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Roast Fillet of Beef with Blue Cheese Mousse and Arugula

For the mousse:
4 ounces creamy blue cheese such as Bleu d'Auvergne
4 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat but not nonfat variety
1 tablespoon cognac or brandy
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Several grinds black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped chives, divided

For the beef and garnishes:
1 3-pound filet of beef, trimmed of all excess fat
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon each salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 bunches arugula, leaves cleaned and dried
1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced

To prepare mousse, place blue cheese, cream cheese, cognac or brandy, shallots, pepper and 2 tablespoons of chives in a mixing bowl and mix well with a spatula to blend. Mound in a 1-cup ramekin and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 to 3 hours. Mousse may be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.

To cook meat, arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl and rub over surface of meat. Heat the oil in a roasting pan over medium-high heat and, when hot, brown roast on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Leave meat in the pan and roast in preheated oven until thermometer registers 130 to 140 degrees for medium rare, about 45 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack to room temperature. Meat can be cooked a day ahead; cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.

To assemble platter, arrange the ramekin with the blue cheese mousse on a large serving platter. Sprinkle remaining chives over mousse. Make a border on the plate with clusters of arugula leaves. Slice meat about 1/4 inch thick and arrange overlapping slices on the platter around the ramekin. Slice the bread and put it in a napkin-lined basket. Serves 12 to 14

Betty Rosbottom

Thursday, November 30, 2000

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