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A table for two: Fix a special meal for someone you love

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

Nothing says “I love you” more than a homemade meal.

The month is one to celebrate love, so why not prepare something special. Spend a romantic evening enjoying a date-worthy dinner or a homemade, decadent dessert – at home.

If you’re looking for a showstopper dish to serve your loved one – here are a few worth swooning over. These sweet treats and indulgent dishes will delight your loved one.

Like love after a first kiss – at first bite – you’re going to fall in love with today’s recipes.

BEEF WELLINGTON

4 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

4 Tbsp. minced shallots

1 lb. fresh shitake mushrooms

1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms

½ cup Madeira

Salt and freshly ground black

      pepper

5 Tbsp. duck liver pate

2 cups beef bouillon

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ cup Madeira

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 lb. trimmed, beef tenderloin, suet retained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Fat (suet) from meat

1 lb. frozen, thawed puff pastry dough

1 beaten egg

½ Tbsp. water

Chop dry mushrooms in small pieces. In a skillet, melt butter, and saute mushrooms and shallots for 8 minutes or until dark. Add the Madeira and boil until liquid evaporates. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in duck liver into mushrooms until mixed. Cover and refrigerate mushrooms.

For the gravy, in a skillet, combine any leftover mushroom juice, beef bouillon, and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer for 1 hour. When reduced to 2 cups, add cornstarch thickened with Madeira. Add thickened Madeira to juice mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Ask butcher to trim a tenderloin and reserve the tough fat or suet. When ready to cook, bring meat to room temperature. Place in a shallow baking pan and rub all over with oil. Cover meat with the suet. Roast in a 500-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool 30 minutes. Remove suet and discard. Roll out puff pastry until around ¼-inch thick, making sure it’s long enough to encase beef. Spread the center of the pastry with half of mushroom mixture, leaving 1 ½-inch margins.  Spread remaining mushroom mixture on top of filet. Place filet on pastry. Wrap the beef with pastry like a present, making sure to seal seams with beaten egg and water. Cut diagonal slits about 2 inches apart down the length of the Wellington.  Brush the entire pastry with the egg-water mix.  Bake in the middle of a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes and until pastry starts to brown. Lower temp to 375-degrees and bake 20 minutes. When cooled somewhat, carve 1 ½ -inch slices using a serrated knife. Serve with Madeira Gravy.

CRÈME BRULEE

1-quart heavy whipping cream

3 Tbsp. sugar

8 beaten egg yolks

3 tsp. vanilla extract

¾ lb. light brown sugar

Heat cream until hot but not to boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. In mixer bowl, beat eggs until blended. Heat eggs with a little bit of the hot cream, then gradually beat remainder of cream into egg yolks. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish, and place in center of larger pan containing ½-inch of hot water. You can also pour into individual baking molds. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 1 hour or set. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top of baking dish or molds. Glaze and melt sugar by broiling a few inches away from the heat for 2-3 minutes until golden– do not allow to burn. Refrigerate until cold.

ESCARGOT IN GARLIC BUTTER

½ cup softened, salted butter

2 tsp. chopped top/bottom green onions

4 minced cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. minced parsley

18 ceramic shells for snails

18 wash, drained, ex- large, canned snails

½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

18 ¼ -inch thick slices toasted French bread

In a saucepan, melt butter. Saute onions, garlic cloves, and parsley. Mix well until blended. In each snail shell, place a small amount of butter mixture. Then put snail in. Add another small amount of butter mixture. Sprinkle with grated cheese. In a shallow baking dish, place shells on a snail pan with openings upward. Bake in a 500-degree oven for 8 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Serve in the snail plates with thin slices of toast to dip in the snail butter.

FILET MIGNON AND CHEESE SAUCE

4 6-oz. filet mignon steaks

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

¾ lb. sliced fresh shitake mushrooms

5 minced cloves garlic

1 ¼ cups whipping cream

4 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

3 tsp. of minced, smoked peppers (optional)

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In skillet, heat olive oil. Add mushrooms and saute for 4 minutes until tender. Add minced garlic and cook 2 minutes while stirring. Add whipping cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer sauce on medium heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in crumbled cheese and peppers, if desired. Season to taste.

HAZELNUT MOUSSE

6 beaten eggs

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 ½ tsp. unflavored gelatin

4 Tbsp. salted butter

2 cups toasted, finely chopped hazelnuts, divided

3 Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur such as Frangelico

3 cups chilled heavy cream

½ cup toasted whole hazelnuts, garnish

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add gelatin and mix well. In a skillet, melt butter. Add egg mixture to butter and cook over double boiler for 12 minutes while occasionally stirring until thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside. On a baking sheet, spread hazelnuts and toast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Don’t over brown. While warm, remove skins. Set 10 hazelnuts aside for the garnish Place remainder of hazelnuts in a processor and finely chop. (do not grind).

Add 1 ½ cups chopped nuts and the Frangelico to the thickened mousse mixture. Mix well and allow to cool. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or just until the mousse begins to set. Whip the cream into soft peaks. Fold 2 cups of cream into mousse mixture. Divide mousse into 10 serving glasses. Place remaining 1 cup of whipped cream into pastry bag. Pipe stars around the rim of each serving. Place 1 hazelnut in center of each mousse. Sprinkle with any remaining chopped nuts.

SIMPLE CHOCOLATE FONDUE BAR

12 oz. Toblerone chocolate bars with nougat

½ cup whipping cream

½ cup kirsch

Place broken up chocolate bars in top of double boiler. Add cream and kirsch. Stir until chocolate is melted. Transfer to a fondue pot and place over low heat. Use fondue forks for dipping. Some of my favorite dippers include bananas, apples, pineapple, strawberries, rice crispy treats, graham crackers, Oreos, shortbreads, cake pieces, and marshmallows.

FRUIT FLAMBE

2 Tbsp. salted butter

2 large, sliced, ripe bananas

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ cup dark rum

Vanilla ice cream

In a flameproof dish, melt butter. Turn heat up to high and add cut bananas. Coat well in the butter. Arrange in single layer. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until as smooth as possible. When mixture is hot and bubbling, remove pan from heat and pour in rum. Quickly return to heat and light the rum. Tilt pan to allow mixture to catch on fire. Shake pan until flame dies off. Practice makes perfect. Turn off heat. Serve fruit over vanilla ice cream.

TOURNEDOS WITH CREAM

4 (8oz.) 2-inch thick beef tenderloin slices

8 thin slices French Bread

1/8th cup port wine

1/8th cup consommé

½ cup chopped fresh mushrooms

½ tsp. salt

¼ th tsp freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup sour cream

Arrange slices of warmed bread on a hot serving dish. Place one sautéed tournedos on each slice of bread and keep warm. In same pan which tournedos have cooked, add wine and deglaze the pan. Add consommé and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Add cream and cook on low heat for 5 minutes while stirring. Pour cream sauce over tournedos. Serves 4.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

2 oz. premium semi-sweet chocolate

1/8th cup strong coffee

3 tsp. sugar

4 egg yolks

5 egg whites

In a saucepan, combine chocolate and coffee. Heat on medium until melted. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved and well blended. Stir in yolks one at a time, mixing well. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until firm. Fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. Turn into serving dishes. Refrigerate.