Valentine's Day Dinner for Two
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From My Kitchen to Yours

Valentine's Day Dinner for Two

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day and I have received several requests for dinner ideas as the lover's holiday draws near, I decide I would share one of my favorite menus to make my husband when we are looking for a cozy, romantic dinner for two.  In fact, I just made a variation of this recipe on Sunday night for a belated birthday dinner.  We enjoyed a lovely bottle of Foote Path Cabernet Franc, 2007 from Temecula, California. It paired wonderfully.  A bold, robust Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel would also pair nicely with this menu.  If you in Minnesota and can get your hands on bottle of Parley Lake Wineries Artisan Series wine, I know that would also be an excellent pairing.  Find them at www.parleylakewinery.com.
 
The Menu
 
Prime Rib with Thyme Au Jus, Cast Iron Oven Roasted Potatoes and Mixed Greens with Blackberries, Candied Pecans and a Balsamic Dressing. 
 
I have scaled the recipes to serve 2 hearty eaters.  You can adjust them to fit your occasion. 
 
I prefer to purchase a boneless prime rib, and since the leftovers are delish (prime rib sandwiches with horseradish Havarti, sautéed and peppers on a grilled or toasted baguette, for example) , I look for about a 4-5 pound roast.   Or have your butcher cut one to size for you.   Be sure to let the roast stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow it to relax so it doesn't seize up in the oven.  This is a step that is often missed but I recommend it.
 
As far as what wine to use, I believe in the philosophy that if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. Now, that does not meant  I would use a modestly priced full bodied wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon.   We when I made the prime rib over the weekend I use a bottle of Apothic Red  2010 which was a blend Zin, Cab and Syrah.  It made a very rich and flavorful au jus.  It sells for under $10, and yes, we did finish the bottle the following night...
 
Prime Rib with Thyme Au Jus
 
1 boneless prime rib, 4-5 pounds
4 - 6 garlic cloves, halved
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups red wine
3 cups of beef stock
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
 
Preheat the over to 450 degrees F.
 
Cut small slits in the top of prime rib roast and insert garlic cloves.  Season with salt and pepper.
 
Place the roast in a roasting pan.  You can set the meat on a rack inside the pan but it is not crucial, if you don't have one. Add stock and wine to the pan. Add thyme sprigs to the pan.Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the roast.  
 
Roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and cook for about 1 hour.  Time will vary on the size and thickness of the roast.  You can estimate about 12-15 minutes per pound but check the meat thermometer periodically so it reaches your preferred level of doneness.  You will want to take it out of the oven when it reaches about 5-10 degrees below your preferred doneness. I aim for medium rare so I take it out of the oven at 135 degrees.
 
Remove the roast from the oven and place on platter.  Cover with aluminum foil and let stand for 15 minutes.  The roast continues to cook during this time and will rise up to your desired temperature.  It also helps reduce the amount of juices that are lost out the meat when carving.  Resting is critical to a juicy, tender prime rib.
 
In the meantime, remove the thyme stems from the cooking liquid and use a fat separator to remove the fat from the au jus. 
 
Serve prime with reserve au jus on the side.
 
Cast Iron Roasted Potatoes
 
Cooking with my friend Jami, she showed me her trick to tasty oven baked potatoes with a crispy skin.  I fell in love with this method!   It is simple and just delicious!  We have made this recipe many times this fall and winter and just about every time we cook together!
 
My addition to the simple recipe is to use infused olive oil to add extra flavor to your potatoes skins.  You can use garlic or Italian herb infused oil.  You can buy the oil or make your own.
 
2 - 3 large baking potatoes
garlic or other infused olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
dried herbs of your choice - rosemary, thyme, oregano or a combination
 
Scrub the potatoes and dry well.  Place in a cast iron skillet.  Pour 1/2 T olive oil over each potato and with your hands rub the olive onto the potatoes.  Season the potatoes liberally with salt, pepper and herbs.
 
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with knife.
 
 
Mixed Green Salad with Blackberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette
 
This is a variation on my sister's Oregon Hazelnut Salad which is also quite delightful.  You can substitute your favorite berry - strawberries, raspberries or blueberries all are quite tasty or use a combination.  I think that this is a perfect complement to this romantic dinner -- its is a fresh accompaniment to go with the rich prime rib and potatoes.  And there is something about berries that I find very romantic.
 
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup of fresh blackberries
1/3 cup toasted & candied pecans
1/4 cup crumbled fresh feta cheese
 
Dressing
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
 
In a small bowl whisk sugar and vinegar together until sugar dissolves. 
 
Toast the pecans in the oven at 350 degrees F.  Be sure to watch them so they don't burn.  Let cool slightly.  In a non-stick skillet, place 1 tablespoon of sugar and turn the heat on to medium.  Add toasted pecans and stir to combine with sugar as it melts.  The sugar will turn brown. Once the nuts are covered with sugar, take them off the heat being careful not to burn the sugar.  Place nuts on parchment paper to cool.  Once cooled, you can either break apart or rough chop the nuts.
 
In a large bowl, combine greens, currants, blackberries and nuts. Toss to mix. Toss with dressing and then top with cheese. 
 
I hope that you find some inspiration in these recipes for this Valentine's Day or any other romantic special occasion you have.  Since I made this for my husband's birthday, I am thinking that Valentine's Day for us is going to be Dim Sum...
 
Bon Appetite!
 
Chef Jen
 

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