Dinner for Two

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Okay, prepare for some cynicism:  I really hate Valentine’s Day.  It’s not that I hate love, I just hate how we have such a blatantly commercial holiday.  At least some of the other commercial holidays have somewhat of a purpose.  Shouldn’t you celebrate your love for someone on a more significant day, like, I don’t know–the day you met/started dating/got married?

Despite my spite, I still like to partake in the festivities and do special things for my husband.  We’re not really big on buying things for each other.  We usually just stay at home and have dinner or go out for a date.

One of my favorite things to cook on special occassions are lamb chops.  They are a little pricier than most meats, but totally worth it.  I love lamb chops because they require very little preparation to be good.  It’s all about how you cook the meat.

You can get by successfully with just a rub of salt and pepper.  My favorite way to flavor them is with herbs and olive oil though.

There is a very simple and delicious recipe that I usually go by here.

Feel free to use fresh herbs instead of dry if you have them–just double the quantities that you would use for dry.  For example, 1 tbsp of dried herbs would be 2 tbsp of fresh.  Honestly for this recipe I don’t even measure them.  I kind of just grab a handful of each herb I’m going to use.

Also, a trick I use to avoid biting into large pieces of rosemary is to pulse all the herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor until it’s in a paste form.  If you’re short on time you can skip this (which I actually skipped for the lamb I made in the photo), but it distributes the seasoning better.

It really is all about how you cook the meat.  I recommend using a cast iron skillet if you have one.  It retains heat well and distributes the heat evenly.  If you just went out and bought one, click here to learn about cleaning and seasoning your pan.  I highly recommend buying a food thermometer.  Lamb chops are best eaten rare to medium.  I prefer medium-rare myself but everyone is different.  Micah likes them extra bloody.

Make sure to get your pan HOT especially if you want your meat to be pink in the middle.  The goal is to sear the outside of the meat while retaining the juiciness inside.  Browning your meat is called the Maillard reaction:  it’s what happens when the sugars and amino acids in the meat team up at high temperatures resulting in flavor explosions.  This is where flavor is born and you want to get it right without drying out the meat.

This recipe uses a balsamic reduction and if you read my last post you know I am obsessed with it.  It’s so good and simple.  Onions–shallots in particular– go with balsamic vinegar like peanut butter and jelly.  Shallots have a sharp taste on their own and need balsamic to even it out.

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My husband remembers why he married me when I make stuff like this.

Lambchops are a pretty cut of meat and perfect for a romantic dinner.  They are beautiful on a bed of fresh greens.  I used a premixed bag of greens that also had chopped up dill mixed in.  It was really good and added an extra special something.

I served the chops with a side of mashed cauliflower.  Since I just wing it every time I make cauliflower mash, I’ll give you some tips on how I make the creamiest cauliflower mash you will ever eat.

Happy cooking!

Cauliflower Mash

What you need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1/4 cup dairy or full-fat coconut milk (may need more)
  • 1-3 tbsp butter (optional)
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
  • Large pot
  • Food processor

Start by filling your pot with enough water to cover your florets since you will be boiling them.  Go ahead and start heating it up to a boil while you are prepping the cauliflower.

Make sure to pick a cauliflower head with no brown spots when you’re shopping. Release the florets by first cutting the head in half, cutting off the green leaves, and then separating the florets like in the picture.

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Place your florets in the rapidly boiling water.  Cook until tender–about 10 minutes.  It’s hard to overcook this, but just make sure it’s really tender when you poke it with a fork.

Drain the florets then place them in a food processor along with the butter, salt, pepper, and optional herbs.  I used leftover rosemary from my lamb chops for some extra flavor.  You may not need the whole 1/4 cup of milk so I would start by just pouring half of it in the processor right now.  You can always add more until it’s as smooth as you like.

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Blend until smooth.  Add more milk if you need to.

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It will look and taste like creamy mashed potatoes.  How easy!

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