Well Dined


Valentine’s Day 2012

I LOVE Valentine's Day, I really do. I didn't before I met Jasper, but now that I have someone to share it with I love to have a day to just appreciate and treat each other. We like to spend it at home so that we aren't distracted by other people/things, or feel like we have to act a certain way. So I spend all day cooking and setting up and we have a wonderful romantic dinner together.

This is my table setting. When it is time to eat, we dim the lights and light the candles - very romantic 😀

This is one of the few times a year where I pull out the wedding china, crystal, silver, and linens. They look pretty on the shelf, but what's the point if you don't use them occasionally?

These are some lovely flowers that Jasper and I picked out together. If you live near Vienna, Karin's Florist is incredible - they have stunning, innovative, modern designs. Highly recommended!

And, of course, the chocolate! I bought one of Jasper's favorite cakes - a Sacher Torte with fresh raspberries and tons of dark chocolate ganache. I also got his favorite candy - Reese's - in cute heart shapes!

He surprised me by getting my favorite bubbly!

We started the dinner with a chopped salad inspired by our favorite salad from Ruth's Chris.

The main course - a standing rib roast, crusted in herbs and Parmesan, sliced thin, and drenched in a red wine sauce - YUM!

I like to use this roasting crust mix from Williams Sonoma, which they unfortunately don't sell anymore, and that was my last box! There is a recipe here that might create a similar effect if you add some Parmesan cheese.

For four people, or two with leftovers, you will want a 2-3 rib roast. You may have to ask your butcher to cut it for you, as they are not often in the case except at Christmas time. Make sure that if you are going to make a Yorkshire pudding (and I highly recommend that you do) that you do not trim the fat cap off of the roast - you will need all that tasty rendered fat!

Place the roast in a large bag (I use a brining bag), drizzle with olive oil, add the herb-Parmesan mixture and use the bag to press the crust into the roast.

Start the roast at a high heat to brown the crust, then reduce the heat and continue to roast to and internal temperature of 120 degrees for rare up to 130 degrees for medium. Then, make sure to let the roast rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Turn it on its side and slice off the rib bones, then place the remaining meat cut side down and slice thinly.

For my starchy side - I wanted to do these cute little heart shaped roasted potatoes. I was counting on being able to buy tiny heart cookie cutters to make it easy, but Williams Sonoma doesn't sell them anymore! So I had to cut them by hand, which took awhile - but they were so cute!!

I parboiled the potatoes, then tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence, and fresh parsley.

Then I roasted them until they were tender and golden brown.

For my vegetable side, I roasted some asparagus that I tossed with olive oil, garlic, honey, lemon juice, basil, parsley, and Herbes de Provence.

And now, my most favorite thing in the world - Yorkshire Pudding. A creamy, puffy, beef flavored popover - what could be better than that? The key to this (as with all popovers) is a super hot pan, and a super cold batter.

I actually used a little too much beef fat this time, so my pudding got a little soggy in the middle and dark on the edges.

This is my beautiful Yorkshire Pudding from last year, as a comparison.

If you ever have a speacial occaision that you want to cook for - a holiday, celebration, or party - I hope you consider this classic and classy menu. It is well worth the effort!!

*NOTE* For this menu, after the roast is finished you can start the asparagus and potatoes together, remove the asparagus when they are done, then increase the temp and cook the pudding together with the potatoes while they finish.

Standing Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding
adapted from Williams Sonoma

1 standing beef rib roast, 5 to 6 lbs
Garlic Herb Parmesan crust mix (see note in blog)

For the Yorkshire Pudding:
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp fat from roasting pan

For the sauce:
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp butter

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450°F. Oil a flameproof heavy roasting pan just large enough to hold the roast comfortably.

Place the roast into a large plastic bag. Coat the roast in olive oil and apply roasting crust, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place the roast, fat side up, in the prepared pan. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast, away from the bone, registers 125° to 130°F for very rare to medium-rare, about 1 hour and 10 minutes more (for a total roasting time of 1 1⁄2 hours).

Meanwhile, make the batter for the Yorkshire pudding: Place the eggs and milk in a blender and blend for 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and blend for another 30 sec to a minute. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Transfer the roast to a carving board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest while baking the pudding.

To make the pudding, increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Skim the surface fat from the drippings, reserving both the fat and the pan with the drippings. Spoon 2 tbsp of the fat into a metal pie or cake pan and put the pan in the oven until it is very hot, about 5 minutes. Pour the cold batter into the hot pan. Bake on the lower rack until the pudding is golden and puffed, about 20-25 minutes. DO NOT open the oven during this time.

Meanwhile, place the roasting pan with the drippings over medium heat. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the chicken stock and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the butter and stir to combine, remove from heat. Pour into a sauceboat.

Just before the pudding is ready, slice the beef and arrange on a warmed platter. Serve with the pudding and sauce.

Heart Shaped Roasted Potatoes
inspired by Haniela's

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
olive oil
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Fill a pot with about a quart of water, add about 1tbl salt, and bring to a boil.

In the meantime peel the potatoes, slice them to about 1/2 inch thick, use a small metal cookie cutter or a paring knife to cut out as many hearts as you can. Placing the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water as you work to keep them fresh.

Cook potatoes in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain potatoes and let cool slightly. Toss them with the remaining ingredients, place them into a baking dish, and let them sit for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Roast the potatoes at 400F for 45 minutes, tossing once about halfway through, until they are tender and golden brown.

Roasted Asparagus

adapted from Haniela's

1 lb asparagus, washed and trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt, black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped basil
1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence

Preheat oven to 400F. Lay the asparagus into a baking dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, pour over the asparagus, toss to combine.

Bake for 20 minutes, until fork tender.

Chopped Salad
adapted from food.com
serves 4

8 cups packed julienned iceberg lettuce (or chopped iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce)
1 cup packed julienned fresh spinach
1/3 cup very thin slices red onion (or diced red onions)
1/2 cup chopped green olives
6 oz fresh button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
4 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1 (14 oz) can chilled hearts of palm, rinsed, drained, and sliced (or marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 lb applewood-smoked bacon, chopped, fried until crisp, drained
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled blue cheese (or Feta)
crispy fried onions, for garnish (I used French's brand)

For Lemon Basil Dressing, combine together:
1 cups sour cream (or use 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup mayonnaise)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
seasoned salt and garlic pepper seasoning

In a very large bowl combine lettuce, spinach, red onions, green olives, mushrooms, eggs, hearts of palm, and bacon; toss well.

Add crumbled blue cheese and Lemon Basil Dressing; toss until well mixed.

Divide among 4 plates and top with crispy fried onions.

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