3.08.2014

Fashionable Food

Recently, I made Steak Diane. I haven't had it since 1978; I remember the evening well. It was Parents' Weekend of my junior year in college and, as a treat, my folks took me out to a fancy restaurant. It was the first time I ever had Steak Diane, or anything prepared and flambéed table-side. For a young college kid, it seemed really sophisticated and elegant. I haven't seen it on a menu since.

I searched for a recipe online - and found several which I adapted to make today's recipe. As I was perusing the recipes, I also read the Wikipedia entry, which explained that it went out of fashion in 1980.

Really? Someone actually dated the moment it went out of fashion? Who does that? Who has that power? Who has the nerve to take such a good dish out of the repertoire?

And, pray tell, why didn't they make these things unfashionable?: Jell-O®. Kool-Aid®. Cheese Whiz®. Cool Whip®. Canned Chicken Chow Mein. Kraft Mac n Cheese®. Rice-a-Roni®. Okay, anything with a spice packet. Spam Hawaiian. Baked ham with pineapple and maraschino cherries. Sweet potatoes baked with orange juice and marshmallows. With all the possibilities out there, why did they pick on Diane?

I am planning her comeback. If Cher can do it (repeatedly), so can Diane.

When I first made this at home, I didn't do it table-side for Mark. He was sitting at the table watching, though, and we both gasped when I put the match to the brandy! My only experience with flambéeing thus far had been our Christmas pudding, an annual gift from our friend Laura. When you pour the brandy over the pudding, enough is absorbed that the flames don't fly up and singe your eyebrows.
  • Warning: flambéeing Steak Diane does present your eyebrows/bangs/mustache/beard with a serious risk for singeing. When they say "stand back," they mean it!

One of the nicest side benefits of making Steak Diane is that it cooks in mere minutes. The down side is that, aside from measuring your ingredients, it cannot be done ahead.

So, for this reason, I can't imagine serving it for a formal dinner party, especially as our kitchen is open to view from the dining and living rooms. No, for me, this calls for an informal, casual gathering of a few friends who won't mind watching from the sidelines.

Cooking as spectator sport. Now that the Olympics are over, this is something we could watch on ESPN. (Yes, I know about the food channel!)

~ David

Steak Diane

4 (3-ounce) filet mignon medallions, between 1/2 and 3/4 inches thick
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
6 cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/4 cup reduced veal stock **
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (click for recipe)
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish


NOTE: Have all your ingredients chopped, sliced and measured before you start cooking. 


Pat the beef dry with paper towels then season medallions on both sides with the salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for 45 seconds on the first side. Turn and cook for 45 seconds on the second side. Remove the meat and place on a plate tented with foil to keep warm. Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 minutes.


Add the brandy and ignite off the heat. When the flame has burned out, add the mustard and crème fraîche, mix thoroughly and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the veal stock and simmer for 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire and stir to combine. Stir in the chives and parsley and return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pan; turn the meat to coat with the sauce.


Remove from the heat and divide medallions and sauce between 2 large warmed plates and serve immediately.


Serves 2


     ** I used 2 tablespoons demi-glace concentrate thinned with 2 tablespoons water.

40 comments:

  1. Filet mignon, mushrooms, cognac? Doesn't sound out of style to me!

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    1. Good to know I am not the only one out there who thinks this! Maybe sometime for you and Kristine?

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  2. Oh yum…this dish looks amazing! What could be better than steak, mushrooms and cognac served with those wonderful potatoes! Great photo of the flambe! I love that measuring spoon…it reminds me of something my mother used to have in her kitchen when I was young!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I know - the combination of ingredients is pretty wonderful. Funny thing - I have had those measuring spoons for years and just recently bought the matching coffee scoop for a friend for her birthday. Guess they are still made!

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  3. David, loving absolutely everything about today´s post - the recipe (classics should never go out of style), the presentation, the photos and, particularly your lovely side dishes - the purple potatoes are such a rare sight and not easy to find, even around here - I did manage to find some wonderful ones at an agricultural fair a few weeks back and proudly them around with me the whole afternoon (heavy) - be that as it may, it all looks so delicious - I would not mind coming over for some fabulous "Steak Diane" and watch you cooking away!
    Are you able to follow the para-Olympics on TV...they started yesterday.
    Ich wünsche euch ein wunderschönes Wochenende - es ist so schönes Wetter hier, Zeit für Spaziergänge!
    Liebe Grüße,
    Andrea

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    1. Andrea - I am so glad you are able to get purple potatoes! One thing I love even more are the purple sweet potatoes! They keep their color better. I really wish you could come over for Steak Diane - what a great time we would have!

      Sadly, I don't think we will be able to see the Para-Olympics. We get so few channels (by choice). One of the alumnae of the college where I work is a gold medal para-Olympian! She is amazing - her name is Cheri Blauwet, and (in addition) she is an incredible surgeon.

      Glad your weatheris good enough to go for a walk. Just beautiful here, too. Tchüß!

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  4. Purple potatoes? Obviously I don't get out enough. The rest of it was glorious. But I'm not brave enough to start a fire and then eat it. I love the idea of your bringing back a classic. Like Cher.

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    1. You haven't seen purple potatoes, Susan? They are from our farmers market - quite yummy and such a pretty color! I have to say, I got a real kick out of flambéeing the brandy!

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  5. This made me chuckle - I'm behind you 'bringing fetch back'! :) Lovely dish and the colors are ... well... quite fashionable!

