A romantic dinner at home.
I believe the year, was 1998 B.C. (Before Children)
We had learned our lesson on previous Valentine’s Days. Dinner out on Valentine’s Day is best left for those too young or too love-struck to care about the crowds. (That’s what we told ourselves. Also, we had no reservations.)
Thus began our tradition: A romantic dinner at home and then a special date night later, when restaurants aren’t so overwhelmed. (Kind of a Valentine’s BOGO bonus!) And what better way to celebrate all-things Valentine than with a menu like this:
∞ Spring greens with artichoke hearts, hearts of palm and feta ∞
∞ London broil with béarnaise sauce ∞
∞ Baked potatoes ∞
∞ Steamed asparagus ∞
∞ Raspberry-strawberry sweetheart brownies ∞
This menu may look daunting, but it’s actually deceptively simple. You can make it all yourself or get your sweetie to help. (While I handle “the sides,” my sweetie, Joe, likes to cook the London broil on the charcoal grill, but it also can be cooked on a gas grill or inside under the broiler.)
Here’s your shopping list:
Prewashed spring greens
2 baking potatoes
1 bunch of asparagus
1 container of strawberries
6-oz. jar of quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
1 can of hearts of palm
1 container of feta cheese
Your favorite vinaigrette dressing
1 bottle of Dale’s Steak Seasoning
1 store-bought brownie mix
1 packet of béarnaise sauce mix (Knorr or McCormick)
1 London broil cut of beef, about 2 pounds
Check your supplies before you hit the store, because you’ll also need half a stick of butter and 1 cup of milk to make the béarnaise sauce, foil and butter for the baked potatoes, and probably eggs and oil for the brownies. Note that the dessert may be made ahead of time, to keep the dinner preparations to about one hour. If you’re using charcoal, time preheating accordingly. A gas grill or broiler can be fired up just before you add the meat. Now, here’s the cooking plan:
- Make brownies according to package directions. Use a heart-shaped pan if desired. After brownies cool, invert onto a serving plate. Spread the top with raspberry jam and cover with strawberries, sliced long-ways to show their heart shape. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Put London broil in a sealable plastic bag. Add enough Dale’s seasoning to cover. Marinate at least 20 minutes per side, flipping the bag a few times while it’s marinating.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes, poke a few times with a fork and wrap in foil. These will cook about one hour, or until soft.
- Drain artichoke hearts and hearts of palm. Assemble salad, either in salad bowl or on individual plates.
- When grill is very hot, put marinated meat directly over heat. When one side looks charred, flip. The goal is a crisp outside and a warm, pink center. Total cooking time is usually 15 to 20 minutes. Your meat thermometer should read an internal temperature of 120 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare, 140 for medium, or 150 for medium-well. Remove steak from grill and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. (Discard the ends.) Put the stalks into a microwave-safe dish. Add about an inch of water and microwave, covered, four minutes. Keep covered until ready to serve to retain the steam.
- While the asparagus is cooking, prepare the béarnaise sauce according to packet directions.
- Slice the London broil perpendicular to the grain of the meat. Capture any juice that flows out. Put meat on a serving dish. Serve with juice and Béarnaise sauce.
Teamwork is helpful in coordinating the last few steps and getting it all to the table. I whisk the béarnaise while Joe slices the London broil. I sneak a tasty burnt end when he looks away. It’s tradition.
By the way, this menu isn’t just for sweethearts. It’s been a family favorite — and a go-to company meal — at my house for years.