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Merry Christmas!

As the year comes to an end, we give thanks for all the extra special people in our lives that have brightened our days, who were there for us when we needed a shoulder to lean on and with whom we have spent some memorable times. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. May the New Year bring you love, joy, peace, harmony, good health and prosperity.
The success of Heaven on Hearth depends on loyal followers like you. With my warmest Christmas Regards, have a Happy Season.
Natascha 


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Melted Leeks with Cream

Leeks have a delicate onion flavor and smell a bit like scallion. With a hint of nutmeg and a small splash of cream added to the delicate taste, this simple side dish becomes a complex delight that will compliment fish, poultry or beef.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth


 You will need:

4 stalks leeks, yields 5 cups sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Remove the course outer stalk of the leek as well as cutting off the very dark green leaves at the top, as they don’t have a lot of flavor and are quite woody and chewy.

We will be using the white onion base and the light green stalks. Slice leeks in ¼ - ½ in slices. Then they need to be washed a few times as leeks tend to hold a bit of sand in between the layers. Rinse under running water, ensuring all the sand has been removed. I tend to rinse them at least 3 times. To check that they are free of sand, fill a bowl with water; place the sliced leeks in the water. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon and if the bottom of the bowl is clear of sand, you can drain and dry on paper towels. If not, continue to rinse them until clean.

Heat a deep skillet, over medium high heat, and then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. 

Once the butter has melted, toss in the washed, drained and dried leeks, sauté for 3 minutes before adding 2 more tablespoons butter. 

Sauté for another 2 minutes, then add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Allow the leeks to melt for another 5 minutes before adding 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Remove from heat.

This serves 4. Voilà. This is a wonderful side dish for meats, poultry or fish. This is also a beautiful compliment to Salmon with Garam Masala Baked in Parchment

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Salmon with Garam Masala Baked in Parchment

With all different types of spices available on the market, it’s so easy to experiment.
Indian spices in particular tend to have everything you need to tickle your tastebuds. They like to blend a handful of spices that are fragrant, pungent, warm, spicy and sweet into a beautiful blend of flavors.

Garam Masala is an Indian mix of spices, made of ground coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, charmushka, caraway, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, that compliment the salmon perfectly without being too overpowering.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

You will need:

2 feet parchment paper
1½ pounds of salmon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Garam masala, Punjabi style

Pre-heat oven at 500°Fahrenheit
Salmon Filet on Parchment Paper
Spread 2 feet of parchment paper on a flat surface, place the salmon filet in the middle of the sheet. 

Salmon Filet Seasoned with Salt and Punjabi Style Garam Masala
Season the filet, with ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon Punjabi style Garam masala on each side.
Seasoned Salmon Filet Folded in Parchment Paper
Once seasoned, fold the paper lengthwise first, by folding about 1 inch wide, until you have reached about 1 inch away from the filet, then fold the sides then fold under the filet.

Place the salmon, folded in parchment paper on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake at for 10 minutes.
Ready to be Served!
This serves 4. Voilà. This dish goes well with Melted Leeks with Cream and Potatoes with Bonne Herbes Parisienne.

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Potatoes with Bonnes Herbes Parisienne

Small honey gold potatoes, about 1 to 1½ inches in size, have a buttery sweet flavor with velvety golden flesh and delicate skin.
Bonnes Herbes Parisienne are a rich fragrant herb mix of chives, dill weed, basil, basil, French tarragon, chervil and white pepper. The combination of traditional French herbs makes this versatile blend both savory and sweet.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth


You will need:
1½ pounds of honey gold potatoes
1 tablespoon salt
water
2 tablespoons butter
1 heaping teaspoon Bonnes Herbes Parisienne


Wash potatoes properly. These potatoes are so small and are usually clean, but I like to give them a good wash before cooking. Fill a large pot with water; add 1 tablespoon salt, adding the potatoes to the water filled pot. I like to cover them with about 1 -2 inches of water. Boil over medium high heat for approximately 28 minutes or until cooked, however, this will vary depending on the size of the pot or even your stove. It may take less time or even a bit longer.


