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Putting together Valentine’s Dinner…Steak, 2 Salads, cauliflower, etc.

We have had a bunch of snow lately, which isn’t a common occurrence for my area. I was able to get out this morning for some dinner supplies, but I didn’t do a big production for Valentine’s Day this year. We did, however, have a great meal!

Valentine's Dinner 2014

Valentine’s Dinner 2014

The menu was steak, green beans, cauliflower, salad and bread. (And a heart shaped cookie for dessert.) The steak was pan seared with butter and olive oil and the finished in the oven. The green beans were, honestly, canned. I drained them, rinsed them with fresh water three times and flavored with a few dashes of Maggi Seasoning. (If you don’t have to feed them to a vegetarian, you could use a beef bouillon cube. If you have no health concerns and want the traditional Southern flavor, render a little salt pork or fatback and then add the beans and simmer for awhile.) The cauliflower was roasted with olive oil and fresh garlic. I made two salads. One was a traditional Caesar and the other was mixed greens with Granny Smith apples, walnuts, feta cheese and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, which also doubled as a dip for the warmed French baguette.

I went ahead and washed, prepped and spun dry the salad greens. I grated about 1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano chesse for the Caesar salad. I used a store-bought Caesar dressing.

Spun romaine

Spun romaine

Preparing for Caesar.

Preparing for Caesar.

I made a balsamic vinaigrette with 1 garlic clove, pressed, salt pepper, a teaspoon dijon mustard and 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part good quality aceto di balsamico. Put in a sealed container and shake! I prepared acidulated water for the apples with half a lemon juiced into a couple of cups of water and then toss in the squeezed lemon. This keeps the apple sliced from browning. Assemble the other ingredients and have the standing by.

Fancy Salad Ingredients

Fancy Salad Ingredients

Apple slices in acidulated water

Apple slices in acidulated water

The steaks were seasoned on both sides with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and garlic powder. I melted a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a heavy, flat bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.

Pan searing the steaks

Pan searing the steaks

When the pan was ready, I added the steaks and seared for a few minutes on either side, basting them in the butter and olive oil, and then put them in the oven that was preheated to 375F.

The cauliflower (one head) was separated into florets, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and 2 cloves of freshly pressed garlic. These were placed, in a single layer, on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.

Cauliflower with Olive Oil and Garlic...ready to roast

Cauliflower with Olive Oil and Garlic…ready to roast

This went into the same 375F oven as the steaks. Timer was set for 15 minutes to remind me to check on the cauliflower. (I was also doing two vegan “crabless” cakes that went in on the same tray as the cauliflower, turned over when I checked on the cauliflower and roasted another 10 minutes.)

Flip the steaks after a few minutes and finished to desired degree of doneness. Removed from the oven to rest for at least 5 minutes. Turned the oven off and placed the baguette inside the oven.

Steaks, resting.

Steaks, resting.

Removed the cauliflower from the oven after a total of about 25 minutes in the oven.

Roasted cauliflower with a couple of vegan "crabless" cakes

Roasted cauliflower with a couple of vegan “crabless” cakes

Assemble the salads. Added a handful of walnuts (maybe 1/3 cup) to the the mixed greens. Also added the sliced Granny Smith apples, spun dry.  For the Caesar, I added the croutons and shredded parmigiano. I seasoned both salads with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Just before serving, I tossed the salads with dressing…not too much! You can add more, but you don’t want it soggy.

Get dressed!

Get dressed!

Everybody in the pool!

Everybody in the pool!

Looking back, I should have made some cocktail or tartar sauce for the vegan “crabless” cakes. Just a note on these: I got these for two reasons. 1) My wife has been mostly vegetarian for a couple of years now and 2) she is deathly allergic to shellfish. Whole Foods makes the product that I used. It has NO shellfish in it at all…not even an extract or fake crab. And they are quite good! My wife had one for the first time a couple of weeks ago and she said it was the first time she had something that actually tasted like a crab cake in the last 30 years…and she used to really like crab cakes. She said she couldn’t help but have reservations and a little anxiety because it tasted so real! Thanks, Whole Foods! (And you’re welcome for the plug!)

I was serving ribeye to my kids, so I went ahead and cut it up and separated out the fat for them. They didn’t take all the meat, so I used the rest on my plate. So, I practiced a little portion control AND I have a whole other ribeye for tomorrow, which I will enjoy!

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Sandy Cauliflower and Cheese

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

This is a roasted cauliflower recipe that also includes dry breadcrumbs and cheese. I have tried a couple of roasted cauliflower recipes lately that used a thin batter and a buffalo sauce. They were okay, but the batter reminded me of PlayDoh…it cooked, but didn’t brown and it just tasted salty. I thought a breadcrumb recipe would be better, but not a standard au gratin recipe with a crumb topping. I wanted to toss the cauliflower in the crumbs. But I feared the crumbs would burn if I tossed them at the start, so I came up with the following recipe. Enjoy!

Sandy Cauliflower and Cheese

Cauliflower tossed with olive oil and garlic

Cauliflower tossed with olive oil and garlic

1 head Cauliflower

2 T. Olive Oil

2 cloves Fresh Garlic

1 t. Kosher Salt

1 cup Dried Bread Crumbs

4 T. Butter

4 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and break down cauliflower into medium florets. Spin dry in a salad spinner or dry on paper towels. Toss with olive oil. Finely chop garlic or pass garlic through a press. Toss garlic and salt with cauliflower and olive oil. Roast cauliflower on a sheet pan for 20 minutes or until starting to brown on the edges.

Cauliflower with olive oil and garlic after 20 minutes in the oven

Cauliflower with olive oil and garlic after 20 minutes in the oven

While the cauliflower is roasting, melt butter in a 8″ non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and toss until the butter is distributed. Continue to toss occasionally until breadcrumbs are evenly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove breadcrumbs from heat and set aside.

Browned bread crumbs

Browned bread crumbs

Add crumbs to melted butter

Add crumbs to melted butter

When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, put the florets in a large mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs. Toss to coat evenly.

Toss with bread crumbs and transferred to baking dish

Toss with bread crumbs and transferred to baking dish

Transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cauliflower and return to oven another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Don’t add too much cheese. Serve hot and enjoy!

Not too heavy on the cheese!

Not too heavy on the cheese!

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