Last weekend marked the anniversary of the night my husband asked me to marry him. However, it passed us by without much more than pause for thought due to my mother being hospitalized, and ultimately having surgery. So this weekend, I decided I was going to surprise my husband with a little belated anniversary celebration for two.
The night my husband asked me to marry him, we were dining at a lovely casual, yet warm, neighbourhood bistro and wine bar, Cathedral Street Bistro, which serves creative cuisine in downtown, St. John's, NL. We shared a starter of fresh tomato and spanish onion bruschetta marinated in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs. For our mains, I had the chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta, topped with a garlic cream sauce and served with roasted baby red potatoes and grilled vegetables, and my husband had the pan seared beef tenderloin topped with seared sea scallops and a chorizo cream sauce served with fingerling potatoes and grilled vegetables. The food was divine, the atmosphere casual yet elegant, the prices were certainly reasonable, with the entrees ranging from $26-$35. The memory of that night will always bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
I wanted to cook something reminiscent of this fantastic meal, but without spending hours on end in the kitchen. Afterall, Date Night is about spending relaxing time together, not me in the kitchen slaving away while he waits patiently to be fed! I decided on doing a little twist on surf n' turf with Pan Seared Scallops in a Chorizo Bourbon Maple Cream Sauce, Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Roasted Herbs de Provence Yukon Petites.
The potatoes were going to need 45 minutes to an hour to roast, so they were first up. I gently washed enough Yukon Petites for my husband and I, patted them dry and tossed them in a bowl. I drizzled a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and then I sprinkled the potatoes with approximately 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of my mixture of dry herbs known as 'herbs de Provence'. Herbs de Provence is a mixture of dry herbs typical in Provence, France, hence where it gets it's name, and it usually contains savory, margjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano and sometimes lavender leaves, which is often added for the American market. After tossing my Yukon Petites to coat, I placed them on a baking sheet and roasted them in a 400F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until golden brown and fork tender.
The asparagus would only take about 15 minutes to roast in the oven, so I prepped them next, cracking off the ends by simply bending each spear until it snapped. I placed the asparagus spears in a bowl, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese and then a generous drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I didn't add any salt to the asparagus because I think the parmesan cheese adds enough of a salty flavour. I spread the asparagus spears out evenly on a baking sheet and when my Yukon petites were at the 40 minute mark, I pierced them with a fork and seeing that they would be need another 15 minutes or so, I slid my pan of asparagus spears in the oven next to the potatoes, so both would be ready at the same time.
I then took my steak and scallops out of the refrigerator to bring them up to room temperature before cooking, otherwise both would seize in pure panic at the sudden change in temperature from cold refrigerator to sizzling hot pan, making them tough and chewy. I simply seasoned my beef tenderloin steaks with Montreal Steak Spice and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire Sauce on both sides and put them aside until there was 6-8 minutes left on my oven timer. Next a patted the sea scallops with a paper towel before seasoning them with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt on both sides.
In a large non-stick skillet, I heated a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and added one clove of garlic, finely minced. When the garlic was fragrant, I added my sea scallops and cooked them for approximately 2-4 mnutes per side. The best way to cook plump scallops in my opinion is to sear them quickly in a hot pan so the outside gets crisp and golden, while the inside stays tender and creamy. I then removed my scallops to a plate to sit while I prepared the Chorizo Bourbon Maple Cream Sauce.
First I added about a 1/4 cup of chopped chorizo Spanish sausage to the skillet my scallops were cooked in. I sauteed for a few minutes before adding 1/3 cup of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Bringing that to a boil and stirring to scrape up all those delicious brown bits, I then added 1/4 cup of Pure Canadian Maple Syrup, stirring. Next I whsiked in a 170ml can of unsweetened thick cream and seasoned it with a pinch of dry red chilli flakes. Reducing the heat, I added my scallops back to the sauce and let them simmer and warm while I grilled my steaks.
Last, but certainly not least, came my beef tenderloin steaks. Heating my grill pan over medium high heat, I brushed the surface with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil before adding my steaks. The sound that those tenderloin steaks made when they hit the hot pan made my mouth water almost immediately! I let the steaks sear for about 2 minutes before giving them a quarter turn so that they'd have a criss-cross grill pattern on the surface. After another 2 minutes, I flipped them over and repeated this method. It was at that point that my timer went off for the oven.
Turning off the timer and the oven, I sliced some fresh baquette, placed them in a napkin lined basket and heated it up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Dinner was about to be served. My husband uncorked a bottle of Mark West Pinot Noir, which is perhaps my favorite red wine to have with steak, and poured us each a glass while I plated our Date Night Surf n' Turf/Anniversary Dinner of Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan, Roasted Herbs de Provence Yukon Petites, Pan Seared Scallops in Chorizo Bourbon Maple Cream Sauce and Grilled Beef Tenderloin. It may not have been dining out at a trendy restaurant and it may have been over a week late, but this meal was certainly Anniversary-worthy! Sure, we had to wash the dishes....but we took the liberty of leaving them to do this morning....good decisions all the way around I figure! Start to finish, this meal only took an hour to put together, but not at a frantic pace. By limiting the salt, using extra virgin olive oil and roasting the vegetables, once again I prepared a meal that was easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND delicious!