Valentine’s Day Menu Times Two…
I have a confession to make….I actually made two Valentine’s Day Menu Meals and loved both of them.
AND…they were basically the same menu, well almost the same. The slight difference was the entree.
I was going to divide this post into two posts so it wouldn’t be so long….but the two meals were almost the same, so I decided to rough it out and go for it. I promised the Menu and recipes and that is what you get. 🙂
Let me explain. One Menu was Osso Bucco and the other Braised Short Ribs…same recipe, different meat.
The Friday before Valentine’s Day, the Captain and I entertained with a dinner for six! We had a wonderful meal and we had such a great time as we conversed and ate and conversed and ate and…well, you get the picture. I have already shared a few of the pics with you of the Tablescape….(click on this link ) Valentine’s Day Tablescape 2016 if you missed the explanation of the why, how and wherefore!
But on to the Menu,…. I have always fallen back on the ole’ saying…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….or why reinvent the wheel or…OK, I am sure you get the picture.
Then on Sunday, the second Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu was for the Captain and Me.
Sooooo, other than a few minor changes, the two Menus were the same…and they were super easy.
See the Valentine’s Day Menu below.
I happen to love Osso Bucco and I happen to love Short Ribs and the recipe for both are basically the same. ….or at least my version of them is the same. The meat is seasoned and browned, carrots, celery and onions (and/or shallots) are sauted’ ….red wine and beef broth are added and then the cooked bacon is placed on top and all is placed in a large dutch oven and allowed to bake in the oven for hours and hours and hours. Whew! that is a long sentence!
Veal Shank is pictured below before and after the dusting of flour and seasoning…
Beef Short Ribs are pictured below, seasoned and dusted with flour….
Bacon is crisped….
Meat is browned…..
Veggies are cut and placed into the bacon grease and drippings….
Red wine is added….
Beef Broth is added…
Bacon is placed on top and the whole pot goes into the oven to cook low and slow for several hours.
The end result is fall off the bone goodness that just melts in your mouth. It is the same for veal shank or beef short ribs. I really can’t say I prefer one over the other, if they are cooked correctly. Beef Short Ribs are almost always at your supermarket….however, I did ask the butcher to cut fresh ones for me. The veal shanks are not always available, so I had to order them from my favorite butcher shop, which is just over the bridge into Ft. Myers.
The rest of the Menu was just as easy as the main course.
The mashed potatoes can be made ahead of time…and have cream cheese and sour cream added…see the recipe Do Ahead Potatoes from a 35 year old recipe. These great tasting mashed potatoes were a staple at all our church potlucks.
The salad was also easy. It was made with Baby Spinach/Romaine Lettuce… with thinly sliced red onions, crispy bacon, cherry tomatoes and a bottled Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing that I dressed just before dinner. Yummy!
I also made Haricot Vert which is French,…. for simply, fresh skinny green beans! I seasoned water with salt and pepper, diced shallots and small pieces of bacon before plunging the green beans into the boiling water. How crisp you want your green beans depends on how long you blanch them in the water. Some people like their green beans cooked to the army color while others want theirs to retain their bright green color and crunch. My Haricot Vert were sorta in between.
The dinner rolls were frozen dough balls (Rhodes in your supermarket freezer) that I allowed to rise for several hours before baking.
They taste just like you made them yourself…light and flaky and warm, oozing with butter! Yummy!
Dessert was another easy recipe….and sooooo good. Cherry Cheesecake Brownies. There are a million variations but the basics are simple. You can make your own brownie mix or use a box…top with cream cheese mixture….topped with canned cherry pie filling and all is baked together for about 45 minutes. I cut the brownies and placed them on heart shaped doilies and then on heart shaped red, pink and white serving plates. It is such a pretty dessert. Perfect for Valentine’s Day and delicious. As noted in the recipe…I made a couple of these desserts and found that using only a part of the can of cherry pie filling worked out much prettier than the whole can. The taste was the same….it was just the swirly look I was after.
The handy dandy printable recipes are below:
Go forth and let your oven do the work for you! It is ok to take short cuts! And your guests will be asking you the same questions that our guests asked me.
“That meat is delicious, what is it and how do you make it?”
“Are these rolls home made? “
“The salad is amazing and the green beans are great!”
“What is in the mashed potatoes? They are soooo good!”
“Love the dessert. It is perfect!”
