    
 
I like to add sesame seeds and chopped scallions right at the end. Transfer to plates and enjoy. For dipping you can use a classic mixture of soy, rice vinegar and chile. I added a little Sriracha to the dumplings at top of page.
          

As for all those extra dumplings you filled but never cooked…
Lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and put them in the freezer. After they are frozen, transfer them to sealable containers and keep frozen until your next Asian craving!

“Old School” Stuffed Peppers


Recipe
:

6 large bell peppers
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 cups bread, softened in milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt & pepper to taste

 
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds; set the peppers aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the celery, onions and garlic. Add the ground beef and sauté together until the beef is completely cooked and the onions begin to soften. Add the bread crumbs, softened bread, 1/4 cup of the parmesan and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Work the eggs into the stuffing. If more moisture is needed, add a little milk or broth to the stuffing mixture. Spoon a tablespoon of tomato sauce into each pepper then fill with the stuffing. Place them in a shallow baking dish greased with olive oil and a touch of tomato sauce. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or until the bell peppers are tender. Spoon more tomato sauce over each stuffed pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and finish with more parmesan cheese. Serve!

Prosciutto & Cheese Bread

  

This bread is absolutely delicious. The fat from the prosciutto melts with the cheese directly into the bread creating a cheesy and salty goodness.

Recipe:

3 cups bread flour, more for dusting
1/2 pound prosciutto, chopped
1/2 pound provolone, chopped
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot.
  2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour and some of the prosciutto and the provolone. Fold the dough over on itself several times, adding prosciutto and cheese between each fold. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a floured kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a baking pan with flour and corn meal and arrange the dough balls on the baking pan. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
  4. Brush the dough with an egg and sprinkle with your favorite seed (sesame, poppy, fennel…).
  5. Bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

 

Feel free to get creative:

  • Add fresh herbs.
  • Substitute other cured pork products for prosciutto.
  • Use any cheese you like or any combination.
  • Eliminate the pork and cheese and use only rosemary for the best Rosemary Focaccia.
  • Vary the shapes and size of the bread to suit you.

Eggplant Caponata

Whenever I cook, I often reach for my cookbooks and scan them for ideas. I look at several versions of the same recipe and then approach it in my way. It’s very rare that I will follow someone else’s recipe exactly.

Last weekend, I was at a friend’s house on the Jersey shore and decided to replicate Mario Batali’s Caponata.

Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted on grill or in oven

 

Directions

In a large 12 to 14-inch sauté pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until softened

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.

Basic tomato sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups