Paté, juicy burger, tres leches, darling cookies: Take a hard left turn towards big love, little love, big likes, and "I love you almost, maybe"
So you're surrounded with people you love (or just like a lot), or it's just you at home ... here's your menu.
Love is always here, or on the way, but it doesn't have to be paired with lush string sections, or dressed in a tuxedo.
Jeans, rock and roll, fresh air and this menu will do.
Chicken liver paté, Burger (wagyu beef preferred, but 70/30 works Valentine magic, too) with diced bacon in the mix. Fries with a twist. A dessert of tres leches. And the most charming and perfectly executed heart-shaped sugar cookies with your coffee this morning, or the next.
First up, paté. It's creamy, like butter. It has a lovely, gentle flavor. It's sumptuous. Works great on toast, works well with your favorite bubbly or a dry martini. So well, in fact, you might be tempted to just stick with this appetizer and leave the burgers for another night. (But don't do that.)
Start with this paté
I love paté. I want it to be my Valentine, I love it so much.
Homemade Chicken Liver pate
Do this. It's ridiculously easy.
Start with great quality chicken livers from your best grocer.
- Sauté 3 chopped shallots, 4 cloves garlic in 3 T olive oil in your EuroCAST skillet
- 1 lb. chicken livers
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Sauté till each side is browned and firm to the touch 5 minutes.
- 3 tablespoons butter to melt then remove from heat
- Add into a bowl to cool with 2 T. chopped parsley and the juice of 1 lemon
Let cool. Then
- Blitz in food processor until smooth.
- Pack into ramekins or a glass jar to set 2 hours or overnight.
Shown here with Aleppo flakes and jalepeno jam.
Swoon for this burger
Pick top quality ground beef. I love Wagyu (it costs a bit more, but it's Valentine's Day -- come on, people). A quality 70/30 mix is fantastic. The fat proportion is important because a burger is as much about how it feels in your mouth as it is about flavor.
In fact, I dice up bacon and mix it thoroughly into the ground beef, for a little more goodness. (Everything is better with bacon, especially your Valentine.)
Critical to getting burgers right:
- Don't overwork the patty when forming it. You want some looseness because it'll feel better in your mouth when you bite in.
- Super-hot sauté pan (or griddle). EuroCAST delivers here. (We love the sauté for it because it makes butter-basting simple. See below.)
- Lots of salt on the outside. Some pepper, too, of course ... but salt it, and then salt it.
- Put the burger into a dry EuroCAST pan (sauté or griddle).
- Don't press the burger with your spatula. Basically, leave the thing alone. You want the juices to stay inside it.
- After the sear is in place, put in a lot (3 T per burger) of unsalted, high-quality butter into the pan so you can butter-baste it. Basting with butter requires constant work, but the payoff is a juicier burger, better flavor, and consistent cooking -- that butter is bringing heat all over the meat.
- Depending on the thickness of your burger, cook it high for four to five minutes per side, until you get the right amount of red or pink in the center.
- Take the burgers out of the pan and rest them on a plate -- at least five minutes. 'Resting" is not really what the burger is doing. It's working hard to pull juices back inside the meat.
And you cannot scrimp on the condiments and other toppings. Pice your onions, tomatoes, and butter lettuce carefully. Pick it through. If you like your onions red but not too sharp (and red onions do vary in how sharp they are), slice them thin, put them on a plate and pour some red wine vinegar over them. The sharpness of onion comes from the fact that their chemistry is "base" -- and the acidity of the vinegar counteracts it, softening the bite.
Get heirloom tomatoes. They're gorgeous and sweeter and fuller-flavored than many store-bought tomatoes.
And you know how I love ma pickles. Do a quick pickle to make your own. Or just get the very best pickles you can according to your taste.
You can make your own scratch fries from a mound of potatoes -- or just buy 'em and fry 'em.
EuroCAST has plenty of cookware for this (the chicken fryer is one, but ... see below for news on our ALL-NEW high-sided square sauté -- I love it!).
