I write down almost every meal I have ever enjoyed in my diary. And I have a lot of diaries stacked on the bookshelf. Some meals were remembered on the back of a paper napkin, which I then tucked into my diary. Some were remembered from a wine label soaked off, dried, and kept as a memento.
And then there were those to be forgotten, yet were remembered. As in the meal my friend's mother cooked for us one day when I was in my teens. Evaporated milk from a can was the main ingredient of the dessert she made for us. Onto our plates, right before our eyes, a can of peas was emptied. Then a can of tuna. Then a can of french fried onions, which his mother crushed in her hands and sprinkled on top.
My friend grew up eating out of a can. It is for this reason that I take such great pleasure cooking for him, because when I do he is delighted at having something to eat that wasn't out of a can. And this is the long explanation of why I decided to make him a home cooked meal for his birthday. It didn't take very long, other than preparing the eggplant the night before, and it was absolutely delicious paired with a good Bordeaux and candle light.
I ran out of room in my diary, so I saved the recipe as I developed it on the back of a big paper napkin……because it turned out to be a meal to be remembered.
The first part is to marinate eggplant slices overnight in the refrigerator in a slightly sweet honey thyme bath.
When you are ready to prepare the dish, allow yourself about half an hour. You will want to make a fresh raw tomato sauce to circle the dish with, and a simple breadcrumb crust to top the filet mignon with.
This dish is not the most beautiful dish I have ever made, but it is by far one of the most delicious and satisfying. The sizzling crust on the top of the filet mignon has a kick of mustard and crushed peppercorns. The filet is butter tender. The eggplant layer below is custardy and aromatic. And the fresh tomato sauce surrounding it all is a stunning reminder of how good a raw tomato sauce can be.
Good food is a gift to be shared and enjoyed together. I hope my friend liked his homemade birthday gift. I enjoyed his smile across the table and sharing it with him.
Filet Mignon with Candied Eggplant
- 2 small eggplant, washed and pat dry
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons honey
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- Slice the eggplants into 1/8 inch slices.
- In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the eggplant slices to cook them on high for about 2 minutes on each side or until they are lightly browned.
- In another saucepan, add the vinegar, honey, water, thyme leaves, salt and cinnamon and bring to a boil.
- Lay the eggplant slices in a large dish and pour the honey vinegar sauce over them. Allow to cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for 24 hours.
Fresh Raw Tomato Sauce
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Slice the Roma tomatoes and add them to a food processor.
- Whizz until pureed.
- Hold a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the tomato mixture into the sieve, then using a spoon, press the tomato mixture through the sieve so that you have tomato liquid in the bowl.
- Add the olive oil, vinegar, and sea salt and whisk well.
Crust For Filet Mignons
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon crushed black or pink peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 6 ounce to 8 ounce filet mignons
- Heat the olive oil until it is very hot in a saute pan then add the filet mignons and cook for 1 minute each side to brown. Reserve.
To Assemble The Dish:
- 2 Plates (warmed) and fresh thyme to garnish
- Heat the broiler of your oven.
- Put a dollop of the crust on top of the filets mignons and run them under the broiler until the crust is sizzling and golden brown. Remove.
- Remove the eggplant slices from the oven and overlap the slices on each plate in the center.
- Place the filet mignon on top of the eggplant slices.
- Spoon the fresh raw tomato sauce around the eggplant and serve.