Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Cookbook Challenge: Agnes and Muriel's and the Greenbrier

The Cookbook Challenge brought me back to two noted institutions of eating: The Greenbrier Resort in my home state of West Virginia and the quirky and homespun Agnes and Muriel's restaurant in Atlanta. In contrast, these two places couldn't be more different but the Challenge brought them together to make one memorable meal.

The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is a stately resort that has enjoyed quite the long and storied history. Built in 1778 as a playground for politicians, royalty and celebrities, the Greenbrier has long been noted as one of the premier resorts in the country, if not the planet. The Greenbrier even revealed a surprise a few years back: the now declassified Bunker that was the relocation destination and fallout shelter for Congress that was secretly built during the Cold War. I've always been endlessly fascinated with this Grande Dame of hospitality and visiting the Greenbrier and later working for the Lafayette probably cemented my love for historic hotels. The Elms is just the latest chapter in that love story. The Greenbrier's list of activities is spa, pheasant hunting, falconry or the boundless list of culinary adventures and wine tastings. The Greenbrier recently debuted their spanking new casino in grand style, featuring a celebrity- studded grand opening. Now, the recipe that involves this stellar resort actually came from a cookbook Kristy bought for me called The Best of the Best from West Virginia. Actually listed as The Greenbrier's Beef Stroganoff; the recipe was apparently submitted by the Christ Reformed Church Historical Cookbook. By whatever twisted means connect the hotel with the church, the Stroganoff itself is appropriately decadent. It wasn't as decadent as it could have been.....instead of the beef tenderloin the recipe calls for, we used stew meat that we had on hand. The Stroganoff was still wonderful. We busted out the bread machine to whip up some Herb and Cheese bread to accompany the dish. The recipe will be at the end of the post but in the meantime, check out the Greenbrier's website. Here's a good place to start....the Greenbrier is promoting something that has me salivating: Casino Royale weekends with a James Bond theme. Baccarat, shaken-not-stirred martinis and a Bond-themed dinner. Check out the most marvelous menu; each course named for a Bond film on their website......

The highlight of this meal came from one of our favorite eateries during our time living in Atlanta. Agnes and Muriel's specialized in quirky comfort food. We loved their edible eccentricities and for this meal we chose their blueberry crumble pie. This pie was incredible and so, SO easy. I implore you to try this as not only is it easy but it is the best blueberry pie I've ever had. Actually, it IS more like a crumble as it falls a bit apart when served, particularly when served with vanilla bean ice cream, as we did. The hints of cinnamon and lemon just make this dessert and very easy. Try it, you'll dig it. Recipe follows after the Beef Stroganoff recipe and these two recipes count as CC# 23 and 24....

The Greenbrier's Beef Stroganoff


2 lbs. beef tenderloin, cut in thin strips
1 teas. paprika
1 teas. salt
1 teas. pepper
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/3 cup peeled, chopped shallots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream

Sprinkle meat with paprika, salt and pepper. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9-inch skillet and brown meat quickly over high heat. Remove meat and set aside in a warm place. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in the skillet; add shallots and cook until brown. Add mushrooms and saute until all liquid has evaporated. Add flour and mix well. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and fold in sour cream. Add the meat to the sauce. Heat to just below boiling and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Agnes and Muriel's Blueberry Crumble Pie


1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
4 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teas. salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup additional flour
1/2 cup additional sugar
1/2 teas. cinnamon
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the crust(we bought pre-made) and line a 9-inch pie pan with the unbaked crust.

2. Prepare the filling: Pick through blueberries and discard any stems or leaves. Wash and drain well. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the first amounts of sugar and flour with salt. Add lemon juice and blueberries, and gently stir to evenly coat berries. Set aside.

3. Prepare the topping: in a separate mixing bowl, stir together remaining flour and sugar with cinnamon. Using fingers, crumble butter into the mixture until no lump of butter is larger than a pea.

4. Mound blueberry filling evenly into pie crust. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the filling.

5. Place pie pan on a cookie sheet and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the juices in the center of the pie are bubbly and thickened. The crust and crumbs will turn deep, golden brown.

6. Remove pie from oven and set aside to cool at least 1 hour before serving.


Kristy said...

Ah you made your own pie filling! Very good Grasshopper! I'll have to give that recipe a twirl except I'm not partial to blueberries so I think I'll use apples. P.S. I met Wonder Woman (yes, Lynda Carter and no she was not wearing her red white and blue bustier nor did she have her golden lasso or her invisible plane) at the Greenhbriar in the Mid 80's when we were on tour with the college Chorale. The Greenbriar is fantastical and I would encourage all who are passing through our great state to at least stop by and tour the grounds.

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