Anniversary Dinner

My parents’ anniversary was September 10th. While their son is a [culinary] genius, they have only allowed me to cook for them about three times in my life. My mother doesn’t approve of all sorts of things I do, including quite a bit in the kitchen. Well, anyhow, this year they accepted an offer for me to take care of their celebratory evening. Below are the recipes.

Appetizer: Wine Poached Pears

Recipe was from an old friend of mine (from memory), melded with one from a cookbook for precision.

1 1/2 cup red wine or burgandy
1 cup raw sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves (whole)
4-6 pears (whole, peeled)

In a pot combine all ingredients except the pears over med-high heat until boiling. Reduce to low and simmer, covered for 3-5 minutes (should be noticeably thickened). Lop off the bottom of each pear so they will sit upright on the plate for serving later.

Add the pears on their side if possible, and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes or until tender, turning frequently.

Remove the pears to small serving plates, upright. Bring reserve sauce to a boil, uncovered, over med-high/high heat, until reduced to a thick glaze, ~5-8 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves with tongs. Drizzle over pears and serving plate.You may serve chilled if climate dictates.

Serves: 6. Prep time: ~2 minutes.Cook time: 25 minutes.

Salad: Goat’s Medley w/ Walnuts

I can’t overstate the value of baby spinach, dandelion greens, and clover sprouts. Simply the best salad you can make. The ratios can be varied for taste.

1/2 lb baby spinach
1/2 lb dandelion greens (shredded or chopped)
1 bunch radishes (sliced, chopped, or shredded)
2-3 carrots (sliced or shredded)
1/2 lb sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cups freshly cracked walnut pieces

Combine. Toss. Serve with your favorite version of raspberry vinagrette.

Serves: 6-8 humans, or 1 goat or llama. Prep time: 20-15 minutes.

Entree: Peppercorn-rubbed Filet Mignon

Purists and book-wise chefs would crucify you for rubbing down a tenderloin filet with anything more than simple salt. I’m neither.

Peppercorn Rub

Regular peppercorns can be subbed-in here, but it changes the dynamic. This rub is great on any cut of beef. Double, triple, etc. as needed. Keeps well in sealed container for several weeks. Omit sugar until just in time, to keep for several months.

2 tbsp szechuan peppercorns (whole)
2 tbsp coriander (whole)
1/2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp allspice (whole)
1 tsp sea salt

In iron skillet, over grill or med-high burner, cook szechuan peppercorns and coriander until you can smell them well, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, combine with rest of ingredient in a food processor or spice grinder. Pulse-grind until evenly-blended but coarse.

Coats 4-6 filet mignons lightly. Prep time: ~2 minutes. Cook time: 3 minutes.

Grilled Filet Mignon

If you don’t know the difference between tenderloin cuts, that’s ok. Filet mignon is the tip of the tenderloin: very small, and very pricey. I recommend 2″ cuts because that yields about 7 oz of meat. If you can’t afford all mignons (will run you about $50 for 6 little cuts) then you might want to purchase a whole tenderloin, which any reputable butcher will gladly slice up for you: 1″ cuts of the upper tenderloin with a single 2″ mignon at the bottom will run you about $40, but net 6 good-sized steaks plus the mignon. Do not buy packaged filets wrapped in bacon. If you’re going to pay for tenderloin, make sure it’s being chopped fresh just for you.

4-6 2″ thick filet mignon cuts of tenderloin beef
4-6 1″ thick upper tenderloin cuts

Preheat grill on high. Trim visible fat from filets. Rub down filets by hand with peppercorn rub, coating evenly but lightly. Turn grill down to medium. Meat should be flipped every 5 minutes. Should be served medium-rare (135 degrees), medium (145 degrees) at most… but well-done brutalizations are also possible (165 degrees). All temperatures are taken at the center of the meat.

Serves: 4-6. Prep time: ~5 minutes. Cook time: varies by thickness and doneness, 7-25 minutes

Dessert: Raspberry Tart

This lovely was made from scratch by my lovely, following a copyrighted recipe I can’t legally reprint here. Excellent ending to a great meal.

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