Every once in a while, something a little more decadent seems in order, and this Valentine's Day seems like the perfect occasion to indulge! Consider surprising your special sweetheart by serving a classic menu of pan-seared steaks with red wine sauce, a traditional Caesar salad, and a rich flourless chocolate torte served on a pool of raspberry sauce. As impressive as that sounds, it’s not that hard to pull off!
Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Sauce
This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to serve a quality steak. Taking a few minutes to prepare this easy pan sauce makes it extra special and delivers a swanky presentation! If you’re a fan of bleu cheese, a few crumbles garnished across the finished steak will make it sublime.
- 2 6-ounce steaks, 1 to 1 ½ inch thick (thicker cut boneless steaks such as filet mignon, New York strip steak or rib-eye work best)
- Kosher salt
- Coarse ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¼ cup minced shallot
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup red wine
- ½ cup beef broth
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Pat steak dry with a paper towel on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a heavy pan, such as cast iron or stainless steel, over medium-high heat. (A non-stick pan doesn’t work as well. Those crusty browned bits that add flavor won’t build up in the pan!)
- Add ½ tablespoon butter and oil and heat until sizzling.
- Place steaks in pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, flip when bottom is a deep brown color and easily releases from the pan. Continue cooking another 3 to 4 minutes.
- While it’s tempting to cut into the steak to see if it done, you’ll release all those wonderful juices. An instant-read thermometer is better. An internal temperature of 125º to 130ºF will yield a rare to medium rare steak. The meat will continue to cook as it rests. Remove meat from pan, tent with foil to keep warm while you make pan sauce.
- Reduce heat to medium and add ½ tablespoon butter, shallots, and thyme and sauté until softened, about 1 minute.
- Add wine, broth, and Worcestershire sauce to pan, stir and scrape up any brown bits. Bring to simmer and let reduce by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk in remaining ½ tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- To serve, plate steaks and spoon sauce on top. Steak can also be sliced across the grain, fanned out, and sauce spooned over.
Caesar Salad for Two
While classic Caesar salad is whisked up tableside and incorporates a raw egg yolk, this recipe keeps all the delicious parts of the traditional dressing but in a make-ahead process. We substitute mayonnaise for the egg yolk to help keep the creamy texture. Don’t leave out the anchovy paste; this gives the dressing its umami taste it's famous for.
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup croutons
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- In a blender or with an immersion blender, combine all dressing ingredients and process until well blended and creamy. Store in airtight container in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- To serve, toss the dressing with 4 cups torn romaine lettuce and croutons, divide between two plates, garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Flourless Chocolate Torte for Two
An extra special and decadent dessert for two that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and uses only 5 ingredients. To make an even more impressive presentation, serve on a pool of colorful raspberry sauce.
- 1 ounce good quality unsweetened dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Liberally grease bottom and sides of two muffin cups in a regular size muffin tin. Set aside.
- Place chocolate and butter in a medium mixing bowl and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring until melted and mixture smooth and combined.
- Thoroughly stir in sugar then let cool 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add the egg, stirring until batter is smooth and glossy.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Pour mixture into the 2 prepared muffin cups, dividing equally.
- Bake 12 to 14 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. When done, top will no longer be shiny and center will have a little jiggle. Toothpick inserted in middle should come out with a few moist crumbs. Careful not to overbake. Let cool on rack for 10 minutes then very carefully ease each torte out of muffin tin.
- To serve, place on plate, widest part down, and garnish with dusting of powdered sugar and fresh berries, whipped cream, or a scoop of Ice cream. For an extra special presentation, serve on a pool of raspberry sauce with a few fresh berries on the side! (See recipe below)
- Can be made ahead. Once cool, cover airtight and keep refrigerated.
Makes enough to garnish two individual chocolate tortes. Frozen or fresh berries work equally well. Adding a tiny taste of your favorite liqueur such as Frangelico, Grand Marnier, or Framboise gives a delightful kick in flavor!
- ¾ cup fresh or frozen raspberries (thaw berries if frozen)
- 4 or 5 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
- Optional, ¼ teaspoon preferred liqueur
- Place berries in blender and process until pureed. With the back of a spoon, press berries through a sieve to remove seeds.
- In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch.
- Add berry purée and any desired liqueur or flavoring and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove from heat and let cool before serving. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
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