Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches

What are you serving for the Super Bowl?  Once at a game watching party, David and I laid out a spread with beef tenderloin and chicken tenders.  You get one guess as to which dish received the most commentary and praise?  Yes, the chicken tenders from Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC because maybe you will forget that they fry their chicken).  Nevertheless, I will continue to make and serve beef tenderloin sandwiches.  Barefoot Contessa offers a delicious dressing.

If you live in Dallas and don’t have the time or inclination to cook, you will be pleased to know that Carmen’s Delicious Catering is offering beef tenderloin on her Super Bowl menu this week.

Beef Tenderloin Sandwich
1.      1 whole filet of beef (4-5 lbs), trimmed and tied
2.      2 T unsalted butter at room temperature
3.      1 T Kosher salt
4.      1 T ground black pepper

1.      ¼ lb (or 4 oz) blue d’Auvergne or other creamy blue cheese
2.      2/3 c sour cream
3.      1/3 c mayonnaise
4.      1 ½ t Worcestershire sauce
5.      1 t Kosher salt
6.      1 t ground black pepper

To Assemble
1.      1 loaf of bread (like health or 7-grain)
2.      1 bunch arugula
3.      Kosher salt
4.      Ground black pepper
5.      2 T unsalted butter at room temperature

To cook the beef:
Place the beef on a baking sheet and pat the outside dry with a paper towel.  Spread the butter on with your hands.  Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. 

Barefoot Contessa cooks the beef in an oven at 500 degrees.  Roast in the oven – 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.

Joy of Cooking cooks it in an oven at 425 – same prep of the beef – for 25-45 minutes depending on your preferred doneness.  Remember that the temperature of beef will continue to rise 5-10 degrees once removed from the oven. 

Emeril cooks a 2 lb beef tender at 350 for 25 minutes but after searing it in a hot saute pan on all sides first.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Remove strings, slice and serve.

To prepare the dressing:
Mash the blue cheese with a fork and blend in the remaining ingredients of the dressing.

To assemble the sandwiches:
Slice the bread about ¼ inch thick.  Spread the dressing on half of the bread slices.  Top with slices of beef and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread the other half of the bread slices lightly with butter and place butter side down on the beef.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo

The other day I had 4 first graders in my car.  They started talking about their favorite songs which led into “what curse words I know.”  (If you have listened to or most other pop songs or watched Phineas and Ferb or know the student-version of the UT fight song, this knowledge should not be surprising).  “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” was my response.  “I am sure you all know bad words but we don’t need to say them here and now.” 

These 4 are all younger siblings.  When Travis was this age, I disliked the classmates with older siblings.  They were going to teach my precious, little, innocent, darling baby things that I was not ready for him to know.  Now I have 2 kids who are the "younger siblings".  To those parents who have a first born who interact with them, I want to go ahead and apologize for anything that my kids accidentally teach yours before you are ready.

This story has nothing to do with this Barefoot Contessa recipe except that both are recent.  Well goodness, maybe they do have something in common.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo
1.      Kosher salt
2.      Good olive oil
3.      3/4 pound orzo pasta
4.      1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
5.      Freshly ground black pepper
6.      2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
7.      1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
8.      1 cup chopped fresh dill
9.      1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
10.  1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and medium-diced
11.  1/2 cup small-diced red onion
12.  3/4 pound good feta cheese, diced

Preheat the oven to 400.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well. 

Meanwhile, place the shrimp in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and then spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!
Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Toss well.  Add the feta and stir carefully.  Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight.  If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


“This is the best thing that you have made in a while.”  I give you one guess who said that.  The love runneth over in the Mann house.  Even Elizabeth, in her own way, deemed the soup blog worthy.  She dipped her bread in the soup broth and ate it.  Baby steps - at least she tried it.

I found two recipes for minestrone (from Barefoot Contessa’s Foolproof cookbook and Giada De Laurentiis) and I merged the two.  There is a lot of chopping required.  I chopped everything but the potatoes in advance.  Best part is, there is plenty for leftovers. 

Happy Birthday Todd!

