Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Filet Mignon w/ Grits & Madeira Sauce

I used to have a hatred for grits.  But I think I just never had them prepared the right way.  The restaurant I work at is pretty famous for our Shrimp & Grits dish.  I happen to work the station that prepares this.  So I've gotten real familiar with how grits are supposed to be cooked in order to be amazing.  First rule?  Grits shouldn't be healthy.  You can argue this point up and down, but for properly cooked, creamy and delicious grits - you gotta take advantage of some fat.  The perfect ratio for grits, in my opinion, is 4:1.  4 cups milk: 1 cup grits: 1 cup heavy cream: 1 cup parmesan cheese plus 2 ounces of butter.  Throw 'em on low and slow, whisking frequently to avoid scorching, and you've got perfect grits every time.  Don't believe me?  Try 'em out that way and if you don't like them, come back here and yell at me all you want.  But I'll make a believer out of you, I promise!

Anyway, I love the sweetness that Madeira brings to a sauce so this is perfectly matched to a savory hunk of tenderloin. 

One other tip.  I've become more of a savvy shopper through the years and notice that you pay more for smaller portions.  Meaning, if you do the brunt work yourself, you pay less.  Same goes for steaks, especially filets.  You could just as easily buy a portion of a beef tenderloin and then cut it down when you get home (allowing you to determine the size of your steak - I hate going to the meat counter and seeing dinky little filet mignon steaks that would only fill up a 5 year old) for less money than buying preportioned filet mignons.  And it only take a fraction of a minute to do so, so why not?!

I'll be super duper busy starting next Monday - I got my internship assignment so I'll practically have no time to spare between school, work, and balancing an internship.  But it's all for the best, so stick with me!


1 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into filet mignon portions (I just cut the sucker right in half and did 8 oz. steaks for the both of us)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 cup veal stock
1/4 cup port wine
1/2 cup Madeira wine
salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup white stone-ground grits
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 oz. unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and butter.  Bring to a simmer, careful not to boil, then whisk in grits.  Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the grits are smooth and creamy, whisking frequently to prevent clumping and scorching.  Ideally, this would cook low and slow for about 45 minutes to an hour.  The slower you cook them, the creamier they'll be.  When the grits are done, stir in the parmesan cheese and then season to taste.  Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a small saucepan, add the shallots, veal stock, and port wine.  Reduce by half.  Add in Madeira and reduce until at sauce consistency.  Season to taste.

Heat a large oven-proof saute pan under medium high heat.  Melt the butter.  Season filets with salt and pepper on both sides and then add to the hot skillet. Cook until you develop a nice golden brown sear.  Flip over and sear on the other side.  Transfer to oven and cook to desired temperature.  Remove from oven and let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, place about 1/2 cup of grits on the center of each plate.  Place filet over top and serve with vegetable of your choice (we had some peas).  Top filet with a little bit of the Madeira sauce.

Can't beat a good looking steak like that, now can you?  Cheaper than a high end steakhouse, and sometimes tastes even better too!  Hope you guys have a great week!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bone-In Ribeye w/ Mushroom Balsamic Sauce

Happy Friday, guys!

How was everyone's week?  Ours was pretty busy.  I've been working all week and just have been too exhausted to do much of anything else!  I had the pleasure of having the day off yesterday, though, and decided to surprise Andy with some big and juicy steaks for dinner.

The sauce is really easy, too.  I decided to pickle some mushrooms (weird, but pleasantly acidic) and use the quick pickling liquid as a component in an easy pan sauce. 

The whole meal came together in less than 30 minutes and was absolutely delicious!  We both cleaned our plates right up!


2 bone-in ribeye steaks
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup veal/beef stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar and salt to a boil.  Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.  Place the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with the hot pickling liquid.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet under medium high heat.  Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.  Season steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.  Add to skillet and cook until a nice sear forms.  Cook the steaks until desired doneness - a perfect medium rare for us take about 7-8 minutes depending on how thick your steaks are.

Remove the steaks from the skillet and let rest on a cutting board.  Add the mushrooms and pickling liquid to the pan to deglaze.  Cook until mushrooms are starting to soften and vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons.  Add veal stock and reduce liquid by half, or until at a syrupy/sauce-like consistency.  Mount the sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve steaks with desired starch (we had some mashed potatoes) and top with mushrooms and sauce.

