cooking for your boyfriend

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day Menu

On Valentine's Day, the last thing I want to do is dine at a fancy restaurant surrounded by PDAing couples.  Yuck.  The best way to spend the evening is in the privacy of your own home with a delicious, romantic meal.  


Mussels Fra Diavolo

Filet Mignon with a Red Wine Sauce

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries

Black and White Angel Food Cake


Make Black and White Angel Food Cake
Make Israeli couscous
Scrub, de-beard, and rinse Mussels

Mussels Fra Diavolo


Fra Diavolo Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, rinsed, and drained

1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet with high sides (or a large sauce pan) over medium heat.  Saute onions and red pepper flakes until onions are golden brown (about 10 minutes).  Add garlic and saute another 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, and wine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.  Cook mussels during the last 5 minutes of the sauce cooking.  In a dutch oven add mussels and 1 inch of water, and cover.  Bring to a boil and immediate reduce to a simmer (takes about 3 minutes).  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Check periodically, removing mussels that open (this means they're done).  Discard the ones that don't open.  Poor sauce over mussels.

Filet Mignon With Red Wine Sauce

  • 2 (6-8 ounce) filet mignon steaks
  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter 

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Brush both sides of steaks with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Once skillet is hot enough add steaks.  Cook 4 minutes on one side, flip and transfer to oven.  Cook for about 5 minutes until medium rare (145 degrees F).

2.  Meanwhile, boil wine in a small sauce pan for 2 minutes until reduced by half.  Turn off heat and stir in butter.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over steak.

Israeli Couscous with Dried Cranberries

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries 

1.  Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Toast couscous until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add water, bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook 8-10 minutes.  Using a fork, fold in cranberries as you fluff couscous.

Black and White Angel Food Cake


  • 1 cup cake flour (not self rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups large egg whites (about 13 large eggs), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 lb semi sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack in the center.  Into a medium bowl, sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar four times (very important step).  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and the warm water on low speed until foamy.  Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.  While beating, gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar,  1 tablespoon at a time.  Beat on high speed until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry, about 2 minutes (do not over mix)

3.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Sift flour mixture over egg-white mixture in six parts, quickly but gently folding it in with a rubber spatula after each addition.

4.  Gently transfer batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.  Run a knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth with a small offset spatula.  Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 35-40 minutes.

5.  Invert pan onto its legs and let cool completely, about 1 hour.  Carefully run a large offset spatula around the sides of the cake to loosen, then invert onto wire rack.  

6.  In a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt chocolate with heavy cream, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat when most of the chocolate is melted.  Continue to stir until completely melted.  Pour chocolate mixture over cooled Angel Food Cake.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Farewell Menu

Mitch was leaving for a long trip to Israel the next day.  I wanted to make him something light enough for the plane ride, but also something so delicious that he'd hurry back home to me.  


Caesar Salad

Herb Crusted Salmon and Onion Rings

Hot Chocolate Cakes

serves 2


Make croutons
Make caesar dressing
Make salmon and onion ring breading
Make Caramel Sauce


Caesar Salad

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for croutons
  • juice from 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ciabatta roll, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4-6 cups chopped romaine
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

1.  Make croutons:  In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat.  Add cubed ciabatta and toast for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.  Transfer to paper towel to drain off excess oil. 

2.  Make dressing:  Whisk together all dressing ingredients.  Pour over chopped romaine and toss.  Add croutons and parmesan cheese.  

Salmon and Onion Rings


  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsely
  • 1 ciabatta roll, torn in pieces
  • juice from 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, divided
Onion Rings
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1 cup panko (find in the Asian food section at the market)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced in rings

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  

2.  Make Salmon and Onion Ring breading:  In and food processor fitted with steel blade, pulse garlic until finely chopped.  Add parsely, ciabatta, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Pulse until parsely and ciabatta are finely chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to container and set aside.  Clean food processor bowl and blade and set up for onion ring breading.  Pulse cornflakes, panko, paprika, salt and pepper until fine crumbs form.

3.  Place salmon on baking sheet.  Spread mustard on fillets.  Scatter salmon bread crumb mixture, gently pressing salmon to make stick.  Set aside

4.  In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, and flour.  Working one onion slice at a time, dip onion into egg mixture, then coat with cornflake mixture and transfer baking sheet.  

5.  Bake salmon and onion rings in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Season onion rings with salt.

Hot Chocolate Cakes

  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, plus more at room temperature for ramekins
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for ramekins
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Caramel Sauce (see directions for ingredients)
  • Whipped Cream (see directions for ingredients)



1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter four 6-ounce ramekins.  Coat lightly with sugar, swirling around the sugar .  Turn upside down and tap out the excess sugar.  

2.  Combine butter and chocolate into a heat proof bowl set over, not in, a pan of simmering water.  Stir until melted and almost smooth.  Using a potholder, take off the heat a stir until completely melted.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, yolks, flour, and salt.  Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.  Fill each ramekin 3/4 full with batter.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

4.  Bake until the center of a cake is soft, but not wet when pressed, 27 to 30 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Caramel Sauce 

1.  In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup of sugar over medium-high heat until melted and brown at the edges, about 3 minutes.  With a heat proof spatula, pull melted sugar toward the center until all sugar is melted and caramel is a deep amber color, 3 minutes more.

2.  Immediately whisk in 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (be careful, it is extremely hot and the mixture will bubble).

3.  Whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream.

4.  Pour into a heatproof container and let cool.

Whipped Cream

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together on medium 1 cup of cold heavy cream with 2 tbsp of sugar for 30 seconds.  Whisk on high speed for a bout 5 minutes until stiff peaks form (whipped cream!).  Add sugar to taste.

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Onion and Tomato Confit

Makes 1 quart
This rustic meal goes great next to chicken or spread over toast. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 1/2 lbs small yellow onions and shallots, peeled and roots trimmed
  • 1 lb campari tomatoes
  • 2 springs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs oregano
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and stir to coat with oil. Add tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and salt.  Cover, transfer to oven, and cook for 2 1/4 hours. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes until onions are slightly browned. Carefully discard herb branches. Add balsamic vinegar and gently stir. Allow mixture to cool slightly before serving.

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