As promised, I am here to tell you about the delicious treats I cooked up for my husband on Valentine’s Day. I usually let him pick most of the menu (since I’m cooking as one of the gifts), and this year we collaborated on a great one. The first thing he asked for was pork chops. We like them a lot, but due to price, we don’t often have them. I lucked out this year because we got some nice thick loin chops from Sprouts for $2 a pound. The next thing he requested was asparagus. I’ve mentioned it before, but we LOVE roasted asparagus. There’s not really a recipe, I just toss them in some oil, salt, and pepper and roast them til the heads are crispy like a French fry. (Asparagus was also on sale at Sprouts for $2 a pound.)
Now here’s what I added to the menu. First, I wanted to add some flavor to our pork chops. I looked through some of my recipes and found this delightful glaze from Smitten Kitchen. It was easy to throw together and really delivered some flavor, not too strong but very delicious. I used half the recipe for our 2 chops and just marinated them in it while I prepped the rest of the food.
Garlic-Mustard Glaze (from Smitten Kitchen)
1/4 c. whole grain mustard
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
2 tsp. Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before using.
You may have noticed there’s also some sort of pastry on the plate. Back in January, the papers ran a coupon for puff pastry. It’s an ingredient I’ve never worked with, but I’ve always wanted to. I went ahead and bought it, thinking that it would come in handy for Valentine’s Day. After scouring my recipe box, I decided on these delicious cheese puffs. (Don’t be thrown by the word pumpkin in the title of the linked recipe; they’re just cut into the shape of pumpkins for a fall issue.) These came out flaky and delicious. Since making them, I’ve decide that puff pastry is really not too hard to work with, and I look forward to using it again soon.
Savory Cheese Puffs (from the October 2003 issue of Martha Stewart)
1 17.3 oz pkg. thawed puff pastry
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. melted butter
2 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 c. finely grated Gruyere (The amounts listed for both these cheeses are as written in the original recipe. Personally, I felt that it was too much of both cheeses. The second day I made this, I cut both of these amounts in half and enjoyed it much better.)
1 c. finely grated Parmesan (See above comment.)
1. Generously flour 2 pieces of parchment, roll out one of the unfolded pastry sheets to form a 15×13 inch rectangle, about 1/16 inch thick. Refrigerate til firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the paprika into the melted butter. (The directions don’t say to, but I rolled each rectangle out to be the same size.)
2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush off the excess flour. Spread one rectangle of pastry with mustard and sprinkle with both cheeses. Season with pepper and lay the second rectangle on top.
3. Place a sheet of parchment on top of the stacked pastry. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry til it’s smooth and the layers are sealed together. Remove the parchment and brush the top of the pastry with the paprika butter. Chill til firm, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. With a cookie cutter, cut the dough into 18-24 shapes. (I just cut mine into plain rectangles with a knife.) Bake til golden, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving.
For Valentine’s Day, we didn’t really have a specific dessert (We had some leftovers of something I’d recently baked.), but I’ll not leave you completely without a sweet taste. Starbucks is once again offering their treat receipt program. Now through March 3rd (at participating stores), bring in your morning receipt after 2 PM and get a baked good for just $1. (More details here.)
I’ve also recently made 2 incredible desserts that I’m going to wait to tell you about until next week. And I’ve got a new series in the works! Any guesses? (And no spilling the beans if I’ve bounced the idea off you already.)