Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beef Tenderloin w/ Espagnole Sauce

Wow... I've been M.I.A. for quite some time!  It's been even busier around here, and it's hard to even wrap my head around what I've gotten myself into!

The restaurant is going quite well.  I was on the pantry line (salads & desserts, a few cold and hot appetizers) for a bit of time, and last week I started training at the grill station.  I'm having tons of fun, and learning a hell of a lot!  Which is the whole point of all of this!

Did everyone (who celebrated) have a good Thanksgiving?!  I know we did.  My whole family went down to Andy's family's Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and it went quite well.  I'm glad that our families could get together on a day like that and get along so well.

Anyway, I know everyone still might have turkey on the brain, but in honor of me training on the grill station, I thought a nice, juicy steak felt like just the thing to post.  Hopefully I'll be back sooner next time, instead of going on a three week hiatus, but who knows what the next week of life has in store for me!


2 6-8 oz. cuts of beef tenderloin
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut medium dice
spinach, optional
Espagnole sauce, recipe here
salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for rubbing and drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Rub each steak with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Season your steaks with salt and pepper, on both sides.

Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss well and spread into one even layer.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat.  Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. 

Add steaks and cook until desired doneness (I think a medium rare is perfect, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your cut).  Let rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes.

Warm up Espagnole Sauce, if needed.

To plate, place a good amount of sweet potatoes on the center of the plate.  Top with steak and drizzle Espagnole sauce over top.  Serve with a side salad of spinach and some fresh bread.

This brings "meat & potatoes" to a whole new level.  It was a simple enough dinner to be ready in no time, but also one that is sure to impress dinner guests, as well!

And on a side note, a reader had asked in the comment section of the Espagnole Sauce recipe about a proper way to make a Demi Glace. 

By definition, a demi glace is half brown sauce (Espagnole), half brown stock (beef stock), reduced by half.  Easy enough right?  So for 1 cup of demi glace, use 1/2 cup of Espagnole Sauce, 1/2 cup of beef stock... bring to a boil, then let reduce until the whole mixture is 1/2 cup, or until desires consistency.

Hope to see you guys sooner than later!  And thanks for sticking around with me =)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Creamy Mac n' Cheese

With all of the craziness of my schedule, it's nice to still be able to do Secret Recipe Club.  To not think about school, or work, or anything.  Anything except exploring another blogger's site and making something delicious!

This was just the case with my assignment this month.  I got to explore Crystal from Mrs. Happy Homemaker's blog and was definitely impressed!  I found meals that were just the epitome of comfort foods and lots of things that made me smile.  It was a hard decision, with things like Deviled Egg Spiders to Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing!  She even has updates on good deals and coupons, as well as DIY craft ideas (quite kid friendly!).  There's lots to explore over there, and I could definitely get lost for hours on her site.

Ultimately, I chose something that has always been comforting to me - Mac n' cheese.  Crystal's quest for the ultimate mac had me quite intrigued and I decided to give it a try (especially since we just learned about bechamel and this had a bechamel base!).  So I used what I had on hand - I replaced the 3 cups of cheddar with a nice block of gouda and gave it a little kick with some cayenne because I dig a spicy mac!

Adapted from Mrs. Happy Homemaker's Recipe

1 lb. fusilli pasta
1 oz. flour
1 oz. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon hot Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups milk (I used 2% so it took a little longer to thicken)
3 cups gouda, shredded
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup garlic bread crumbs

1 cup grated sharp cheddar for topping
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain.

Preheat oven to broil.

Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick pot over medium high heat, add butter.  Let it warm up and then whisk in flour, paprika, mustard powder, cayenne, and nutmeg.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to turn a pale white.  You've got the start of a white roux (except it'll be a tad red because of the paprika and the cayenne)!

Slowly add little increments of the milk so the roux doesn't get lumpy, and once you have a smooth mixture, add the rest of the milk.  Bring mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Cook until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese and the gouda. It will melt without being on the burner.

Mix cooked pasta with sauce and place into a greased baking dish. Top with the shredded cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs and parmesan. Broil until brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.

This was some great mac!  It was definitely creamy and full of tons of flavor.  I'll be making this again, that's for sure!  Hope everyone has a great start to their week - I know I did!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Espagnole Sauce

It's been a bit hasn't it?!  I've been running around like a mad woman.  I'm surprised I'm even able to stand right now, let alone stay awake long enough to type this.  I've got long days, getting up at 5 am and working and then turning around and going to school at night (or going to the restaurant to work job #2!).  But success doesn't come easy.  It's a long, hard road.  But winning the lottery would help out just a little bit... anybody willing to share the winning numbers?  I'll split it with ya!

Anyway, we've been learning about mother sauces in my Theory class.  What are the mother sauces, you ask?  Well, there are 5 of them.  And they're pretty much the base for hundreds of other sauces.  They include Espagnole (which I'm going to show you today!), Veloute, Bechamel, Tomato, and Hollandaise.

Espagnole (pronounced es-pan-yole) is also called "brown sauce," but if you want to stick to being fancy, we can continue calling it Espagnole.  It's pretty simple and is basically a gravy.  So when we know the basics, we can improvise and add other ingredients to make even fancier-named sauces - but we'll get into that later on.  Let's get saucin'.


1 oz. clarified butter
1 oz. flour
2 oz. onion, minced or brunois (a knife cut that is a 1/8" perfect cube)
1 oz. carrot, minced or brunois
1 oz. celery, minced or brunois
1 teaspoon tomato puree (good ol' ketchup works fine here!)
2 cups beef/veal stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Now, first thing's first.  We start this sauce with a roux.  You know fat + flour = roux.  But wait!  You'll want a digital scale (or old fashioned kitchen scale) for this, because a proper roux is equal parts fat (in this case, clarified butter) and flour, by weight.  This way, enough butter can absorb and take in enough flour to properly thicken.

And another thing about a roux.  There are 3 stages of a roux.  White. Blonde. And brown.  Each stage depends on how long you cook the roux for.  Obviously, we're making "brown sauce" so we want a brown roux.  One key thing about the color of a roux.  The darker the roux, the less thickening power it has.  So basically, it'll just take a little bit longer for your sauce to thicken up if you're going with a dark sauce!

Okay, so I'll stop babbling school talk.

Heat a medium saucepan under moderate heat and add your butter.

Let the butter warm up in the pan for just a minute, then add your flour.

Stir the flour until it's incorporated with the butter.  You'll want to heat your roux until it's almost the color of peanut butter.

Then you'll want to add your onions, carrots, and celery.

Give it a good stir to incorporate the vegetables in with the roux.

Cook the mixture until your vegetables start to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes.  Then add your tomato puree, aka ketchup.

Give it a good stir to incorporate the ketchup into the vegetable/roux mixture.

Then slowly add in your cold beef stock, while stirring.  You want to do it slowly so that you don't get any lumps.

Once you have all your stock in the saucepan, bring mixture to a boil for about 3-5 minutes.  This is to ensure that you cook out your starch in your flour.

Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until mixture is thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

If you can make a line on the back of your spoon and the top doesn't move, you know you've got the right thickness!
Then you'll want to strain your mixture.

And season it to taste with salt and pepper.

And voila!  You have espagnole sauce.  You can use it as is and put it on steaks, or as a gravy for mashed potatoes.  Or you can use it as a base for other sauces like a Perigueux (just add demiglace and truffles!), or a Cherveuil (just add demiglace, red wine, and a dash of cayenne).  The possibilities are really endless! 

Hopefully I'll get some time to post within a couple of days to show you what I did with my espagnole sauce - because it sure was delicious!  Have a great week guys!


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