Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day - a success!

Hello all -

I have been gone a long time and I don't know how regularly you can expect me to stick around again but I really wanted to show our gourmet Valentine's Day dinner we had and also give the update on our lives.

First off - Valentine's Day was very fun (we celebrated over two days, Sat. & Sun.) Saturday Peter made a divine pasta dish with a homemade white sauce. It was pretty much perfection and he was so proud of himself! He had gone out and purchased me "flowers" - I hinted to him earlier in the month that I thought it was so silly to buy cut flowers that were only going to die in a few days and that I really wanted a potted plant that would stick around longer. So I got a pot of Rosemary (which is an aphrodisiac according to this article over at Epicurious and is the herb I use most around the kitchen but for whatever reason don't grow in house... needless to say I was thrilled!) and a potted Calla Lily which is beautiful as well! For dessert though we had our homemade rendition of Outback Steakhouse's Sinful Sydney Sundae - TO DIE FOR! See recipe below...

Sunday morning (I didn't have any church meetings - yea!) so we got to have a nice sit-down breakfast of Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup, Orange Juice, and Thick Cut Bacon - yum, yum, yum! Ella even enjoyed it too!
After church we started on dinner. The menu consisted of Grilled London Broil, Mashed Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, and a salad. Doesn't sound too gourmet but my man loves his meat and potatoes but just wait until you see the presentation! So the dinner prep turned into quite the ordeal... we ran out of lighter fluid and our charcoal isn't Matchlight so we resorted to the boy scout method - sticks, paper, and leaves. We tried everything we could think of but as our gas lighter ran out of fluid and we came down to our last match, Peter in desperation light the cardboard match box on fire and that burned surprisingly well so he ran inside to grab more cardboard to burn. Finally (after almost 2 hours) we got the coals to burn and we were in business. I was worried there for a minute because I was thinking - if we ever had to live in the "wild" without an oven or stove, could my husband be relied on to light us a fire?? To my relief, I think we would survive as long as we had cardboard! So while he took care of the steak, I got the potatoes, asparagus, and salad ready.
It all finished at the perfect time and with a beautiful table set (and lit with candles) we were ready to eat! Peter said it was the best dinner he had ever had in his life! I don't know if that was more due to the fact that we had spent so much effort on it or if it really was THAT good, but I would say it ranks in the top 10 for me! We finished it all off with a repeat of last night's dessert (it's that good) the Sinful Sydney Sundae. Culinary tantalization at it's best!

Recipe for Grilled London Broil (courtesy of Cook's Illustrated)
*it's a bit of work but to take a cheap cut of meat and turn it into this beautiful, tender, and juicy steak it's worth it!

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bottom round steak, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds and 1 1/2 inches thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Sprinkle both sides of steak evenly with salt; wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (steak can be salted and refrigerated for up to 24 hours).
2. Fill large pot or bucket with 1 gallon warm water (about 100 degrees). Place wrapped steak into zipper-lock plastic bag, squeeze out excess air, and seal bag tightly. Place steak in water, covering with plate or bowl to keep bag submerged. Set aside for 1 hour.
3. About 20 minutes before grilling, light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, or about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are covered in thin, gray ash, about 20 minutes. Empty coals into grill and build modified two-level fire by arranging coals to cover one-half of grill with other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush.
4. Remove steak from water and unwrap; brush both sides with oil (salt will have dissolved) and sprinkle evenly with pepper. Grill steak directly over coals, flipping steak with tongs once every minute, until dark brown crust forms on both sides, about 8 minutes. Move steak to cooler side of grill; cover grill and continue cooking until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of steak registers 120 degrees for rare to medium-rare, about 5 minutes, flipping steak halfway through cooking time.
5. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest, tented with foil, about 10 minutes. Holding thin slicing knife at 45-degree angle to meat, slice very thinly and serve.

Homemade Sinful Sydney Sundae

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Position rack in middle of oven and pre-heat to 325 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Melt butter and chocolate according to directions on the introductory card. Remove bowl from heat. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until blended. Whisk in flour and salt just until blended. Stir in walnuts. Pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out sticky, with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 9 brownies with a plastic knife and serve with the following toppings:

Vanilla Ice Cream
Toasted Coconut and Corn Flakes
Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce (click on link for recipe)
- - For the update on our lives - - Ella will be turning 1 on the 21st (one week away!!!) she is just as beautiful as ever and makes us laugh all day long! Our little BOY is now 30 weeks along and active as ever so we are having fun getting ready for his arrival in April! Other than that our life is pretty much the same. I hope to be around more often on this blog as it is a great outlet for me and my creative drives. No promises though...