Not The Inauguration Dinner: Elegant Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon

filet mignon with bleu cheese and bread crumbs

Table Ready

No one invited me to the Inaugural Dinner tonight. And, truth be told, I’m not sure I could have made it as my car is sick – so $$$$$ad 😦

Michelle Obama American Grown

I heart FLOTUS

I thought I should see what I’m missing and searched for the Obama Part Deux Dinner Menu online. Tonight, his guests will (according to several online sources) be enjoying Mahi-Mahi ceviche with jalapeños and coconut, seared salmon on baby spinach with red potatoes, and pineapple upside-down cake. The menu reflects Barack’s Hawaiian heritage and gives a nod to Michelle’s fight against American obesity. Though I don’t know if the potatoes or spinach come from the White House garden. (As an aside, FLOTUS’ book “American Grown” is worth a perusal.)

This past weekend we enjoyed an inaugural dinner of our own. A gaggle of girls had traveled from far and wide and we were upstate in the town of Catskill – not The Catskills. Our host upstate wanted to prepare, in his own words, an elegant dinner for his guests.

After poring through the 8-10 options I sent him for main courses, he settled on maybe the most elegant. I helped him with the menu and guided him through – he did all the work – and I got to be bossy: all was right with the world.

Bleu Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon (Serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6   1 1/4 inch filets – shameless pitch here for Price Chopper, his grocery store upstate – great meats and where Rachael Ray got her start…just sayin’
  • 1 Cup crumbled Bleu Cheese – we bought a block and he crumbled it by hand – better than buying pre-crumbled stuff
  • 1 Cup Progresso Panko Style bread crumbs – love
  • Butter
  • 1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the Oven to 425 degrees

1. In a small fry pan, melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium heat

2. Add the bread crumbs and toast until browned. Flip ’em around occasionally to brown well. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool

progresso bread crumbs panko

Don’t Be Shy About Browning the Panko

3. Salt and Pepper the filets on one side

filet mignon bleu cheese

Salted and Peppered

4. In a second medium/large fry pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter over med/high heat

5. Add the filets salted/peppered side down to the melted butter. This is your chance to salt/pepper the other side

filet mignon with bleu cheese

Searing One Side S/P The Other

6. Sear the filets for 2-3 mins per side. They should be well browned

filet mignon price chopper bleu cheese

Well browned searing in taste and juices

7. Remove from the pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet lined parchment paper side up with Reynolds Wrap Pan Lining paper – the mullet of cooking papers tin foil one side, parchment on the other

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Worth the price

8. Mix together the crumbled bleu cheese, olive oil and toasted panko bread crumbs

bleu cheese mixture for filet

Bleu Cheese Crumbled by Hand

9. Carefully top each filet with a heaping spoonful of the cheese/bread crumb mix. You can gently press the topping into each filet

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon

Layer on the Cheese, Bread Crumb Mixture

10. Place the topped filets into the oven and bake for :06 – :08 mins for Medium-Rare

11. Let rest for :05, then plate and serve

bleu cheese crusted filet mignon dinner

The one with the Stick was for our rarest of rare meat eater friend

Barack Obama Swearing In inauguration

Barack’s 3rd Swearing In Yesterday

Interesting fact about today’s Inauguration…This will be the fourth time that Barack Obama will be sworn in as president. He flubbed the words at the first one and had to have a redo four years ago – could happen to anyone. Then, because the 20th was on a Sunday, he was sworn in yesterday and will be re-sworn in today as part of the inauguration celebration. The only other person to be sworn in 4 times is FDR, because he was elected four times.

There’s a lunch today too. And the Obamas honored more than just healthy foods and Hawaii today. For lunch they served lobster and bison – the presidential seal of approval for all from Maine to Colorado.

But as far as the big dinner tonight, I liked our elegant meal better than the inaugural double fish fest. And, our bananas flambe dessert tops pineapple upside down cake any day.

Well done, my upstate friend. A truly elegant and more than inauguration worthy meal.