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    1. Thanks, Ahu! Yes, bring back the fetch! :)

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  6. LOVED this one David! I agree-- if rotel and velveeta cheese dip doesn't go out of style, why Diane?! (I'm a westerner now...I have seen my share of this culinary delicacy a lot since moving here)

    I have a very fond memory of watching Julia make it on one of her shows (the color ones, not the black and white ones), so you can imagine this budding culinista lying on tummy in front of the TV, hands on chin, completely enthralled at the dimming of lights and lighting of match! (Good thing Julia was tall, those flames nearly singed her granny whiskers!)

    And just a side note....on my monthly pilgrimage to Portland (and Trader Joe's), I picked up the same yellow mesh bag of purple potatoes....couldn't resist the complementary colors!

    Starting my write-in campaign to bring Diane back.... XO

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    1. Wow, Karin, I will have to see if that episode of Julia is available on YouTube! How fun!

      I got the potatoes at our farmers market, actually - locally grown. They were so tasty!

      What other recipes should we bring back?

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  7. What a beautiful plate of food, D! I have purple taters in the frigo. Guess what I'm serving for dinner tonight?? xo

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    1. Let me know what you think, Colette! And congrats again on your year anniversary!! xo

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    2. David, it was as delicious as it was pretty. Tinks!

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    3. I am so glad - you are so sweet to make it! Hope you didn't lose your eyebrows! :)

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  8. I guess when it comes to Wikipedia anybody has the power to say when something has gone out of fashion. I had to think about it, but it seems that the last time I had Steak Diane was somewhere around 1978, as well. My godmother took me to a highway restaurant by the lookout over Wollongong, south of Sydney. I paired it with a strawberry milkshake! I was all class back then!

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    1. That is a great point about Wilipedia, John! Maybe I should go in and enter, "Recently brought back into fashion by the cutting edge blog Cocoa & Lavender (2014)..." Just a thought...

      I am sure you cut a dashing figure with strawberry milkshake in one hand and your fork in the other...

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  9. There is probably some health and safety law about flambé next to the table... maybe one too many singed eyebrows and off the menu it went :) I applaud your efforts to give Diane a comeback, after all if fondue can make a sneaky foray back on the scene surely there is a place for Diane as well.

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    1. You are probably right, Karen - and it probably went off the menu when the menu itself went up in flames from the flambé! I had forgotten that fondue has made a comeback, with all its 1960s accoutrements and all... Ahh, life on the slopes...

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  10. So just got in from long car trip and see your latest and greatest post. No way my frozen lasagn will satisfying me now. Damn you xoxo

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    1. Haha! Jill, I consider it a privilege to save you from frozen lasagne!

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  11. As a child of the 80's I've never eaten Steak Diane. It sounds delicious though... I'm rather miffed that they decided to make it 'out of fashion' a few years before I was born! The good thing is, with your recipe I can actually make it for myself and revisit the wonder of flambe (with safety goggles on, I think). Beautiful dish David. Very elegant, with the purple potatoes and the vibrant green of the broccoli. Yum! x

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    1. Laura - what's not to like about this dish... maybe Wikipedia will change its mind on this one. Don't fear the flambé - just stand back!

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  12. I'm the one who deemed Steak Diane unfashionable in 1980. I remember the day well. I was a Junior in High School and I had a girlfriend named Diane. The rest in unprintable, but trust me, she had in coming. GREG

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    1. Thanks, Greg - good to know how it happened... Guess I will have to wait for the movie to come out to find out exactly what transpired!

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  13. Yes! I agree, Diane should be like pearls, a perennial favorite! John makes this and it's amazing. I love your write-up of foods that should be passe, too!

    I like your mini-broccoli - I bought some mini-cauliflower yesterday at the Farmer's Market.

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    1. I like the analogy to pearls, Susan! The mini broccoli came from our market - they were so full of flavor!

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  14. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, I haven't flambéd anything since I don't drink! This dish still looks great. I have heard of Steak Diane, maybe in my mums old cookbooks. We can hope as hard we can that certain foods would go out of date, but there's no such luck. Well I guess there's Twinkies, they're gone. They were awful. Thanks David for bringing back a lovely recipe!

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    1. Ah, yes - but now that Twinkies are gone, there are so many recipes telling us how to make them at home! Sigh... I bet you could easily make the Diane using a substitute for the cognac and skipping the conflagration!

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    2. I thought Twinkies were back....I loved them as a child!

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    3. What do you know - Twinkies were resuscitated almost a year ago! How did I miss that? Never liked them as a kid, probably because I was from Philadelphia and our preferred treats were Tastykakes®.

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  15. Wow--This looks divine. I love table side presentation, too. Can you resurrect Caesar salad prepared at the table?

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    1. Sure - no problem with the Caesar salad, Susan! Glad you like the post!

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  16. It seems like neither one of us are paying any attention to what is in style when it comes to food. I've always loved steak Diane but think it stopped being on menus because of the flambé part of the dish. I think restaurants are afraid of the liability. Your entire meal looks delicious and colorful too.

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    1. It is a good thing we aren't "fashionable folk," Karen! We would be missing out on a lot! Thanks for your nice comment!

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  17. This looks fabulous! Will add it to my list. And, I love your story!

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  18. Great writing! And although I had never heard of steak Diane before (... I was still a child in 1980, the exact year it went out of fashion ;o) ) I couldn't agree more: why don't other monstruosities I cannot even call food go out of fashion instead?

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    1. Thanks, Fiona! At least you live in a country where many of these abominations aren't tolerated! Good food/slow food is Queen/King in Italy!

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