Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Early Valentines

Valentines Day falls on Thursday this year, and Thursdays are Bobby's weekday with Emma. I was fairly certain I would be too busy to leave work early to meet him out there, so it was decided that we would have Valentines Day a day early.

I've been in the mood to cook something new, and Stater Bros. had a sale on "Sweetheart Ribeye Steaks" so I searched around for an interesting recipe along that line. led me to a ribeye recipe by Giada, accompanied by this side recipe:

Baked Orzo with Fontina and Peas
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound orzo pasta
3 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the baking dish
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (about 1 cup)
4 ounces diced fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Pour the orzo and the broth into a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 7 minutes. Add the Marsala. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and cook until the Marsala has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the orzo in the large bowl. Add the cream, fontina, mozzarella, peas, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and dried thyme. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the pasta. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Mmm... It all sounded so tasty, I had to try it. The recipe was supposedly for four servings, so I halved it and used a bread pan instead of the 9x13. My half recipe was a full bread pan though, and as a side, that wound up being more like five servings.

The recipe for the steak called for Herbes de Provence. I'd never used it before, but my parents occasionally cook with it, and I know they mix theirs from individual herbs. So I looked online and found a recipe on a blog, French Kitchen in America.

I was intrigued by the blog, and found myself perusing the rest of the posts looking for tasty things to make. It was there I found my vegetable for our Valentines meal:

Warm Brussels Sprout and Shallot Salad with Pecans
16-20 large Brussels sprouts

3-4 large shallots
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
tablespoon unsalted butter
dash freshly ground pepper
dash fleur de sel (that's a gourmet sea salt, but you can use regular salt too)

Wash and trim Brussels sprouts, removing outer leaves and base. Cut into thin slices. Drizzle with olive oil, toss, and place in a skillet or sauté pan. Brown slightly over medium heat until sprouts are just a bit limp. Remove from pan and set aside, covering to keep warm. Peel and slice shallots; using the same pan, brown shallots slightly in butter. Add pecans. Toss shallots and pecans with Brussels sprouts, adding a dash of fleur de sel and pepper.

Dinner took me about an hour and 15 minutes to make, but it was all quite good. The steak was just a steak - nothing too exciting - but the sides were very good. I halved the Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe as well, and used a hot bacon dressing. Yummy, yummy.

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