1.      2 T olive oil 
2.      3-4 oz. pancetta, coarsely chopped
3.      1 yellow onion (@1 ½ c), chopped
4.      1 ½ c carrots, peeled, chopped into bite size pieces
5.      1 ½ c celery stalks (2-3 stalks), chopped into bite size pieces
6.      1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
7.      2-4 garlic cloves, minced
8.      1 t thyme
9.      26-28 oz. petite diced tomatoes
10.  6 cups (48 oz) chicken stock
11.  Kosher salt and pepper
12.  1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
13.  2 c cooked (1 c dry/uncooked) small pasta, like ditalini or tubetti
14.  8-10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
15.  ½ c dry white wine
16.  Grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook on medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and thyme, 1 T salt and 1 ½ t pepper.  Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through.  If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock.  Just before serving, add the spinach and stir gently.  Cook until the leaves are wilted.  Stir in the white wine.  Add more salt if necessary.  Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with parmesan.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Salad

The Wall Street Journal is running a series called Slow Food Fast and Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in NYC provided this recipe. Given our love affair with another kale salad, we decided to give it a try. Gramercy Tavern is one of our favorite restaurants in NYC.  It has a great atmosphere, a comfortable but special ambience, and delicious but not over the top food.

Or perhaps I am fond of Gramercy Tavern because David and I ate there to celebrate my acceptance to business school. Let's take a look at how that advanced education has paid off for me.  Management: of soccer teams, snack schedules and different library days.  Negotiations: with 9 and 7-year olds.  Finance: comparing 529s, mortgages, and mutual funds.  Accounting: who do you think pays the bills?  Communications: holiday cards and reminders to use your "please" and "thank you's". Marketing: of Mann family values (it does require some spin internally since it is not always the “popular” choice).

While my salary is not high, I submit my 3 thesis projects code named: Travis, Elizabeth and Andrew.  These projects are the most important and longest projects I have ever undertaken. Upon the little ones' graduation in May 2024, when I publish the last of my thesis projects, I expect you all to start calling me Dr. Mann, PhD. 

Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Salad
1.      1 egg yolk
2.      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3.      ¼ cup grapeseed oil
4.      ¼ cup olive oil
5.      2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
6.      1 tablespoon caper pickling liquid (aka, the juice from the jar of capers)
7.      1 large clove garlic, smashed to a paste
8.      ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
9.      Salt, to taste
10.  2 tablespoons snipped chives (optional)
11.  ¼ head of cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (I used pre-packaged; Fresh Express angel hair finely shredded green cabbage)
12.  1½ large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
13.  1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves thinly sliced or torn into bite-size pieces
14.  ½ yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
15.  2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil, chives or dill (optional)

In medium bowl, whisk egg yolk with mustard. While whisking constantly, slowly dribble in oils. Continue whisking until oil is fully incorporated and mixture is thick and pale in color.

Whisk in capers, pickling liquid, garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste and snipped chives, if using.

To cut the kale, use a very sharp knife, cut away the kale leaves’ tough center stems. Roll the leaves like a cigar and cut them into very fine thin slices, about 1/8th-inch wide (aka, chiffonade).  You can cut your own cabbage or buy it packaged and pre-cut.  We did not use yellow onion but it could be a nice addition. 

In a large bowl, combine all vegetables and herbs, if using (we used chives).  Add dressing and toss, using both hands (or a large fork or spoon) to mix until dressing coats all ingredients.  Allow salad to marinate until vegetables soften, at least 10 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Black Bean Soup

Not sure what inspired this request but David says “let’s make some black bean soup.”  Oh yes, “let’s”.  In our house, "let's" is a code word which is intended to be replaced with "you."  For example, "let's clean out the toy closet" or "let's plant flowers."  And then when the "let's" task does not get accomplished, who is to blame?

As we were finishing, David suggested “next time let's cook our own beans rather than using canned.”  He may be on his own there.  We found this recipe, made a few of the recommended adjustments and it is pretty good.  The boys even liked it (Elizabeth doesn’t get to vote if she doesn’t try a bite.  I love her though.). 

Black Bean Soup
1.      6-8 slices bacon, finely chopped 
2.      2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
3.      6 garlic cloves, pressed
4.      2-3 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
5.      1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes (or try Rotel)
6.      2 tablespoons ketchup
7.      2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
8.      1 tablespoon chili powder
9.      5-6 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
10.  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
11.  Cilantro, to taste
12.  Juice of 1/2 lime
13.  For garnish and optional, grated cheddar, thinly sliced scallions and sour cream

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Drain all but about 2 T of bacon grease.  Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

While simmering the soup, remove the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup after it has simmered 10 minutes. Continue cooking until the soup is thickened, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

Serves 8-10.  When we made it, we halved the recipe.  The quantity variation for the chicken broth and cans of beans is based on your preference of hearty vs. soupy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta

The appetizer-palooza continues.  Gikes serves this torta every year on Christmas.  Krista served it at New Year’s.  Maybe you will serve it for the Super Bowl.  The opportunities are limitless. 

