Loving spoonfuls: Impress with a home-cooked Valentine's dinner for two
by Deirdre Long
dlong@annistonstar.com
Feb 13, 2013 | 2927 views |  0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT
Photo: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times/MCT
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It’s the day before Valentine’s Day and you’re short on time, roses and reservations.

Have no fear. They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, so with some help from Andrea O’Keefe, the lunch chef at Garfrerick’s Cafe in Oxford, we’ve come up with a simple but delicious meal that is sure to please that special person in your life. Convenience foods can be used, but fresh is always best, if you have the time.

Main Dish

Steak with a Red Wine Reduction


Two 4-6 ounce filet mignon (beef tenderloin)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup of dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, etc.)
One large shallot
Fresh parsley (or tarragon, if available), finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 300.

Sprinkle the steaks on both sides with a little salt and pepper (freshly ground is best).

Peel and mince the shallot as finely as you can. You should end up with a little under a tablespoon.

Mince the parsley (about one teaspoon).

Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook, undisturbed, for three to four minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another three to four minutes (these times are for medium-rare steaks — adjust times according to your preferences, up to six minutes a side). Remove the steaks to a plate and place in the preheated oven.

Melt the butter in the pan and add the minced shallot. Cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the wine and cook briefly, letting the wine bubble away until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Remove the steaks from the oven and place on serving plates. Drizzle the sauce over the top.

Sides

Garlic Mashed Potatoes


1 pound Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup heavy cream
Two cloves garlic (or one teaspoon of jarred minced garlic)
Two tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional, but don’t use the shelf-stable kind; grate it yourself or buy freshly grated from the cheese counter)

Scrub the potatoes thoroughly (you don’t need to peel them) and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Peel and mince the garlic as finely as you can.

Cook potatoes in boiling water until they are tender (a fork should go through them easily). Drain in a colander and return to the pan.

Add the butter and cream and mash the potatoes until they have a creamy texture. Stir in the garlic, Parmesan, about a teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of freshly ground pepper. Taste the potatoes, adding more butter or salt to taste.

Simple Sautéed Green Beans

1 cup fresh green beans
1 tablespoon butter
Optional: minced garlic, slivered almonds, chopped fresh thyme or basil

Chop off the stems and cut the beans into 2-inch pieces.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the beans until they are tender, about 12 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and then add the garlic, almonds or herbs.

Dessert

Strawberry Shortcake


Shortcake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, chilled
1 egg
⅔ cup heavy cream

Topping:

2 pints fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped cream:

1 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 450.

Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan (a square one will work just as well) by rubbing softened butter around the inside of the pan, adding couple of tablespoons of flour and shaking the flour around to coat the pan. Do this over the sink where you can tap out the extra flour.

Thaw the strawberries if using frozen; if using fresh, wash, remove the stems and cut into quarters.

Measure flour by spooning gently into the measuring cup. Do not shake or pack down the flour as it will cause you to measure more than intended and your cakes could end up dry and dense.

Combine the sugar, baking powder, salt and optional nutmeg in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.

Cut butter into small pieces and add to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Put this mixture into a medium-sized bowl.

Add the egg and cream. Stir to combine until the mixture comes together into a ball. Pat the dough as evenly as you can into the prepared pan. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Heat the frozen strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar over medium heat until warm. If using fresh, add a quarter of a cup of water with the sugar and simmer together for 10-15 minutes until berries soften.

Whip cream and sugar together with a whisk until it is light and fluffy.

Cut the cake into serving sizes and split in half horizontally. Spoon strawberries into the center of the cake, replace the top, and spoon a few more over the top. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Tips

• Fresh strawberries are inexpensive right now, but frozen will work if time is a factor. You can use fresh strawberries to garnish.

• A premade biscuit dough or pound cake can stand in for the homemade shortcake if confidence is a factor.

• Canned whipped cream is fine, but fresh is sure to impress.

• Be sure to turn on your range hood when searing the steaks, as a house filled with smoke is not romantic.
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