4 Valentine's Day Meals To Wow Your Date By Brian "Mac" McDonald

Need last-minute Valentine's dinner ideas? Local chef Mac has some ideas!


1. Pork 2-Way with Mashed Potatoes and White Cheddar Mac

Needed ingredients: 2 bone-in pork chops, olive oil, salt & pepper, fresh thyme & rosemary, 3-4 slices of thick-cut bacon


1. Start by heating a cast-iron skillet on medium-high

2. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil

3. Salt & Pepper each side of the chop liberally

4. Sear each side for 1 minute at a time, flipping the chop until both sides are golden brown (8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of chop)

5. Lower heat to medium and add 1-2 teaspoons of butter, thyme & rosemary, and your chopped bacon.

6. Baste the chop with the butter, for 2-3 minutes rotating the chop and until the bacon is cooked through. Remove from heat and let the meat rest for 8-10minutes.


Mashed Potatoes

Needed ingredients: 3-4 Potatoes, 1/2 a cup of heavy cream, 1-2 tablespoons of butter (preference), 1 ounce of sour cream, salt & pepper


1. Cut and boil 3-4 potatoes ( your choice, I prefer yellow potatoes) until fork-tender

2. Add heavy cream, 1/2 cup, salt & pepper (to taste), and butter. The heavy cream can be substituted for your preferred milk, but the heavy cream provides a much creamier mash.

3. Depending on the texture preference of your mashed potatoes, you can either beat the mash with a mixer or mash and stir with a wooden spoon for a chunkier mash.


White Cheddar Mac

Needed ingredients: 1 package of pasta (your choice, I went with rotelle), 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (to taste), 4 cups of heavy cream, 2 cups of shredded white cheddar, 2 cups of manchego cheese

1. In a stockpot bring water to boil, add pasta (Shells, Elbows, Rotelle, your choice!) Boil till tender. Drain and remove from heat.

2. While the pasta boils, in another saucepan on medium heat. Melt butter, add seasonings, stir in flour, gradually stir in cream and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat and stir in your cheese, add to pasta and stir to coat.


2. Red Wine Heirloom Tomato Pasta with Basil Butter Noodles


Needed ingredients: 1 Package of heirloom tomatoes, a sweet red wine (your choice, I prefer a sweet red for this dish), minced garlic, fresh basil, 1 package of baby portobello mushrooms, olive oil, unsalted butter, Pasta (your choice, I liked spaghetti noodles for this dish), Sea salt, and pepper.



1. Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil, and salted it heavily (think ocean water).

2. Once to boil add the noodles and cook till al dente’ (floppy but with a chew)

3. Drain noodles (save about 1/4 cup of the pasta water) and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter, and a small handful of fresh basil leaves to a bowl, pouring the drained noodles over the butter and basil and stirring.

4. Slice the heirloom tomatoes in half (the most efficient way is to place them between two plates and slice through the middle of the tomatoes going away from your body) and add to skillet.

5. Add in minced garlic, and baby portobellos, and sauté till the tomatoes and mushroom start to slightly wilt.

6. Add a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of red wine and cook down.

7. Combine the skillets ingredients in the noodle bowl, salt, and pepper to taste, and serve.


3. NY Strip Dinner for Two


New York Strip Steak


1. Start by seasoning liberally, on both sides, with salt and pepper.

2. Heat cast iron on medium-high until it starts to lightly smoke.

3. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and place steak in the center of the skillet.

4. Do not move the steak, moving it will cause it to cook unevenly.

5. Cook the steak 3-4 minutes on each side till browned.(this is for a medium cook, lower or raise cook times for your preferred doneness.)

6. Remove skillet from heat and place on a hot pad, turning the stove to low.

7. Add butter and fresh herbs and place on the low heat, basting your steak with a spoon for 1-2 minutes.

8. Remove steak and wrap in aluminum foil to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Shiitake Mushrooms

1. Using the oil and juices left in the pan from the steak, toss the mushrooms in the garlic butter until slightly tender.

Chimichurri

Needed ingredients: Parsley (I prefer Italian parsley), 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, red pepper flakes, juice of a half of lemon.

1. Finely chop parsley and place in a small bowl.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of minced garlic

3. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a couple of pinches of salt & pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and half a lemon’s juice


Asparagus


Ingredients Needed: 2 tablespoons of Minced Garlic, Olive oil, Salt & Pepper, asparagus.


1. Take the steak out and let it sit for 30 minutes and come closer to room temperature. (best to work on the mashed potatoes and asparagus first.

2. Rinse off the asparagus and place and cut about 1-1/2 inches off the bottom of each.

3. Heat a cast-iron pan on medium-high and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan.

4. Add minced garlic, and spread the asparagus across the pan and cook till blistered and slightly floppy salt and peppering it closer to the end.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Needed ingredients: 3-4 Potatoes, 1/2 a cup of heavy cream, 1-2 tablespoons of butter (preference),3-4 tablespoons of minced garlic, salt & pepper.


1. Cut and boil 3-4 potatoes ( your choice, I prefer yellow potatoes) until fork-tender

2. Add heavy cream, 1/2 cup, salt & pepper (to taste), and butter. The heavy cream can be substituted for your preferred milk, but the heavy cream provides a much creamier mash.

3. Depending on the texture preference of your mashed potatoes, you can either beat the mash with a mixer or mash and stir with a wooden spoon for a chunkier mash.

4. In the cast iron you used for the asparagus, on medium heat, add 3-4 tablespoons of garlic stirring constantly till lightly browned and add to mash.




4. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes


Needed ingredients: Pancake mix of choice, 1 bar of sea salted dark chocolate, 1 package of strawberries, 1 carton of heavy cream, 1 package of chocolate chips, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, Milk


1. Combine Pancake mix by instructions on the box (account a little less milk for the additional liquid about 1/4 of a cup) add in 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2. Place batter to the side and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

3. In a blender or food processor, puree strawberries with a few tablespoons of water and add to pancake batter lightly mixing into the batter.

4. Chop up sea salted dark chocolate bar into small chunks and add to batter, stirring lightly.

5. Heat cast-iron skillet on medium-high, add butter to pan or spray with non-stick spray, and cook pancakes until lightly brown on the edges & you see bubbles on top, flip and cook the other side.

6. In a separate saucepan, heat 2 cups cream over low heat until light simmer

7. in a heat-safe bowl, place 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips and pour cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes before stirring.

8. Stack pancakes on a plate and pour a small amount on top and garnish the plate with some fresh strawberries.

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