If you get your fries from the freezer section of your grocery store, fry them according to instructions, remove them from the oil to drain -- and then flash-fry thin scallions cut to the same length as the fry in the same oil, about 45 seconds. Hand-toss with the fries.
Serve up the fries with the flash-fried scallions on their own as a side, to make sure you show off a little. It's Valentine's Day. Show off a lot.
Sugar cookies, cut when the time is right
Timing is everything. In love (don't I know it) and in cookie cutting.
These decorated sugar cookies actually look like hearts because of a trick, which I now share with you.
Make the sugar cookies on a cookie sheet, all in one layer -- don't use a heart-shaped cutter just yet.
About two minutes before they're baked through (if you're using a recipe, about two minutes before they ask you to pull out the pan), open the oven door, grab the cookie sheet with your mitt-covered hands, and bang the whole sheet hard on the wire rack shelf in your oven. This knocks the air out of the cookie dough. You should see them deflate.
Close the oven door and let them finish baking.
When they're done, as fast you can, apply your heart-shaped cookie cutter. With a spatula, move the hearts to wax paper.
Let them cool.
You wind up with heart cookies with crisp lines, so your loved one is clear on your intentions.
For dessert, tres leches
We teased you on our Instagram account with a photo of our spin on tres leches, the beloved Latino dessert. (You haven't visited our #EuroCASTcookware Instagram account? Let this be the moment.) The idea of similar cakes has been around for a long time in Europe (British trifle and Italian tiramisu are two examples), but the dish we know today probably is a combination of a dish invented in Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest based on what Mexico and Spain loved to eat, and a recipe made popular in the 1940s by having been printed on Nestle's condensed milk can. (Food evolves.)
It uses three milks -- condensed. milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. I love the idea that it uses long-storing milk products. Not everyone in this world has refrigerators, but they love amazing, delicious, food -- and sharing them with family and loved ones.
I love those people.
See the tres leches in the corner of that photo below? I didn't frost it. I just cooked it up in a BergHOFF rose bundt pan and topped it with dried rose petals. Because Valentine's.
My spin is slightly modified from a recipe from our friends at the New York Times.
- Cooking spray for the pan (in my case, a bundt pan)
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2-1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 cup whole milk
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
This involves egg whites, so have at hand your electric beater. (Generally good advice.)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bundt pan lightly, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Because bundt pans have all kinds of nooks and crannies, I used a cooking spray on the interior for a light coating. It helps both with removal of the tres leches and with allowing the sponge cake to rise as it bakes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar about 3 minutes.
- Beat in 1/2 cup of the milk, lower the speed and then mix in the flour mixture just until combined.
- In another large bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute.
- Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar to the egg whites while beating. Continue to beat the mixture until you have shiny, medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Stir a big scoop of the egg-white mixture into the batter to loosen it, then, using a spatula, fold the remaining whites into the batter -- fold gently! You want to keep the air in the whites!
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Using a skewer or a toothpick, poke holes about 1/2 inch apart all over the cake. Cut the edges of the cake from the sides of the pan (easier since you used the cooking spray at the beginning of the recipe). Pour the milk mixture evenly over the cake, about a cup at a time, allowing 5 to 10 minutes for it to soak in before adding more.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours).
Our friends at the Times finish this with a whipped cream topping. Feel free. But ... I like the way mine looks, with that browning from the bundt pan, and it tastes terrific. It also has our blue jeans, rock and roll, and fresh air attitude.
Happy Valentine's Day, sweethearts!
And ... stay tuned below for some huge news from EuroCAST! Look! Down there! Scroll past Scout after he's melted your heart!
A brand-new, one-of-a-kind EuroCAST pan!
For a limited time, EuroCAST is offering a special price on a completely new EuroCAST pan:
The 10" high-sided square sauté pan!
It's gorgeous, versatile, and one-of-a-kind.
Full retail price on the high-sided square sauté pan is $299.99, but get it now at a special price, just to celebrate Valentine's Day and our brand new offering, for $179.99! That's $120.00 insavings!
Find out more by clicking on the button below.