September 14, 2009 | 6:32am
I never claimed to be an awesome cook. I've got two knock-em-dead recipes in my repertoire -- meatloaf and chicken marsala -- but otherwise it's a crapshoot as to whether anything that comes out of my kitchen is even edible. But, alas, my new beau has wined and dined me for weeks now, and I've only reciprocated with pancakes from a mix, so I knew it was time to put out.
With trepidation, I unwrapped the gorgeous new Morton's The Cookbook
, provided gratis by the PR gals who handle some of the local steakhouses
, and shoved it at him with a nervous request to pick a few faves. Thankfully, he opted for some pretty simple recipes: tenderloin medallions al forno, sautéed garlic green beans, blue-cheese French fries, and a tiramisu Mortini for liquid dessert.
So here's a modified version of the main course:
Tenderloin Medallions Al Forno
Sprinkle eight two-ounce tenderloins with seasoned salt. Saute them in clarified butter for about two minutes on each side for medium rare. Drop them into an oven-safe dish, and ladle them with a tablespoon of chopped garlic and butter. Sprinkle them with 1/8 cup of grated Parmesan and then broil them for 25 seconds.
The green beans were super easy to make, since they only took three minutes to boil and required nothing more than a quick sauté with garlic, butter, and chopped shallot. My handsome assistant handled the fries, which were a bit more complex, especially since he opted to slice up potatoes instead of shortcutting with the frozen fries that the recipe called for. [Somehow I doubt Morton's uses frozen fries in their restaurants, but I thought that was really cool of the cookbook's authors to give us neophytes a break.] The next steps were to mix together some crumbled blue cheese and heavy cream, then squirt it over the cooked fries, bake the whole shebang, then top it with minced chives and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
In retrospect, I think we would've forgone the cheese from the meat, since we already had some on the fries, and we would've used a mere fraction of the butter; if you do the math, you'll realize our meal for two comprised ¾ cup of melted butter for the meat alone and nearly a ¼ cup for the green beans. Ewww. [The original recipe actually called for a side of fettuccine with a heavy cream sauce and extra garlic butter for the tenderloin, but our arteries begged for restraint, so we skipped both.] And since we baked our fries with cooking spray instead of drowning them in oil, we surely sacrificed a bit of flavor and texture, but neither of us was disappointed in the result.
To cap off the meal, we split one tiramisu-flavored martini, an eggnog-colored concoction calling for a combination of brandy, heavy cream, dark crème de cacao, an egg yolk, mascarpone cheese, and pure maple syrup, plus coffee liqueur and semisweet chocolate shavings that we replaced with Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka and a grated Hershey bar. It was thick and delicious.
Not only was the meal tasty, but we were left with two medallions and enough beans and fries for another full serving.
Weighing the pros and cons of making these recipes at home versus dining at Morton's, we came to the following conclusion: though the steakhouse has more ambiance and less cat hair than my apartment's kitchen/dining room, and though we were stuck doing dishes and forking out about $75 for all the ingredients, we had loads of fun making the meal and were really, really impressed with the results. And we'd definitely give this cookbook another go in the future... after I rip out the three-page, 23-ingredient recipe for Rack of Lamb Wellington.