- Date: Saturday, February 19, 2011 -- 6pm
- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Kitchen: Our House
- Fellow Chefs: Matty and Charles
- Dining Companions: Mike, Tim, Mark, Helen, and Clara
- Recipe Rating: B+
Beef tenderloin is the hunk of meat that filet mignon steaks are cut from. Basically, it is delicious. So I have been saving this recipe for a special occasion that merits extra deliciousness. Mike and Tim came to visit a couple months ago and that was just the occasion I needed. To make this I started by preparing the beef marrow bones. I soaked them in warm water for 10 minutes, them my special gentleman helped me push the marrow out of the bones. I cut the marrow into rounds, covered it with cold water, and refrigerated it for a day, changing the water several times. To make the sauce I boiled red wine with shallots, mushrooms, carrot, thyme, bay leaf, and black peppercorns. I added veal stock and boiled some more. I strained the sauce, then returned it to a boil and added arrowroot and Madeira. I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I browned the meat then roasted it to 120 degrees (letting it rest to 130). While the meat rested I poached the marrow in stock, water, and salt. Then I transferred the marrow to the sauce. Charles sliced the meat, and poured some sauce over it. We served it with more sauce on the side.
As expected, this dish was very tasty. Indeed as we went around the room and graded the recipes after dinner, everyone gave this dish an A or A-. Mike joked that I would ignore them all and give it a lower grade, and I suppose I did. Don't get me wrong, it was good. The beef was nicely cooked, and it was a beautiful cut of meat. The sauce had a lovely flavor to it too. What really made this a B+ recipe rather than an A- recipe for me though was the consistency of the sauce. It was just too thin. I reduced it as instructed, and actually I even reduced longer because I was worried about the consistency. But still, the sauce was too thin. Almost anything you do with a beef tenderloin is going to taste delicious. Would I eat this dish again? Definitely. I would be happy to. Was it the best beef tenderloin recipe out there? No. With a better bordelaise this could have been fantastic though!
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Only 34 recipes left!
Throughout the last year or so, people have been asking me what I am going to do once this project is over. For a while, whenever someone would ask me that, the first thing I would think was, "Celebrate!" As I was getting down to fewer and fewer recipes last year, keeping up my usual pace was exhausting. The recipes towards the end have been more time consuming with many hard-to-find ingredients and I began to feel like my life was dominated by the project. Plus, when we first moved here we didn't have anyone to share the project fun with. Not being able to eat big project dinners with friends took some of the joy out of it for me. Basically I felt ready to be done.
At some point in the fall I decided to relax my pace, and not attempt to finish the project in 2010. It was a fantastic decision, as it has let me enjoy making the dishes again. In the meantime we have made friends here in East Lansing who enjoy eating the crazy project food. (Well, I suppose I am not sure they always enjoy it, but they keep coming over!) The project has become fun again. And suddenly it makes me really sad to think about it being over. Although this post claims I have 34 recipes left, that number is really more like 27 (I am behind in my blogging!) and I am making another 2-3 this weekend so soon I will have fewer than 25 to go. It's hard for me to even believe that I started this thing with 1293 recipes to make, and now I am only 25 from the end.
So what will I do next? I don't know. A while back the publishers of The Book asked me if I would be interested in blogging about the second book they published: Gourmet Today. At the time, I thought, "No way!" The idea of taking on another long project seemed insane. They sent me a couple signed copies of the new book though. I flip through them often and think how fantastic it would be to be at the beginning of such a project again -- to have so many choices, to be able to construct entire meals, to not be done with the desserts... I still don't think I will do it, but it does sound appealing.
Slowing down the pace lately has been a nice transition to post-project life. I have been cooking my way through The Book for a long time now! I started this project before I even met my husband! I think it will be very weird for me when the project is done, and it becomes a thing-I-once-did rather than a thing-I-am-doing. So truth be told, I am dragging my heels a little bit. Could I cook faster than I have been these past few months? Sure. But I made a decision to savor these last few recipes -- to eat them with friends whenever possible and to celebrate the food and these last few months of the project. Plus, I no longer feel ready to be done.
This weekend I am making the Foie Gras Terrine, which is a recipe that I thought I might save for the very end. It is definitely a special occasion recipe. This weekend is going to be very special though: my baptism, Easter, and my birthday are all happening, and Emilee, Brian, and Sam are coming from California to be here. We are having a big Easter/birthday lunch at our house with braised lamb, and cornmeal waffles, and birthday cake in the shape of a bunny rabbit (and lots of other things...). So I am making the foie gras. Also the blini with three kinds of caviar.
Yes, the end of the project is near. And I am more than a little sad about that.