Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Revisited

I promised I would get these recipes up, and who doesn't love to revisit a holiday? Better late than never, right? All of the recipes are included at the bottom of this post.

Hubby and I don't usually go big for Valentine's Day, but we decided to make a change this year as it was our first Valentine's Day as a married couple.

There is a local gourmet kitchen and catering store that offers cooking classes. Quality Street Kitchen & Catering offers classes in an array of cuisines. Valentine's Day found a DC based chef preparing a succulent Beef Tenderloin with a Port Wine sauce, and a side of Potato Gratin.

Have I got your mouth watering yet? If not, feast your eyes upon the chocolate covered strawberry at the top of this post, then read on.

When we arrived at Quality Street, we were greeted by glasses of sparkling Moscato and chocolate dipped strawberries. (We enjoyed the Moscato so much, we ended up taking two bottles home). Along with half a dozen other hungry couples, we all took our seats on stools facing a giant hooded stove top.

The chef of the night, Jennifer Purcell, was classically trained in the culinary arts at L’Academie de Cuisine, a location I have investigated to pursue my own cooking dreams (but that's a story for another day). She greeted us briefly and got to work.

At the end of the bar where we all sat poised to smell the melodious odors of the feast, there was a giant television that displayed a feed from a camera over the stove so we could see everything she was doing.

The Roast Beef Tenderloin just out of the oven.

She started with the Beef Tenderloin, seasoning it with oil, salt and pepper. She then seared it in the hot pan before popping it in the oven to cook to a nice, cool medium rare.

Meanwhile, the Port Wine Sauce was reducing on the back-burner, along with a warm balsamic vinaigrette.

The first course we consumed was the warm spinach salad topped with seared shrimp, balsamic vinaigrette, candied pecans, dried cherries, bacon, red onion, and shaved Parmesan.

To trim some of the calories and sugars from this course, leave out the candied pecans and choose center cut bacon.

Jennifer had a beautiful Potato Gratin prepared before we arrived, which she topped with slow cooked greens. Then, on top of the pile, came the roasted beef tenderloin with the port wine sauce. The taste of the port wine sauce was sublime. I have recreated it myself twice in the last month, and shared it with a coworker, who in turn shared it with family. I have yet to meet someone unsatisfied with this recipe.

My very own Port Wine Sauce reducing.

The evening was topped with whipped cream. Literally. Whipped cream on top of a warm chocolate cake over cream anglaise.

Be still my heart.

I realize this is not the kind of thing one should eat every night of the week, but treat yourself. Don't deprive yourself of what makes you happy. If you crave chocolate, have a small slice of cake. But do it in moderation. The more you deprive yourself, the harder it becomes to stay dedicated to a goal.

And now for the good stuff...RECIPES!

Warm spinach salad with all the fixin's
  • 3-4 Large Shrimp per person, peeled and deveined
  • 12 cups fresh spinach
  • Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Candied Pecans
  • 1/2 small Red Onion, thin sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried Cherries
  • 6 slices of Bacon, diced and cooked crisp
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shaved into curls
  1. In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat light oil ad butter (equal parts). Dry shrimp o paper towels ad season with salt ad pepper. Saute about 2-3 minutes per side, until they start to curl. Remove from pan and use same pan to make Vinaigrette.
  2. To serve salad, place spinach and onions in large bowl. Pour warm dressing over greens and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange grees on plates. Place shrimp on top of salad. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.
Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette 
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Shallot, fine dice
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. In a saute pan, cook garlic and shallots in light oil until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic and let simmer about 1 minute.
  2. With a whisk, add in olive oil and finish with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Roasted Beef Tenderloin
  • Beef tenderloin
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Oil, salt, and pepper beef.
  2. Sear in hot pan or grill on each side.
  3. Finish in 375 degree oven until 140-145 internal temp for medium rare to medium.
Port Wine Sauce
  • 2 Shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Sprigs of Thyme
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 Slices of Bacon, Chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup Port Wine
  • 2 cups Demiglas or reduced Beef Stock (no salt added)
  1. Sweat shallots, bay, thyme, bacon and salt in butter.
  2. Deglaze with Port and vinegar.
  3. Reduce to dry and add demiglas.
  4. Reduce and adjust seasoning.
  5. Strain through sieve.
Potato Gratin

My potato gratin. I prefer it a little browned.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Butter
  • 2 lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, heat up the cream and chopped garlic on low heat.
  3. While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, strain through a sieve, and pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Baked, covered, for 35 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and bake, uncovered, until cheese browns, about 15 minutes.
Slow Cooked Greens
  • Large Bag Kale, Collards, or Mustard Greens, rinsed
  • 5-6 slices Bacon
  • 5-6 Garlic Cloves
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chicken Stock
  • Sherry Vinegar
  1. In a large pot, cook bacon over medium heat until starting to crisp. Add garlic ad red pepper flakes and continue to cook until garlic is golden.
  2. Add greens and stock until greens are half covered (they will cook down into stock). Season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until greens are tender (time depends on type of green and how large the leaves are).
  3. Finish with sherry vinegar to taste.

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