Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Dinner for my Sweetie!

My Valentine honey asked if I wanted to go out for dinner tonight, but you know, it’s sort of like New Years Eve, or Mothers’ Day brunch. I’d rather make a nice dinner at home and avoid the crowds. So I did.

We had a nice adult beverage first, and then had our first course. I had found a lovely fresh artichoke at Fresh Market. Trimmed and simmered in lemon water, I whipped up a sort of remoulade sauce and filled the middle and topped it with a few cooked shrimp. I’m going to give you the recipe for that as I made it.

Then we had my Valentine’s favorite meal: steak and potatoes. I marinated the steak in Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon peel, salt and black pepper. Grilled to medium rare, I topped it with butter mixed with a balsamic reduction and finely minced shallots.  It was great with wedges of redskin potatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs and roasted, and a salad with blue cheese, pancetta crisps, tomato and balsamic vinaigrette.

We had no room for the dessert: coffee ice cream with dark chocolate-cinnamon sauce. Maybe later?

Valentine Artichokes with Shrimp
1 good-sized artichoke
1 lemon
1 tbsp kosher salt
10 medium sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
2 green onions, white and some of the green, minced
Juice and finely grated zest of one medium lime
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Penzey’s French vinaigrette seasoning
              (or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crumbled)

In a medium saucepan, put a few inches of water. Squeeze the juice from on lemon into it and add the lemon halves. Bring to a simmer.
If there is a long stem on the artichoke, peel it with a vegetable peeler. Snap off the tough bottom leaves. With kitchen shears, snip off the pointy ends of the remaining leaves, and cut across the top about one inch down. Cut in half down the center. With a spoon, scrape out the fuzzy choke. Drop into the simmering water and cook until the thick bottom is tender, usually 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and put cut side down on paper towels in a dish. Chill.

In the same pan, bring the liquid to a boil, drop in the shrimp. Remove from the heat, cover and let set for about 7 minutes or until pink through. Drain and chill.  In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients. Cover and chill.

When ready to serve, put the artichoke on a plate cut side up. Divide the sauce between them, top with the shrimp and serve with extra napkins. 

For those who haven’t eaten fresh artichokes before, here’s what you do: pull off the leaves one by one. The edible part is at the end that was attached to the heart. Scrape off the tender part between your teeth and discard the tough part remaining. It’s a nice touch to have a separate dish for the discards. The best part is the tender bottom which is totally edible.

It’s a leisurely dish. You don’t eat it when you’re in a hurry. It slows down the pace of life for a bit while you seek out the tasty tender parts and dip it into the sauce…
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