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Monday, February 2, 2015

A VALENTINE'S DAY CELEBRATION


My husband and I are hosting a dinner party for 10 this weekend.  So, since it's February, I'm going with a "Valentine's" theme of sorts, so the decor will have lots of red. And since the weather is COLD, the menu is going to be warm, elegant and satisfying.

Decor: red and white
Food: Beef, great red wine and chocolate

MENU:
APPETIZER: MEDITERRANEAN SPREAD

BEST BEEF TENDERLOIN
SHEILA'S BAKED MASHED POTATOES
BAKED PARMESAN MUSHROOMS
MY GREEN BEANS
JOANIE'S SALAD
ROLLS

FUDGY KAHLUA BROWNIES WITH BROWN BUTTER FROSTING

VALENTINE PUNCH


MEDITERRANEAN APPETIZER SPREAD
(Adapted from afoodcentriclife)
Photo Credit: afoodcentriclife
This Mediterranean-inspired appetizer tray is easy to assemble and has something for everyone to nibble before dinner. The goat feta cheese takes just a few minutes and can be served with crackers or thinly sliced baguette.

6-8 ounces of raw goat milk feta (the best feta you can find)
2 TBSP of olive oil
1-2 TBSP of fresh herbs, I used parsley, oregano and thyme
A sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
A selection of rice crackers, wheat crackers or thinly sliced baguette
6 ounces of thinly sliced Prosciutto or Speck (smoked Prosciutto)
1 jar of good marinated Mediterranean olives
a small bowl of almonds
1 large bag or bunch of grapes, washed and clipped into small clusters

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place feta in a baking dish just big enough to hold the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil, herbs, and red pepper.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is hot. It won’t really melt but will get soft.
While the cheese is baking, arrange all of your other ingredients on a platter or tray. When the cheese is done, place in a small dish, pour the olive oil from the dish (or a little extra) and herbs over the top and serve.
Photo Credit: afoodcentriclife
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

BEEF TENDERLOIN
Since it'll be 10 people for dinner for me, I'll be getting a larger cut of beef.  Adjust the cooking times as necessary (see below).

For the beef tenderloin:
1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) beef tenderloin, preferably the center cut
2 to 3 tsp kosher salt
1 to 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted

For the horseradish sauce:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 TBSP sour cream
1 TBSP prepared horseradish
2 TBSP milk
Freshly ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Remove tenderloin from the refrigerator at least one hour before cooking. Trim any fat and silver skin from the beef and discard. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Tie the roast in 1 1/2-inch intervals if necessary and place in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Cook the beef for 15 minutes at 475. Pour the butter over the beef and continue roasting until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees F for medium rare, 25 to 30 minutes. (The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while resting).
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
For the horseradish sauce, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, and milk until desired consistency is reached. Season with black pepper.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Notes: This recipe calls for a smaller cut of beef tenderloin cooked at a high temperature. For larger cuts, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F after 15 minutes to prevent the meat from drying out.

SHEILA'S BAKED MASHED POTATOES
This recipe is from a good friend of mine - love that you can make it in advance and then reheat in the oven!  It's decadently delicious!
5 lbs gold yukon potatoes, peeled and sliced
8 oz light cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 stick butter
2 tsp garlic salt (or more to taste)
cracked pepper to taste
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Add 1-2 tsp of salt, and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook gently about 20 minutes, or until tender.  Drain water leaving just a little of the water in the potatoes.  Add remaining ingredients to the pot and mix with a hand mixer until really smooth.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
If too stiff, add a bit of half and half to thin.  Place the mashed potatoes in a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and cooked bacon.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Can be made several days ahead and stored in the fridge (but don't add the bacon until just before serving, so it stays crisp).  Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through (about 35-45  minutes).

BAKED PARMESAN MUSHROOMS
(Adapted from Damndelicious)
Photo Credit: damndelicious
1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a gourmet blend of button, cremini and shiitake mushrooms)
3 TBSP olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. In a bowl, add mushrooms, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Add parmesan and toss again.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Place mushrooms in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes at 375, or until browned and tender, tossing occasionally. Serve immediately. ***This dish needs to be made fairly quickly near serving time.  I'm going to put it together before my guests arrive, but it's not a dish you should prepare the day before.

