Romantic dinner idea from Sur La Table

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Dinner for two can be fun when you work together to create your own meal. Sur La Table Resident Chef Philip McClain of the Arbor Hills location joins us to show viewers how to make a romantic date night dinner at home for Valentine's Day. 
 
Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin with a Chianti Reduction
Yield: 4 servings
 
The earthiness of dried porcini mushrooms are a great complement to the dish; however, shitake mushrooms are a great substitute and are easily obtained at most Asian markets.
 
2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 (6 ounce) beef tenderloin steaks 
Sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup Chianti or dry red wine
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons minced thyme
 
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place dried porcini and peppercorns in an electric spice grinder. Process to a very fine powder. Set aside.
 
To prepare the steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels and generously season both sides with salt. Sprinkle each side of the tenderloin with the porcini powder, pressing to adhere.
 
Place oil and butter in a large ovenproof skillet and heat over high heat until butter foams. When foaming subsides, place the steaks in the skillet and allow them to cook until a deep, dark caramelized crust is achieved on one side, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Cook steaks to desired degree of doneness, about 4 to 6 minutes for medium-rare. Remove skillet from oven and place the steaks on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Tent steaks with foil and let rest while you prepare the sauce. Reserve the skillet.
 
Return the skillet to the stove over medium-high heat and add the shallots, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze with red wine and simmer until reduced to a glaze, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and thyme and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. 
 
Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk the cold butter into the sauce until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in any meat juices which have accumulated from the resting steak.
 
To serve: Transfer to individual serving plates, spoon the sauce over the top of the meat and serve.
 
Shaved Fennel and Pear Salad with Bitter Greens and Pecorino
Yield: 4 servings
 
Using a mandolin makes easy work of slicing paper-thin slices of the fennel. Use crisp pears like Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou for this salad.
 
For the vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
For the salad:
2 pears, cored and julienned
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium radicchio, halved, cored and thinly sliced
2 heads Belgian endive, ends and outer leaves trimmed, halved and cut into strips
3 ounces shaved pecorino
 
To prepare vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, add the mustard, vinegar and lemon juice.  Whisking, add the oil in a steady stream. Stir in the shallots and thyme. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
 
To assemble salad: Combine pears, fennel, radicchio and endive in the bowl with the vinaigrette; toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 
 
To serve: Divide salad among four salad plates, top with shaved pecorino and serve.
 
Espresso Chocolate Budino with Frangelico Cream
Yield: 8, 4 ounce servings
 
Budino is Italian for custard or pudding. Frangelico is sweet Italian liquor that is flavored with toasted hazelnuts from the Piedmont region. We have added this delicate flavor to our whipped cream for an extra special touch.
 
For the budino:
6 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
 
For the Frangelico cream:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons Frangelico liquor
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs, to garnish  
 
Preheat oven to 300°F. Set rack to middle position. Locate a large casserole or roasting pan, big enough to accommodate the ramekins, and set aside. 
 
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add chocolate, cream, espresso powder and salt. Cook over low heat, whisking until chocolate is melted and well combined. In a large bowl, whisk together yolks and sugar. Add warm chocolate mixture to egg yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour custard through a fine-mesh strainer into an 8-cup liquid measuring cup. 
 
Divide custard among the ramekins, filling each 3/4 full. Transfer ramekins to the casserole or roasting pan and fill the pan with 2 inches of hot water. Place in the oven and bake until the custard is set around edges but still slightly wobbly in centers, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before chilling completely in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 
 
For whipped cream: Combine cream, Frangelico, sugar and vanilla paste in a bowl and whisk until medium stiff peaks form. Transfer cream to a piping bag with a medium tip. Garnish with whipped cream and cocoa nibs. Serve immediately.
 

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