To test the potatoes, stick a knife in a potato. If it goes in easily it’s ready, if it doesn’t, it means it needs to be cooked a bit longer. The outer part of the potato may be cooked, but the middle may need a bit more time.


Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them, by pouring them into a colander. Using the same pot, over medium low heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and allow the butter to melt, add 1 heaping teaspoon Bonnes Herbes Parisien to the melted butter, then add the cooked potatoes and toss around a few times, so that the potatoes are covered with the herb butter mixture.

This serves 4. Voilà. Now, really…how easy was that?

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Pumpkin Cornbread

Cornbread comes in many flavors, sweet, savory, spicy or a bit of each. When I think of cornbread, it always seems as if it’s served with something spicy, such as chili or sweet and tangy like being enjoyed at a barbecue.

As soon as Fall comes along, the season for pumpkin dishes is in high drive, so I have been trying many different pumpkin recipes, however this recipe has been my favorite. I decided to put a twist on my cornbread recipe by adding some creamy sweet pumpkin. This cornbread is light, not too sweet and can be had with a savory dish.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

Thanksgiving dishes always seem to have cornbread incorporated somehow on the menu. There are also so many recipes for cornbread stuffing, cornbread muffins, savory cornbread dressing and the list goes on.

You will be needing:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
Flour, Cornmeal, Dark Brown Sugar, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Baking Powder and Baking Soda
In a bowl, mix 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, ½ cup dark brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda together until well blended.
Butter, Eggs and Pumpkin Puree
In another bowl, whisk 2 large eggs and ¼ cup melted butter together, before adding 1 cup pumpkin puree until well incorporated, then whisk in ½ cup milk until you have a smooth creamy mixture. 
Wet and Dried Ingredients Mixed Together
Once all wet ingredients have been well blended, add to the dry ingredients and stir together.

Place in a buttered loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until done. You can check by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife in the loaf and when it comes out dry and clean then you know it’s ready.
Just 2 Slices Left!...
This serves 4. Voilà. It’s delicious when served warm with a pat of butter, drizzled with honey, or just on its own.

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Chicken

Grilled cheese sandwiches remind me of my Mother. She always came up with the best grilled cheese sandwiches, packed with flavor and loaded with goodies underneath a blanket of melted cheese. She used spices and herbs, such as turmeric, oregano, basil, coriander, cumin, and marjoram or anything that she could find in her spice rack. When it came to toppings, she used chicken, fish, meat, and vegetables, anything she could find in the fridge. In Jamaica, we have bread that is quite dense in texture which we call “hardo bread”. When she makes her grilled cheese sandwich with a nice thick slice of “hardo bread”, with toppings, loaded with cheese and spices…you are set!
A crisp French baguette is also a the perfect canvas to build on.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth

This is what you will need:

½ loaf French bread
10 -12 small black olives, pitted and sliced
¼ red onion, finely sliced
4 anchovy filets
1 breast of chicken, grilled and sliced
2 tablespoons Basil Pesto
¼ cup four cheese Mexican blend (a blend of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Asadero and Quesadilla cheeses)
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of half sharp paprika
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon marjoram
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
pinch of red pepper flakes
Baguette Layered with Basil Pesto, Grilled Chicken, Red Onions, Anchovies and Olives
Cut half of a French baguette in half, lengthwise. Spread each side with 1 tablespoon of Basil Pesto. Then layer the baguette halves with slices of grilled chicken breast, ¼ of a red onion finely sliced, 4 anchovy filets, slices of black olives. 
Baguettes Topped Chicken, Vegetables and Four Cheese Mexican Blend
Top with ¼ cup of the four cheese blend and sprinkle with the spices.

Broil on high for 2½ to 3 minutes on the top shelf. Take out of the oven and enjoy. This serves 4. Serve with a tossed salad and a glass of white wine. Voilà. This is a wonderful lunch idea or the perfect light supper. 
Ready to be Enjoyed
A cup of soup will make it even more substantial. Try the sandwich with the Chilled Creamy Asparagus Soup with Parsley Cream or Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Caramelized Onions.