This was definitely a nice little treat.  We don't have red meat very often, but when we do, we like to do it up right!
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Duck Breasts w/ Ginger Gastrique

Could have rested just a tad bit longer to prevent those excess juices from escaping, but still delicious =)

Duck has gotta be on the top of my list when I think of my favorite proteins.  Something about it just makes me salivate every time.  A crisp and tasty skin just really does it for me!

I've been trying to get rid of some items on our bar shelf so that we can make room for newer and tastier things.  There's been a bottle of ginger liqueur sitting there for quite some time.  I just haven't had the opportunity to do anything with it... until now.  A quick and easy gastrique was just the thing to pair with our duck breasts!


2 large duck breasts
salt and pepper, to taste


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup ginger liqueur
1/2 cup veal or beef stock
1 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter.

Roasted Carrots & Turnips, diced (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar on medium low heat.  Cook until sugar caramelizes and turns into a syrupy liquid... like you're going to make caramel.  When the sugar is dissolved and has a nice amber color, deglaze the pan with the vinegar and ginger liqueur.  Whisk constantly to remove any clumps.  Reduce by about 3/4 and then add veal stock, star anise, cinnamon, juniper berries, and salt.  Continue to reduce until mixture is at a syrupy, sauce consistency.  Keep warm until needed.

Heat a large saute pan under medium heat.  Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.  Add the duck breasts to the dry pan, skin-side down.  Slowly render the fat from the skin until it is nice and crispy, about 7-9 minutes.  You don't want to rush this if you want to get the perfect duck skin!

Flip breast over and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until duck is at a nice medium rare-medium.  Let rest for about 4-5 minutes before slicing.

Reheat sauce and mount with 1 tablespoon of butter.  Spread a nice bit of sauce on the plate.  Top with desired vegetable or starch (I had roasted from carrots and turnips for this).  Slice duck breasts into thin strips and arrange over top of the vegetables.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Another simple, but elegant meal. Take the time to splurge on some duck breasts once in a while - you won't be sorry!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chicken Breasts w/ Mushroom Cream Sauce

It's been a crazy busy week.  I started my last quarter of culinary school and we're already fast out of the gate.  I might have to slow down the posting to at least once a week to keep up with school, work, and everyday life.  But we'll see!

Anyway, we made this quick and easy dinner last night.  Best part?  It's hella cheap, too!  I think I only spent a little over $10 to get everything I needed.  Now that's a bargain, isn't it?!


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 carrot, peeled and small diced
4 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup veal or beef stock
1/4 cup port wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. egg noodles, cooked
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

In a large skillet, melt butter under medium high heat.  Season chicken breasts with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add to skillet and saute until browned on both sides and cooked through.  Transfer to a plate to rest. 

In the same skillet, add carrots, shallot, and mushrooms.  If needed, you can add a little more oil or butter to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Saute until mushrooms start to caramelize and carrots are slightly softened. 

Deglaze the pan with the veal stock and wine.  Reduce the mixture by half, or until it resembles an almost syrupy consistency. 

Stir in the heavy whipping cream and cook until sauce is thickened to your liking.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Slice the chicken breasts into small strips.

Toss the sauce with the egg noodles and place a decent amount onto plates.  Top noodles with chicken breast slices.  Garnish with parsley.

This comes together rather quickly and is perfect for any night of the week!  Not to mention that it's pretty darn tasty, too!  Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Blackberry Coconut Ice Cream

My husband can eat ice cream any time of the year.  Any time of the day.  It can be -3F in the frozen tundra and he would be in the mood for ice cream.

So when it came time to pick something for this month's Secret Recipe Club, I knew I could treat the man with some ice cream.  My secret food blogger was Nichole from Cookaholic Wife.  She's got an awesome blog full of all sorts of recipes.  We're also about the same age as me and discovered her cooking talents later on in life in her early 20's (same as myself, as well!).  I could definitely relate to this girl!

I came across her recipe for Coconut Ice Cream and knew I had to try it!  I've been wanting to experiment with coconut milk as part of a base for ice cream for quite some time.  The only thing I added to the recipe was a little blackberry reduction to make it a little fruity and festive.  The result was a creamy, delicious, coconut laden ice cream that was gone in a matter of hours!  It seriously took longer to make and freeze than it did to completely devour.

