Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have something special planned for today with your sweetie, your Gal-entine’s friends (apparently this is a thing now) or something to just plain treat yourself with. Because loving yourself is important! I am sharing some dinner plan ideas to help you out by suggesting some of our favorite romantic ideas that Mr. Wonderful and I do at home.
Some of these are very fancy, some are playful and fun and I’ve included Meat and Mains, Sides, Salads, Dessert and even a fun breakfast idea!
I’ve always had a little crush on Beef Wellington. I mean, what’s not to love about a beef filet seared then covered with Pâté de Foie Gras (a pate made out of fatty duck liver….trust me it’s a delicacy), and/or Duxelles (finely chopped mushrooms sauteed with shallots and herbs) and wrapped in flaky puff pastry and baked?
There’s a few problems with reality here folks. I mean first off, Pâté de Foie Gras is quite pricey and you’re already spending money on that beef filet right? And what home cook is going to go hunting for Foie Gras anyway?
OK, so being a foodie, I do know quite a few people who might do that…but still….
I wanted to come up with a fun Valentine recipe that would impress, but still be pretty simple… so think of it as a sort of deconstructed version of Beef Wellington. You still get all that puff pastry goodness and the beef filet. Oh, and I cover it with a beautiful dark and rich mushroom sauce,
And it’s easy.
Because who wants a lot of fuss over Valentine dinner when one could be getting your romance on?
You start by thawing your puff pastry sheets (usually located by the pies in the freezer section of your grocery store). Take them out of the box, and let them set out for between 30-40 minutes. They will then unfold nicely. (You don’t want them to get too warm or it can mess up the flakiness of the puff pastry.)
Cut two 5 1/2 inch squares out of the pastry. I used a plain old ruler and made marks on the puff pastry to do this. I could only get one per sheet but Mr. Wonderful came to the rescue and managed to put some pieces together so we had no waste and we got it down to just using one.
Next about 1/2 inch in on the puff pastry, score around all 4 sides of the edges, not pressing all the way through. When the pastry bakes and puffs up, it will make a nice little ridge around the edge of your “tart”.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your dough with plenty of space in between. Bake these for about 12 minutes in a 400º oven or until the edges begin to turn golden. The center will be puffed up but after they cool about 10 minutes, you can take the back of a spoon and smash down on it gently and it will sink down leaving you with the edges up and the center indented and ready to fill with goodness.
Next take two small (about 6-8 ounces) filets of beef (filet mignon), pat them nice and dry with a paper towel, and generously salt and pepper them. Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet that can be transferred to the oven (my iron skillet was perfect).
Sear your filets for about a minute and half per side until they get a nice brown crust forming. Then pop the skillet into the oven to finish for about 9-10 minutes, depending on how thick your steaks are. Use a meat thermometer to check them (rare 140º, medium rare 145º, medium well 160º). I refuse to give you temperatures above that, because, honestly, if you’re going to burn it, you don’t deserve to be having steak.
Just kidding. Maybe.
Remove the steaks and let them rest for about 10 minutes, add another tablespoon of butter and 2 cups of chopped mushrooms to the same pan. Stir them around until they begin to start browning, then add some chopped garlic. When the mushrooms are darkened and juicy and have turned brown, pour in some wine and scraped the bottom of the pan well with a spatula or spoon. You can use red or white wine, I kind of prefer red with the mushrooms, but only had white on hand today.
This is called “deglazing” by the way. Simmer about 2 -3 minutes to reduce a little and let the alcohol cook out.
Then I add this stuff.
It’s an incredible way to get a dark rich look to sauces and gravy and the flavor really enhances dark sauces and gravies. My kids’ great grandma introduced me to this stuff and you should always listen to a grandma when it comes to cooking. She never steered me wrong. (I find it near the spices at the store).
Oh and then you’ll need to pour in a small amount of heavy cream. And some fresh thyme. Stir again for a little bit until your sauce thickens, then remove the pan from the yeat and stir in one tablespoon of butter at the end. This will make your sauce nice and glossy.
There’s a fancy name for this technique called Monte Au Beurre, which means, “to lift with butter,” and don’t we all want to be lifted with butter?
Slice your beef up into thin pieces and lay them across your tart, then spoon some of the mushroom sauce over top.
And top it with a sprinkle more of fresh thyme or some chopped parsley.
You could serve this with a simple side of roasted asparagus and a salad and call it a meal!
Chances are if you serve this to your guy or gal for Valentine’s Day, they’re really going to love you.
Beef Wellington Tart
2 (8 oz) filet mignon steaks (about 1-1½ inch thick)
3 T butter, divided
1 T olive oil
1 -2 sheets puff pastry (enough to cut 2 (5½ inch squares)
1 egg beaten with 1 T water (optional)
1 (8 oz) box Cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ t. or 1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 t. fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped
½ c. dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
¼ c. heavy cream
1 t. Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce (see note)
Preheat oven to 400º
Thaw puff pastry sheets at least 30-40 minutes so they will unfold easily
When thawed, unfold and cut 2 (5½) squares out.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your dough with plenty of space in between
About ½ inch in on the puff pastry, score around all 4 sides of the edges, not pressing all the way through
If using egg wash, brush edges only with egg (will make it pretty and shiny when baked)
Bake in oven about 10-12 minutes or until browning on edges
Let cool 10 minutes
The center will be puffed up but after they cool about 10 minutes, you can take the back of a spoon and smash down on it gently and it will sink down leaving you with the edges up and the center indented
Liberally season steaks with salt and pepper
Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet that can be transferred to the oven
Sear your filets for about a minute and half per side until they get a nice brown crust forming. Then pop the skillet into the oven to finish for about 9-10 minutes, depending on how thick your steaks are. Use a meat thermometer to check them (rare 140º, medium rare 145º, medium well 160º).
Remove the steaks and let them rest for about 10 minutes
add another tablespoon of butter and 2 cups of chopped mushrooms to the same pan.
Stir until just browning and juices begin to release
When the mushrooms are darkened and juicy and have turned brown, pour in some wine and scraped the bottom of the pan well with a spatula or spoon to deglaze. Cook about 2 minutes
Add cream, thyme and Kitchen bouquet
Taste sauce and adjust for salt and pepper to taste
At the last minute stir in one more tablespoon of butter. It’s optional but it will make your sauce beautiful and glossy
Stlice steak and lay into each tart
Top with mushroom sauce
Garnish top with more fresh thyme and/or fresh parsley
Kitchen Boquet can usually be found near the spices at your market Puff pastry can usually be found near the