Filet Mignon with Truffled Mushrooms. Cauliflower and Manchego gratin. Padrón peppers. Simple spinach salad.

I was looking forward to Friday night staying in and cooking a decadent meal with someone special all relaxed during this unseasonal July cold spell. This was not intended to be a healthy meal, but I wanted to include the Farmers Market buys I picked up this week. Cauliflower has become somewhat of a trendy food lately, as you’ll notice by the cauliflower “rice” and the cauliflower “mashed potatoes” you see all over the food blogs and in the hot food section of Whole Foods. Cauliflower has many health benefits, such as cancer prevention, detox support, antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits and digestive support. If we fail to give our body’s detox system adequate nutritional support, yet continue to expose ourselves to unwanted toxins through our lifestyle and our dietary choices, we can place our bodies at increased risk of toxin-related damage that can eventually increase our cells’ risk of becoming cancerous. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to bring cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables into our diet on a regular basis.

My dad and his friends have this dinner club, that pairs two gentlemen together, and monthly they take turns doing what they call Man Meals at rotating houses. This means there is a lot of meat, comfort food and scotch. Think premium steaks, macaroni and cheese, garlic bread and very little greens. This meal is inspired by those man meals, filet mignon and mushroom ragout, with manchego cauliflower gratin and padrón peppers. I added a simple spinach salad to complete the feast, because I am eating this meal too and greens are a must at my table.

For the filet and mushroom ragout:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 12 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/3 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 2 1-inch-thick filet mignons (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
  • Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and marjoram; sauté 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; toss to coat with butter. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms have released their juices, about 13 minutes. Add chicken broth, wine, and whipping cream and bring to boil. Cook uncovered until mushrooms are tender and sauce coats mushrooms, about 5 minutes. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Ragout can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover skillet and refrigerate.
  • Heat heavy medium skillet over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil and tilt skillet to coat evenly. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Rewarm mushroom ragout in skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Spoon ragout partially over steaks and onto plates. Drizzle mushrooms on each plate with 1/4 teaspoon truffle oil.

Cauliflower and Manchengo gratin

  1. 3/4 cup half-and-half
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  4. 1 cup whole milk
  5. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets
  8. 1/2 cup whole roasted almonds with skin, plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds (3 ounces)
  9. 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely shredded Manchego or other mildly nutty semi-aged sheep’s- or cow’s-milk cheese (3 1/2 ounces), such as Gouda
  10. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  11. 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half until steaming, then transfer it to a food processor or blender. Add the 1/2 cup of whole almonds and process until finely ground. Let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the half-and-half through a fine sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the almonds to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the ground almonds.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and the half-and-half and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add 3/4 cup of the Manchego and whisk until melted. Whisk in the nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  3. In a large skillet, bring 1/2 inch of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower, cover and cook over high heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a colander. Wipe out the skillet.
  4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the cauliflower to a 7-by-10-inch glass or ceramic baking dish and spread the Manchego sauce on top.
  5. Sprinkle the gratin with the remaining cheese, the 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds and the paprika and bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling and browned on top. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I completed the meal with blistered padrón peppers, cooked over high heat and salted, because I know my date loves this seasonal specialty. And a simple spinach salad with balsamic and heirloom cherry tomatoes.

We both were satisfied.