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Turkey Tenderloin and Asparagus Skillet

After a weekend of indulgencies a light, healthy and flavorful dish was just what I needed. I rather like turkey tenderloin. It’s that long tender strip of meat hidden under the breast.
The meat in this dish remains moist and the full flavor of the dried savory leaves, offer a peppery, thyme and mint flavor that goes well with the turkey, asparagus and mushrooms. The sauce is flavorful and light while the asparagus still have a nice bite. This is a fresh clean dish.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth

1¼ pound of turkey tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried savory
½ pound asparagus cut in 1inch pieces
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 medium sweet onion, roughly diced
1 large garlic clove, chopped
3 stalks scallion, roughly sliced
1/3 cup of chicken broth
Turkey Tenderloin, Salt, Pepper, Savory Leaves and Red Pepper Flakes
Cut the tenderloin in 1 inch pieces, then season with 1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried savory and ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. 
Seasoned Turkey Tenderloin
Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix well so that the turkey tenderloin pieces are evenly seasoned with the spices and covered with olive oil. Set aside, while preparing the other vegetables. The turkey tenderloin can be seasoned in advance and left covered and refrigerated until needed.
If you have chosen to season the turkey a few hours before, please do not forget to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 – 45 minutes before cooking.

Because this is a fairly quick dish, prepare the vegetables beforehand so all you need to do is toss them in the pan when ready. Dice and slice the vegetables in chunky pieces. The texture of the dish will be so much nicer when you have a few vegetable chunks to bite into. Dice 1 medium sweet onion, slice 4 ounces mushrooms and 3 stalks scallion. Cut ½ pound asparagus in 1inch pieces and roughly chop 1 large garlic clove.
Turkey Tenderloin Caramelizing
Use a large skillet, as it will be easier to toss everything together. Heat the skillet on medium low heat. Once well heated, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the seasoned tenderloin pieces. Sauté the turkey for 2½ minutes before adding onions and garlic and continue tossing for another 4 minutes until the turkey starts caramelizing and gets that beautiful brown color. 
Turkey with Onions and Asparagus
Add asparagus pieces and toss for another 2½ minutes. Then add mushroom slices, scallion and 1/3 cup of broth and allow to simmer for 4 minutes.
Turkey Tenderloin and Asparagus Skillet 
This serves 4. Voilà. The dish is now ready and can be served with rice, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables or even mashed cauliflower. A crisp glass of sauvignon blanc would compliment the dish as well.

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Meat Sauce

Here is another child friendly dish that I made for my friend. I used canned diced tomatoes, leaving the tomatoes in large chunks instead of chopping them up. I quite like biting into the chunks of tomatoes. It also adds more texture to the meat sauce and her children didn’t mind it at all!

Photography by Heaven on Hearth

The adults also enjoyed the meat sauce. It’s easy to make, versatile and this recipe is enough for 2 meals.  Meat sauce can be served with spaghetti or topped with mashed potatoes and cheese, then baked in the oven. My Mum loves to eat meat sauce with white rice and a tossed salad. It is also great in a toasted hoagie roll or on a toasted hamburger bun, similar to a Sloppy Joe. Meat sauce stuffed in a baked potato with some freshly diced red onions, cheese, jalapenos and freshly chopped parsley...how versatile is that? And the list can go on…

1 1/3 pounds of ground beef (75/25)
½ cup carrots, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
½ a large sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
1½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
6 ounces tomato paste
¾ cup of beef broth
Diced Onions, Celery and Carrots
Finely dice ½ cup of carrots, 1 stalk celery, ½ a large sweet onion and 2 cloves garlic finely chopped and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and then the ground beef. Make sure the ground beef is spread out evenly in the pan, while breaking up the meat. Brown the meat for 3 minutes, then add the finely diced vegetables, season with 3 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1½ teaspoons dried basil leaves and 1½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves. 
Browned Ground Beef with Vegetables
Then add 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice, 6 ounces tomato paste and ¾ cup of beef broth and stir occasionally. Allow the meat sauce to simmer for 27 minutes over medium high heat until the sauce thickens.
Meat Sauce
Yields 6 cups of sauce. Voilà. Enjoy!

