The Cookbook Collector: Cooking My Way Back Home + Filet Mignon

February 2, 2012

San Francisco chef Mitchell Rosenthal combines Southern tradition and American fine dining in his new book Cooking My Way Back Home: Recipes from Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, and Salt House.  Rosenthal makes food that you want to eat, displayed in full color photographs throughout the book, you'll drool over dishes like tea-smoked duck with nectarine, avocado and wild arugula salad, mustard seed marinated pulled chicken thighs, the peacemaker sandwich with fried shrimp and oysters, and lemon chess pie.

The book is divided into nine chapters, covering subjects like: small bites, big bites, cheese, sandwiches, smoke and fire, slowed cooking, grilled, roasted and fired, desserts, and the basics.  He revisits classic Southern dishes like shrimp etouffee, chicken-hock gumbo with andouille sausage and green onion, pecan smoked pulled pork and even a vegetarian muffaletta.  Rosenthal has created a balance between comfort food and the formality of fine dining.  His recipes make art of cooking approachable and possible.

Rosenthal's food is simple and uncomplicated with some modern touches here and there.  From the first page to the last, the reader is urged into the kitchen and start cooking.


Filet Mignon with Corn Mulch and  Porcini Butter

What I call “corn mulch,” some people call “corn pudding.” Whatever you call it, the sweetness of the corn paired with the deep, earthy flavor of the mushrooms (accentuated by the bitter touch of coffee) makes for an amazing combination. You can substitute most wild mushrooms for the chanterelles in the ragout, and if you can’t find porcini powder, you can grind dried porcini mushrooms in a spice grinder.

New Jersey is known for a few great food items and corn is one of them. I still associate corn with summer, when the roadside stands would start selling it.

Serves 6

Porcini Butter:

1/4 cup porcini powder

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 shallot coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon roasted garlic (see page 81)

1 teaspoon brewed espresso or double-strength coffee

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Corn Mulch:

8 ears corn, silk and husks removed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Mushroom Ragout

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed

Kernels from 4 ears corn (about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 pound sugar snap peas, blanched for 2 minutes, drained, and thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1 tablespoon olive oil

6 filets mignons, 6 ounces each and about 2 inches thick


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To make the porcini butter, place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make the corn mulch,grate the corn on the large holes of a hand grater placed over a saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and cook the corn, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes, or until soft and just turning golden. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the butter. Keep warm.

To make the ragout,in a sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the corn and sauté for a few minutes more, or until the mushrooms begin releasing their liquid and the corn softens. Add the butter, a few pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper and stir to mix. Add the tomatoes and sugar snap peas and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until they become tender. Stir in the parsley and keep warm.

To cook the steaks,in a large cast-iron frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-heat. When the oil shimmers, add the steaks and cook, turning once, for about 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely seared. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 5 minutes more for medium-rare or until done to your liking. Pull the pan out of oven, transfer the steaks to a platter, and let rest for 4 to 5 minutes.

To serve, divide the corn mulch evenly among individual plates. Top each serving with some of the mushroom ragout and then with a steak. Place a heaping tablespoon of the porcini butter on top of each steak and serve right away.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking My Way Back Home: Recipes from San Francisco’s Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, and Salt House. Copyright © 2011 by Mitchell Rosenthal with Jon Pult. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo Credit: Paige Green.

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