Sunday, September 23, 2007

Celebrating a Homecoming with Heavy Cream

Part II in a series, because evidently I have a knack for creating special event menus that rely on this naughty dairy product.

So, my brother is home from Iraq! Looking suspiciously pale for someone who has supposedly spent 9 months in the desert, but it's okay--if he actually wiled away the past few months holed up in his friend Mike's basement while playing video games and avoiding diaper duty, I won't rat him out.
Chris and Tessa tried for a good 20 minutes to get a decent picture of Bird, Dad and me. I'm using this reject photo to spite them and because it's a more accurate representation of the three of us.

On the menu: steak au poivre, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and chocolate amaretto cake. And Masking Tape wine. Made on my dad's friend's Eastern Shore winery (where they've yet to select a name or logo, hence the masking tape), it seriously looks like something straight out of Prohibition. Because of that, and the fact that it's pretty tasty, it's become a family favorite.

This would only be cooler if the label was made of duct tape.

Steak Au Poivre (courtesy of This is one of the recipes I based my Duck Au Poivre on last month. Just as delectable with steak! This serves 4, but is easily doubled for 8.


  • 4 (3/4- to 1-inch-thick) boneless beef top-loin (strip) steaks (8 to 10 oz each)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (I omitted because the shallots at my store looked terrible, recipe was great without)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Preheat oven to 200°F.
  • Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt.
  • Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.
  • Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
  • Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce.
  • Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated. Serve sauce with steaks.
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Darn good potatoes, few ingredients. Serves 4-6.

  • 2 lbs. red skinned potatoes (about 8-10 medium sized potatoes)
  • 3/4 c. light sour cream
  • 1/2 a bunch of chives (about 6 little chive stems), sliced into small pieces.
  • salt and pepper
  • Dice potatoes (not peeled) and place in pot. Cover with cold water and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.
  • Drain potatoes and put in mixing bowl of standing mixer (you can just as easily use a hand mixer, though). Add sour cream, chives and a few good shakes of salt and pepper. Mix until fairly smooth, a few lumps are just fine.
As usual, Hali oversees child labor for the evening. You call that Swiffering, kid?! Luckily, we have lots of floors for him to practice.

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