Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day Dinner: Cocoa Rubbed Sirloin, Spicy Couscous, Asparagus with Hollandaise, and ChocoVine Sabayon

As a rule, the spouse and I do not go out of our way to celebrate Valentine's Day. We try to do little romantic gestures each and every day, so having a day set aside for romance seems silly. Still, I was in the mood to go all out at dinner, so I thought I'd make it special. Besides, I knew the spouse was going to have a trying day at work, so thought I would help with stress relief.

As a starter, I made a simple salad, with bronze leaf lettuce, ripe bosk pear, and chopped pecans. I made a simple vinaigrette of date vinegar, sesame oil, and a little sugar and salt.

While simple, the vinaigrette really highlighted the sweetness of the pear, and the pecans added a really nice textural contrast to the pear and the lettuce.

This was a nice opener, really whetting the palette.

For the main course, I grilled sirloin steak that I rubbed with a mixture of cocoa powder, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, and kosher salt. I love bitter chocolate with beef. I think it helps create a super nice crust, and really compliments the heartiness of the beef.

For starch, I made couscous flavored with onion, parsley, and berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix. Berbere is wonderfully complex, and fairly hot.

The spouse had picked up some wonderful asparagus. This is just about our favorite vegetable. I just lightly grilled it, to get a little char, but keep it al dente. I do not like my asparagus limp. I went with a classic, and made hollandaise to go on the asparagus. It was the first time I have tried it, but I followed this recipe by Tyler Florence, and it was really easy.

I had been gifted with a bottle of ChocoVine, a kind of cream liqueur flavored with red wine and chocolate, made in Holland. I used it to make a sabayon, adapting the recipe from the Moscato Zabaglione I made for my wine class last November. I garnished it with some ripe strawberries macerated with a little sugar, and piped a heart of dark chocolate.

The acid in the strawberries helped cut the heaviness of the sabayon a bit. The dark chocolate brought out more of the chocolate flavor of the ChocoVine.

All in all, I was very satisfied with this meal. I got the steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, the hollandaise had a nice tang, and really complemented the asparagus well. The sabayon was thick and creamy, and not too sweet.


Date Vinaigrette

4 Tbsp. date vinegar
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Whisk all ingredients vigorously until an emulsion forms.

Cocoa Rub

4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Liberally sprinkle on steaks at least five minutes before grilling.

Simple Hollandaise

4 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
pinch salt
1/2 cup melted butter

In  a double boiler over barely simmering water, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, and salt until thick and doubled in volume. Slowly drizzle in melted butter while whisking, until butter is incorporated and sauce is thick and smooth.

ChocoVine Sabayon

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup ChocoVine liqueur
1 cup heavy cream
3 large ripe strawberries, sliced thin
2 tsp. sugar

In a small bowl, mix together strawberries and sugar. Set aside.

Whip cream to medium stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a double boiler over barely simmering water, whisk together egg yolks and ChocoVine together until thick and smooth. Place bowl with egg mixture  in an ice bath, continue to whisk until room temperature. Fold cream into egg mixture. Pour or spoon into serving containers. Garnish with strawberry slices.

Happy Eating!

No comments:

Post a Comment