Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to me

Flowers from my Hunny. Aren't they beautiful?  I officially turned 26 years old on Tuesday. Gahh... officially over a quarter century old. When I was younger I used to think I would have so much accomplished by 26 -- grad school, career started, married, happy, stable.  Needless to say, I am running at least one year behind.

No crazy celebrations this year, Art took me to Cafe Bizou in Pasadena which is one of my go to "economical" French restaurants. I've never really had a bad experience there. My only complaint would be that there was a little too much butter in the balsamic glaze this week, but the chicken was perfectly moist.

I like making these" french/gourmet" meals or whatever you may call them.  Last week I made filet mignon with a balsamic leek glaze, leek-mashed potatoes, and oven roasted asparagus

The filet looks a little dark, I know, but its from the heavenly balsamic glaze. I got the idea from Giada de Laurentis, but tweaked it a bit of course.

Filet Mignon - To start with , I marinated the filets in red wine for about an hour. This allowed it to absorb both the flavor and deep red color. To make the filet, I seasoned it with fresh cracked salt and pepper and seared it on all sides. I finished the filets by topping them with some chevre and placing them under the broiler for 5 minutes. Please be careful and do not make the mistake I did -- placing them on the very top rack and setting the broiler to " high". The oil/fat from the cheese and filets literally fueled the broiler flames even after I turned it off, it was scary. I recommend either setting the broiler on low or places the filets at least 6 inches away from the flames. If I had a cast Iron skillet I would have used it for this dish ... another thing to add to the wish list.

Roasted Asparagus - This one was simple to make -- spread the asparagus evenly on a baking sheet and top with diced garlic and olive oil. It turned out fine I guess, but my favorite way to make asparagus is still sauteed.

Leek mashed potatoes -  The french make puree by dicing their potatoes and cooking them in milk... this was a variation on that since I used beef broth in place of the milk.  Then in a separate pan, I lighlty sauteed the white part of the leek and added  half of it to the potatoes once they had absorbed the broth. A good way to measure out the amount of liquid needed is to fill your pot with desired amount of  cubed potatoes, then add liquid, leaving the top 1 inch of the potatoes dry.  Once the liquid is absorbed and potatoes are cooked, you can add desired amount of salt, sour cream and the leeks and mash away.

Leek Balsamic Glaze - I used 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar along with 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Simply combine the ingredients and simmer until it condenses into a syrup/glaze. Lastly add in the remainder of your sauteed leeks.


  1. Happy Birthday! And those leeks sound amazing...I love anything with a balsamic glaze. I hope you had a lovely evening celebrating your beautiful life!

  2. Marinating them in red wine for a hour was very clever. You ever consider using organic sugar cane instead or brown sugar?