Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Eve

We decided to stay home this year. We are 5000 miles away from the best firework display in the world - Copacabana Beach! So what's the point... When we don't spend the holidays in Rio de Janeiro, we usually have dinner at a nice restaurant in Washington DC. However, this year we have a little man who gets really cranky when he's up past his bedtime. We stayed home with a good bottle of sparkling wine and good food. I didn't have much time to cook and didn't want to try something new that we might or might not like. I went with two of our favorites -- Fillet in Puff Pastry and Mushroom Risotto. We put the baby to bed around 8 pm and cooked our dinner. After dinner, my husband and I exchanged newsletters. We started this tradition the year we got married. We write a newsletter to each other, describing the highlights of the year. We don't share them with anybody. We are going to keep them all for our boy when he gets older. This year we re-read all the newsletters after the 2006 one. I'm so glad we have them, I would have forgotten some of the things if we didn't have in writing. We laughed, reminded one another of things we did, had some more sparkling wine, and best of all - I had as much fun as I would have had watching 24 tons of fireworks at Copacabana Beach.

Fillet in Puff Pastry with Red Wine Sauce

6 fillet steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped
4 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds puff pastry
1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Red Wine Sauce, recipe follows

In a large skillet, over high heat, saute steaks in 3 tablespoons butter for 30 seconds on each side. Set aside to cool completely.
In the same skillet, with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, cook shallots and mushrooms until all liquid evaporates. Add cream, salt and pepper. Reduce over moderate heat to a thick puree. Cool. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Divide pastry into 6 equal portions. On a lightly floured board, roll out each portion to a rectangle approximately 6 by 12 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Place each steak on one side of a pastry rectangle, leaving enough room to fold over.
Top each steak with mushroom puree. Brush edges of the pastry with egg wash and then fold it over and shape it to the contours of the meat. Cut away excess pastry and decorate as desired. Glaze the tops of the pastry with egg wash.
Bake the steaks 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
Arrange each on a heated plate and garnish with watercress and red wine sauce.

Red Wine Sauce:
1 cup Red Wine
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
1 cup veal stock
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
In a saucepan, bring wine, shallots, and thyme to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until only 1/3 cup remains. Add the stock; continue to reduce, over medium heat, until slightly thickened. Whisk in the butter. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.


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