This year for Valentines Day, I decided to spoil Bob with a four course amazing meal.
He had asked for roast or something, but I found it a little too common and not so special for the occasion.
Normally we don’t really celebrate this day since it is very commercialized and to us, not more or less romantic than any other day of the year. But maybe this year I needed an excuse to make a meal that was a little more fancy than our regular dinners and maybe also a little over the regular dinner budget. But who cares about that, we need to eat and we need to spoil ourselves from time to time. And what better way to do that, than making some delicious food.
So here is what I made:
Grilled Oysters with Tarragon butter
Grilled Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto
Squid-ink seafood pasta with tomato sauce
Lemon Meringue pie
This was sooo good and I want to make it again soon!
Let’s begin with the oysters since those are the ones that are most intimidating to me, but somehow also the easiest to make (go figure).
We had 3 medium/large oysters per person, but pick however many you like and can afford 😀
Preheat the oven till 230 C (450 F).
Scrub and rinse the oysters and place them with the flat side up in a baking pan. Here you can use tinfoil to support the oysters and keep them level in the pan.
Bake them till they start to open, this might take between 5-20 minutes. Once they open, take them out and remove the flat part of the shell, keeping as much of the liquid in the bottom shell. Don’t waste the good flavours.
While the oysters are baking you can make the butter. Take about a teaspoon of butter per oyster, mix with chopped fresh tarragon, pepper and hot sauce or tabasco, just a few drops for a little added spiciness. you can play around with the flavours of the butter and make it more or less spicy as you like.
Add a teaspoon of butter to each oyster and put them back in the oven for 2-4 minutes till the butter is melted and starts to bubble.
Now the oysters are ready to serve.
I served the oysters with the grilled asparagus. Also a very easy dish to make and it tastes wonderful.
Simply take a thin slice of Prosciutto and wrap it around 2 asparagus and place it on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wrap 3-5 bundles per person and grill them in the oven together with the oysters for 5-10 minutes till the Prosciutto begins to get crispy but the asparagus are still green. Sprinkle with some pepper and they are ready to serve.
Squid-ink seafood pasta is also a lot easier to make than first anticipated. I started with 4 large tomatoes and removed the skin as described in the Dhal recipe. Then cooked them slowly with a large sprig of tarragon since I was already using that for the oyster butter. Tarragon is also really well paired with seafood, so this was a match made in heaven 🙂
Once the tomatoes had cooked for about 1 hour, I ran them through the strainer to remove the stem and seeds. Then I chopped some more tarragon, added that and salt and pepper to the sauce and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.
For the seafood, you can make any combination of your favourites. I chose bay scallops (small ones), 2 large scallops per person, grilled. And large scrimp.
The large scallops I grilled for 2-3 minutes per side on a grill pan, and the scrimp and bay scallops I threw into the tomato sauce and cooked them during the same time I grilled the large scallops.
I served the seafood in tomato sauce with squid-ink pasta (the black one) and a sprig of tarragon for decoration.
And now for the dessert, that I have always admired but never actually tried making before. Again to my surprise, it was pretty easy to make it and I gotta do that again soon.
Lemon merengue pie looks so beautiful with its soft merengue top and slightly browned edges and the taste can not be described sufficiently with words. You must taste it!
First of all the crust. I made mine in a heart shaped pan, just because 🙂
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cold salted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1-2 tablespoons cold water
Mix flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and knead them into the flour with your fingers. It will start to crumble and look like dry oats. Keep kneading till you have very small pieces of butter all covered in flour. Add the olive oil and vinegar and knead together to form a more firm ball of dough. Gradually add the water till you can just knead it together but not sticky. Place in an airtight container and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough so it fits in a 15cm (6 inch) round or heart shaped pie pan. I cut out a piece of parchment paper to put in the bottom and then greased the sides with butter to prevent the dough from sticking to it while baking.
Bake at 190 C (375 F) for 20-25 minutes till the edges are slightly golden brown. Let cool and remove from pan without breaking it into pieces (this is always the most nerve wrecking task).
Turn up the oven till 220 C (425 F).
The lemon filling.
1 large egg, white and yolk separated
2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Separate the egg into white and yolk and mix the yolk with 2 tablespoons sugar till it turns white fluffy. Add the cornstarch and mix again.
Heat the water, lemon juice and zest in a small pot till it boils. Remove from heat.
Gently pour about half of the lemon juice into the egg yolk mixture and stir till combined. Pour back into the pot to mix with the rest of the lemon juice and place it back on the heat on medium and stir for 2-3 minutes till it turns into custard and make sure there are no lumps.
Spread the lemon custard over the pie crust in an even layer and all the way to the edge.
Beat the egg white till it forms soft peaks, gradually add the 4 teaspoons of sugar and keep mixing till stiff peaks are formed.
With a spoon, place the merengue on top of the lemon custard. It does not need to cover it completely. Make some peaks in the merengue with the spoon and place it back in the oven for 5-8 minutes till the edges turn slightly brown. Keep a close eye on this one as it happens really fast.
Serve right away!
And there you have it. A great four course dinner that looks and tastes amazing and takes little effort to make.