Learning to Cook · Miss Mary

Learning to Cook, Inaugural Guest Post – Valentine’s Dinner

2016 Write a guest postI’m reaching out to guest posters to give their perspective of why they like to cook.  Shared experiences encourage others to take a chance in just about everything.  Leave a note and I’ll contact you.

2016 Chrissy and doug photoMeet my daughter, Christine Malkin.  Chrissy lives in Webster Groves, Missouri with her husband Doug.  They have two little pugs and just purchased a 98 year old home.  Chrissy has enjoyed cooking and baking since about junior high.  She is a culinary adventurist.  They’ve made many friends and host lots of parties.  Her guest post is for a Valentine Dinner Surf and Turf.

2016 divider

I really enjoy cooking for my husband….he may not always like the “experiments” but I am trying and learning.  I thought back to some of the favorite meals I have made for us.  Usually for my husband it involves steak, rib-eye to be exact.  The first Valentine’s dinner that I made Doug was a His & Hers.  I made Doug a rib-eye steak cooked medium rare, and myself scallops, with asparagus and potatoes.  Tonight I tried to replicate the meal with a few small changes.

First of all, when I first made this meal for Doug we were living downtown Chicago.  We had a fabulous little loft with two bedrooms, and two parking spots, unheard of in Chicago, without paying an arm and a leg extra each month.  That means I had a different kitchen, I had a gas stove!!!  It was great!! That is the one thing I wish our house in Saint Louis had, I have an electric stove – it has taken some getting used to, and I am still figuring some things out.

Tonight I tried to remake that special meal with a substitute – instead of potatoes I made mashed cauliflower with Parmesan and parsley.  A lighter change, but as usual when I try to trick my husband into eating healthier it did not work as well as it has in the past.  HA!

Alton Brown photo Food Network
Alton Brown photo Food Network

I love the Food Network, I have some favorite chefs, and shows but I LOVE ALTON BROWN!  I also love Bobby Flay and Ina Garten. It is no surprise when I wanted to learn how to make the perfect steak for my husband I turned to my fave to help.  I had just recently been given a 10-inch cast-iron pan (from my mom) that she did not use… and boy have I used it! I have also purchased two other cast-iron pans a 12-inch and a grill pan.

2016 VD 82016 VD 5I started the cauliflower first because it took the longest, 45 minutes roasting in the oven, with minced garlic clove, a little olive oil, and salt and pepper –then instead of mashing- which would have taken forever I threw it in the blender with cream (I actually used Lactaid milk – we are pretty lactose intolerant in our house) a little bit of olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper.  A few spins around the blender, then into a warm casserole dish, sprinkled Parmesan on top, a little fresh chopped parsley, and put it back into the oven for 3-5 minutes to melt the cheese.

I used Alton Brown’s recipes for the scallops and the steak.   These clips are older from when he had his cooking show called Good Eats.  They were integral to helping me learn how to make a good steak for my husband, since it is his favorite.  A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach they say, right?  I love scallops and I always think of Surf and Turf for Valentine’s Day.

2016 VD 92016 VD 10To season the steak, I let it get to room temperature first.  I use just about a teaspoon of olive oil, it does not take much, salt and pepper, and my favorite thing garlic!!  I run a clove of garlic over a microplane so it gets really fine and you can rub it in when you press in the salt and pepper.

2016 VD 4I follow Alton Brown’s Scallop recipe exactly, I pat the scallops dry then add salt and pepper.   To the hot pan I add a small bit of olive oil then about a tablespoon of butter, two minutes on each side, and they are done!

2016 VD 72016 VD 6Overall this meal is a success for me, I loved the cauliflower – the asparagus is just blanched so it is still firm but is cooked on the outside – salt and pepper with a squeeze of a lemon.

Whole Foods Brentwood, MO
Whole Foods Brentwood, MO

I wanted to quickly mention where I purchase meat for a special occasion like this.  I go to Whole Foods if I want a great piece of meat.  We do not always go to Whole Foods, it is expensive, but that is what you will pay for if you want quality. There is no substitute for quality. I will not buy fish anywhere but Whole Foods, simply because I am unfamiliar with where it comes from, Whole Foods you can trust to give you the information up front even how it was sourced etc.

This is one of my favorite things I have learned to cook for Doug, I am hoping I can trick him into eating some more veggies soon!

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