Scents of the Season

De la Cuisine

For perfect boiled eggs:
Put room-temperature eggs in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then put a lid on the pot, turn off the heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Then drain off water and add cool tap water to the pot to cool before peeling.

Classic dishes to enjoy during the holiday’s quiet moment

Like most people, I enjoy the holiday season. Going to parties, hosting small gatherings, decorating my home, making fudge and wrapping gifts is the essence of celebrating at this time of year.

The aromas of fresh pine garlands, cinnamon cookies baking in the oven and a pork roast roasting on Christmas Eve are indeed the scents of the holiday that give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

But, I do like spending some quiet time with my husband and taking a break from all the mayhem. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, (my mother called this time a lull between two storms), I enjoy having a nice dinner. With luck, there is a fire roaring in the fireplace and we can enjoy some classic and traditional Christmas music.

Pop open a bottle of your favorite Champagne or mix up your favorite beverage and relax.

To begin, an appetizer that my husband adores is deviled eggs. He loves them year round — plain ones, some loaded with crab meat or smoked salmon, his favorite made with pimento cheese — but for a special occasion, he usually requests caviar eggs.

Mashed potatoes jolted with blue cheese and half-and-half are always a good side with the beef. Steamed asparagus spears tossed gently with olive oil and minced garlic, salt and black pepper are also a good choice. I say serve both.



Caviar Eggs

Makes 6 servings
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 teaspoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sour cream
1 teaspoon softened butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ounces black or red caviar

Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and put them through a sieve or pulse them several times in a food processor. Combine them with chives, mayonnaise, sour cream and butter and season to taste. Mix well.

Spoon mixture into egg whites. Chill for at least one hour. When ready to serve, top each with some of the caviar.


Main Course

Stuffed Filet Mignon

Makes 2 servings
5 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup minced bell peppers
¼ cup minced onions
2 filet mignons (about 8 ounces each)
¼ cup cream cheese seasoned with coarsely ground fresh black pepper, minced garlic, a pinch of dill, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, and a teaspoon of Creole mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onions and cook, stirring, until they are slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Combine with the seasoned cream cheese and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the side of the filets about 2 inches long and 1 ½ inch deep, and stuff steaks with the cream cheese mixture. Close and secure with toothpicks.

Rub steaks well with a tablespoon of olive oil, soy sauce and black pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook filets 3 to 4 minutes on each side depending on how you like your steaks or you can grill them on an outdoor grill.

Mashed potatoes jolted with blue cheese and half-and-half is always a good side with the beef. Steamed asparagus spears tossed gently with olive oil and minced garlic, salt and black pepper are also a good choice. I say serve both.

         Tip: Use russet potatoes and cook them whole, then peel. I find that a food mill or ricer produces a fluffy texture. You can also use a hand-held electric mixer. Add warm half-and-half and warm butter, and a good chunk of blue cheese and mix well.



Chocolate Mousse

This easy mousse is a great ending to a superb meal for two.
Makes 2 servings
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream
chocolate curls and fresh raspberries for garnish, optional

In a small saucepan whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add egg and water and whisk until mixture is smooth. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking and simmer it, whisking vigorously for about one minute. Remove pan from the heat and add chocolate and the Kahlua.

Stir mixture until the chocolate melts completely. Transfer mixture to a metal bowl set in a bowl of ice and cold water. With a handheld mixer, beat it until it is cold and lightened slightly.

In another bowl, beat cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold it into the chocolate mixture gently but thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into parfait or small wine glasses. Chill at least six hours before serving. Top with chocolate curls and raspberries if you wish.



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