Monthly Archives: February 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day


It’s nice when Valentine’s Day falls on the weekend. The day can be relaxing and fun-filled.

We started the day with the Valentine’s Day breakfast menu from the February/March 2010 issue of Fine Cooking. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well. The baked eggs were still raw after the recommended baking time. Then, we overcooked them. The candied bacon burned. The coffee cake was the only tasty part of the meal. A reminder that not all cooking experiments are successful.

In the afternoon, my friend Isabel came over to help decorate heart-shaped cookies. Isabel has been my regular partner to decorate holiday cookies since she was about 5 years old. Now she’s 12. In fact, the cookie dough had been frozen since Halloween. We had our usual cookie date set up in October, but Isabel caught the flu. This was the first chance we’ve had to reschedule.

Usually, we decorate with royal icing, but this time, I wanted to try something different. We had chocolate and regular sugar cookies to work with. I melted white chocolate and dark chocolate, we went to town dipping the cookies. It was a fun afternoon.

For dinner, Howard and I went to Rocca, an Italian restaurant in the South End. They had a special Valentine’s Day menu. I started with gnocchi with foie gras and lentils. For my entrée, I had grilled duck breast over Swiss chard. For dessert, it was a hazelnut cake with orange glaze and orange sorbet with candied hazelnuts. Howard started with a seafood salad. His entrée was striped bass with Maine shrimp risotto. His dessert was a chocolate mousse with raspberries. What a nice meal.

Year of the Tiger

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the Year of the Tiger. Though it is totally unrelated, Survivor’s song, Eye of the Tiger, keeps going through my head. It turns out to have been the #1 song of 1982. Did you remember it was also the theme song for Rocky III? That’s your music trivia for today.

Usually, we make an Asian noodle dish to welcome the Lunar New Year, but this year, the recipes for Stir-Fried Broccoli in the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated inspired a change of menu.

I marinated and stir-fried a flank steak from Codman Farm. Howard prepared Stir-Fried Broccoli with Chili-Garlic Sauce from Cook’s Illustrated. We mixed them together for Beef with Broccoli and served it over steamed rice with an arugula salad with a soy dressing.

Beef with Broccoli
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (March/April 2010)
Serves 4

3 Tbsp canola or peanut oil

¾ lb flank steak, sliced thin, across the grain and at an angle

Beef Marinade:
1 tsp dry sherry
½ tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp sesame oil
¼ tsp sugar

1½ lb broccoli, florets cut into bite-sized pieces, stalks sliced diagonally into ¼-inch pieces
¼ tsp sugar

Chili-Garlic Oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp canola oil

Broccoli Sauce
¼ cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp Asian chili-garlic sauce (the one with the rooster on the jar)

Combine ingredients for the Beef Marinade: Stir together the sherry, baking soda, soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the beef, mix well, and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Combine garlic, pepper flakes, and oil for Chili-Garlic Oil.

Combine ingredients for broccoli sauce: Whisk together chicken stock, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch and chili-garlic sauce.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add beef with any remaining marinade. Sir-fry until beef is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add broccoli and sprinkle with sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until broccoli is well-browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Push broccoli to the sides of the skillet. In the center of the skillet, add chili-garlic oil and cook until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Stir cooked chili-garlic oil with broccoli. Add Broccoli sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until broccoli is cooked through and sauce thickens, 30 to 45 seconds.

Return beef to the skillet and combine well with the broccoli.