Thursday, February 4, 2010

Food - the lost Love Language

According to Gary Chapman food is not a love language. I know two little muses who vehemently disagree. While dating, there is no easier way to hook a man than to start cooking for him regularly. Using this strategy you will successfully snag the man and then can spend your Valentine's Days cooking special meals.

Well, maybe he'll just end up fat and happy and you'll end up alone. But let's think positively.

In any case, Valentine's Day is a great time to pick out one of your man's favorite meals and make it for him. Pull out all the stops - perhaps spend a little extra and make that super complicated dessert if you know your man perceives love through food (note: if he doesn't really like dessert, then opt for a great cut of meat instead Do something HE appreciates).

This muse partnership is made up of one rabid meat eater and a convinced vegetarian (who only once broke her meat fast for an Easter leg of lamb...and paid for it big time!) Here are two great dishes to try for your man, whether he's a devoted carnivore or prefers to leave fluffy animals in their element.

Steak Au Poivre
adapted from The Complete Robuchon

  • 2 steaks, 1/2 pound
  • Crushed pepper—black, gray, or green
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock (Monsieur Robuchon suggest veal stock - I don't know about ya'll but I don't have veal bones laying around to make stock from)
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 20 minutes in advance.

Cover the steaks on both sides with crushed pepper. Pat it on firmly so that it sticks into the flesh. Salt the steaks on both sides. (Be sure to pepper and then salt, or the pepper will not stick to the steaks.)

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon butter. Rotate the pan as the butter melts, and when it begins to foam, lower the heat to medium. Lay the steaks in the pan and cook for 4 minutes, rotating them in the pan and spooning the cooking juices over them. Flip them with tongs or a spatula and cook 4 minutes on the other side, rotating and basting as before. Stand the steaks on their sides, using tongs to help, and cook them 2 minutes on their edges. Remove the steaks to a plate and tent them loosely with aluminum foil.

Pour the wine into the sauté pan and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula until the wine is syrupy.

Dice the rest of the butter, which should be well chilled. Add the stock to the pan and boil for 2 minutes. If you are using the crème fraîche, stir it in. Then stir in the diced butter bit by bit. Put this sauce through a fine strainer into a warmed sauceboat. If you are using the mustard, stir it in now. Stir vigorously as the mustard can get a little clumpy. Taste for salt and pepper.

Put the steaks on the warmed serving platter, coat them with sauce, and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.

And now for our sweet veggie friends...

Roasted Winter Vegetable Baklava
from Gourmet, December 2008

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (2 ounces),
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, reserving fronds, bulbs halved and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • 3/4 pound parsnips (3 medium), sliced diagonally 1/3 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound carrots (3 medium), sliced diagonally 1/3 inch thick
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill
  • 8 (17-by 12-inch) phyllo sheets, thawed if frozen
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Pulse walnuts with bread crumbs in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped (not ground).

Peel potatoes and slice 1/4 inch thick. Divide all vegetables between 2 large 4-sided sheet pans and toss each pan of vegetables with 3 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Roast vegetables, stirring and switching position of pans halfway through, until softened and golden brown in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Leave oven on with 1 rack in middle.

Add 1/3 cup water to each pan of vegetables and stir and scrape up brown bits from bottom. Chop 1/4 cup fennel fronds. Combine all vegetables in 1 pan and toss with fennel fronds and dill.

Brush baking dish with some of remaining olive oil. Cover stack of phyllo sheets with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Keeping remaining phyllo covered and working quickly, place 1 sheet on a work surface, then gently brush with some oil and sprinkle with 2 rounded tablespoon walnut mixture. Place another phyllo sheet on top and repeat brushing and sprinkling. Top with a third sheet and brush with oil.

Drape phyllo stack into one half of baking dish, gently pressing it into bottom and up side and leaving an overhang. Make another stack with 3 more phyllo sheets, more oil, and remaining walnut mixture. Drape into other half of dish (phyllo will overlap in center of dish).

Spoon vegetables into phyllo shell. Fold overhang toward center over filling (it will not cover vegetables) and brush edge with oil. Brush remaining 2 sheets of phyllo with remaining oil, tear in half, crumple, and arrange on top of filling.

Bake until phyllo is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Psssttt...There are only a few more days left until Valentine's Day and several love languages left...

    (And I'm guessing that this was written by the East Coast Muse!)