Beef Tenderloin with Tomato Gravy & A Basil Caesar Salad


Beef Tenderloin  |  Tomato Gravy  | Basil Caesar Salad  |  Strawberry,Basil, Lemonade Granitas

Intro Collage


A whole fillet of beef tenderloin is a wonderful dinner when entertaining guests, as we did this evening.  It is special, not something people often cook for themselves at home for dinner, and the finished presentation is always impressive.  But the true beauty is in the fact that this cut of meat requires very little preparation and the cooking time is minimal.  A few years ago I stumbled upon this recipe from Ina Garten and it has since become my never-fail way to prepare fillet of beef.  A coating of butter, salt and pepper is all this rich, dense cut of meet requires before a quick {and precise} roast in the oven at high temperature, and a period of rest tightly wrapped in foil, yields incredibly moist and tender meat that practically melts in your mouth…if you like beef, you simply must give this recipe a try!  

A couple of things I have learned from making Ina’s recipe at least a dozen times…first, DO NOT skip the coating of butter.

Tenderloin Collage

It may seem a bit indulgent, spreading all of that fat over the meat, but fillet is naturally very lean and the coating of butter helps keep the meat from drying out during the cooking process involving very high heat.  It is especially important, as well, when preparing grass-fed beef as opposed to grain-fed beef since grass-fed beef tends to dry out a bit faster.  Secondly, cut just as much as you need keeping any leftover meat unsliced.  This will help keep the meat from drying out in the refrigerator and, when thinly sliced, makes the best roast beef sandwiches the following day.

Now, perfectly-cooked beef fillet needs little else to make its taste spectacular but it is August and everywhere I turn…tomatoes.  “Beef and tomatoes have enjoyed a long history together“, Nigel Slater reminds us in his book, Tender and his recipe for Tomato Gravy is one that I have enjoyed many times when roasting prime rib.  It is a wonderfully savory sauce that pairs well with beef’s earthy, rich taste.  Tomatoes, onions and garlic roast alongside the meat and then a gravy is made by squashing the onions, tomatoes, and garlic in the roasting pan and adding flour, Madeira, beef stock and mustard to the pan drippings.  I decided to give it a try with our fillet of beef, substituting beef bones in place of prime rib during the roasting period.  The resulting gravy was out-of-this-world and wonderful complement to the beef as well as the caesar salad.

Tomato Gravy Collage

Tomato Gravy {adapted from Tender, by Nigel Slater}

  • 4 tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 10 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 8-10 beef bones
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces Madeira
  • 2½ cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard 
  1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a large roasting pan, place the first 4 ingredients and toss with a drizzle of olive oil…enough to coat the contents of the pan but  not create a swimming pool of oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and roast for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes, shallots and garlic are well-browned.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and discard the beef bones.  Squash the tomatoes, shallots and garlic in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.  Dust the flour on top and place the pan with its contents over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the flour browns a bit.
  3. Pour in the Madeira and let it bubble a while, then add the beef stock  and the mustards, stirring and scraping at the stuck-on roasting juices.  Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes.  Check the seasoning and then push the gravy through a coarse sieve into a warm pitcher.  Serve with the beef.


As it happens this time of year, most of the dishes gracing our dinner table are a reflection of what is proliferating in the garden.  Right now, basil is in the lead.  We are using it to make lemonade, stacking it,  and stuffing with it.  This evening, fresh basil lent its peppery flavor to a traditional caesar salad and it was so good I can’t imagine having my caesar any other way from now on.  Homemade croutons are so easy and taste so much better than store-bought.

Basil Caesar Collage

Croutons Collage

Basil Caesar Salad {adapted from Gourmet, 2009 via Epicurious}

  • 1 sweet French baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, leaves separated and washed well, thoroughly dried and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in the middle.
  2. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large 4-sided sheet pan, then spread out in 1 layer. Toast in oven, stirring halfway through, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, with motor running, drop garlic into a food processor and finely chop. Add egg, lemon juice, anchovy paste, and ½ teaspoon pepper and pulse until combined. With motor running, add remaining 6 tablespoons oil in a slow stream, blending until emulsified. Add herbs and blend until dressing turns green and herbs are finely chopped.
  4. Toss romaine with dressing, croutons, and half of cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

On Friday, I received a huge basket of these little garden gems from a friend…


Strawberries are to her garden what basil is to mine!  A quick search on my computer landed me here and the recipe for Basil, Strawberry, Lemonade Granitas sounded heavenly.  Summery, fresh and healthy…this dessert was the perfect ending to a wonderful summer Sunday dinner with friends.  Keep in mind, the granita needs several hours to properly chill but is better if left in the freezer overnight.


Basil, Strawberry, Lemonade Granitas {adapted from}

  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  1.  Combine the honey and basil leaves with the water in a medium-size saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. When the simple syrup mixture is cool, remove and discard the basil leaves.
  2. Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Pour the cooled simple syrup into the strawberry mixture and blend well.
  3. Fill ten 8-ounce jars three-quarters full with the strawberry mixture. Cover loosely and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Scrape down the edges of the jars with a fork and stir the scrapings into the centers. Return the jars to the freezer for 90 minutes, and scrape them down again. Freeze for an additional 3 hours until frozen through.
  4. When you are ready to serve, use a fork to stir the granita mixture one more time. Serve ice cold.

Granita Collage


K Initial


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