Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For him

He makes me angry when he leaves his socks on the floor and his t-shirts on the dining room chairs. He infuriates me when he makes a mess in the kitchen whenever he prepares a sandwich. He annoys the heck out of me when he insists I can’t always be right on every single thing. He irritates me when he believes in me more than I could ever believe in myself. And that makes me love him even more.

I love the way I feel when I’m in his arms, like everything is alright in this world. I love the way he plays the guitar and how he inspires me to write music with him. I love the way he looks at me, like I’m the only woman on the face of the earth.

I never wait for Valentine’s Day to show him how I feel about him and I would never suggest to anyone to do that. Life is now. Life is our past and our future all wrapped into the present; into today. Time is fleeting and it’s never soon enough to show someone you love them.

I know how he likes to fall asleep. I know what makes him laugh. I know what makes him sad. I know how he takes his coffee. I know how he prefers his steak cooked. I know how he always wants to eat the crunchiest part of the potato.

I know what his favorite food is and I cook it for him every chance I get. Just like I did the other day. Not because it was Valentine’s Day, not because it was his birthday or a special occasion, but simply because I wanted to make him happy. To offer him something I knew he’d love.

A beautiful beef fillet steak with a chanterelle mushroom butter, flavored with garlic and herbs that slowly melted over the meat, and thin, very thin, fried potatoes with crispy edges and a soft center.

A match made in heaven of the perfectly cooked, succulent beef, the earthy, woody, golden chanterelles blended with thyme and parsley, the richness of the butter, and of course the fried potatoes, with my own little twist on them, a very thin rectangular cut that makes them delicate and perfectly delicious.

Beef Fillet Steaks with Chanterelle Mushroom Butter and Fried Potatoes

You can certainly use a rib-eye steak if you prefer it, but the tenderness of a fillet steak is unsurpassable. Choose a thick fillet steak, about 4 cm thick, as it will be juicier.

The way of cutting the potatoes is my own way of creating a different style of fried potatoes when I want something a little more special. I used a mandoline to cut them but you can also use a very sharp chef’s knife to do the job.

Yield: 2 main-course servings


for the mushroom butter
125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
100 g chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped in small pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (from 3-4 sprigs), chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

for the potatoes
3 large floury potatoes, about 1 kg
Olive oil or sunflower oil for frying

for the fillet steaks
2 beef or veal fillet steaks, 150-160 g each, with a 4 cm thickness (approximately)
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: mandoline (optional), heavy-bottomed or cast-iron skillet or sauté pan


for the mushroom butter
In a medium-sized frying pan, add the olive oil and halved garlic clove and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chanterelle mushrooms and sauté for 1-2 minutes until they soften. Add a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, mix with a spoon and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the mushrooms to cool in the pan. Then, remove and discard the garlic.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the butter and mix it with a fork to soften it. Add the cooled mushrooms and the olive oil from the pan, the thyme and parsley and a little salt and pepper, and mix gently with a spoon. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature until the beef fillet and potatoes are ready.

for the potatoes
Peel the potatoes and cut them into a rectangular shape. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut the potatoes into 2-3 mm-thick slices (cutting them on their longer side). Place them on kitchen paper in a single layer and pat them dry. This will help in the crisping up of their outer layer when frying. Leave them covered with the paper towels until you fry them.
It’s best if you fry the potatoes while the meat is cooking, since they take so little time to cook.

Heat the olive or sunflower oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. You can check if the oil is ready for frying by dropping in a 2.5 cm cube of white bread. If it browns in 60 seconds, it is ready, if it browns in less time then your oil is too hot and you should allow it to cool down. If you have a deep-fry thermometer or a deep-fryer, you should set it to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit.
Deep-fry the potatoes in batches (you don’t want to overcrowd the pan otherwise the slices will stick to one another and you’ll have a mass of potatoes instead of individual slices) for about 4 minutes or until they take on a golden-brown color. Be careful not to cook them too long because they'll become hard. Also be careful not to burn them because they are very thin and catch easily. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on plate covered with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. They should be crunchy and a little soft, not like potato chips. Sprinkle them with salt.

for the fillet steaks
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour before you want to cook them so they come to room temperature. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture which can stop the meat from caramelizing in the pan.
In a heavy-bottomed or cast-iron skillet or sauté pan (I use a cast-iron skillet), add the olive oil and heat over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper on both sides. When the pan is very hot, add them to the pan, spaced apart. Cook them on medium-high heat on one side for 3 minutes and then flip them over and cook them for a further 2 minutes for medium-rare. Cook them more or less time according to how you like to eat your steaks. Bear in mind that the cooking times apply for steaks of aforementioned size and thickness. If your fillets are smaller/bigger or thinner/thicker than the ones indicated here then you'll need to adjust the cooking times.
Remove the steaks from the pan and place them on a large piece of aluminum foil. Cover the steaks with the foil and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. Resting the meat is very important because it relaxes and its juices spread equally throughout it. If you cut the meat straight after you've taken it off the heat, all the juices will run out instead of staying in and keeping the meat moist.

Serve the steaks, drizzled with the juices accumulated in the aluminum foil, with a good dollop of mushroom butter on top and the fried potatoes on the side, immediately.

You can keep the rest of the chanterelle mushroom butter in the fridge, covered well with plastic wrap for 1 day.


  1. Gorgeous post Magda - your words are so lovely and the images have me salivating!

  2. Beautiful post, Magda - in every way: your words, photos, recipes. Lucky S. and lucky you! Happy Valentine's day... Grilled rack of lamb on this end of the world...

  3. Another magical post Magda. I am dying to make those potatoes and your steak is perfection.

  4. Thank you all!

    David — rack of lamb... yum!! Lucky Mark!

  5. Your post is lovely food-wise and word-wise. Great simply made recipes. Happy February.

  6. Looks like he is lucky to have you too! And I agree, it is always a good time to celebrate love, non just once a year.

  7. Hi Magda,
    such a heart-warming post, honest and loving and creative
    I really like your unique cut/shape of potatoes!
    Now is always the moment to celebrate good food with those we love.

  8. Magda, I loved reading this post and seeing that how you express your love through the food you cook.
    I could devour that plate of deliciousness right now:)

  9. Oh, Magda. Your food always looks stunning and leaves me hungry for whatever it is you've prepared. I've been eating many vegetables, fruits, and grains lately, and have felt quite satisfied, but now you have me craving a nice steak. And I agree with Myriam, lucky S.

  10. Wow! My first time here and you have brought tears to my eyes. This is exactly how I feel about my husband but you were able to put it in words. Which is very hard for me to do. I follow at least 50 blogs but yours is now on the top. So thankful for you and your blog. Thank you!