What’s for Dinner?

4-course Contemporary Steak Dinner

The Menu

Grilled Mushroom with Lobster Meat

Pan-seared Scallops with Black Truffle Sauce

Grilled Angus Beef Steak

Dessert – White Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

The Restaurant

Luscious Veal Chops Garnished with Seared Foie Gras and Truffles


3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more if necessary
1 shallot, minced
1 cup Barolo
1/2 cup demi-glace (see Note below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 asparagus spears, trimmed to 4 inches long
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps quartered
4 veal rib chops, about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick
2-1/2 ounces fresh duck foie gras, cut into 4 slices
1 to 2 ounces black or white truffles
chervil sprigs or basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup. Add the demi-glace, bring to a simmer, and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove from the heat and season with salt if necessary and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water, and drain again. Spread the asparagus in a small baking pan and set aside at room temperature.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over moderately high heat. Add the shiitakes, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a generous pinch of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the pan aside.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Season the veal chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 2 of the chops to the pan and cook until golden brown on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until golden brown on the second side, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and cook the remaining 2 chops, adding a little more oil to the pan if necessary.
  6. Put the veal in the oven and cook until medium-rare, about 12 minutes for 1-1/2-inch-thick chops, or about 15 minutes for 2-inch-thick chops (the chops should register 130° to 135°F on an instant-read thermometer), or cook until desired doneness. Transfer the veal to a platter, cover with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, put the asparagus in the oven to heat through, about 3 minutes. Reheat the sauce over low heat. Reheat the mushrooms over moderate heat.
  8. Just before serving, heat a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over moderately high heat. Season the foie gras on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the foie gras to the skillet and cook until golden brown on the first side, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook until golden brown on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
  9. Place the foie gras on top of the veal. Arrange the asparagus around the veal, scatter the mushrooms around the plates, and spoon the sauce over all. Shave the truffle overthe veal, garnish with the chervil, and serve immediately.

Note: Small containers of demi-glace are available at specialty shops and in some supermarkets.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Truffles

Men Have Better Sense of Direction than Women

Different approaches to the same navigational tasks underscore sex-linked differences.

It’s been well established that men perform better than women when it comes to specific spatial tasks. But how much of that is linked to sex hormones versus cultural conditioning and other factors?

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) decided to explore this idea by administering testosterone to women and testing how they performed in wayfinding tasks in a virtual environment.

Using fMRI, the researchers saw that men in the study took several shortcuts, oriented themselves more using cardinal directions and used a different part of the brain than the women in the study.

But when women got a drop of testosterone under their tongue, several of them were able to orient themselves better in the four cardinal directions.

“Men’s sense of direction was more effective. They quite simply got to their destination faster,” says Carl Pintzka, a medical doctor and PhD candidate at NTNU’s Department of Neuroscience.

The directional sense findings are part of his doctoral thesis on how the brain functions differently in men and women.

Puzzle solving in a 3D maze

Pintzka used an MRI scanner to see whether there are any differences in brain activity when men and women orient themselves. Using 3D goggles and a joystick, the participants had to orient themselves in a very large virtual maze while functional images of their brains were continuously recorded.

Eighteen men and 18 women first took an hour to learn the layout of the maze before the scanning session. In the MRI scanner, they were given 30 seconds for each of the 45 navigation tasks. One of the tasks, for example, was to “find the yellow car” from different starting points.

Women often use a route

The men solved 50 per cent more of the tasks than the women.

According to Pintzka, women and men have different navigational strategies. Men use cardinal directions during navigation to a greater degree.

“If they’re going to the Student Society building in Trondheim, for example, men usually go in the general direction where it’s located. Women usually orient themselves along a route to get there, for example, ‘go past the hairdresser and then up the street and turn right after the store’,” he says.

The study shows that using the cardinal directions is more efficient because it is a more flexible strategy. The destination can be reached faster because the strategy depends less on where you start.

Women have better local memory

fMRI images of the brain showed that both men and women use large areas of the brain when they navigate, but some areas were different. The men used the hippocampus more, whereas women used their frontal areas to a greater extent.

“That’s in sync with the fact that the hippocampus is necessary to make use of cardinal directions,” says Pintzka.

He explains the findings in evolutionary terms.

“In ancient times, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Therefore, our brains probably evolved differently. For instance, other researchers have documented that women are better at finding objects locally than men. In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house,” Pintzka says.

A little testosterone under the tongue

Step two was to give some women testosterone just before they were going to solve the maze puzzles.

This was a different group of women than the group that was compared to men. In this step, 42 women were divided into two groups. Twenty-one of them received a drop of placebo, and 21 got a drop of testosterone under the tongue. The study was double-blinded so that neither Pintzka nor the women knew who got what.

“We hoped that they would be able to solve more tasks, but they didn’t. But they had improved knowledge of the layout of the maze. And . And they used the hippocampus to a greater extent, which tends to be used more by men for navigating,” says Pintzka.

Losing one’s sense of direction is one of the first symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Almost all brain-related diseases are different in men and women, either in the number of affected individuals or in severity. Therefore, something is likely protecting or harming people of one sex. Since we know that twice as many women as men are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there might be something related to sex hormones that is harmful,” says Pintzka.

He hopes that by understanding how men and women use different brain areas and strategies to navigate, researchers will be able to enhance the understanding of the disease’s development, and develop coping strategies for those already affected.

Source: EurekAlert!

Sunday Funnies

Men and Women with Type 2 diabetes Face Different Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Women with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have coronary heart disease compared to men, and may also need more frequent and intense physical activity to lower their risk of having a heart attack or stroke, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the association’s journal Circulation.

In the United States slightly more than nine percent of the population had diabetes in 2012, and the number of people with Type 2 diabetes is increasing at a rapid rate. Type 2 diabetes is associated with the body not producing enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. Overall, men and women have similar rates of Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 12.6 million women and 13 million men age 20 and older in the United States.

“Cardiovascular disease may be more deadly for women with Type 2 diabetes than it is for men,” said Judith G. Regensteiner, Ph.D, chair of the statement writing group and professor of medicine and director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

“While we don’t fully understand how the inherent hormonal differences between men and women affect risk, we do know that some risk factors for heart disease and stroke affect women differently than men and there are disparities in how these risk factors are treated.”

The statement notes women with Type 2 diabetes:

  • have heart attacks at earlier ages than men;
  • are more likely to die after a first heart attack than men;
  • are less likely to undergo procedures to open clogged arteries, such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting than men;
  • are less likely to be on cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins, take aspirin or use blood pressure-lowering medications than men;
  • are less likely to have their blood sugar or blood pressure under control than men;
  • develop Type 2 diabetes based on sex-specific differences, such as gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome

The statement also notes that African-American and Hispanic women with Type 2 diabetes are disproportionately affected by coronary artery disease and stroke as compared to men with Type 2 diabetes.

Observational studies suggest women with Type 2 diabetes may benefit more than men in reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease through lifestyle changes such as improved diet and more physical activity, but that women may need to exercise more frequently and more intensely than men.

While the new scientific statement clarifies some diabetes-related sex differences in heart and blood vessel disease, more research is necessary, according to the authors. Areas for further research include why women react differently than men to some medications, and why the risk of death from heart and blood vessel disease is worse among minorities than among whites.

“To improve health equity in women and men with diabetes, we need to understand and improve both the biological reasons for the disparities and also control cardiovascular risk factors equally in both women and men,” Regensteiner said. “This statement is a call for action to do the compelling research that is so important for all people with diabetes.”

Source: American Heart Association