Here are the recipes from Episode #400:


1 stick unsalted butter, softened room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ cup sour cream
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1½ cups cake flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Cream butter into sugar, using a mixer. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla extract, whole egg, and egg yolks, then add wet ingredients to butter & sugar, and mix thoroughly. Fold cake flour, baking powder, and salt into batter, then mix until lumps disappear and batter is smooth. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each of 12 foil-lined muffin cups in a muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes on middle rack in a pre-heated 350° oven. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean when removed. Makes 12 servings.

Basic Icing:
1 lb confectioner's sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened room temperature
1-2 tbsp milk, more or less
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

Empty sugar into mixing bowl. Add chunks of butter to sugar, then smash butter into sugar with a fork. Once butter has been broken up by the smashing, drizzle a small amount of milk into the mix, and continue to stir with the fork until the mix becomes thick, whipped, and creamy, adding more milk in small amounts as necessary to dissolve any remaining dry parts. Add vanilla extract to taste. Spread icing onto the top of each cupcake. Makes enough for 12 cupcakes.

2 large Russet baking potatoes
About 1 tbsp olive oil to coat each potato
sour cream (for topping)
chives (for topping)

Scrub potatoes with cold water to remove excess dirt. Coat each potato with a small amount of oil, and rub into skin to cover entire surface of potato. Pierce each potato multiple times with a fork to allow steam to escape during baking. Place directly on oven rack, and bake for about 1 hour in a 350° oven, adjusting for time if oven is hotter or cooler. Potatoes are done when they feel soft to the touch, or when they easily allow a fork to be inserted through the skin. To serve, split down the center with a knife, and top with sour cream and chopped fresh chives. Serves 2.

Strip steaks with Mushroom sauce:
1 large portobello mushroom
4 small baby bello mushrooms (button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms can be used instead)
3 shiitake mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion
olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 1½" thick strip steaks, rested at room temperature
kosher salt
rainbow peppercorns
additional spices to taste
olive oil

Remove stems from portobello and shiitake mushrooms. Chop portabello into bite-size chunks, cut shiitake into strips, and slice baby bello into slices. Dice onion, removing root ends and paper layers. Coat the inside surface of a cast iron skillet with oil and place skillet over a medium flame. Add 4 pressed cloves of garlic to skillet, followed by onions. Sweat the onions until they go limp, and add the mushrooms before the onions all turn brown. Add butter and stir to distribute it throughout the mushrooms. Let mushrooms cook down in size while steaks are being prepared with the rub.

For the rub, grind kosher salt, whole peppercorns, and other desired spices together into a coarse, even mixture. Let the steaks rest at room temperature for a few minutes, then coat all surfaces of the steaks with the rub.

When steaks are coated, remove entire mushroom mixture from the skillet and set aside. Add some more olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and increase heat to a high flame. When oil starts to sizzle, place steaks in the skillet and sear for 2 minutes on each side. Once steaks have been seared on both sides, add mushroom mixture back to pan, filling in all available spaces around steaks. Place entire skillet with steaks & mushrooms into a 350° oven and bake for about 20 minutes. When done, mushrooms will be greatly reduced in size, and sauce will resemble a thin glaze. Remove skillet from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Steaks will be about medium-well done. Serves 2.

Steamed string beans with Italian seasoning:

1 lb fresh string beans
1 packet Italian salad dressing mix
unsalted butter

Fill a 2-quart sauce pan with about 1 inch of water. Add string beans to pan and sprinkle salad dressing mix over beans. Cover and cook over medium flame until beans are hot and mix has dissolved. Add butter to taste. Serves 2.

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