It is mighty cold and lonely in this house. I think my thermostat is lying to me. I know it isn't above freezing in here. I could warm up the house by turning on the oven to bake a cake. That's the usual mode of coping with winter chills around here. Another is eating Scottish Oatmeal, which I happily did.
A quick writeup of the St. Valentine's Day dinner menu follows, but first, I spend way too much time thinking about food, browsing recipes, and planning menus. Unfortunately for me, it's time for a hiatus, while I instead contemplate my future as a grad student and non-surgical ways to reduce my waistline. So, I'm going on sabbatical.
The dinner menu included a salad of red leaf lettuce and chicory, a simple vinaigrette, honey goat cheese, pears, and walnuts. For the main course, Steak au Poivre with a Brandied Cream Sauce. I bought two ribeyes, salted them, and covered one side of each steak with freshly cracked black peppercorns. Seared the steaks, non-peppered side first, in a tablespoon of vegetable oil at medium-high heat. After last week's rum cake bonanza, I'm on the wagon, so I used apple cider instead of brandy in the pan sauce, which also had shallot, chicken broth, and cream.
I used a Fingerling Potatoes recipe from Alton, a recipe which requires, brace yourself, one and a quarter pounds of kosher salt. I don't have a kitchen scale, so after a quick Google search failed me, I called Dad to get a weight:volume ratio for kosher salt. He made a guess and then said to Google the specific gravity of salt. Dad's got skills. All I know is that I poured a boatload of salt into that dutch oven along with the water and potatoes. I tossed them in a couple of pats of butter, sprinkled some black pepper over them, and served them with a dollop of crème fraîche and chives. Also served Cheese Muffins, as from Salsa Night. These are not rolls by any means. I don't know why I called them that before. Definitely biscuit-like.
I ran out of time and ambition to make Martha Stewart's Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake or whatever it was called. Instead, I made a batch of chocolate walnut fudge and one of peanut butter fudge. Quick to make and very so-so. Sometimes I find myself planning a menu by selecting a dessert, then working around it. It was strange for the dessert on this menu to be such an afterthought, thrown together and unspectacular, especially on such a Chocoholic holiday as Valentine's.
Sorry that the photo isn't very artsy. The camera batteries were dying/dead, and the food was getting cold. Here's a Gianduia photo of which I'm prouder. I've trained Chet well to immediately judge my cooking on presentation and taste. Chet said this cake ranked in the "top three" cakes of mine he's tried, but it's my favorite.
Before my self-imposed retirement from baking, I should make Daddy the next edition of Many Pies. Rather egotistical to show my love through my cooking, I know, but everyone likes pie. (See super cute comic by Dan Goodsell:)