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Chicken Bake for Children

A friend of mine had injured her finger some weeks ago and wasn’t able to prepare any food for her family without suffering pain, so a group of friends offered to help her out for a few days. With the kids at school, she had a chance to relax a bit, but needed help with dinner, so I offered to help her out for two meals.

With no kids of my own, I was truly unsure what to make. I have heard that children have quite a few dislikes and can be quite finicky at times, so I really wanted to prepare something that the whole family would enjoy. From past experience, with other friends that have kids, macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets always seem to be a hit, so a chicken bake should do the trick.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth

Not wanting to the kids to be turned off by too many spices, but also having the parents enjoy a nice meal, I came up with my plan: chicken thighs, pasta, creamy sauce and cheese. Children must love it! So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.


I used a six cheese Italian blend that has Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Romano Cheeses. It wasn’t too harsh in flavor that the kids wouldn’t enjoy it.
You will need:
6 cups of elbow pasta cooked
4 boneless chicken thighs (about 22 ounces) sliced in thin strips
½ of a medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 ounces mushrooms chopped (Cremini and White button)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cheese Six Cheese Italian Blend)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
8 ounces heavy cream
1½ cups chicken broth
1 handful of parsley finely chopped
1/3 cup of cheese for the topping
Begin with cooking the pasta as the directions suggest, as you will be requiring 6 cups of cooked pasta. By the time the pasta is cooked, the chicken and cream sauce will be ready. It’s so much easier when all ingredients are nice and hot so the baking time at the end will not be too long.
Prepare your ingredients before hand. So start by slicing 4 boneless chicken thighs into thin strips, then, finely dice ½ of a medium sweet onion. Finely chop 1 clove of garlic and roughly chop a mix of 4 ounces Cremini and white button mushrooms.
Chicken Strips, Onions, Garlic and Mushrooms
Heat a large skillet at medium high heat. Once the skillet is nice and hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss in the chicken strips evenly in the skillet. Let it brown for 3 minutes on one side, then toss again after 2 minutes. Add the finely diced onions and the chopped garlic and let soften for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally. Toss the chopped mushrooms in the skillet, then season the chicken mixture with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and toss occasionally for another 3 minutes before transferring the mixture into a bowl.
Creamy Sauce
Using the same skillet, over medium high heat, melt 5 tablespoons butter. Once the butter is melted and slightly bubbling, add 4 tablespoons flour and using a whisk, stir the butter and flour mixture so that it doesn’t burn for 1½ minutes. Turn the burner down to medium low, then add 8 ounces heavy cream and 1½ cups chicken broth and simmer on medium low heat till bubbling for about 4 minutes. Add chicken mixture and pasta to the cream sauce and toss well, ensuring that the pasta is well incorporated in the sauce. Turn the heat off.
Chicken and Pasta Mixture with Parsley
 Take a handful of parsley and finely chop. Add to the chicken and pasta mixture as well as ½ cup six cheese Italian blend. Toss the mixture well, again.
Chicken and Pasta Mixture with six cheese Italian Blend
I used 4 individual ramekins. Fill each with 2 cups of the mixture. Or if you wish, you can use two large ramekins and 4 smaller ones if you have little children. Top the ramekins evenly with 1/3 cup of six cheese Italian blend.
Ramekin filled with Creamy Cheesy Chicken Pasta
Since the mixture is still hot, turn the oven on to broil, on high. Place the ramekins on the top rack and broil until the cheese is golden brown. This will vary with each oven, but it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes if as much.
Ready to be Enjoyed!
This serves 4. Voilà. The whole family enjoyed this and I was told that the kids didn’t even mind the parsley, so I was quite happy.

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Broiled Pork Sirloin Cutlets with Sage Rub and Onions

These lean steaks are similar to sirloin chops, only meatier and boneless. It’s a cut from the sirloin end of the tenderloin. This type of cut is good for braising and grilling as well. For this recipe, use slightly thicker pieces, about ¾ to 1 inch thick, so when they are broiled, they remain juicy. Thin ones have a tendency to dry out quite fast.


