Debbie and Rob, so sweet!

Banana Muffins, Peppery Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, Jalapeno Jelly Corn Muffins

Grilled Tenderloin Steak with Tamari Ginger Sauce, Brown Rice and Vegetable Saute, Acorn Squash

Lemon Lime Tart with a Pecan Cookie Crust

Debbie Mears called me last week and asked if I would be available to come to her house and cook a surprise birthday lunch for her boyfriend’s 51st birthday. She is one of those rare people who always has something nice to say, smiles all the time, and appreciates life’s little pleasures. I remember being so tickled that she posted a photo of my garden vegetables on her Facebook page. We had a lot of fun times last year and I’m looking forward to the spring when I’ll see her and all the friendly people who grow and share.

We talked a little about the menu and pricing and came up with a plan. Here is the final menu:

That may be a bit hard to read so here it is again:

Bakery Basket with pepper cheddar biscuits, red jalapeno cornbread muffins, and banana muffins

Salad: Red leaf lettuce with field greens and tart dried cherries, herb goat cheese, spiced San Saba pecans and Balsamic vinaigrette

Grilled tenderloin steak with tamari ginger sauce, brown rice and vegetable saute, roasted organic acorn squash with togarashi

Lemon Lime Tart with Chantilly Cream

I arrived about an hour before they did and it turned out Debbie had already told him about the “surprise”. He was still, however, surprised when she told him what was up and didn’t really believe her until they got to the house and saw everything. For me, cooking for people and watching them enjoy eating the food I’ve worked hard to prepare is great fun. This was why I went to culinary school and started my personal chef business, and I’m so happy to have wonderful clients like Debbie and Linda Johnson. I’ll post a couple of the recipes but if you want any of them, please comment and I’ll write another post with the recipe. I have included the banana muffins in a previous post, as well as the salad, except I used cranberries instead of cherries. Linda Johnson, if you’re reading this, I modified the banana muffin recipe by measuring the bananas (1 cup), and adding 1/4 cup more whole wheat flour. This resulted in better rising.

Red Jalapeno Jelly Cornbread Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 cup yellow corn meal

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup red hot jalapeno jelly (I used Fischer & Wieser)

Combine all ingredients (except jelly) and mix until combined. Spray mini muffin pans with non stick spray. Fill 2/3 full. Place 1/2 tsp jelly in centers of each muffin. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Tenderloin Steak with Tamari Ginger Sauce

2 8 ounce tenderloin steaks (Rub with freshly ground pepper and sea salt and olive oil and let sit out for an hour.)


1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup sugar

2 T mirin

1 tsp grated ginger

1/4 tsp cornstarch

Combine all ingredients and bring to boil, reduce quickly or it will boil over fast. Cook on medium low heat until sauce reduces and thickens a bit. This sauce should be used after the meat is cooked, like a glaze at the end or drizzled on top of the meat. Don’t use it during cooking or the meat will burn.

To cook steak that is juicy inside and crusty outside:

I use my outdoor grill but when unavailable, like today, I used a heavy cast iron grill pan (by Emeril). This pan covers two burners and luckily Debbie has a gas stove. I heated the grill pan to very hot–don’t be afraid of the heat. Grill the steaks for a couple minutes, then rotate 45 degrees for nice grill marks. Grill another minute, turn and do the same. Place the steaks in an oven proof pan or skillet and place in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes for medium rare, a few minutes longer for medium. The steaks will continue to cook after removed from the oven so don’t leave them in the oven too long. You should let the steaks rest for about 5 mintues so the juices redistribute and they will continue cooking during this time.

I guess I got my grilling going a little too well because we set off the fire alarm! The steaks looked great and the important thing was both Debbie and Rob enjoyed them. The dessert, Lemon and Lime Tart will be posted next week. I will be doing that recipe with Linda Johnson.

Now, time to go out to dinner with my husband. No cooking tonight!

2 replies
  1. rob
    rob says:

    Julia, WOW what a wonderful way to spend the afternoon! We came home from church in time to find you preparing our delicious lunch… all we had to to was sit and enjoy our salad. Of course I had to take pictures of you "in action" in our kitchen for the photo album. What a pleasure to get to visit with you and eat to our hearts delight… we even had left overs for later…. um um, salad with homemade dressing and tasty goat cheese, three different breads, the most mouth watering steak ever to a lemon lime tart with san saba pecan crust, Oh My My Julia, we absolutely loved it, every bite tasted better than the last and what fun seeing Rob's face when he realized I really did have a chef coming to the house for His birthday. We had so much fun and food was incredible. Thank you doesn't seem hardly enough. We will do this again soon, maybe with a few couples like we talked about, in your beautiful home. Debbie Mears

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