Well Dined

11Feb/170

Valentine’s Recipe Roundup

Valentine's Day is coming up.  Are you wanting to stay home and cook something special?  I have some ideas for you!

Well Dined | Beef Wellington

I consider Beef Wellington to be very romantic - it's decadent and it takes a lot of work, so it's definitely a special occasion food.  Check out this post for the recipe.

Well Dined | Steak, Spinach Souffle, Panna Cotta with Berry Compote

Steak is a quintessential Valentine's dish.  I have long used a method of quick aging with salt to tenderize and season even cheaper cuts.  Find the method in this post, along with recipes for Spinach and Gruyere Souffle and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote.  I used a compound butter to top the steak in that post, but since then have more often made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding butter.

Well Dined | Chopped Salad, Rib Roast

For one of our earliest Valentine's, I made an herb crusted standing rib roast; along with a chopped salad, heart shaped roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Yorkshire pudding.  All of the recipes are in this post, along with some pretty decorations.

16Feb/161

Valentine’s Day Beef Wellington

Well Dined | Beef Wellington

This year for Valentine's Day we decided to stay in, and we both agreed that I should make Beef Wellington - a very special occasion dish of filet mignon and mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry.  You can find many recipes out there for this dish, but mine has some secret weapons to keep the puff pastry from getting soggy, the beef from getting overcooked (look at how nice and pink it is, even after 20 minutes in the oven), and to add extra flavor.  It is not difficult, but it is time consuming with many steps - which is why it is a special occasion dish (plus it's soooooooo rich).  So read on!

Well Dined | Beef Wellington

First up, sear the filet.  (I made 4 servings because it would use a whole package of puff pasty - I have never had good luck with refreezing it.)  You want to get a nice sear on all sides, including around the edges, but don't cook the steak all the way.  Remove the filets to a plate and allow to cool a bit, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.  This step is what will keep the beef from overcooking in the oven.

25Feb/150

Volt – Valentine’s Day Menu

I know I've been really slow in posting, but that's been because of traveling and (drumroll please) buying a house! We are in the process of moving and decorating and all of that, so posting will still be delayed for a bit.  But then I expect to be back in full swing, and with a much better photo set-up.  So until then, here is a review of the Valentine's Day menu at Brian Voltaggio's Volt in Frederick, MD.

We've been wanting to try out Volt for years, in particular their Table 21 chef's table, but just never made it.  But we finally made a commitment and braved the icy conditions and  hour drive to come for Valentine's Day dinner.  We were a little disappointed to see that they did not offer valet, especially because of the weather, but we were able to find street parking 1 block away (free after 5 on Sat).  The decor is sophisticated and clean, and the staff are very professional.

For the holiday, they had a 7-course prix fixe menu with optional wine pairing (7 2oz pours).  The pacing was perfect, as was the amount of food - just enough to allow you to explore the flavors, but not enough to grow tired of the dish. I wasn't struggling to finish at the end like with some tasting menus.  I was driving, so my husband ordered the wine pairing and I had a sip with each course to test the pairing. They were all excellently paired, though my favorites were the whites in the beginning.

Amuse Bouche - oyster with salmon tartare, "tartar sauce", dill. Paired with Sparkling Rose.

Beets, burrata, celery, lemon - very nice, bright, fresh. Paired with Gruner Veltliner (Austria).

Black bass, sunchoke, apple, fennel - very interesting, German flavors I would normally pair with pork or chicken, perfectly cooked. Paired with Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre).

Lobster, celery root, abalone mushroom - lovely, perfectly cooked. Paired with Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast).

Foie Gras, truffles, arugula, salsify - a decadent mousse, the favorite course. Paired with Pinot Noir (Ladoix) - we were concerned when we saw this on the menu, because we thought the foie would be seared, and we prefer it with Sauternes.  But the light Pinot was actually perfect with the chilled mousse.

Beef short rib, coffee, chocolate, guajillo - described as a take on mole, each of our least favorite course, but still good (just not as good as the other courses). Paired with a Granche blend (Chateaneuf du Pape) - also our least favorite wine (but again, still good).

Dried cherry, elderflower vinegar, buttermilk - pretty cool, a cherry macaron frozen with liquid nitrogen and shattered with a St Germain gelee (yum) and a sweet buttermilk. Loved this. Paired with a Rose (CA).

Almond cake, banana, caramel, yogurt - wasn't impressed by this one. The cake was moist, and sitting on creme anglaise, but there wasn't a ton of flavor and I didn't think the caramelized banana frozen yogurt (good on its own) went with it very well. Paired with a Sauternes.

We were also each given a box of 4 chocolates (2 of which were awesome, 2 of which were okay) and I was given a rose.

I was very impressed by the food, the service, and the price - very reasonable.  I also really liked the atmosphere - old townhouse turned serene and modern inside.  I would love to come back and try Table 21 (but not when the weather is that bad - nightmare).

10Apr/130

Valentine’s 2013 Pt 2

In the last post I talked about where we went to eat on Valentine's Day.  Now I want to tell you about what I did for Jasper leading up to V-Day.  I saw a really cute idea online to get 14 small presents to give to him each day of February leading up to V-Day, along with notes that had cute puns about the gifts.  I'm not sure if he thought it was as cute as I did, but here they are:

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1 - orange crush soda with "I've got a "Crush" on you!"

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2 - gummy bears with "Life would be un"bear"able without you!"

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3 - gum with "I 'chews' you!"

3Apr/130

Valentine’s 2013 Pt 1

Yes, yes - I know I am way late in posting this, sorry.  This year for V-Day we went to Sushi Taro for their special tasting menu.  It's what we did for our first Valentine's together in DC 3 years ago and I wanted to go back.  I loved the whole meal, but Jasper was a little disappointed.  I think he wanted more sushi, but I liked the combination of hot dishes and raw fish.  Anyway, here's what we had:

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Taro's signature tofu with uni.  I love this stuff, it has the best texture.  I always look forward to this dish at Taro.

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This was a mixture of different raw and pickled vegetables with some gelees and monkfish liver.  I thought it was playful and interesting; I think this is one of the ones Jasper was disappointed with.