Even though this is a lean cut, look for the pieces that have a bit of marbling in them. Marbling is when you see small streaks of fat within the muscle. It has a strong effect in maintaining the juiciness, flavor and tenderness of the meat.
Photography by Heaven on Hearth

The best way to marinate your meats is in a food-safe plastic bag, a stainless steel dish or a non-reactive container. A glass dish would be perfect.

To impart the flavors that I wanted to the meat, I used a wet rub. A rub is a mixture of herbs and spices that are pressed onto the surface of the meat. Rubs are commonly used on roasts and steaks and in Jamaica, we also use it to season stews before cooking it. A dry rub consists of herbs, spices and any other dry seasonings you wish to add, whereby a wet rub may have a small amount of liquid like oil, Worcestershire sauce, soya sauce, mustard, just to name a few, along with the dry rub.
A wet rub adds flavor and also seals in the juices of the meat because of the beautiful crust of seasonings that cover it. It will help the meat from drying out while cooking.
I chose sage as my herb because it has a rich, distinctive flavor and pairs perfectly for this simple pork dish. Albanian sage has a richer flavor than the California sage normally sold in supermarkets.
You will need:
1½ pounds pork sirloin cutlets
1 teaspoon salt
ground fresh pepper
2 teaspoons rubbed Albanian sage
2 cloves garlic, chopped
For this simple dish, simple seasoning works best.
As you all know, I like to season my meat a couple hours before cooking, even overnight, so that all the flavors have a chance to mingle together and penetrate into the meat. Because this particular cut of pork is not one of the best cuts of meat and quite lean I wanted to make sure that the meat is tenderized, that is why leaving the meat to rest for a bit longer will help. The meat will also be very flavorful and you won’t regret it. Do not overpower the meat with too much seasoning, as you still want to taste the meat, so the right amount of sage is imperative.
Pork Sirloin Cutlet Seasoned with Kosher Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper and Albanian Rubbed Sage
Place the cutlets in a glass dish. Season the cutlets with a mixture of 1 teaspoon salt, freshly ground pepper and 2 teaspoons rubbed Albanian sage on either side. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil add 2 cloves chopped garlic and rub the seasoning into the meat so that the cutlet is well coated with the wet rub. You can also mix all the ingredients into a wet paste and then rub on the meat, whatever is easier for you.
Slice 1 medium sweet onion in ¼ inch slices and place on the top of the meat. Make sure it’s well covered and always refrigerate, never allow to let the meat sit at room temperature.
Turn the cutlets occasionally so that they will absorb some of that onion flavor from the slices and the onions will also get the chance to be seasoned as well. Don’t worry if the slices do not stay intact with the occasional turning, you will still enjoy them.
Pork Sirloin Cutlets with Wet Rub and Sliced Sweet Onions
Take the meat out of the fridge about 30 to 60 minutes before cooking. Make sure it is nearly at room temperature. The reason for this is because you want the meat to be evenly cooked, so raising the internal temperature before cooking will ensure that.
Place the rack 8 inches below the broiler. Set the oven to low broil. Once heated, broil the cutlets for 10 minutes. Turn the cutlets with a pair of tongs or a spatula, as using a fork will rob the cutlet of its juices. Once the cutlets have been turned, set the oven on hi broil for another 10 minutes. Turn the cutlets again, leaving the oven on hi broil and add the onions around the cutlets for 5 more minutes.
Just as a rule of thumb, the internal temperature of the pork should be anywhere between 145° to 160° Fahrenheit. Also remember that all ovens work differently, so it is good to check the cutlets every now and then.
Ready to be Enjoyed!
>This serves for 4. Voilà. Bon Appétit! This can be served with Parsley Potatoes, a tossed green salad with vinaigrette and glass of Chardonnay. Enjoy!

