5 recipes that will heat things up in the kitchen
There is nothing more romantic than Valentine’s Day. Now that it’s come and gone, that’s no reason to stop being romantic. There are many different legends associated with the origins of Valentine’s Day, from acts of kindness performed by a variety of Christian saints to the belief that spring is a time to renew our love for each other. So as the sun starts to warm the chill from your hands, it’s time to plan a romantic evening with your other half, or a loving dinner with your very special family. Every day is a chance to say “Be my Valentine” with food, laughter and kindness. Light candles, clink wine glasses, enjoy the moment.
Filet Mignon with Mushrooms
For me, romance begins with filet mignon, the most tender (and most expensive) cut of beef. Filet mignon doesn’t need much — just salt, pepper and some sautéed mushrooms. Occasionally, I like a Béarnaise sauce, and you can certainly add one here. Use any type of mushrooms you’d like — button, cremini, shiitake, portobello, oyster or a wild combination
4 filet mignons, 2 inches thick
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Bring filets to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.
Sear filets, cooking about 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 130˚F for medium rare.
In a separate skillet, melt butter and 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes per side. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Serve over filet mignons.
Match: Uncork a good Bordeaux. Salut.
Eggplant Steaks with Olive, Cucumber and Feta Salad
For those who prefer vegetarian fare, eggplant is a noble substitute for beef and just as romantic. Here, eggplant steaks are paired with a refreshing cucumber and feta salad, featuring fresh vegetables readily available and very tasty in the winter.
2 eggplants, cut into 1-inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
Olive, Cucumber and Feta Salad
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Pour overtop eggplant. Cook eggplant under broiler, about 3 minutes per side, or until softened and cooked through.
In a separate bowl, mix olives, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, parsley, lemon juice and oil. Divide eggplant and salad among 4 plates. Season with salt and pepper.
Match: Try a Zinfandel or Primitivo with this dish.
Easy Baked Italian Chicken
If a no-fuss dinner is your idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day, this is the dish for you. Baked in foil, this flavourful chicken can be paired with mashed potatoes and roasted garlicky green beans.
4boneless, skinless chicken breast filets
1/4 cup zesty Italian salad dressing
4 thick tomato slices, divided
4 fresh basil leaves, divided
Preheat oven to 450˚F.
Cut 4 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil into 12 x 12 inch pieces. Place 1 chicken breast filet in the centre of each piece. Top each filet with 1 tbsp Italian salad dressing, 1 tomato slice and 1 basil leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
Wrap each packet, allowing some space for heat circulation. Place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165˚F.
Match: Excellent with a Beaujolais-Villages.
Lamb Chops with Shallot and Mustard Sauce
Lamb feels like a special occasion. And while I love lamb with mint sauce, here lamb chops are served with a savoury sauce featuring shallots and the most elegant of mustards – Dijon. This is excellent company fare for a special occasion.
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
4 centre-cut lamb chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large shallots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Season lamb chops with thyme, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add lamb chops and cook 4 minutes per side. Remove chops from skillet and set aside.
In same skillet, over medium heat, add shallots. Cook for around 3 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Simmer for 4 minutes, or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
Return lamb chops to skillet. Cook for 3 minutes more, or until thermometer registers 145˚F for medium-well done. Serve with glazed carrots and baked potatoes.
Match: Châteauneuf-du-Pape is my favourite with lamb. However, when mustard is involved, I like to pour a Chablis.
Breaded Pork Cutlet with Buttermilk Dill Sauce
To keep the breading from falling off during cooking, refrigerate the breaded cutlets for about an hour. You can substitute thin chicken or veal cutlets in this dish, adjusting cooking times accordingly. The secret to excellent results is ensuring the cutlets are all pounded to the same thickness.
4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Pound pork into 1/4-inch thick cutlets. Set aside.
In a bowl, make Buttermilk Dill Sauce by combining sour cream, buttermilk, dill, salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.
Place flour on a plate. In a bowl, whisk together milk, mustard and egg. Add breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder and paprika to a food storage bag. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Dredge pork in flour. Dip pork into milk mixture. Add cutlets one at a time to the food storage bag and shake to coat.
Arrange cutlets on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip cutlets and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until cooked through and ab instant-read thermometer registers 145˚F. Place a dollop of Buttermilk Dill Sauce on top of each cutlet.
Match: Excellent with a Riesling.