Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce
2 6-ounce filet mignon (beef tenderloin steaks)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
Directions: Remove the steaks from refrigerator and bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom of a stainless steel (oven-proof) skillet (no plastic handles) with olive oil. Heat the skillet over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, place the steaks in the skillet and sear well — top, bottom and sides. Use stainless steel tongs to move the steaks around.
Place the skillet containing the steaks in the preheated oven to finish cooking, about 8 minutes for rare (120 to 125 degrees) or 11 minutes for medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees). Transfer the steaks to a warm platter, tent with aluminum foil and allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes. (As the tissues contract, the juices are drawn back to the center of the meat.)
While the steaks rest, prepare the Béarnaise Sauce (recipe follows).
Combine the shallots, tarragon and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
In a double boiler pan, or a bowl set over simmering water (medium-low heat), lightly whisk the egg yolks with 1 teaspoon of water and the cooled vinegar mixture until well-blended and lighter in color.
Slowly whisk in the butter, little by little, until the sauce is thickened and light. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Add more finely chopped fresh tarragon, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes about 1 cup.
Oysters On the Half Shell with Champagne Sauce
1⁄4 cup Champagne vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon pastis
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup dry rosé Champagne or sparkling wine, well-chilled
6-12 oysters in the shell
Champagne Sauce: Combine the vinegar, pastis, shallot and parsley in a stemless cocktail glass, or other small decorative glass or bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. (Reserve the Champagne to add just before serving.)
Prepare a bed of crushed ice on a serving platter large enough to hold the oysters on the half-shell. Wash the oyster’s shells by scrubbing them with a stiff brush under cold water. To shuck the oysters: Use a folded kitchen towel or heavy gloves to protect your hands. Hold each oyster with its convex shell down to catch the liquor (curved shell facing down and flatter side facing up). Using an oyster knife, wedge the tip of the knife into the oyster’s hinge. Push and twist the knife until the hinge pops open. Run the knife along the inside of the top shell to free the oyster. Lift off the top shell and discard. Run the knife under the oyster to remove it from the bottom shell, leaving it in the shell, while retaining as much liquid in the shell as possible.
Arrange the oysters on the bed of crushed ice. Place the chilled Champagne Sauce in the center of the bed of ice and top it off with 1⁄4 cup of Champagne. Serves 2.
Molten Chocolate Cakes with Raspberry Sauce
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, diced
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped bar, (Callebaut or other high quality chocolate preferred)
1 egg yolk
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Fresh raspberries (for garnish)
Sweetened whipped cream (for garnish)
1 pint fresh raspberries, or 1-12 ounce package frozen raspberries, partially thawed
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord) Optional
Water, to thin as needed
Directions: Generously butter four 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups and dust lightly with cocoa powder. Set aside.
Place a medium-large bowl over a saucepan filled about one-third of the way up with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the butter and chocolate and melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat source.
Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract and sugar together for 3 to 4 minutes on high speed, until the mixture is light in color and begins to thicken. Remove the bowl of melted chocolate and butter from over the hot water. Pour the beaten egg mixture over the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of flour and fold the mixture together just until combined. Pour the batter into the ramekins, filling about 1/2-inch from the tops.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place them in a 400-degree oven for 11 to 12 minutes, until the cake are puffed, firm around the edges, but jiggle in the center when gently shaken. (The cakes should be firm on the outside with a creamy center.)
While the cakes bake, prepare the Raspberry Sauce (recipe follows).
When the cakes are done, immediately remove each ramekin from the baking sheet using a hot pad or towel. Run a knife around the edges of each to loosen the cakes. Place a dessert plate on top of each ramekin and invert. Let them stand for about 1 minute, until the cakes release, then carefully remove the ramekins. Top the molten cakes with Raspberry Sauce and garnish with fresh raspberries and sweetened whipped cream. Serve immediately. Makes 4 individual cakes.
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Tip: The Molten Chocolate Cakes may be prepared up to the point of baking 8 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate the filled ramekins. Set out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Raspberry sauce: In a blender or food processor, purée the raspberries, adding sugar to taste. Blend in the lemon juice to taste, and liqueur, if desired. Thin the sauce to desired consistency with water. Taste again for balance of sweet and tart. Makes about 1 cup.
Tip: The Raspberry Sauce may be made in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Set out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.