Adapted from Cookaholic Wife's Recipe

1 & 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
14 oz. can of coconut milk
8 oz. blackberries
1 tablespoon sugar

In a small saucepan, heat your blackberries and sugar under medium heat.  Cook until the blackberries soften and start to break down.  Reduce by half.  Strain mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer.  You should end up with about 1/4-1/2 cup.  Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Shake the coconut milk before you open it to emulsify it.  If you don't shake it, you'll end up with coconut water on the bottom and coconut cream on the top.  In a medium bowl, combine the coconut milk, milk, coconut flakes, and blackberry reduction.  Mix until smooth and a pale purplish color.  Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.  Freeze mixture for about 3-4 hours before serving.

The result ended up being one of the creamiest ice creams we've ever made.  My husband, who claims to not like any fruit-laden desserts, ate every last drop.  So it gets the Garbe approval!

I'll definitely be trying more of Nichole's recipes!

Want to join SRC?  Find out how, here!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Paprika Chicken Casserole

Happy Friday everybody!  How was everyone's first week of 2013?!

We're still on the up and up over here!  We've been having a lot of comfort foods in our house lately, and this casserole ranks up near the top.  It's dead simple, absolutely delicious, and the leftovers make amazing lunches!


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup mirepoix (small diced carrot, celery, and onion)
 1 & 1/2 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
3 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
pinch of dried thyme
 1 onion, julienned
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 lb. egg noodles, cooked
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot or casserole dish, melt butter under medium heat.  Add mirepoix and saute for about 3-4 minutes.  Push mirepoix aside and add chicken breasts in an even layer.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes, flipping once.  Sprinkle paprika over chicken and turn heat down to medium low.  Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Add flour to the chicken and stir into mirepoix and cooking juices to make a paste.  Bring heat to medium and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

Add stock, wine, parsley stems, bay leaf, and thyme to the pot.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked throughout.  Remove chicken from pot and set aside.

In a medium saute pan, add olive oil.  Add the onions and mushrooms and saute until they are caramelized and softened.  Season with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste, and set aside.

Bring the cooking liquid for the chicken to a boil and reduce mixture by half and slightly thickened.  Stir in heavy cream and continue to reduce sauce until it is at desired consistency.

Stir in cooked egg noodles and season sauce to taste.

Slice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Layer in a casserole dish and top with onions and mushrooms.  Pour sauce and noodles over top of chicken and garnish with fresh parsley.

This definitely is enough to feed a family of 4.  It's filling and definitely delicious!  I could definitely drink the sauce like a glass of water.  It's too good not to make!  Warm up with a nice plate of this and have a great weekend, guys!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sauteed Chicken w/ Garlic & Herb Butter Sauce

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  2012 was very good to us, and we hope that 2013 will be just as good, or even better!

We spent New Year's Eve indulging in great food, great drinks, and great friends.  Just the way it should be, right?! 

New Year's Day was a little sluggish for us - we definitely are NOT in our early 20's anymore. 

Because of our laziness, we ended up just going out to see a movie and I picked up some chicken breasts to cook for dinner.  No typical "Good Luck" meal in our house - just simplicity!  The chicken is basically basted in hot butter and herbs, then the hot butter is used for a hollandaise-type sauce for the chicken.  Waste not-want not!  Right?!  Definitely not the healthiest of all meals, but hey, it was New Year's Day!


2 skin-on chicken breasts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
pinch of fennel
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup white wine, plus 1 tablespoon
2 egg yolks
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a deep skillet (cast iron works great), melt the stick of butter under medium heat. 

Combine the thyme, herbs de Provence, fennel, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Season the chicken breasts with the herb mixture.  Add chicken, as well as the garlic cloves, to the skillet, skin-side down.  Cook slowly under medium heat until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.  You'll want to baste the chicken with the butter frequently, and turn the breast over once the skin is nice and caramelized. Remove the chicken and place on a plate and keep warm while you make your sauce.

Add 1 cup of wine to the butter cooking liquid and reduce the mixture by half, scraping up any bits on the pan to add more flavor to the sauce.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks until they are thick and pale yellow.  Whisk in lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of white wine.  Slowly incorporate the butter/wine mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly - like you're making a hollandaise or mayonnaise.  When all of butter is incorporated, slowly heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until the sauce is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Season to taste and stir in the fresh parsley.

Spread a decent line of sauce on your plate and top with whatever side dish/vegetable you choose (we had a bunch of different frozen veggies to clear out the freezer) and then top the side with the chicken. 

This was a simple, but flavorful way to prepare a nice pair of chicken breasts.  And it was a nice change-up from all the seafood we were eating!  Hope you guys have a great week!