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Roasting Garlic

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Since we’re on a bit of a hummus bender, I decided to branch out this weekend and make both roasted garlic hummus and spinach and feta hummus.  I had never roasted garlic before, and I thought it was a good skill to have (think of how many delicious dishes include roasted garlic).  I did some research, and although there seemed to be some technique variations, I followed the trends, and this weekend I roasted my first garlic.

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I decided to roast an entire head of garlic, because with hummus, you need a strong flavor to overtake the garbanzo beans.  I learned that while roasting garlic you can either roast an entire head, or, you can just roast cloves.  Either way, it is very important that the skin (the papery layers that surround the “meat” of the garlic) stay in tact.  The skin functions as a high-temperature barrier for the meat.

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Like roasting other vegetables, when roasting garlic you  need high temperatures and a fatty lubricant, in this case olive oil.  It is also important that you cut off the top of the head, so that some of the garlic is exposed.  I found that cutting off the top, drizzling oil over the head, and then roasting for 30 minutes at 400* worked perfectly.  I also covered the pan in aluminum foil, so that the garlic would also get a nice steam.

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The best thing by far about cooking with roasted garlic is getting the garlic out of the skin.  You know that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ursula picks up one of those plant things and squeezes it to put on her lips as lipstick?  The very visceral quality of the popping coral or anemone or whatever it is has stuck with me my whole life.  And the experience of squeezing roasted garlic out of its skin into my food processor was as close as I am ever going to get to squeezing underwater plants onto my lips.

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Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

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While I usually boycott Valentine’s Day on principle (it’s a materialistic holiday that makes my gender look like a bunch of Vermont Teddy Bear hungry fools), I will go so far as buying Dan a stupid card (this year’s featured a matchbook and the phrase “burning love”) and making a nice dinner.  If nothing else, it’s an excuse for us to make a nice meal and drink champagne.

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This year we made Black Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa, and to follow it, I made chocolate dipped strawberries.  I chose to do strawberries because they are light, romantic, and perfectly complimentary to champagne.  Now maybe its because a large chunk of my romantic insight comes from either the Brat Pack or Julia Roberts, but strawberries and champagne are the ultimate romantic dessert (how many of you are currently imagining Julia lying on the floor, eating strawberries and champagne and watching I Love Lucy?).

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Plus, they’re super easy.  And they’re perfect to make ahead, which means there’s one less thing you have to worry about while you’re preparing dinner/getting dressed/lighting candles/lending your panties to a friend so he can earn 9th grade street cred.  You can make them hours or even a day or two ahead, they refrigerate nicely, and then pull them out when you need them.

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Another reason that I boycott Valentine’s Day is because it’s a holiday that alienates half the population.  Believe me, I have spent many a February 14th single, and on nights when your friends are cooking with their significant others or out to a fancy dinner, being showered by roses and bears with magnetic faces, you want to murder someone.  My advice is to make yourself a nice meal, pop an eighties classic in the DVD player, and remind yourself how awesome you are.  With wine, there should always be wine in self-pampering evenings.  And probably a bubble bath.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

8-12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate

1 box of whole strawberries

Coarsely chop your chocolate and melt in a double boiler.  When the chocolate is smooth, remove from heat.  Coat each strawberry 3/4 of the way in chocolate.  Place on wax paper or tin foil and allow to cool, at least thirty minutes.

We recommend you serve these with a glass of dry champagne.

Serves 2-4. (But why would you want it to serve more than 2? ;) )

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Black Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Dan and I spent this Valentine’s Day at home, away from the overbearing decorations and crowds.  But, since we’re romantics at heart, we couldn’t do away with all celebration, so we made a nice dinner and popped a bottle of champagne.  We even held off on the next episode of Battlestar Galactica and ate dinner at the table.  Which was a big commitment because the last episode was a cliff hanger (thank the gods for Netflix).

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This recipe is a time honored favorite in the Rosemond-Hoerr household.  It is also a great dish for a romantic holiday like Valentine’s Day.  It’s rich enough that your portion can be small, which is important because this is not the kind of occasion where you want to be stuffed after dinner.

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The flavors in the salsa are unique yet very complimentary.  The sweetness of the honey and the bell pepper compliment the garlic and the poblano pepper, giving you a range of flavors.  We paired it with a simple salad and champagne, and followed it with chocolate dipped strawberries, another holiday favorite.

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The only tricky thing about this recipe is actually getting the poblano to stay submerged.  The first step includes soaking the pepper in hot water for an hour.  Unfortunately, the pepper is naturally pretty buoyant, so my solution is (as you can see in the photo) to weigh it down with another pot/bowl.  It works like a charm and there’s a very satisfying gurgling noise as the pepper fills with water.

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Black Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
Source: Food Network

2 filet mignon steaks

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

4 slices aged white cheddar cheese

1 red bell pepper, roasted and sliced

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 poblano pepper

2 tbsp pine nuts

Boil two cups of water.  Pour over your poblano pepper, and let soak for at least one hour.  If you need help keeping it submerged, place another bowl/pot on top of it.

Slice and core your bell pepper.  Drizzle with oil and roast at 400* for twenty minutes.

Coarsely chop your poblano and place it in the food mixer, along with 1/4 cup of the water it was soaked in.  Add honey, garlic, and pine nuts.  Blend until smooth.  Place salsa in a mixing bowl and stir in vinegar, red bell peppers, and cilantro.  Cover and let sit at least thirty minutes.

Pat your meat down with a paper towel.  Sprinkle salt on one side.  Turn the steaks over and sprinkle salt and pepper on.  Grill, pepper side down, for five minutes.  Turn and grill an additional five minutes.  Flip one last time and place cheese on top of the steaks so that it can melt.  Cook for an additional five minutes and then plate.  Top with red peppers and salsa, and serve.

Serves 2.

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