Friday, February 6, 2015

How To Cook a Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner + A Recipe for Seared Scallops


Valentine's Day is coming up! Which one of you does the planning?  In our case, it is usually C who does the dinner reservation. When we started dating two decades ago, he would pull out all the stops to make Valentine's super romantic and memorable. That includes the biggest bouquet of Ecuadorean roses greeting me on my office desk first thing in the morning, then a nice and thoughtful gift he personally hands over when he picks up from the office, ending with a romantic dinner.


But after we got married, I gradually requested him to do away with them one by one. First to go was the roses (dahil sayang sa pera. hahaha!), and then I subtly mentioned to just give me a GC (para sure gusto ko! But this one is still a work in progress because he just really loves buying things for me.) The one thing he enjoys up to now is eating at good restaurants. Food is really his greatest indulgence!

But as we grew older as a couple, we noticed that enjoying a Valentine's Day dinner with a packed room of other couples was becoming less and less enjoyable. Then there's the traffic situation to contend with. Lately, nothing makes me more content than avoiding a night out. I still love going out, but MY idea of a perfect night out has changed... if only it could happen between the hours of 11am and 2pm. That would be perfect! At my age, I really just want to be in bed by 9 pm, with a good book or watching my fave TV series. #tanders #seniormoment

For this year, we are definitely skipping the crowded restaurants and the traffic congestion. I will be making our own cozy Valentine's Day dinner at home.  What's more thoughtful that presenting something homemade, di ba? And when it comes to a foodie like C, there's nothing much that can top that. The sizzle of steak is enough already for C. Hahaha!

Here's my suggestion in case you are also inclined to make your own homemade dinner on Valentine's...

Aside from the invaluable and generous gift of your time, a home-made dinner with restaurant quality food won't cost you as much than if you eat in a fine-dining restaurant.

BAKED BRIE

I've done this so many times with a little bit of improvisation here and there.  I share my recipe for Baked Brie here.  It originally calls for a filling of truffled mushrooms in between the layers, but if you are pressed for time or don't have truffles available, just skip the mushrooms and it is still just as good.




SMOKED SALMON & ASPARAGUS PASTA

You can find the recipe for my Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Pasta here. What I love about this dish, other than the smoked salmon, is that it is so easy to do.  It is almost fail-proof, and provides a lot of room for improvisation.  You can add cream, leave out asparagus, use arugula, throw in some capers, etc. The essentials are smoked salmon, salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic, and pasta with some olive oil.



STEAK

I haven't met a man who didn't like red meat. Havaing said that, I think this is what he will remember and enjoy  the most!!! I share how I cook my steak to perfection right here.

My husband is the ultimate carnivore! He hasn't met a Rib-eye and Tenderloin he doesn't like! hahaha!
That is why early on in our marriage, I have learned how to cook the perfect steak.  

SEARED SCALLOPS

It's such a misconception that scallops are difficult to handle.  It is so easy and quick to prepare, and they look wonderful when plated that your husband and family will think you slaved over it.  The key to cooking scallops is to NOT OVERCOOK them.

Click here to view video: http://flipagram.com/f/OYN3GkBMi9


Ingredients
12-16 pieces of  large imported sea scallops (I buy mine from either Santi's, S&R or My Own Meat Shop)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp olive oil

For Brining (Optional):
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups warm water or milk

For Sauce:
2 tbsp. salted butter
1 large clove minced garlic
1 tsp. soy sauce

The scallops are so big that they are almost the same size as the small wheel of brie cheese.


DIRECTIONS:

1. I always brine my scallops to take out the strong smell. Just combine the salt, sugar and water/milk. Stir until sugar and salt has melted. Add scallops to the mixture and let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain the scallops. Rinse with water. 





2. Pat dry with kitchen towels. Make sure to remove the excess liquid properly, otherwise your scallops will not sear properly when you cook them. Instead of seared scallops, you will have steamed scallops. Trust me on this.

That's the scallop against the backdrop of my palm.
Scallops this big are so juicy and tender when cooked properly!


3. Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.



4. Heat the butter in a large stainless steel frying pan or a teflon pan over medium heat until it begins to smoke slightly. Add the olive oil to the pan and give the pan a quick swirl. Add the scallops in a single layer, leaving enough space between each scallop.
  
I use my Salad Master stainless steel pan for the first batch and let the scallops cook. Butter burns easily and you might find it convenient to use 2 pans as the butter is burned already after you cook the first batch.


5. DO NOT MOVE the scallops until the bottom is nicley browned, at that time it will be easy to move them, about 2-3 minutes. Gently turn scallop and making sure to flip in a different part of the pan so the surface is hotter and gives the best sear. Cook the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes.
For the second batch, I used my teflon pan. The stainless steel pan give a better looking sear but if you don't care much for appearance, they both tastes the same.


6.  The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately. Should you want to make the sauce, just mix all the ingredients for the sauce (listed above) in a small pan, and spoon over each scallops.


How about you? How will you celebrate Valentines Day this year?

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