Saturday, May 7, 2016

Surf & Turf Dinner for Two

I’m officially a Mrs. now!!! Our wedding was better than I could have imagined and we feel so lucky.  Can’t believe that after 5 years I can finally call him my husband. 
I took off work the Wednesday – Monday of the wedding week (we are honeymooning later in June…)  so it was back to work on Tuesday.  But my coworkers made coming back so much better by throwing me a really wonderful party to celebrate the wedding!  They had a potluck with all the kinds of foods I like, decorated our conference room, gave me flowers and balloons, and best of all gave us a huge basket of food to make a romantic dinner for two. 

Food gifts are my favorite so it was absolutely the perfect present for us!  The basket they gave us was packed with every single ingredient we’d need for the meal, down to the spices.  
They even gave us caviar and a bottle of wine (I had this one before while on a work trip to Gainesville – The Prisoner is a spicy red blend from Napa and it’s delicious!)

We registered for an electric grill after seeing the same one at our hotel in Austin.  I love it because you don’t have to deal with the mess of gas or charcoal.  We picked it up the day we planned to cook our fancy meal – luckily Lance is handy because it came in a thousand pieces and had to be assembled. 

While Lance build the grill, I started to prep our food.  The recipe they gave me had a side of mashed potatoes but I baked them whole instead (since that’s what seems to come with steaks at classy restaurants…) I followed the steps from Gimme Some Oven to make the perfect baked potatoes. 

The salad for our meal had grilled watermelon, which I’d never tried before.  One of the dishes at our wedding was actually a watermelon arugula salad, so this was the perfect side to go with our first fancy meal cooked as a married couple. 
To grill the watermelon, we just cut rounds of it, rubbed one side with olive oil and sprinkled with sugar, then put that side down on the grill for about 3 minutes.  The recipe from A Whole New Twist says to give it a quarter turn (don’t flip them) part way through so you get sear marks both ways. 

The shrimp they gave us was already cooked but we drizzled some oil on them with salt & pepper and let them heat up a bit on the grill as well.  We also grilled up some bacon wrapped scallops (although we had even more scallops with our main course too! 

The salad was pretty easy.  We cut up the grilled watermelon and served it over arugula with the shrimp and some bleu cheese. The dressing for the salad was very simple too - 2 T balsamic vinegar, ¼ t Dijon mustard, ½ t raw honey, 2 T extra virgin olive oil, and ¼ t ground sea salt.  I could make a bigger version of this into a dinner sometime. 

Then we began prepping our steaks.  They got us two giant filet mignons – and I was a bit worried because I never cook steak myself and didn’t want to end up ruining them.  I usually leave it up to the pros at restaurants.  But I followed Iowa Girl Eat’s recipe and they turned out perfectly. 

I’m planning to use the spice rub from that recipe any time I make steak in the future.  It was a blend of salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, red chili pepper flakes, dried minced garlic, and dried minced onion.  I don’t have a mortar and pestle so I put it all in the food processer and blended until the fennel seeds got chopped up a bit. 

It was actually very easy.  Just rub the steaks in olive oil, generously spread the spice rub on both sides, then sear in an extra hot cast iron skillet with 2 T melted butter until they get nice and golden.  Then, put the whole skillet in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes (this ended up being just enough to cook them rare – but obviously keep an eye on them so they don’t get overdone!)  

Once the steaks were ready, I took them out and covered them with foil while they rested.  In the meantime, put the skillet back on the stovetop and sauté some minced shallot and garlic.  The recipe said to use red wine (which of course would make it even better) but I didn’t want to waste our good one on cooking.  So I added in a cup of beef broth along with a sprig of rosemary and another tablespoon of butter.  As that simmered down, it turned into an amazing sauce to top the steak. 

Then for the scallops, pat them dry with a paper towel then season with salt & pepper.  I put these in a separate skillet with 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil until they got a nice sear. Just before they were done, I tossed them into the steak sauce to finish them up. 

This is probably the best meal I’ve made for us.  It says “dinner for two”, but it really could have been for four since it was so much food.  We actually ended up making a steak salad with homemade bleu cheese dressing for lunch the next day with all the leftovers.   

Since there were so many steps to this meal, I don’t have the time right now to break it all down, but you can visit these sites to get the full recipes: 

Thanks again to my coworkers for such a sweet welcome back from the wedding week!  

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