Wednesday, February 4, 2009

From NSA to Eartha

I watched some TV last night - the first programme I watched was about the NSA, (No Such Agency or Never Say Anything) the National Security Agency, in the States. It is a fantastic "spy factory" with so many electronic surveillance systems, so many linguists, so many computer experts, analysts, etc. etc. they employ something in the region of 35,000 people. However, prior to November 11, they neglected to inform the FBI of the terrorists who were trotting around on US soil and then converging on Washington even though NSA knew about them. They even had the cell phone number for Osama bin Laden and listened to his conversations. One often sees movies or TV shows where one agency doesn't share info with another, it would appear this is very much the same with NSA. To read about it go to PBS The Spy Factory. It appears that although computers sift through the millions of electronic communications, voice communications can only be listened to by humans. However, I am sure that in electronic or voice communications terrorists are clever enough to use other words to convey their meanings. Doesn't really matter if the agencies don't share, does it? A lot of people worry about the invasion of privacy. Personally I wouldn't give a damn, nothing about me or mine would interest NSA or anyone else, so why should I care. I prefer they find the bad guys and if that means I have to sacrifice a little privacy, so what, I do it every day by writing this blog. The second programme we watched was the last taped interview with Eartha Kitt; what a fascinating woman she was. Unfortunately she died last Christmas. She was 81 when she was interviewed last year and looked fantastic, I would like to look that good now. Often you see artists in their dotage older years, singing the songs of yesteryear and they are pathetic. Eartha Kitt singing her songs at 81 was fantastic still. She could still put on the sexiest performance you can imagine - despite her age - although admittedly she did it with her tongue in her cheek. Fantastic woman. As I mentioned, Matt is a birthday boy today, so this is what we are having for supper tonight, accompanied by some Portobella mushrooms sautéed in butter and followed by some good ripe Brie cheese. All accompanied by a nice red wine. Steak au Poivre 2 thick-cut well-marbled fillet steak, about 1 pound total weight, and 1 1/2 inches thick 2 Tbs mixed whole peppercorns, including black, white, green, Szechuan and Jamaican (whole allspice) 1 tsp Salt 1 Tbs vegetable oil butter Pan sauce 2 Tbs minced shallots 2 Tbs cognac (or bourbon or red wine) ½ cup flavorful dark stock 1 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature Garnish Chopped parsley Watercress 1 Crush the peppercorns using the bottom of a heavy skillet. 2 Sprinkle salt to taste on the top and bottom of the steaks; then press each side into the cracked peppercorns, encrusting the steaks lightly or heavily, as you prefer. 3 Heat the oil and the butter in a heavy sauté or frying pan over high heat. When the pan is quite hot, lay the peppered steaks in. Fry for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the undersides are well seared. Turn the meat and cook the second side for about a minute. Press with a finger to test for the slight springiness that indicates rare. Cook to desired doneness and remove to a warm platter. 4 Making the pan sauce 5 Add the shallots to the pan and sauté briefly, stirring with a spoon to scrape up the drippings. Lean away from the stove (averting your face) and pour the cognac into the pan; tilt the edge of the pan slightly, over the burner flame, to ignite the alcohol. The cognac will flame for a few seconds as the alcohol burns off; cook for a few moments more and then add the stock. Bring the liquid back to the boil, and cook about 1 minute to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning. Finally, add the soft butter, swirling the pan until it melts and incorporates with the juices. 6 When blended, pour the sauce over the steaks. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and garnish each plate with sprigs of parsley or watercress. My note: I will just be using crushed black peppercorns which is how I have always made it. Servings: 2 Author: Julia Child and Jacques Pépin Source: Leite's Culinaria Have a great day.


  1. Jo --

    Steak au poivre ... it nearly killed my sister in Geneva a couple of years back ...

    Eartha Kitt. I did occassionally hear one of her songs on the radio and then I always thought 'I wonder if she's still alive ...?' Her voice was rather "earthy" wasn't it.

    Happy birthday to Matt! Pisces is he? So it's a Pisces and a Scorpio living under the same roof.


  2. Nope, Aquarius for Matt and Virgo for me. Thanks for the good wishes.

    I loved her voice. She performed a lot in Paris and lived there quite a bit too.

    How did steak au poivre nearly kill your sister, pray?