Tournedos with Marchand de Vin Sauce; Life at Vlad’s

While I take a break visiting family, step back with me in time to 3 years ago, when we were homeless, to the beginning of this project…. And all of our frustrations:

I thought I would share some snippets of our temporary life in Vlad’s house:

Here is my clothes washing machine:

It’s a top loader, like many in the US. Although the machines in the US are not equipped with metal “Jaws” that threaten to remove a finger (or more) if one is not quick and careful. It’s also a wee bit smaller, er, more compact, then US models. That’s my mobile phone sitting on top to be used for comparison.


It’s also takes a bit longer to do a load of laundry: just over 2 hours to wash a medium load.

Fellow Euros… Am I missing something?

Here is my clothes drying machine:

It’s a combination of solar and wind powered; very energy efficient.

It also takes longer than my regular machine to dry a load of clothes: roughly all day this time of year, longer if it rains and I forget.

I now understand why the Brit’s I know iron everything (even the bath towels): it softens the fabric. Nothing like wrapping up in that stiff-as-a-board cotton flannel shirt on a cool fall evening!

On the other hand, as we don’t have any towel bars in the bathroom, I can just stand the bath towels outside the shower door so they’re within easy reach.

But, you say. the clothes smell so good!


Maybe in the spring, but this is fall. Farmers are making wine, fertilizing fields and burning brush. Think about it.

Here is my cook top:

That’s my mobile phone, again, for comparison. But for those of you who want more precise measurements, it’s 22 7/16 inches wide by 20 1/4 inches deep.

It’s too small.

It’s gas.

I may have changed my mind about getting a gas cook top.


My reasons:

It smells. 

I woke up the first night we were here, smelling gas. I was convinced that I had inadvertently killed the girl dogs. They were fine. I started turning the bottle off every night but that didn’t really help. I don’t like the idea of living with smelly gas.

It’s inconvenient.
The bottle ran out last night in the middle of cooking dinner. Mon mari had to disconnect the empty and haul it outside, then haul the full one in and connect it. Not really a big deal, but it rather brings everything to a screeching halt for 10 minutes or so.

The ‘Saveur’ kitchens use ceramic.
I saw it in an article about their new kitchens. If it’s good enough for them….

It’s the most energy efficient.
An electric ceramic cook top is much more energy efficient than gas; much less wasted heat. Plus, now they get as hot almost as fast as gas. An induction will get hotter faster but I don’t have all magnetic cookware and cast aluminum doesn’t work.

Of course, it remains to be seen if I can find one…

Sigh… More shopping is called for.

I would show you a picture of my oven….

But I’m afraid to open the door.

I opened it on the day we moved in and immediately slammed it shut. There was a horrible odor and I’m pretty sure I saw something move. I’m not risking it a second time. I will not be using an oven for any reason until my own (as yet undetermined) new, clean oven is safely ensconced in my own new, clean kitchen.

If it can’t be boiled, braised or fried it will be raw.

Thank the kitchens gods that good steak is best quickly fried. (No barbecue…. I needed the gas bottle for the kitchen.)


Tournedos with (simple) Marchand de Vin Sauce 

2 – 4 slices tender beef steak, each 1 inch thick (2.5 cm), 12oz total weight (350gr) 
2oz ham (60gr), about 3 slices, divided 
2 shallots
3oz mushrooms, stems are fine 
2 cloves garlic 
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbs beef stock

Clean mushrooms, reserve 5 – 6 caps for garnish. Reserve 1 slice ham for garnish.
The sauce:
Finely chop shallots, garlic, remaining mushrooms and stems, 2 slices of ham. Put into a saucepan, add red wine and beef stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and keep at a hard simmer for 20 minutes. It should reduce by about 1/2. Strain liquid, discarding solids. Return sauce to pan and bring back to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in beef stock and stir into sauce. Stir constantly until thickened and clear. Keep warm while you cook the steaks. 

The steaks:
Slice reserved mushroom caps and ham. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom slices and ham and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove and set aside. Sauté beef 2 minutes per side for rare, (3 for medium rare) and remove. Adjust time for thicker or thinner steaks and remember: you can always put it back if it’s not done enough. 

To serve: 
Spoon some sauce onto 2 plates. Place steaks on top and garnish with ham and mushrooms. Put the rest of the sauce in a sauce boat and serve on the side.

1 thought on “Tournedos with Marchand de Vin Sauce; Life at Vlad’s”

  1. Katie, what a beautiful traditional dish. Shallots in red wine is such a beautiful synthesis of flavor.

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