- 8 whole Beef Short Ribs or 4 whole veal shanks
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour for dusting
- 6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 medium diced onion
- 4 carrots, diced or sliced baby carrots
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 cups red dry wine (if making osso bucco, you can use white wine)
- 2 cups beef broth (enough to cover ribs or veal shanks)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- (you can either place herbs directly on the meat or make a cheesecloth herb bag to retrieve later)
- Salt and pepper the meat and lightly dust in the flour and set aside.
- In a large dutch oven, fry the bacon until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and set aside.
- To the bacon grease add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil (more if needed) and raise the heat. Place as many ribs/shanks as you can into the hot oil to begin the browning of all sides of the ribs or the veal shanks (about 1-2 minutes per side)
- Remove the meat and set the browned meat aside.
- Lower the heat a bit and add the onions, carrots, celery and shallots to the drippings from the seared meat and cook until the veggies begin to soften (about 2 minutes)
- Add in the wine, stirring to deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom and sides (this is flavor-land baby) and let the mixture boil for about 2 more minutes (I like to stir often at this process, continually scrapping)
- Pour in the beef broth and salt and pepper to taste
- Add the meat back into the pan making sure the meat is completely covered by the liquid. (if not, add more broth)
- At this point you can make a bouquet garni (rosemary and thyme bundled in cheesecloth and tied with string) OR you can lay the sprigs of thyme and rosemary right on top of the liquid (I've done it both ways, no preference)
- Place the lid on the dutch oven and move to a preheated 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. Check to see if the meat is literally beginning to fall off the bones and then leave in the oven for another 30 minutes, still covered.
- Remove the pan from the oven, leaving the lid in place... and allow the dutch oven to sit for about 20 minutes before opening.
- Just before serving, I like to take a ladle and remove the excess fat from the top and discard.
- If you have the time....place the dutch oven in the fridge and the solidified fat is easier to remove...just place the dutch oven back on top of the stove to reheat.
- Serve the shanks/short ribs over mashed potatoes, or polenta, or pasta, or rice....your choice.
- Serve the veggies and liquid in a gravy boat and pour over the top of the meat and potatoes.
- Whatever starch you choose, I gaaroonteeee it to be delicious!
- I served this dinner with new green beans cooked for about 5 minutes in bacon and shallots, but you can cook your green beans to your desired tenderness.
- I also served the meat over mashed potatoes and added a salad made up of baby spinach/romaine lettuce with crisped bacon, red onions, cherry tomatoes and a raspberry vinaigrette. YUM!
- You can take a short cut and use your favorite Brownie Recipe or you can use a Brownie mix.
- Below is my brownie recipe, and I suggest you make the cream cheese mixture first, the brownie mixture next...BUT the brownie mixture goes on the bottom and the cream cheese mixture on top of that, followed by the cherry pie filling.
- 2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup butter
- 6 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1¼ cup flour
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 can of cherry pie filling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a 9X13 baking dish with aluminum foil (for easier removal later)
- Spray the foil with baking spray and set aside
- With a mixer, blend the cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until very smooth and set aside
- If you are using a brownie mix, mix according to directions
- Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate (you can use the microwave, about 30 second intervals)
- Cream the sugar, salt, and eggs until creamy. Add in the melted butter and chocolate. Lastly add in the vanilla
- Mix in the flour, until just mixed and add in the walnuts
- Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the bottom of the baking dish
- Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the brownie mixture being careful not to mix the two
- *Using a large spoon, spoon the cherry pie filling over the top of the cream cheese.
- Then take a knife and gently make swirls into the top being careful not to go deep into the brownie mixture. It won't change the taste, just the final look of the dessert. (see note below)
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until cheese cake starts to lightly brown on the edges....watch carefully because it is difficult to tell when the brownies are done....you want them to be a bit chewey and moist. The center of the dessert will still jiggle but it is done....do not use the jiggles as an indication that the brownies are not cooked in the center. NOW, comes the hard part. Remove the dessert from the oven and allow to cool completely...about 30-45 minutes. THEN, put the dessert in the fridge for at least 4 more hours before serving. I know you will want to taste, but try to control yourself. Trust me....
- When ready to serve, gently take the aluminum foil in both hands and remove it from the baking dish. Using a very sharp knife, cut into serving pieces and plate. NOW, you can taste it. 😉
- *the amount of pie filling depends on your tastes and the desired finished look. The first one I made, I used the whole can of cherry pie filling and it gave the dessert a really red look. The second one I made, I didn't use as much of the cherry pie filling and I liked more of the cream cheese showing through and it made the swirling with the knife a bit prettier....no difference in taste, just a matter of looks.