Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Food and Love

Food and love go together so well.. it seems that we celebrate all of our special occasions with a delicious meal. For me, food is an expression that I care for people- my friends and family as well as my significant other. That's why I wanted to cook for Valentine's Day.

On Valentine's Day, I was spoiled with a meal at a yummy French place with a prix fixe Valentine's menu (a pricy one, but in the city, what can you expect?) The next day, I made a romantic dinner menu to celebrate at home. You can really save so much money eating in. This dinner, plus wine probably cost me $40.

First, French onion soup. This I learned from my roommate's boyfriend. It's now one of my favorite soups! I crave it all the time now. It's really quite easy to make: just caramelize a large amount of onions in butter until almost jammy, season, then add beef broth. Serve with bread and cheese. I used a nice nutty Gruyere. The melty strings of cheese oozing with the soft bread and onions... this is comfort food, through and through. Yum! I will post a detailed recipe soon.

For the main course, I thought a rack of lamb would be delicate and not too heavy. It turned out very well. This is a Giada recipe, with basil and mint pesto. Like many Giada recipes, it's a simple recipe with bold, beautiful colors. The recipe is below.

Lastly, I made a chocolate torte. It was supposed to be a souffle, but it was kind of a fail. It didn't rise and I know why... During the beating process of the eggs, I stepped away for a moment. At least it was full of chocolaty goodness!

Rack of Lamb with Mint-Basil Pesto


  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 (1 1/2-pounds each) racks of lamb, trimmed and frenched

Blend the mint, basil, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a food processor until the herbs are finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually blend in 1/3 cup of oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Generously sprinkle the lamb racks with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a grill pan or heavy large skillet over high heat. Place 1 lamb rack in the skillet and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the lamb rack meat side up on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 2 lamb racks.

Roast the lamb in the oven until cooked to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the lamb racks to a work surface. Set aside for 10 minutes. Cut the lamb between the bones into single chops. Spread the pesto over 1 cut side of each chop. Arrange the chops, pesto side up, on plates or a platter, and serve.


  1. I like that Cat let us (your readers) know what you made your boyfriend for Valentines Day, and her menu was quite nice. I am a professional Chef myself and I would be interested to know about the prix fixe menu that L'Ardoise did on Valentine's Day...

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    To answer your question, I couldn't find the prix fixe menu online (I don't think they posted it.) However, I remember we got the following:
    -shrimp and cheese napoleon (not so great, no crunchy pastry which surprised me, but was only composed of cream and cheese)
    -goat cheese stuffed peppers (quite good surprisingly)
    -filet mignon, pommes frites with garlic aioli (very good, addicting)
    -chocolate cake (unmemorable, but bf really liked it)
    -vanilla bean flan (good but not special)

    It wasn't as impressive as their normal fare. I'm a huge fan of their normal bistro fare, classics like coq au vin. My pictures weren't great because it was dark, so I didn't post them.