You can buy poser tortas at the grocery store, but take the time to make this yourself (don’t go too crazy, buy a jar of pesto).  It combines some great flavors into a savory and addictive spread.

Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta
1.      Jar of pesto, like Classico Traditional Basil Pesto
2.      8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3.      4 oz. goat cheese, softened
4.      1/3 c sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, patted dry and minced
5.      ¼ c finely chopped pine nuts
6.      Gourmet crackers (I like Pepperidge Farm Butter Thins crackers)

Blend cream cheese and goat cheese in a medium bowl until smooth.

Line a 3-cup bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a 4-inch overhang (this is the toughest step of the entire process.  Take a deep breath.)  Mold one-third of cream cheese mixture into a disk and distribute evenly in bottom of prepared bowl.  Spread about 2 T of pesto mixture over cheese.  Sprinkle with half of sun-dried tomatoes and half of pine nuts.  Mold another one-third cheese mixture into a larger disk and place on top of nuts.  Repeat layers with about 3 T of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and then last one-third of cheese.  Tap bowl lightly to allow ingredients to settle.  Fold plastic overhang over top and refrigerate.

Thirty minutes before serving, unfold plastic wrap and invert onto serving plate.  Decorate top with extra sun-dried tomato slices.  Serve at room temperature with assorted gourmet crackers.

Torta may be prepared 3 days in advance.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cranberry Salsa

My vast experience with cranberries has been with David’s mom, may she rest in peace, in charge of the cranberries for Thanksgiving 2001.  She had them in our oven; they were supposed to pop or something; but they didn’t.  Boy howdy did we hear about it and how our oven was not calibrated properly and why weren’t they popping!  I have not tried making cranberries since. 

Fast forward to December 2012, Gayle emails this recipe and a few days later I happen to drive by Festive Kitchen and there is a “Cranberry Salsa is Here” sign.  The inner skeptic gave way to the adventurous side (that’s a joke – I’m not so adventurous).  With a raised eyebrow and hesitation from David, we tasted the seemingly odd combination of ingredients. We are now addicted converts. 

Jump into the cranberry bog with us!

Cranberry Salsa
1.      3 cups fresh cranberries (approx. 1 bag), chopped coarsely or processed in Cuisinart
2.      ½ cup sugar
3.      ¼ cup orange juice
4.      Orange zest
5.      1 t lemon juice
6.      Jalapenos to taste, minced (at least 1)
7.      1-4 cloves garlic, minced
8.      Cilantro, minced
9.      Pita or tortilla chips

Mix all ingredients together and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.  Best if chilled overnight.  Serve with either tortilla chips or plain salted pita chips.

Gayle always doubles this recipe.  She is an addict too.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crostini with Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese

Happy New Year!!  Hope you had a festive holiday season!  I have taken these few weeks off with great gusto.  I love not having to be somewhere early.  Did you make a new year’s resolution?  Mine are to be more patient with the kids (already broke that yesterday morning) and to go to bed earlier (so far, so good but it’s day 3 – check back in with me in a week).

The holidays brought some great food and some delicious new appetizers to share.  This one is rich and creamy but an interesting winter alternative to summer’s tomato bruschetta.


Happy birthday, Dad!  (don’t worry, I am not making this crostini (or anything else with mushrooms, asapargus or curry) as part of your birthday dinner but this might be…)


Crostini with Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese
1.      3 T butter
2.      ½ lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps chopped
3.      4 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped
4.      2 garlic cloves, minced
5.      ½ c whipping cream
6.      ½ c (@ 2 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
7.      ½ c chopped thinly sliced prosciutto (@ 2 ½ oz.)
8.      18 – ½ inch thick diagonal bread slices cut from 1 sourdough baguette
9.      Chopped fresh parsley, optional

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high head.  Add all mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through and brown, about 10 minutes.  Add cream and boil until liquid is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add blue cheese and stir until cheese melts.  Mix in prosciutto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (go easy – there is a lot of salt in the prosciutto).  Transfer mushroom topping to bowl.  (Mushroom topping can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate).

Preheat oven to 375.  Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet.  Bake until just golden, about 5 minutes.  Mound mushroom topping (about 1 T) on each slice.  Return to oven, bake until topping is heated through, about 6 minutes.  If you choose, sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.