15 February 2012

valentine's recap, food edition

In our house, we don't book a table for V Day. Somewhere along the line, waaaaay back, before offspring, before the age of 30 even... Toby and I decided our V Day, or Night rather, would be a home-cooked affair. We would take turns cooking a special meal comprised of new dishes (to us). It's probably the only night of the year that one person assumes all the cooking and the other one (usually) lounges, checks the Internets or plays a video game. Or sets the table.

There have been simple pleasers: way back, when Toby made toast points topped with steak and parsley compound butter (we were watching a lot of Julia and Jacques at the time). There were semi-flops: A rather novice cook, I thought I'd just whip up an authentic Beef Wellington after work. We ate at 10pm. And, there were elaborate, definitely-pre-children productions: something like 5 courses with wine pairings. Never repeated yet, interestingly.

This year was my turn. Well, actually, it wasn't, but we realized this too close to the date for Toby to work some magic, so I went ahead with my plans. And, dear friends, even after leading you all this way, I'm not about to unveil some breath-takingly composed, conceptual meal.

I'm going to share a meal made for comfort. The only unwritten rule of our V day cooking is the the cook must make something the other eater is going to really, really, really love. Or at least that's the hope.

Toby's a meat guy, and one of his favorite things to eat is a real country ham that's basted with Dr Pepper while it bakes. His mom is from Arkansas, what can I say :) His "people" apparently like this type of thing. (Though I have to agree: it's delicious.)

So, when I came across a Martha recipe for Root Beer Short Ribs, I had my meaty main dish. And, let me tell you, it was outrageously good. Easy, too. I will definitely make it again. And so should you. You know, if you like meat. Saucy, falling-apart meat.

On the side were simple lemony green beans and a baked, crumb-topped mac n cheese. Dessert was a sliver of molten-y flourless chocolate cake. Now in the past, I would've found a way to craft all of this from scratch. This year? Oh please. Not on a Tuesday. Maybe not even on a Saturday. I laughed at myself as I scooped a big lump of mac n cheese from the Whole Foods hot bar and snagged an AG Ferrari cake. Back home, I toasted bread crumbs, sprinkled them on Toby's favorite comfort carb, baked it, and called it a worthy side.

I might not be a fan of Sandra Lee and table-scaping, but this is a type of semi-homemade that I can live with. At least on a Tuesday.

Hope all your Valentine's Days were delicious!

image via Martha


  1. that sounds amazing. i love semi-homemade. i was just telling colleen about frozen burritos shallow fried with sour cream and salsa. yum.

    i'm pinning it. to be made when i can have mac and cheese again. someday soon i hope. that and pizza come up on my craving list a lot.

    you just made me realize i haven't had lunch. wtf. going to go work my weekday magic.

  2. i need to step up my culinary-game STAT!!
    this all sounds delish.
    especially the macaroni and cheese. i never met a carb i didn't love!

  3. Yum! I love your sweet tradition, and also short ribs. We were able to sneak away for a martini and a couple of appetizers: fried anchovy-stuffed olives and duck rillet (which we'd never had but was yummy). It was spread on baguette with cornichons and mustard. The only thing I made was a sweet: raw chocolate 'brownies' made from cacao powder, dates and walnuts...so rich!

  4. I can't remember the last time I had a root beer, but that recipe sounds sooooo good! Max is a Valentine's baby so our romantic meals have morphed into whatever Sir Max wants on his special day.

    PS. I loved the way you wrote this post. :)


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