Monday, February 14, 2011

Fine Dining

We have a tradition with our good friends the Kovaliks (Hanging with your Naybor). Renee and I both enjoy cooking and trying new food so we use Valentine's Day as an excuse to have a gourmet dinner of sorts. We say it's our Valentine's Day gift to the guys, but I think it's just as much a reason for us to have fun planning and cooking some super yummy food.

Last year we chose recipes from Julia Childs' cookbook and while we enjoyed a wonderful tasty meal it was a lot of work. At the culmination of all our labor, we actually light our dish on fire - per instructions by the great Julia. The thing is when you cook one of her recipes you don't really know what is ok to adapt and what steps you might be able to shorten or even skip. Until afterwards when you go "ooohhh, that's what that was, I could have totally done that quicker!"

This year we planned our meal using the good old world wide web. Overall it was a great success and I thought it would be fun to share our menu with you should you ever need some gourmet recipes for yourself!

Appetizer: Crostini with Proscuitto and Fig - This was really a perfect appetizer for this type of meal. Not too heavy and not too labor intensive - just some wonderful flavors that really complemented one another. I am not a big fan of mint outside of dessert or drinks, but I didn't mind the mint with this. But I would have been without it as well. (bottom left pic - after we'd devoured all but one of them...)

Salad: Mixed greens with caramelized pears and pecans. Here is a link to the original recipe but we changed things up a bit. Instead of romaine we used spring mix, we used pecans instead of walnuts, because...well pecans are just better, instead of proscuitto (already in the appetizer) we added feta cheese. Yum! (top right picture)

The main course was Filet Mignons with Spiced Butter, Caramelized Shallot Mashed Potatoes and steamed fresh green beans with lemon zest. All three were delish and worked perfectly together. I don't have a recipe for the beans because are a recipe Renee makes, lemon zest and lemon juice added to the beans after steaming them - for some reason they never turn out as good when I make them so there may be some secret trick to it!

Cooking filet had me nervous because it is such a pricey piece of meat that you really don't want to get it wrong! Renee and I were funny, I would take it out of the oven and we'd look at it and then look at each other, trying to guess if it was to that magic medium rare point, not bloody, but still nice and pink. After searing it in a pan, cooking it in the oven, you topped each piece with the spiced butter (only thing changed on that was no carraway seeds) and then tented it with foil while you worked on the sauce (we didn't use the veal demi glace that the recipe called for. No clue how it would have been different). It was a success - I don't think I've ever cooked something that made Matt as happy as that filet mignon did!

Dessert Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream. Take a few minutes to take that all in. Then click on it to look at the picture. Yes it as good as it looks. Kind of rendered me speechless! If you have an occasion to make a fancy cake, give this one a try. We split up the leftovers and our half is taunting me from across the room! I think the only change was in the raspberry layer, Renee cooked and strained the raspberries according to the directions then we just added it to a raspberry fruit spread instead of making it into a curd.

I don't know if you noticed in the pictures but there are only four place settings at the table. We fed the kids pizza earlier and they were downstairs in the basement watching a movie while we enjoyed our fine dining!

I hope you all have wonderful Valentine's Day and somehow someway enjoy some fine dining of your own!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Snow Days

We've enjoyed a number of fun snowy outings to nearby hill that is perfect for sled riding. It's fast enough to be super fun for the kids but not steep enough to be really dangerous. I'm still a bit scarred from watching a kid smack into a tree at a really big hill a few winters ago.
I love the snow, but not so much this icy slushy rain stuff we've had this week. And I don't love how quickly our school district cancels school without building any snow days into the schedule. But I do love a good snow and I love having a hill nearby that is our go to place.

Yay for snow and sled riding!

Ok, now I'm ready for Spring!

Related Posts with Thumbnails