Valentine's Day is pretty low-key around Chez Marshmallow. We buy each other a card, I make a nice dinner, and we enjoy each other's company. With our wedding anniversary just a few weeks after, it seems silly to celebrate a 'Hallmark holiday' to excess; we'd rather splurge for the real occasion that comes soon afterward.
This year was a little different because Valentine's fell on a Saturday. Because we got to spend the whole day together instead of just the evening, we split duties: Hubband made me a lovely breakfast, and I made him a nice dinner. (Hubband made homemade pecan waffles with a banana-pecan-maple topping! If he continues this amazing cookery learning curve, I shall have to give up my spoon!)
Dinner started with a classic French Onion soup, courtesy of CI. While tasty, it was very classic, and I wished it had a little punch or twist to it. The typical crouton topping was made of a very good whole-wheat pain levain (toasted on both sides, please) and cave-aged Gruyere.
The main course was a NY Strip, seasoned generously with salt and pepper and seared in bacon fat. I paired it with sauteed green beans and a new side: dried mango braised with onion and a chile.
The new side dish was adapted from Jean Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman's Simple to Spectacular. Their recipe called for dried pears, which I couldn't find to save my life. I used mango instead, as Hubband and I are fans. The side was different and very tasty, but I think it could use more tinkering. Why, for example, should I soak the dried fruit, and then braise it with chicken stock? Why not just braise it directly from dried? Yes, it would take longer, but the fruit would take in more flavor from the onions, bacon, thyme, chile and stock instead of already being engorged with plain water. This is definitely worth revisiting, so if I come up with a technique I really like I'll post it in the future.
Dessert was caramel cake, this time with added coconut on top which was a delicious addition suggested by Hubband. (See? I'm going to have to retire.)