Valentines Special

WGWW – Valentines Special

I believe that cooking for someone is an act of love and it worked for me as a single man and really still does after 21 years of marriage but I digress. Steak Diane is not something you’ll do every night but Valentines is special and the extra effort may result in something extra.

Use the shrimp and mushroom dish as a starter but kick it up a bit with a sparkling wine from California such as the 2000 Roderer L’Ermitage, $39.95


Steak Diane
Serves 2

What you’ll need

2 – 6oz. Beef tenderloin steaks
1 or 2 Tbsp. Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 c. thinly sliced white mushrooms
1 Tbsp. Minced shallots
¼ c. brandy
1/2 c. beef stock

Woody’s Way

I love to do this dish table side but unless you have the right gear it’s a bit tricky what with the flaming and all. Here’s a hint, invite your significant other into the kitchen to help with this special dish.

Here’s what to do

Depending on how thick the steaks are, either cut them into ¼ slices and use as is or cut in half and then flatten steaks between wax paper or plastic wrap so they are uniformly thin, set aside.

Mix the salt and pepper into the flour with your hand and then dredge steaks to coat, shake off the excess. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and brown about one minute on each side; use tongs to remove steaks to platter. Spread both sides with the mustard and sprinkle with a few drops of Worchester Sauce; set aside.

In the same pan melt remaining butter. Add shallots and sauté briefly, add mushrooms and sauté for about two minutes. Turn heat up to high and as well as the exhaust fan, add brandy and flame (should ignite by itself on a gas cook top but you’ll need a long match handy for electric). Allow the flame to burn out and then stir in half of the beef stock to create a sauce, add more if you need it. You may want to reduce the heat to medium high, allow the sauce to reduce until thickened. Return steaks to pan and reheat for about 2 minutes. Remove steaks to serving dishes and top with sauce and mushrooms.

Serve with Fettuccini Verdi – spinach pasta tossed with walnuts and Parmesan cheese (recipe follows) and some crusty bread.


Fettuccini Verdi Spinach Pasta tossed with Walnuts and Parmesan Cheese
Serves 4

Simple pasta that compliments the richness of the steak and tastes like you spent hours making it.

You’ll Need

1 LB Fettuccini pasta, fresh if possible and made with spinach if you like it.
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (the real stuff) freshly grated
¼ cup walnut pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, not stems
2 gloves (maybe 3) of garlic, peeled
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Salt for pasta water

Here’s what to do

Select a pot that will comfortably hold the pasta and fill with cold water and a good splash of salt and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, place the cheese, walnuts, parsley, garlic, half of the olive oil and a few grinds of pepper into a food processor. You are looking to blend the ingredients not make them into a paste so hit the pulse button a few times and see where you are. Scrape down the sides and check for consistency, everything should be nicely chopped and mixed, add more oil if necessary and pulse again but less is more. Remove the mixture to a small bowl.

Place pasta into boiling water, if using fresh it will only take a minute or two, remember you want it a bit firm, dried pasta usually take about 7 minutes but check your package instructions. Drain the pasta as soon as it’s cooked but reserve about ½ cup of the hot pasta water, turn off the burner. Return pasta to the cooking pot and place it back on the burner, immediately toss to coat with the cheese mixture, add a little hot pasta water if you need to, mix and cover the pot. The heat from the pasta will warm the cheese mixture and create a very fragrant dish. The residual heat from the burner will keep the pasta warm. Taste and add more pepper and a bit more olive oil when you serve.


Woody the Wine Guy’s Picks

’02 Ch Souverain Merlot, Alexander Valley

All of the elements are in place for Merlot to succeed with this dish, savory beef, mustard and mushrooms. Five years of barrel and bottle aging has created a lovely wine with aromas of plum, black currant and a hint of cedar and brown spice that comes from aging in French oak barrels. The Merlot standards are in place, round, soft tannins and a gently frame a concentrated flavor profile. R89 $18.99

’03 Cantenac St. Emilion, Bordeaux

St. Emilion along with Pomeral are the two best known east bank Bordeaux regions which feature Merlot based blends over Cabernet. This is Cantenac’s regular cuvee but it is still elegant and seductive, you’ll know its French wine. It works with the food because of its’ medium-body and plenty of black cherry fruit, dried herbs, earthiness, and spicy wood. If you enjoyed it, get a few more bottles because it should drink well for 5-6 years. R 87 $32.99