Matt and I decided to save money and stay home this Valentine’s Day. We cooked an absolutely mouth-watering dinner and dessert, followed by a bottle of Pinot Noir and the movie Eagle Eye.
1 beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
1/3 to 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp good olive oil (I used Fustini’s Manzanillo olive oil)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Fustini’s Pomegranate balsamic vinegar)
Salt and pepper
1/4 to 1/2 fresh baguette, sliced thin
Combine the tomato, onion, olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper (to taste) in a bowl at least an hour prior to serving. This allows the tomato and onion to marinate in the vinegar and olive oil.
Prior to serving, toast the pieces of baguette in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until hard and very lightly browned.
Filet Mignon au Poivre (from Mary Ellen’s blog)
2 five to seven oz. filet mignon
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/4 cup Cognac or other brandy - We used a cheap brandy (I can't recall the brand, but it was around $5.50/pint)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt. Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks. You could also use a pepper grinder, set on the coarsest setting.
Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
Transfer steaks to a plate and keep warm in the microwave while making sauce.
Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (1 Tbsp) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining Tbsp of butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated.
1 bunch fresh kale
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
Begin by removing the stems from the kale and rinsing the leaves in a bowl of cold water to allow any dirt to sink to the bottom. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet.
Add the crushed garlic and sautee. Add the rinsed and drained kale. BE CAREFUL OF OIL SPATTERS!
Add in your salt and pepper, to taste. Be careful of the salt. It needs VERY LITTLE to effect the flavor. Sadly, I oversalted it. Don’t worry, it was still good. I just had to eat it with a bit of less-seasoned potato.
Serve when kale is wilted, after about 4-6 minutes of sautéing.
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper, to taste
Extra shallot (if you have any from the filet mignon recipe above)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the potatoes in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss with the garlic, salt, pepper and shallots.
Cover with aluminum foil or top of baking dish for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are over 1/2 way done. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and have turned slightly brown.
Chocolate Lava Cakes (from Cooking This and That)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1/3 cup confectioners sugar, plus more for serving
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces - I used 3/4 of a bar of Ghirardelli Espresso Escape (60% cacao)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) - I omitted because of the type of chocolate I bought
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 6-ounce ramekin.. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 20-second increments, stirring after each, until melted. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Add chocolate mixture; whisk to combine. Add flour, and whisk just until combined (do not overmix).
Pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.)
Bake until a toothpick inserted 1/2 inch from edge of ramekins comes out clean, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out wet, 10 to 12 minutes (do not overbake). Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around inside of ramekins to loosen. Invert cakes onto serving plates. Dust with sugar; serve immediately.
Try to remain conscious despite the urge to fall into a chocolatey, heavenly coma.
Now, the fun part. One of the most rewarding parts of this meal was realizing how inepensive it can be to make a delicious, fancy restaurant meal at home. Here's how you can have a $120 meal for much, MUCH less.
Things on hand...
Salt and pepper
Things to purchase...
2 five ounce filet mignon steaks ($20/lb) $12
Bottle of Blackstone Pinor Noir (on sale) $8.99
Half and Half creamer $3
1 Shallot $.55
1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes @1.99/lb $1
1 tomato $.50
1 onion $1
GRAND TOTAL: $38.43
Comparable meal at restaurant...
Filet (2) $50
Dessert (2) $12
GRAND TOTAL: $95 +tax+tip = $120