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Monday, February 11, 2013

Easy to Love - Fast and Foolproof Valentines Menu For 2

They say love is a battlefield, but your kitchen need not be.

If you're looking to whip up an easy, elegant, and delicious meal for your special someone, the dishes on today's Valentines Menu for 2 will allow you to do just that while looking pretty cool the whole time:

2 Course Valentines Day Menu 

Asparagus and Prosciutto Toasts with Truffle Oil and Poached Egg

Lamb Loin Chops With Meyer Lemon and Herb Butter


Whether you're a pro or a cooking novice, these recipes are relatively easy and come together nicely with just a bit of planning. The Lamb practically makes itself and the bright yet subtle Herb Butter that accompanies it is fast and simple. Especially creative cooks might even think about cutting the butter pats into an adorable heart shapes - extra points! More tips on the planning and prepping for this meal can be found below. First, let's check out the results:

Lamb Loin Chops with Meyer Lemon and Herb Butter, Photo: NK 
Asparagus and Prosciutto Toasts with Truffle and Poached Egg, Photo: NK

Now, a few important notes on timing and the ideal preparation order to accompany the recipes below:

Planning and Order of Prep:

Make the Herb Butter in advance if you like. It can be stored in the freezer and brought to room temp before serving.

The Day Of:

Take Lamb out of the fridge to bring meat to room temperature. Tip - Meat ALWAYS cooks best when it's started at room temperature. 

Preheat the Oven for the Lamb Chops - 350

If frozen, take the Herb Butter out of the freezer and slice into rounds. Allow to sit at room temperature until ready to serve. 

Place water in a medium sized high sided saute pan (for the Poached Eggs).

On another burner, fill a medium sized sauce pan with water (for cooking the Asparagus).

Heat a medium sized oven proof skillet over medium-high flame for several minutes (for browning Lamb).

Season the Lamb on both sides with Salt and Pepper.

Sear Lamb in the medium sized skillet on both sides (3 min per side), then transfer the skillet to the hot oven to finish the Lamb.

Place Asparagus in medium sauce pan once water is boiling. Boil 3 minutes. Strain and set aside. 

About two minutes before the Lamb will be done cooking, toast the Bread for the Asparagus Toasts. Now Brush with Truffle Oil and sprinkle Toasts with Pepper.

Remove Lamb Skillet from the oven and cover lightly with foil. Allow Lamb to sit about 5 minutes before serving.

Crack each Egg into a small bowl. 

Place Prosciutto on top of each of the Toasts, and arrange several spears of Asparagus on top. 

Turn on the flame on beneath the medium sized sauce pan (for poaching the Eggs). When the water comes to gentle boil, add a dash of vinegar and carefully shimmy the Eggs into the water. Allow them to poach for 1-2 minutes until the Whites are opaque and the Yolks runny. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and place one Poached Egg gently atop each Asparagus Toast. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of Salt and Pepper.

Plate and garnish the Lamb, adding a round of Herb Butter on each Chop. Enjoy! 


How to Assemble, Photo: NK 
Lamb Loin Chops With Meyer Lemon and Herb Butter
Serves 2 
Lamb Ingredients:
4 Bone In Lamb Loin Chops - 6-7 Oz each
Coarse Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Meyer Lemon or Organic Lemon, halved
4 Slices Meyer Lemon Herb Butter (Recipe Below*)
 
Method:
Prepare Herb Butter. Recipe follows Below

Preheat oven to 350. 

Bring Lamb to room temperature.

Sprinkle liberally on both sides with Coarse Salt and Black Pepper.

Heat an oven proof skillet over medium high flame for several minutes. 

Sear Lamb for 3 minutes per side until golden brown. 

Transfer skillet to oven and cook for 22 minutes for medium rare.

Remove skillet from the oven and  lightly tent it and the lamb with foil for 4-5 minutes.

When ready to serve, squeeze a bit of Meyer Lemon over each chop and top with a round of Herb Butter. Optionally garnish with Rosemary, Chives, and Lemon halves.  


Herb Butter for Lamb 
Rosemary, Chives, Oregano, Meyer Lemons, Photo:NK
Yields 1/2 Cup or 1 Stick
*May be made ahead and frozen 

Ingredients:
1 Stick of Salted Butter,room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano or 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Chopped Oregano

1.5 teaspoons chopped Fresh Chives
2 teaspoons finely minced Fresh Rosemary
Zest of 1 Meyer Lemon or Organic Lemon
A quick squeeze of Lemon Juice 

Method:
Mix the Herbs and Zest and dash of Lemon Juice into the butter until well incorporated. 

Spoon the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and try to spoon it a row. Roll up the plastic wrap around the butter to create a log shape.

Transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes or so the refrigerator or until firm. 

Slice and bring Butter to room temperature before serving. 

When Lamb Chops are still warm, top each with a round of butter and serve. 
Any leftover butter can be stored in the freezer 1-2 days for another use. 


Asparagus and Prosciutto Toasts with Truffle Oil and Poached Egg
Inspired by Anthony David's Restaurant
Serves 2 - Yields 2 Toasts
Cook's Note:  The only potentially tricky part is poaching the eggs for this recipe. When in doubt, it's a great idea practice ahead of time. Even if something goes awry, you can always poach another Egg in just a few minutes. You'll want your yolk to be runny - that's the beauty of this recipe and what makes it so heavenly - not to mention the truffle flavor!

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch of Asparagus (about 8 to 10 spears)
2 Eggs
2 Slices Prosciutto (or 4 slices, 2 each, if you like)
Salt and Pepper
Truffle Butter or Truffle Oil (optional but recommended)
2 longish slices of Italian Bread (a sliced round of Semolina works well)
Vinegar, for poaching the Eggs 

Method:
Boil water and toss in the Asparagus. Boil for 3 minutes and strain, pouring cool water over the Asparagus Spears to stop the cooking. 

Toast the Bread very lightly. You want to be able to cut it easily once served. Now Brush with Truffle Oil and sprinkle Toasts with Pepper.

Crack each egg into a small bowl. 

Place Prosciutto on top of each of the Toasts, and arrange several spears of Asparagus on top as pictured above. 

Turn on the flame on beneath a medium sized sauce pan. When the water comes to gentle boil, add a dash of vinegar and carefully shimmy the Eggs into the water. Allow them to poach for 1-2 minutes until the Whites are opaque and the Yolks runny. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and place one Poached Egg gently atop each Asparagus Toast. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of Salt and Pepper.

What's for Dessert, you ask? 

Well, as I always say, make it easy on yourself. Buy a beautiful ready made pastry, or make last year's super easy Fruit Kebab and Chocolate Fondue (recipe HERE). It comes together quickly in the microwave and is easy and fun to assemble. Maybe you're in an ice cream mood and you'd like our Grasshopper Ice Cream "Pie" Sundae (recipe HERE). I chose to finish today's menu with a Traditional New York Egg Cream from Gale Gand's classic interpretation (recipe HERE). Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy your Valentines Day and remember that nothing says "I love you" like a delicious meal.

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