Monday, April 20, 2009

Peppery beef tenderloin and some news

I guest posted on design*sponge last week. It’s one of my very favorite blogs and I was completely honored to have a feature (and such great feedback on my photography)! Thanks Grace for all of the fun – I’m looking forward to the next one.

Judd Pilossof, one of my all-time favorite food photographers, is teaching a studio still life class at the Maine Media workshops this summer. You can find out more about the class here.

Last, a bit odd to announce but I feel like it's time . . . I am 7+ months pregnant! All very exciting. Lots of changes ahead. Inspiring some simpler recipes right now : ).

Now on to the post . . .

A post and a few updates. Will start with the fun updates first.

I’ve been trying to eat a higher protein diet and have been incorporating more meat than I would usually be inclined to. When I do eat meats, I tend to love tender meats and braises. Braises are a bit of a cooking commitment, so one of my favorite quick and easy cuts is beef tenderloin, which is always fork-tender, buttery and delicious. While certainly not the most cost-conscious of cuts, I find we get a number of meals out of a one pound portion. We usually have the first serving hot and then have leftovers cold, served on a bed of herb-y salad. Then it turns into lunch and snacks. Several meals later it’s done but we’re still not tired of it.

Here’s the way I prepare it, although I measure absolutely nothing and it’s always great. So don’t worry too much about being literal here.

Peppered beef tenderloin

1 lb beef tenderloin
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs prepared horseradish
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 Tbs each whole green peppercorns, black peppercorns, pink peppercorns and white peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle (or under a heavy skillet)
Coarse sea salt (I love grey sea salt for this)
2 Tbs olive oil
Italian flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place beef in a baking dish, pour Worcestershire sauce over it, slather with garlic and horseradish. Sprinkle heavily with peppercorn mixture and sea salt. I don’t usually marinate it, but you certainly could.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet (not non-stick) over medium heat. Brown beef on all sides (~2 minutes per side) to give it a nice color and texture.

Return beef to the baking dish and cook for ~30-40 minutes until done to your liking. Don’t over-cook, that would be a crime!

Place on a cutting board or serving platter, cover with foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Drizzle with any remaining marinade. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easy appetizer: white bean dip

I’ve had a package of large dried white beans in the pantry for a little while and have been thinking about making a bean salad with them. That was until I saw a package of hand-made artisanal crackers at the specialty store and couldn't resist them. And they were calling for a white bean dip.

I love dips and spreads. If I had my choice I’d have a mezze platter every day of the week with hummus, babaganouj, some cured meats, some olives, and a maybe and artichoke or bean dip!

Making a dip doesn’t take much time – most of the time is inactive time. Make sure you buy dried beans from somewhere that has a reasonably high turnover – you don’t want old beans, which will take longer to cook and yield a less pleasing result.

White bean dip

1 lb dried white beans such as cannellini beans
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Soak beans overnight in a generous amount of cold water. Rinse and pick out any debris. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté onion and garlic with thyme in a few tablespoons of olive oil until onions are translucent. Add beans and cold water to cover beans by a few inches. Bring to a full boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until beans are tender 1-2 hours. Remove thyme.

Drain beans and place in blender with ¼ cup olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Purée, adding additional olive oil slowly to adjust texture as desired. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley, sea salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, April 03, 2009

When the market gives you beautiful lemons: make lemonade!

I've been keeping things simple lately - have you noticed? A bit short on time but busy in a good way. I am incredibly excited that the weather is turning. The farmer's market is bustling again. Produce is edging away from root vegetables. Herbs are in now. I've been buying what's available and planting them in my little city garden. So far I've found oregano, parsley, dill, chive and thyme. Waiting for basil and chervil.

Last week, I found some incredible lemons with stems and leaves still intact. I couldn't believe my luck and bought quite a few. More than one would ever need but I had photos, not cooking in mind. And then I had to figure out how to make use of them. First use? Lemonade! Freshly squeezed lemons with a little sugar and sparkling water over ice. Maybe a little sanding sugar along the rim of the glass. So refreshing, natural and no fuss. Give it a try!