Valentine’s Day Dinner

So I decided I would cook for Valentine’s day, for several reasons.  Chief among them being I didn’t want to deal with crowds.  And because I could cook exactly what I wanted.  Okay, so chief among them being because I didn’t want to deal with crowds and I could cook what I wanted.  Oh, and because I found some really good recipes.  Okay, so chief among them being…

I made creamed spinach with shallots, (my first time using shallots – what a wonderful thing they are!  It’s like a mellow, mild onion) rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes, and a bourbon-marinated London broil.  Dessert was raspberries in a red wine syrup over a sort of homemade mascarpone cheese. (More on that below.)

Surprisingly, the sides were the best part of the meal.  I wish I would’ve made so, so much more creamed spinach…but when I was looking at the bunch of fresh spinach in the grocery store it looked like so much…and I knew we were having another side, the London broil, and dessert…but it really cooked down, and I would’ve loved to have been able to have another serving of it.  Alas, there was no more.

Here’s a few pictures, with the recipes (and notes) below:

londonbroil

Searing the London broil prior to adding to the oven. (There is nothing wrong with the cut – that top corner just ended up not being submerged in the marinade overnight.)

roastedpotatoes

Potatoes mid-roast

creamspinach

Creamed spinach!

dessertDessert

Recipes and Notes

Bourbon-Marinated Steak

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (packed ) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • 2 (1 1/2 pounds each) flank steaks, well trimmed

Note: I used a London broil because there were no flank steaks available.

Directions

Prepare marinade: In jumbo self-sealing plastic bag (2 gallons), mix all ingredients except steaks.

Add steaks, turning to coat. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Place bag in shallow glass baking dish and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Remove steaks from marinade. Discard marinade. Place steaks on grill over medium heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes for medium-rare or until of desired doneness, turning once. (Or, preheat broiler and place steaks on rack in broiling pan. Broil steaks at closest position to source of heat 15 to 20 minutes for medium-rare.)

Transfer steaks to warm large platter, let stand 10 minutes for easier slicing. To serve, cut into thin slices.

Notes: The flavor was lacking.  If I were to do this again, I would use the leftover marinade to make a reduction to pour over the beef.  You could really taste the bourbon – and not in a good way – but none of the other flavors added.  It was a shame, because I was really looking forward to making this, and it did not meet expectations.

Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 1 pound curly spinach, well washed, thick stems removed, water still clinging to leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions

Place spinach in a large saucepan (3 to 4 quarts) over medium heat (it will be extremely full), and season with salt. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander, and rinse under cold water until completely cooled; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat butter over medium-low; add shallot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add flour; cook, stirring, 1 minute (do not let brown); add 3/4 cup milk. Simmer gently over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Thin with additional milk, if necessary. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Notes: THIS. WAS. AMAZING.  My first time I think even tasting a shallot, much less cooking with one…and it came together fantastically.  I will be making this again, and soon.  However, as I mentioned earlier, I cut down on the amount of spinach, and regretted it.  It is important to note that it looks like a great deal more than it really is in a raw bunch.  It will cook down more than one thinks.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds small red or white-skinned potatoes (or a mixture)
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.

Notes: Simple and good.  Do this.

Cherries and Mascarpone

 Ingredients

  •  2 1/4 cups red wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1-by-3-inch strip orange zest
  • 2 pounds sweet cherries, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey

 Directions

In a medium stainless-steel saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Add the cherries and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the cherries are just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour into a glass or stainless-steel bowl so the cherries don’t overcook.

In a small bowl, combine the mascarpone with the honey. Remove the strip of orange zest from the cherries. Serve the warm cherries and syrup in bowls or stemmed glasses, topped with a large dollop of the mascarpone cream.

Notes: But earlier you said raspberries!  That’s right.  I couldn’t find cherries.  The raspberries worked just as well and had a great flavor, but I am not a fan of the seeds…would like to try this again, and with cherries.

Also, I was unable to get mascarpone – so I did some googling and found a little trick.  If you cannot find mascarpone cheese:  Add equal parts heavy cream and ricotta to a blender.  Blend until thickened. BAM!  It’s pretty much mascarpone.  If you had them side by side you could probably tell a difference, but for this recipe it worked out just the same.  Hell, if it bothers you, call the recipe “Cherries, ricotta and cream” instead.

 

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