Romantic Dinner for Five
Who says a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner is only for couples? My husband, Tom, and I have a date night almost every week, so maybe that is why we don’t feel the need to go out on the actual holiday of Valentine’s. Instead, we like to stay home and celebrate with our three young daughters. Showing my love for my family is so naturally expressed through cooking, and through the years I guess my idea of romance has changed. Oh sure, I love to be thrilled by my husband, but I also love watching him interact with our girls, hearing them giggle and seeing his smile. I don’t always need to sit alone at the dinner table with him to feel romance. Sometimes, gazing around the table at the four most important people in my world, and knowing he is responsible for giving me my dream, is what I call romance. So this year while others made reservations, I a planned a Valentine’s Dinner that warmed my entire families’ heart.
My children love custards of any kind so to start our meal; we began with a savory pots de crème. Pots de crème is basically a fancy word for pudding. This rich egg and cream mixture is usually served for dessert, but by omitting sugar and adding a savory gruyere cheese, this becomes an elegant appetizer. It takes only minutes to prep, but looks and tastes restaurant quality.
For the entrée, I made a rib veal chop with mushroom Demi-Glace. It was mouthwatering! Be sure to get the pan hot before you put the veal chops in so that you get a good sear. The Demi-Glace is found at specialty markets such as STAR Fish here on the shoreline.
I hope you find these dishes as lovable as I do.
Savory Pots d’ Crème
• 1 Cup Heavy Cream
• ¾ Cup Milk
• 3 Extra large eggs
• ¼ teaspoon Thyme
• ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
• 4 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
• Pinch of white pepper
To Prepare the Baking Dishes
Butter four ramekins or oven-safe cups.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Shred the cheese and divide it between the four ramekins
To Assemble the Pots de Crème
Pour the cream and milk into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
While the cream and milk mixture cook, whisk the eggs, thyme and garlic salt together in a bowl.
When the cream has come to a boil, remove it from the heat.
Slowly add about ¼ cup of the cream mixture to the eggs and whish briskly to temper the eggs.
Then slowly pour the rest of the cream into the egg mixture, making sure to whisk as you go.
Place the custard in the prepared ramekins and put them on the baking sheet.
Place in the oven for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, until a knife inserted in the center comes out
Remove from the oven and place the ramekins on a cooling rack for ten minutes.
Serve as they are or with a small green salad dressed simply with lemon and olive oil.
The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Champagne
Pan Seared Veal Chop with Mushrooms and Demi Glace
• 2 Rib veal chops (if you cannot find the rib chops, substitute the loin chops)
• 6 Ounces Trumpet Mushrooms (or the mushrooms of your choice)
• 1 Shallot, diced
• 1 Tablespoon olive oil
• 1 Tablespoon butter
• Salt and pepper
• 1 Tablespoon veal demi- glace diluted in one cup hot water.
To Prepare the Veal Chops
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the olive oil and butter in a frying pan over medium high heat.
Season the veal chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
When the butter has melted and the pan is hot add the veal chops to the pan.
Do not touch the chops for 4 minutes, simply let them sear.
Turn the veal chops over and cook for another 3 minutes.
Place the pan with the veal chops in the oven, and finish the cooking process in the oven for another five minutes.
When the veal chops are done, take them out of the oven and put them on a plate with a piece of foil loosely covering them.
Place the same pan (with the juices from the chops) on the stove over medium heat.
To Make the Demi-Glace
Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook until the shallots have wilted and the mushrooms have caramelized.
Add the demi-glace and let the sauce simmer for about seven minutes. It will reduce slightly.
Transfer the veal chops to the plate, and pour any of the veal juices that accumulated on the plate into the demi-glace.
To Plate the Veal Chops
Spoon the demi-glace and mushrooms over the veal chop and serve.
The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir
• 16 ounces dark chocolate
• 1 Cup heavy cream
• 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
• 4 Extra large egg yolks
• 1 Cup confectionary sugar
• ½ Cup Grand Marnier or Black Coffee
Line an 8-inch cake pan with saran wrap.
To Make the Pate
In a double boiler, combine chocolate, cream and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove the bowl from the double boiler and one at a time add the egg yolks, whisking briskly after each addition. Be sure to work quickly so that your yolks don’t cook in the warm chocolate.
Gradually whisk in the sugar and the liquor or coffee.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and then cover with another sheet of saran wrap.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, simple invert the pate on a cake plate and peel away the saran wrap.
To Serve the Pate
Slice as you would a cake, place a spoonful of the raspberry coulis (recipe follows) on the plate and then place the pate on top. Garnish with a mint sprig and a dusting of powdered sugar.
• 1 Pints fresh Raspberries
• 3 Tablespoons Raspberry Jam
• 1 Tablespoon Chambord
Place the raspberry jam in a small saucepan and heat until the jam turns to liquid
Immediately add the fresh raspberries and Chambord and mix together.
Let the mixture simmer and reduce for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Strain the mixture (optional) and discard any raspberry seeds.
The Elegant Occasion Note: This sauce can be made three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Champagne