American Horror Story – Hotel: Dining with The Countess

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And the latest season of American Horror Story is out!

So today’s post is little bit more of a character study in food. Before I started watching the show, the description of Elizabeth, or “The Countess” (played by Lady Gaga) intrigued me. Mostly I found interesting how they created a modern interpretation of 16th century Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory, an alleged murderess, and perhaps the most cultured woman in Eastern Europe at the time.

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Beauty, brains, and blood.

The Countess was wealthy, wrote and spoke in four languages, and was known for her compassion to her people…until she was accused and convicted of murdering hundreds of young women. Why? Because she supposedly believed bathing in their blood would make her ageless. While Elizabeth Bathory’s crimes were more likely to be existing as a widowed woman with money and power in the 16th century rather than genocide, it’s interesting to see how American Horror Story uses her legend to play on the over-arcing theme of addiction.

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I’m addicted to looking at this glove. I want this glove. I can has?

Addicted to not just beauty and youth, but to novelty and passion, AHS’s Elizabeth is the murderous fashionista always on the hunt for the next big, beautiful thing to add to her collection. Notice how I use the words “thing” and “collection”. Everything, including people, are things to be collected. She collects clothing, art, music, children, and lovers. She then hoards them in her hotel, or in case of the lovers, indulges in them until their energy is spent.

Blood, whether literal or figurative, fuels her. If anything she can probably also be compared to the Leanansidhe from Celtic mythology. The leanansidhe were fairy women who would take human artists as lovers and drive them to genius levels of inspiration, feeding off their creativity and drive until their life blood finally drained and they died in the prime of their youth

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Gives a whole new meaning to “le petit mort”.

Elizabeth’s flaw is that she does have a preference for the young, reckless, and decadent. Each new lover is a stronger hit, full of raw and ruthless emotion, but further and further from something whole and fulfilling. Her attraction to novelty only furthers her hunger for life.

Though Elizabeth’s fashion sense embraces the avant garde, it is constantly a reinvention of the classic. This is another aspect of her addiction. She ultimately seeks timeless beauty and youth, the ongoing flame, the beauty not frozen in time, but always moving and never slowing. She loses interest in her lovers as their spark begins to fade, yet she remains as ever capable of living on the edge while remaining elegant, polished, and unscathed.

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So for this recipe, I wanted to take a classic recipe, add a little Hungarian flavor for Elizabeth’s namesake, and engorge it with some decadent flavors. Chuck eye steak, is a nice thick and robust cut of meat. Just like Elizabeth Bathory and Elizabeth from AHS, it is going to be bathed and braised on a dark red, full-bodied liquid to make it tender.

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In this case, I chose a California Cabernet Sauvignon since cabs are known to be strong, heavy, and with a slight smoky/metallic taste to them. I used Ménage à Trois for its name in relation to the first episode (though “à quatre” would be more appropriate). However I think I might try using Matchbook next time since it has bolder, smokier notes.

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This cut of wine and spice braised beef will be served on a white bed of creamy Potatoes a la Dauphinoise with thyme, garlic, and brie. With the cabernet au jus drizzled on top, this dish screams of decadence. You want a good date night recipe? Look no further. The oven and pressure cooker do most of the work for you while you are getting ready. And this meal is so sinfully delicious, your date may be inspired to have you for dessert!

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Decadent Dauphinoise Potatoes

Serves 2
Equipment: Mandoline, oven

Ingredients

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 cup cubed brie
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Instructions:

  1. Wash and peel potato, slice on the thinnest setting on your mandoline. Put slices in cold water until ready to assemble.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F
  3. Bring milk, cream, and seasonings to a boil in a small saucepan.
  4. Add brie and stir until mostly melted.
  5. Drain potatoes and assemble a single layer in a casserole dish, pour a layer of cream mixture on top and repeat each layer until out of ingredients.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden and bubbling. Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes before serving.

The Countess Wine-Braised Beef

Serves 2
Equipment: Electric pressure cooker, food processor.

Ingredients

  • 2 chuck eye steaks, about ½ lb each
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 and ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp marjoram or oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • ½ yellow or sweet onion
  • 3-4 large white mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 and ¼ cup cabernet sauvignon
  • 1 Tb flour
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Pinch caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Assemble spice rub with salt, paprika, marjoram, and garlic powder. Liberally season both sides of the steak and rub into the meat. Reserve the rest of the spices. And let steaks come to room temp over about 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Make your mirepoix by pulsing the carrot, onion and celery in a food processor until finely chopped.
  3. Either turn your electric pressure cooker on saute or heat up a skillet on high heat on the stovetop with a thin coat of olive oil. Brown/sear the steaks 5 minutes on one side, 2-3 minutes on the other. Brown the sides of the meat and set steaks on cutting board to rest.
  4. In the pressure cooker pot, layer mirpoix on the bottom, mushrooms next, and then the steaks.
  5. Pour wine into a measuring cup and whisk in the flour until dissolved. Pour into the pressure cooker pot over the steaks. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Set and seal the lid, cook in pressure cooker on high for 45 minutes.
  7. Serve steaks and vegetables with a slotted spoon over bed of Potatoes Dauphinois, add the wine sauce to your preference.

The Gluttonous Geek