Valentine’s Variety

For Valentine’s Day, I promised JP I would cook him steak.  And since it’s a bit cold out in these parts, I couldn’t get away with passing it off to him.  Here’s the basics of the dinner that followed.

Week: 7 of 52

Cookbook: Stir by Barbara Lynch

First Course: Baked Cheese & Tomatoes with Black Olive Crisps

The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity and flexibility.  I used Vermont Butter & Cheese Goat Cheese with cherry tomatoes and kalamata olive tapenade from Whole Foods.  You roast the tomatoes and then add them to the cheese, season with salt and pepper and roast together.  Spread some tapenade on crisped rustic bread and you have a wonderful, simple starter. (Note: I got lazy and didn’t peel the tomatoes, but that’s okay.  I think it would have been an issue with whole tomatoes, but not so much with cherry tomatoes.)

Second Course: Wedge Salad

JP claims this is a real “man” salad.  And again, this preparation is pleasantly simple.  A quarter of a head of iceberg, topped with tomatoes, Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon (love these guys!), and a dressing made from buttermilk and blue cheese. (Note: I got lazy again and only used regular tomatoes instead of Chef Lynch’s recommended tomato confit.  Why am I am having so many tomato issues???)

Third Course: Pan-Seared Steak with Roasted Onions, Mushrooms, and French Fries with Truffle Aioli

Let’s break this down a bit.  The steak was a grass-fed rib-eye and it was huge.  About 18 ounces.  I opted to keep it whole and then slice it for serving.  I got the cast iron skillet nice and hot and turned on the fan.  Salt and pepper on each side, and then seared it for 3 minutes on one side.  After flipping, I added, per a Lynch recipe, butter & shallots and then basted the steak with the melted butter while it cooked.  To be absolutely sure on doneness, I used a thermometer and pulled the steak out of the pan at 130 degrees.  I tented aluminum foil over it while it rested and the sliced it right before serving.

The onions were seared in melted butter for a few minutes on each side and then roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes.  I used Vidalia onions, as the recipe called for a sweet onion, and these ended up great. The mushrooms, a mixture of varieties, were sautéed in butter (thank goodness it was a holiday) and then glazed with chicken stock.

And if you read this often, it should come as no surprise that something was fried in this meal.  We (JP stepped in to help while I had multiple pans going) double fried russet potatoes and seasoned with salt.  By double frying, you cook the inside first and then in the second fry you get the crispy exterior.  To accompany the fries, I made a truffle aioli with white truffle oil that my parents brought back from France a while back. There may not be anything better in this world than truffle aioli.  I would spread it on just about anything.

So, here’s the final plate:

The combination of steak, onion & mushroom was great and I think JP was pretty happy.

Fourth Course: Individual Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream and Whipped Cream

Here’s a quick description of this recipe, which I actually pulled from an old edition of the Good Housekeeping Book of Desserts.  I mixed flour, sugar and milk and then brought it to a boil.  After removing from the heat, I blended in chopped Valrhona Guanaja chocolate until melted.  Following that, I added egg yolks and then refrigerated the mixture to bring down the temp.

In another bowl, I blended egg whites and salt until soft peaks formed, added sugar, and continued beating until stiff peaks formed.  Then you fold the chocolate mixture into the whites and bake in greased individual ramekins.

I wasn’t super impressed with how much the souffles rose, and they did start to fall pretty quickly as well, so I think I’ll keep working on this one or trying different recipes.  Either way, the flavor was solid and with Toscanini Vanilla plus homemade whipped cream, it was great!

I’m not going to attempt to list an ingredient list here, but we can safely say that dinner was a success.  And one of the best parts – dinner the next night.  Steak sandwiches with leftover aioli and roasted onions.  Plus more fries.  Yum!

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One response to “Valentine’s Variety

  1. From start to finish, a menu full of many of my very favorite culinary treats. Lots of combinations of textures, full flavors and all executed to perfection. A very highly recommended meal.

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