“Impress a Man” Dinner

24 Dec

Sometimes you just want to impress someone.  Whether you’re dating someone new, planning a celebration, or looking to add some excitement to a date night in, this is an upscale take on steak and potatoes that is sure to impress your man.  Of course, ladies will also enjoy this!

The Menu

Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

Pan Seared Rib Eye with Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Sauce

Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary

Hericots Verts with Shallots

Salad with Pear, Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/8 cup sugar

1/8 cup water

1 cup lettuce, rinsed, dried and torn into bite size pieces*

1/2 medium pear, sliced thinly and cut into bite size pieces

1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled

balsamic vinaigrette (home-made or good quality store bought)

Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium high heat.  (This is one of those times where I think non-stick is better; otherwise cleanup will be a nightmare.)  Add pecans, sugar and water and stir frequently until it the water and sugar combine to form a syrup.  Lower heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently.  Syrup will thicken and eventually the mixture will coat the pecans and dry up, as in the picture below.

Arrange lettuce, pear slices, blue cheese and pecans on two plates.  Dress with balsamic vinaigrette.

*Use a soft mildly flavored lettuce, such as mixed baby greens, boston, or mache.  Crunchy lettuces like iceberg and romaine, or strong flavors like spinach or arugula don’t work here.

Pan Seared Rib Eye with Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Sauce

1 onion, caramelized*

3/4 cup half & half

1 ounce blue cheese

2 Rib Eye steaks, size and thickness is up to you

canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Add cream to the hot pan with the caramelized onions and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced by half.  Add blue cheese and stir until it melts.  Taste sauce and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed oven-proof pan over high heat.  Coat steaks in canola oil and salt and pepper each side.  Place in hot dry pan and sear each side for 30-60 seconds or until nicely browned.  Place entire pan in oven on middle rack and cook to desired temperature (this can take 2-10 minutes depending on thickness of steaks and preferred temperature).

Serve steaks with sauce.  I think it looks most attractive on the plate to serve the steaks on top of the sauce.

*Caramelizing onions isn’t difficult, but it requires patience and know-how.  I can’t explain it better than Kumiko Mitarai at Serious Eats, so I won’t.  Click here for complete instructions with a photo slide show.  For this recipe, you will want your onions to look like they do in the final picture–deeper caramelization is not necessary.  This is a time consuming step–you can caramelize your onions ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.  Heat them up in a pan when you’re ready, and then proceed with the recipe above.

Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, halved*

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stem and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add potatoes, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.

*You may not be able to find fingerling potatoes in your regular grocery store.  But you should be able to find them at Whole Foods or Fresh Market.  Any variety will do, but I am partial to Russian Banana Fingerlings, because of their buttery flavor.  You can substitute Yukon Gold potatoes instead of fingerlings, but you will need to cut them into fingerling sized pieces so they will cook properly.

Hericots Verts with Shallots

Hericots Verts with Shallots

1/3 to 1/2 pound hericots verts*

1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

2 shallots, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Add beans and boil until crisp-tender, about 60 seconds.  Immediately remove beans from boiling water.  Meanwhile, heat oil in small pan over medium heat.  Add shallots, salt and pepper and cook until softened but not brown.  Add beans and saute, stirring frequently until beans are tender and shallots are brown.

*Simply put, Hericots Verts are green beans.  More specifically, they are a french variety of green bean that is thinner and more tender than a traditional green beans.  I can usually find them at fresh at Fresh Market, or in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. You can easily substitute regular green beans, but you may need to cook them a minute or two longer.

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