An easy way to hold a dinner party and not have the stress of doing all the cooking for a large number is to have each guest bring a dish. For my Mother Forkers cooking club we usually chose a cookbook to explore and cook from. For our recent Anniversary Party I asked everyone to bring a dish inspired by our wedding menu. Now I knew this was a big ask – I mean our wedding was at La Côte Basque – the fluttering flags and fishing boats of the murals, the silver cloches, the filet mignon topped with foie gras, the filled tomatoes – how could any of us live up to the legendary cooking of Chef Jean-Jaques Rachou (my father-in-law) from 16 years ago? Secretly, I knew my friends would rise to the occasion and love the challenge – they pulled out all the stops for a French inspired feast washed down with copious amounts of Champagne – my idea of heaven!
Caroline made a vegetable tart with light filo pastry and a rich creamy cheesy filling that I went back for second helpings it was melt in the mouth delicious.
Liz and Luke arrived with the entire Beverly Hills Cheese Store piled high on a platter which we ate with homemade bread I baked that afternoon.
Ilse and Meeno brought a bright yellow bowl filled with goose eggs from Skyfarm – plus Meeno brought his camera and took photos and made us all look gorgeous and glamorous, Anniversary Party. I gave each guest a goose egg as a going home present – I’m still waiting to get photos of what they cooked with it back from them.
I was to make a dish inspired by the filet mignon course.
Oh Help! I decided it was a hot night and there would be a lot of food so I would keep it light. Nathan McCall at my favorite local butchers McCalls Meat and Fish Co. on Hillhurst came up trumps again. I know it’s a cliché but it really pays to get to know your local butcher – especially when he happens to be a world class chef who has worked in the kitchen of Arzak in Spain and Daniel in New York, among other fancy places. Nathan always selects the finest cut of meat and then gives me instructions on how to cook it to perfection – this time by making a herb infused butter to brush over the meat as it cooked. I explained that I wanted filet mignon to put in a salad for a special dinner party. I neglected to tell him the La Côte Basque connection – I’ll save that for another day, perhaps when I introduce him to Jean-Jacques when he next visits us.
For dessert we ate little chocolate/caramel, lemon and fruit tarts made my Nathan’s wife, pastry chef Karen Yoo – an alumna of the Daniel kitchen also – did they meet in the steamy atmosphere of the 3 star Michelin kitchen I wonder, with Daniel Boulud playing cupid?
You will need
filet mignon – about 2 lbs
2 tablespoons butter
sprig of thyme
parsnips – cut into 2 inch batons
baby turnips – cut into quarters
1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
2 tablespoons Teeny Tiny Spice Co. of Vermont Organic Vadavan
olive oil – lots for cooking and some really good quality for dressing the salad
baby spinach and baby salad leaves
What to do
1. Pre-heat the oven to 300 F. In a large non-stick pan sear the filet mignon really well over high heat. Remove the meat from the frying pan and place on the rack of a roasting dish. Add the butter and thyme to the frying pan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Brush the meat with some of the infused melted butter and place in oven for about 30-40 minutes – until the meat thermometer reads 130F.
2. Remove the filet mignon from the oven, brush with the remaining butter infusion and let rest.
3. Turn up the oven to 400 F.
4. Put the parsnips, turnips, cauliflower and Vadavan spice in a large bowl with approximately 3 tablespoons olive oil. Coat evenly and then spread out in a large roasting dish. In a separate dish put the tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper.
5. Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, turning once as they brown and crisp up. Add the tomatoes to the oven after about 10 minutes and roast for 20 minutes until just beginning to burst. Once cooked remove from the oven and let cool.
6. Just before you are ready to serve spread the baby spinach and salad leaves over a large plater. Squeeze the limes over the top, being careful to catch any pips and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Arrange the roasted vegetables and roasted cherry tomatoes on top of the green leaves. Slice the filet mignon and arrange on to of the vegetables. Serve immediately with horseradish sauce.