Let the steaks come to room temperature for about 30 minutes outside of the refrigerator before cooking.
Crack the peppercorns by crushing them with a mortar and pestle or placing them in a clean dish towel and pressing down on them with a heavy skillet or hitting them with a mallet. They can also be put in a spice/coffee grinder (but be careful not to over grind with this option). The pepper should be cracked into tiny pieces, but not finely ground.
Spread the cracked peppercorns on a plate. Pat the steaks dry, season with salt on both sides, and then press the steaks into the pepper, coating both sides.
Heat a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat and then add the oil and one tablespoon of butter. Add the steaks to the pan and allow them to sear on one side for 4-5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and sear the other side for 3-4 minutes. For rare, the internal temperature should be 125 -130 degrees and they will come up to medium rare while resting. To get closer to medium, remove from the pan at 135 degrees.
When the steaks are done, remove them from the pan and place on a warmed plate. They will continue to cook while resting.
Once you remove the steaks from the pan, keep the heat on and add the minced shallots to the pan. Stir the shallots for about a minute to cook them.
Add the cognac and deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the cognac by half and then add the beef stock or veal demi-glace.
Reduce the sauce again by half. At this point, depending on your preference, add either the 2 ounces of cream or the 2 tablespoons of butter to the reduction and stir briefly to emulsify the sauce. Remove from heat.
Spoon the sauce over the warm steaks and serve immediately.