The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. ~Julia Child
Last week we decided to have a girl’s night. You know, invite a couple of girlfriends over, braid each other’s hair and have pillow fights in our underwear. (All males please stop reading here).
Let’s be honest people, girls love a good feast as much as the next guy. So, every once in a while, gather your friends, and go big or go home. We decided on the totally slimming combo of beef tenderloin, potatoes dauphinoise, and sautéed green beans, and Crowning Glory Profiteroles. It was comforting, it was delicious, and after the fourth bottle of wine, I believe someone said that the potatoes were better than sex. On a bad day, I’m inclined to agree.
*Sidenote: This is a kickass meal. It’s awesome for a Sunday night if you’re not too hungover to make it on Sunday afternoon. Classic meat and potatoes. Easiest way to make people love you. (If all else fails…take your top off.)
Beef Tenderloin (serves 4):
1 kg (2.2 pounds) beef tenderloin
2 large carrots
1 celery stalk
1 white onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
*optional: bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, leek casing)
To prepare your beef:
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
-Tie the tenderloin with kitchen string every 1-1.5 inches to help the roast maintain its shape.
-Wash, peel, and roughly chop the vegetables and place them in the bottom of a roasting pan (any roasting pan, shallow pot, or disposable tin roasting pan will work).
-Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the vegetables
Cooking your beef:
-Heat butter, olive oil, or cooking oil in a large pan. When hot, brown the meat on all sides. This should take approximately 10 seconds on each side if you’ve heated the pan enough!
-When browned, place the beef in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables
-Cook the beef at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes. Check the beef to see if its done using your finger. For medium-rare, the beef should be slightly resistant with a little “give” in the middle. This trick is tough to get the hang of, so you can cheat and use a meat thermometer. The meat should be about 122 degrees F. When all else fails…just go ahead and cut into the meat and take a look (somewhere a Cordon Bleu chef is having a heart attack).
-Remove the string, slice, and serve.
Potatoes Dauphinoise (serves 4-6):
1 kg (2.2 pounds) waxy potatoes- this is about 10 medium sized waxy potatoes
1 liter milk (2% is best)
3 cups heavy cream
4 cups grated gruyere cheese (make Liberty do this)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Cooking your potatoes:
-Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Peel the potatoes and cut into thin discs (approximately 1/6 of an inch thick)
-Place the potato discs into a large pot, cover with milk, and add 2 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, and ½ a tsp of nutmeg
-Bring the potatoes to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
-Allow the potatoes to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Be sure to taste them. They should be firm, but not crunchy.
-Strain the potatoes and keep the milk to the side.
-In a small bowl whisk the cream with the chopped garlic, 2 generous pinches of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
-Place half of the potatoes in a thin layer in the bottom of a baking dish (glass baking dishes are my favorite for this recipe, but any baking pan will do), pour half of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Top with one cup of grated gruyere. Add the remaining potatoes on top of this layer. Cover with remaining cream mixture. If the cream does not reach the same level as the potatoes, add some of the cooking liquid (seasoned milk) as needed. Cover potatoes with remaining cheese. (Seriously, cover them completely. You’ll understand when you get a nice thick crust of cheese. You’re welcome.)
-Bake for 45 minutes at 180 degrees or until cheese is well browned and the cream is bubbling.
Sauteed Haricots Verts with Garlic
*(Green Beans for those of you who don’t par-lay francais)
1 pound long green beans
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil
To prepare your beans:
-Remove both ends from the beans (it helps to get a friend or roommate to do this because its boring and easy, but it still makes them feel like they’re “helping.” Peel the garlic and slice it very thinly
Cooking your beans:
-In a saucepan, heat 4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (it should be enough to cover the base of the pan).
-When the oil is hot (it will start to form tiny bubbles), add the garlic and quickly sautee. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN! Burnt garlic tastes disgusting and is the quickest way to tip people off that you don’t know what you are doing…
-When the garlic has browned slightly, add the beans and sprinkle generously with salt.
-Allow the beans to cook for 7-10 minutes, mixing periodically. You may continue to cook them until they reach your preferred texture.
DESSERT BY LIBERTY:
Okay, now that Serena has gone through the “real food” (she only let me break the ends off of the beans), let’s get down to the important part of the meal. It’s what you’ve all been waiting for, and we usually only eat it on girl’s night (Serena judges, but I don’t)…DESSERT. We had the most delicious icecream in the world encased in luscious Choux pastry, served on a bed of whipped cream with heaps and heaps of decadent chocolate sauce. Most important thing about this dessert: everything can be prepared beforehand except the plating…so people may know you drank those two bottles of wine all by yourself, but it will taste exquisite.
*Full recipe can be found in the Desserts by Liberty tab.
Girls appreciate pretty things, so dress up your table a little bit. Pick up some printed paper napkins, toss a couple fresh flowers in an empty wine bottle, and voila! Cheap, chic, and deceptively domestic.