MY GREEN BEANS
I've been making these green beans for years.  I THINK I got the recipe originally from an old Southern Living magazine, but I can't swear to it.  I've adjusted it over the years here and there, but the basic recipe remains - the dill is the kicker!
1 lg bunch of green beans ~ 2 lbs. (washed, trimmed and halved)
3 TBSP butter
3 Scallions, chopped
1 Shallot, minced
2 TBSP sweet onion chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP dried Dill
1 TBSP cajun spice
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Parboil the green beans in water for about 10 minutes and drain; then chill in ice water to stop the cooking.  ***This part can even be done the day before: parboil, cool, then put in a large ziploc baggie and refrigerate.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Parboil the green beans in water for about 10 minutes and drain; then chill in ice water to stop the cooking.  ***This part can even be done the day before: parboil, cool, then put in a large ziploc baggie and refrigerate.
Chop up the veggies.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Dump the remaining ingredients and the beans in a large sauté pan.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Partially cover and cook until beans are to your liking - I like them well-cooked and not crunchy in this dish.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
JOANIE'S SALAD
I had this salad on a recent Friday night at a friend's house.  She had over 30 people to her place for dinner, and this salad was raved about by all.
1 bag baby spinach
1 bag organic baby romaine
1 bag mixed greens
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
2 pears chopped
2 cups toasted and caramelized walnuts (Put 2 TBSP butter and walnuts in a pan, and cook until light brown.  In a separate pan place 1 cup sugar, and heat until melted into a liquid.  Do not let it burn! Add the walnuts and stir until coated. Pour onto wax paper. Let cool then break apart.)
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Dressing:
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup cider vinegar
1 small onion, grated - or 2 TBSP dried minced onion
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP poppy seeds
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Whisk dry ingredients together then add oil, vinegar and onion. *Can be made in advance up to 2 days.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
FUDGY KAHLUA BROWNIES WITH BROWNED BUTTER FROSTING
(Adapted from Recipegirl.com)

Photo Credit: Recipe Girl
These brownies are so good I'm fixing them AGAIN!  They are rich and chocolatey, so a small square goes a long way!  They'll be a perfect tidbit after dinner for my group, and it's nice that they can be made in advance (or even frozen).

BROWNIES:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 TBSP Kahlua, divided

ICING:
1/2 stick butter
2 TBSP kahlua
1 TBSP whipping cream
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar (more or less), sift after measuring
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x9-inch pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (pan shouldn't be touching the water). Place butter and chocolate chips in bowl and stir until melted and smooth. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Remove from heat and let cool a bit. In a large bowl with an electric mixer or whisk, mix sugar, eggs and 1/2 cup Kahlua. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Pour in butter - chocolate mixture, and beat until mixed well. Mix in dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until top cracks slightly and toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean. Remove brownies from oven and immediately brush warm brownies with 2 Tablespoons of Kahlua. Let brownies cool completely.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Icing: 
Place butter in saucepan and heat until lightly browned. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Remove from heat and add Kahlua & whipping cream. Whisk in powdered sugar until you have the consistency that you desire (you should be looking for a thick, smooth icing that is still pourable). 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Pour on top of cooled brownies and spread to edges to cover completely. 
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Refrigerate until set. Chilled brownies are easiest to cut... use a large, sharp knife, wipe clean after each cut, and you'll get nice, clean cuts.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
VALENTINE'S PUNCH
(from Martha Stewart)
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart
Serves 16. It's a really great drink - not too strong and not too sweet. I usually double it, because it goes down fast! ;^)
2 cups chilled pomegranate juice
1 cup chilled cranberry juice
8 ounces (1 cup) vodka
8 ounces (1 cup) Cointreau
1 cup chilled club soda
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup Simple Syrup (I made my own - just boil 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water, then cool.)
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Combine pomegranate, cranberry, vodka, cointreau, club soda, lemon juice and simple syrup in a punch bowl or pitcher.
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Fill glasses with frozen cranberries frozen and serve.
COOL FIND:

How adorable are these small mason jar glasses?  I bought them from One King's Lane. They're made by the Acme Party Box Company.  They come with lids and straws and are the perfect size for my Valentine's Punch!  I bought 2 boxes of them, so I can use them at tailgate parties in the fall (sans the red straws though!;)).
Photo Credit: One King's Lane
Photo Credit: One King's Lane





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