This Week

Mack's Corner

This Week

Valentine's Day … What I know now!

I was sitting talking to 2 of my favorite people a few years ago. They were young and getting married soon. As soon as I sat down he looked at me and said "What's the first thing that pops in to your head when I say "Valentine's Day". I said "Dinner, Roses, Chocolate covered Strawberries". He put his head on the table feeling helpless and his Wife-to-be smiled really big. He wanted me to say it was dumb and silly. But I had been married for 30 years and even though it took me 20 years to figure it out, I now know that Valentine's Day is a big deal. It's one of the 5 times during the year that you get bonus points for being romantic. It's like triple coupon day at Kroger. Those 5 times are Christmas, Wife's/ Girlfriend's birthday, Valentine's day, Mother's day (if you've got kids), and WEDDING ANNIVERSARY DAY (yep, I put it in all caps, it's the biggie). If you show up big on these days, you can screw up 8 or 10 times and still be OK. But! ..If you mess up on the big 5  or actually forget, especially #5…. It's bad…  Here's the deal: you don't have to spend a lot of money to be romantic. For some reason 1 rose is just as good as a dozen but not as good as 2 dozen (I usually go for 2 dozen). Don't ask me to explain, I'm just telling you how it is. A small box of 2 chocolate truffles is good (one for you, one for her = chocolate kiss, get it?). A box of 2 dozen chocolates is bad because you actually think that she could eat that many. It's like taking her to McDonald's and thinking it's a good idea to order her 2 Big Mac's. It's nice that you want to be generous, but don't get stupid..  Coffee and muffins outside at Starbucks, holding hands is better than dinner at the Piccadilly Cafeteria on "All you can eat night", but not near as good as dinner at Andrew Michael (getting dressed is also a plus - girls like dressing up.. I know, it's a mystery to me too). If you do take her to dinner, go someplace nice and get 2 or 3 appetizers. It doesn't have to be expensive, just nice … An ok romantic comedy is better than going to see "Fast and Furious 14", just get through it, it will pay off later …. This is all logic theory: if A=B and B=C then A=C .. i.e. If it's important to somebody else, and that somebody else is important to you then it's important to you.…Turns out it works for everything: If playing baseball is important to your kid and your kid is important to you, then playing baseball is important to you …. It works for friends, kids, husbands, wives, moms, dads .. everybody .. Who knew?  …… This falls under the category of "Things I know now that I wish I had known then" …  Nobody ever told me…. I'm way smarter now..

God's like that: People think God only cares about big things, war, hunger, world peace… stuff like that. But really, God cares about anything that you care about. If it's important to you, it's important to him.
I wonder if my wife is going to read this??? She'll probably have some pretty high expectations?  …


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

Ok guys, here's Valentines Dinner. It's easy, romantic and cheap. All you have to do extra is buy Roses and candles. I got this from a friend of mine when I was helping her plan a dinner for friends, all women. I'm going to make it even easier .. The deal is a fancy dinner that's still light. It's hard to be real romantic when you feel like a blimp…

Salmon with Honey Ginger Sauce
Mixed greens Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Strawberries with Vanilla Crème Fraiche

You can get everything at The Fresh Market in one trip

For the Salmon:

Buy one large or 2 small (serving size) pieces of salmon ...

1 bottle of  "House Salmon - Honey Ginger Marinade & Sauce" .. you'll find  it near the "Old Bay" seasoning … if you don't find it, any good marinade will work. Be sure there's no sugar or tomatoes in it (honey is ok). Sugar & Tomatoes tend to burn..

Put a little marinade in the bottom  of a baking dish then put the Salmon on top. Pour enough marinade on it to cover the top and let it sit for 30 minutes to 4 hours at room temp covered (foil, plastic wrap..etc), depending on your time table .. longer is better

Pre-heat the oven to 450

When your oven gets up to heat uncover the Salmon and put it in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through. It should be rare in the middle but not raw … no more than 20 minutes…

For the salad:

Mixed greens in a bag
Small bag of frozen Blue berries - Thawed

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (any will work, don't buy expensive stuff)
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves minced
2 shallots minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup olive oil (nothing fancy.. Zola Olive oil works great)

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients. Then gradually whisk in the olive oil. This is easy with a mixer or if you have an immersion blender, put everything in a tall skinny bowl and use that … The Vinaigrette will get thicker as you add more oil … I know it seems like a lot of oil, but use it all … Taste it!! 

Put the greens and berries in a large bowl and pour in some of the vinaigrette. Toss the salad, you can use your hands, it's ok. Just don't use too much dressing…  And absolutely don't put the salad on the a plate and pour dressing over the top .. we're trying to be romantic here, have a little class …

To Serve:

1 piece of salmon on the plate with some sauce. Not too much!!!

Re-toss the salad and put some on the side …

For the Strawberries:

1 small bag of frozen strawberries - thawed
2 - 4 tbsp sugar

Put berries and sugar in a ziplock bag or a bowl. Mix it up and let it sit in the fridge..

For the Vanilla Crème Fraiche

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put everything in a pan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves (until you can't feel the crystals on the bottom) .. DON'T BOIL IT…. You can serve it warm or cold. Taste it! Try not to eat it all out of the pan..

To Serve: Spoon some of the strawberries in to a small glass or wine glass and spoon some of the crème fraiche over the top..

Time table:

Thaw the Strawberries & Blue Berries (can be done the day before)

Make the strawberries (can be done the day before)

Make the Vinaigrette (can be done the day before)

Make the crème fraiche (can be done the day before)

Marinate salmon

Cook salmon

Make salad

Re-heat crème fraiche (just get it warm. Warm sauce cold berries)

Serve Salmon & salad

Combine Strawberries & Crème fraiche & serve

You'll be a super star … don't forget the Roses and small candles (Not a 256 piece sampler. Don't get in trouble on this one.. See rules above. 2 Godiva dark chocolate truffles works.)



Posted by Mack Oates at 2:00 PM