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Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce

I had been driving from supermarket to supermarket looking for some green peppercorns. Just before giving up, I found my coveted bottle at The Fresh Market. Green peppercorns are a condiment that I find is rarely used to my dismay. They are simply under-ripe peppercorn berries, offering a fresh mild peppery flavor, less pungent than black pepper. They are soft in texture and can be eaten whole. They are great for sauces, vegetables, terrines, grilled cheese and egg salad sandwiches, sandwiches, compound butter and any other dish that you would like to add them to.
Photography by Robert Demetrius

I held the bottle tightly in my hand, just thrilled to bits, while walking around the store. Walking through the store is always such a delight as it inspires me. Reaching the meat department, I stopped to look at the meat selection, admiring the pieces of filet mignon before me. Filet mignon is a steak cut of beef taken from the tenderloin. It is the most tender cut of beef and also the most expensive. My husband and I don’t eat a lot of red meat, however, I could not pass on the opportunity and I had green peppercorns in my hand. Dinner was a no brainer at this point, a nice piece of filet mignon with green peppercorn cream sauce. How luscious!

You will need the following:

1½ pounds of filet mignon (2 pieces about 1½ to 2 inches thick)
a few turns of freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of green peppercorns
½ cup beef broth
1 shallot, finely diced
½ cup cream
1 ounce vermouth
3 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
Generously Adding Freshly Ground Black Pepper to the Filets
 I had bought 2 beautiful pieces of filet mignon. Take the meat out of the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking. Generously season with freshly ground pepper. I never sprinkle my filet with salt; I always add freshly ground salt after I have cooked it. Heat a skillet on a medium high heat, more towards the high end. Once well heated, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and then place the filets in the pan and let cook for 6 minutes on either side. They were medium rare when done.
Filets In the Pan, Caramelizing on the Outside and Juicy on the Inside
While the filets are being cooked, finely dice a shallot. Once the filets are done, take the filets out of the skillet and place on a warm plate or if you have a warmer on your stove, just turn it on and leave the filet underneath.
Adding Diced Shallots to the Pan
You will have some bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet, but not to worry, it will give the sauce flavor. Turn the heat down a bit to medium heat, add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes before adding 1 ounce vermouth to deglaze the pan, then add ½ cup of beef broth and 2 tablespoons of green peppercorns and let simmer for 1 minute.
Deglazing the Pan with Vermouth
Then add ½ cup cream and 3 tablespoons cold butter. You may want to add some salt to taste; I didn’t need any salt as I had used salted butter. Once the butter starts melting, you will see the sauce thicken. It’s now ready.
The Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce, Shalots, Vermouth, Green Peppercorns, Cream. 
Place the filet on a plate and spoon the green peppercorn cream sauce over the filet mignon.
Ready to be Served. Enjoy!
This serves 2. Voilà. It is quick to make and really makes dinner a special occasion. Serve this with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or American Pinot Noir.

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Baby Eggplant with Asian Vinaigrette

I had gone to the Farmer’s Market in Winter Park and saw these beautiful baby eggplants. Once they are cooked, they are tender and have a rich, complex flavor when combined with the Asian Vinaigrette. Five Spice Powder which is made of a blend of ground star anise, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and fennel seeds, gives the dish a warm, yet exotic flavor.

Photography by Heaven on Hearth

1 pound baby eggplant
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 shallot, finely sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 stalks scallion, finely sliced
For the Asian Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon five spice powder
4 tablespoons peanut oil
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger (1 inch piece of ginger)
Mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon five spice powder and ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger (1 inch piece of ginger). Once well blended stream in 4 tablespoons peanut oil until you have an emulsion.
Cutting the Eggplant Lengthwise in Quarters
Because the eggplant is so small, I cut them lengthwise in quarters. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Once heated, add two tablespoons of peanut oil. 
Eggplant with Shallots
Throw the eggplant into the skillet and toss occasionally for 1 minute before adding 1 finely sliced shallot and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Keep tossing occasionally for another 4 minutes.
Take the skillet off the heat, spoon the eggplant into a serving dish then pour the vinaigrette over the eggplant, add the sliced scallion and toss.
Baby Eggplant with Asian Vinaigrette
This serves for 4. Voilà. This goes well with grilled meats.

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