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New Year’s Resolution – Finish What You Start: Bleu Cheese Mashed and Potato Pancakes

whole foods yukon gold potatoes

Light Fluffy and Bleu Cheesy

Some people have a hard time finishing things. I, myself, have added ‘finish the books I start’ to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. It just happens – maybe you grew bored of the thing you’ve started or maybe you think it’s taking too long to get to the good parts of 50 Shades of Grey – whatever the reason, certain tasks just aren’t completed.

It’s hard to believe that this could happen with something as delectable as mashed potatoes. But it does. You made too much of the stuff. You didn’t know that some of your dinner guests are strict carnivores or veggie-free. They don’t eat side dishes. They didn’t show. Or, God forbid, they just don’t like potatoes!

Regardless of how it happened, you might find yourself left with a bowlful of cold, rapidly aging mashed potatoes in your fridge following such a party.

If you’re like most Americans…You’ve probably had a mashed potato or two in the past four weeks. One way to avoid having leftover mashed potatoes is to doctor them up a bit – make something unexpected out of the expected.

Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes – washed and quartered…no need to peel
  • 1/2 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • 8 oz of crumbled bleu cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water – enough water so that the water is at least two inches higher than the potatoes

Note: If, like most of us…You want to get ahead and cut the potatoes early…Just keep them in a large stock pot covered with ice water – this will keep them from turning an icky brown color

2. Bring the pot of potato filled water to a boil

Whole Foods yukon Gold potatoes

Bringing to a boil

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender – about 15 minutes

4. In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and butter

bleu cheese mashed potatoes

Heating the Cream and Butter

5. Drain the potatoes and then place them back into the still hot stock pot. This helps to steam the extra water out of the potatoes so you don’t get watery mashed potatoes

6. Using a masher, ricer or fork, mash the potatoes to your own desired consistency – I like ’em pretty smooth

Williams-Sonoma Potato Masher

This one’s from WS

Potato Ricer

From Wolfgang Puck

7. While mashing, ricing or forking, add the warmed milk/butter and whip in

8. Add in the sour cream and bleu cheese and mix until well combined

9. Add salt and pepper to taste

10. Serve immediately OR (thank you, Rachael Ray) you can put the mashed bleu cheese potato mixture in a separate bowl, cover and place over a bowl of simmering water on the stove top and keep warm for up to an hour or more. Shut the front door!

Now….In spite of how fab and different this potato dish was…it’s the next day and your lame non-mashed potato eating friends couldn’t finish this tasty side dish. Sure, you could toss the extra mashed potatoes…But in the spirit of the New Year and finishing what you start…Get creative and make…

Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Whatever left over mashed potatoes you have, but at least 2 1/2 cups with ratio of other ingredients below
  • 1/3 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TSP of sugar – you can leave this out, but it really helps to crisp up the edges of the pancakes
  • Butter for frying

1. Bring the mashed potatoes, Sour Cream and egg to room temperature

2. To the bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, add the sour cream, egg, sugar and Bisquick and mix to well combined.

bleu cheese potato pancakes

Just eyeball the ingredient amounts

NOTE: eyeball the consistency – you want it somewhat thick – not as thin as pancakes. Depending upon how much of the mashed potatoes you have left over, you may need to add a little more baking mix or another egg.

mashed potato left over pancakes

Not totally smooth, you want to taste the potatoes

3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over med/high heat – you can use vegetable oil/canola oil as well…just not olive oil

4. Drop pancake-y sized dollops of the mixture into the hot skillet and fry until lightly golden brown on one side

bleu cheese mash left over

Browning side one

5. Flip the pancakes and fry the second side

mash potato pancakes

See the crispy edges…that’s the sugar at work

6. Serve warm as a fab day two side dish….Or for breakfast – but, I wouldn’t put syrup on these…Just a little butter, maybe a chive or two would be great.

Some things prove harder to finish than others. But, you can get creative. For me, maybe that means finishing the books I start by watching the movie. Don’t judge, the end result is the same. To finish off your mashed potatoes, try whipping up a day two side dish of potato pancakes.