Donna (AKA the Hudson Valley Handymom) – I’ve been fortunate to meet some world class people in my lifetime. Barry (CB) Martin is one of those people. He has a star quality presence and sense of humor while demonstrating his craft to those of us who aren’t so talented. I noticed that most of my recipes seem to be on the baked goods side. I have a major sweet tooth, what can I say? Despite the presence of all the baked goods on my site, one of my passions is cooking on the grill, and Barry is the ultimate go-to source for grilling. I asked Barry if he might have some great ideas for Valentine’s Day, and what he sent was absolutely brilliant. Having a meal made from the heart means so much. Barry made an impressive meal that would win a lot of brownie points. Without further ado:
CB’s Valentine’s Day Dinner on the Grill
On February 14th restaurants everywhere are filled to capacity with guests we in the trade call “Amateur Diners.” This isn’t a derogatory label because we truly appreciate every customer who chooses to spend their hard-earned cash at our restaurant. But Valentine’s Day spurs many a fella to step outside his comfort zone and take his sweetheart to a “swellegant place.” Fine Dining restaurants are filled with proud men more familiar with cafes where baseball caps are worn at all times and the menu is mostly fried something served in a basket. They sit uncomfortably in a coat & tie, a bit nervous about how to order and you can tell when they are selecting his meal by the price of each item and not what they are truly hungry for. (Most likely on the way home many of these good men will hit a favorite drive thru for a burger because the entire experience has been just too too much.)
I admire my brother men for their valiant attempt at romance to show the love-of-their-life a great evening on a special day. AND I have some advice. Chill. This year make dinner at home on the grill and present her with a lovely gift with the money you saved. I can assure you that every attempt to show your sweetheart you care for her – done with style – will touch her heart. I have scientific evidence!
Recently I conducted a thorough investigation as to the preferences of women regarding Valentine’s Day gifts and gestures. OK – I posted a question on Facebook…
Which do you prefer for Valentine’s Day?
d) romantic dinner out at “better” restaurant
e) romantic dinner prepared at home
f) spa day gift
89% of the women answered “Jewelry.” It wasn’t even one of the answers – thus proving that regardless of what we men “think” will please her all that really matters is the attempt. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I am following my own advice and this is the Valentine’s Day dinner I’m cooking for Miss Laura and it’s heart healthy too!
Grilled grass fed beef steak, line caught mahi-mahi and gulf shrimp. I’m serving a prepared mixed salad of “spring greens” that I bought in the bag at the store and on the plate a serving of steamed spinach with lemon and sesame seeds. For dessert a scoop of really good ice cream with fresh fruit. Our beverage is a bottle of bubbles. I guarantee you the total bill for this romantic dinner will cost far less than a night out in an uncomfortable setting.
Oh and yes please, do take her out for dinner and a night on the town — but on a different night when she doesn’t expect it. And that is more comfortable for both of you. Oh and wear a tie and take off your cap! ~ CB
CB’s Valentines Day Menu
On the grill:
Steaks: 2 smallish under 6 ounce bacon-wrapped grass fed beef tenderloins
Fish: 2 medium-size 7 ounce or so mahi-mahi fillets because this fish cooks pretty much like a thin pork chop – hot and fast to 145°F
Bonus Points: Dozen or so gulf shrimp
For the greens – gotta have greens:
Bag o’Spring Greens Organic Salad Mix for starter course – lemon and oil as the dressing!
Bag o’frozen spinach microwaved whilst the steaks are resting and tossed with a bit of butter and squeeze of lemon.
I set the propane grill temp to HIGH or about 600°F – equivalent for charcoal is red glow and no smoke from charcoal with a the “hand test” of about 3 count.
Beef ~ Because the steaks are small – keep them cold in the fridge until ready to grill. The cold internal temperature of the meat (most refrigerators run at about 40°F or so) will help keep them moist and pink while the hot grates sear the surface to create a crust. The bacon will also crisp up if it’s thinner or eve par-cooked a bit before wrapping the steaks. Blot the surface of the meat and use a pinch of larger grain kosher or sea salt on each – getting some on both sides. If your grates are clean and seasoned metal, place the meat on and grill until a little tug with tongs lifts the meat of the grates – if it doesn’t pull of easily it needs a bit more time to sear mark. Turn once and then place on covered plate indoors to rest and fish cooking from residual heat.
Mahi-Mahi ~ This fish is easy to find in the frozen section of most grocery stores – check the label to ensure it’s American water caught – and thaw in the fridge at least one day prior to cooking. Mahi-Mahi is a mild flavored fish with a meaty texture but it requires a different approach to cooking than the steaks – rinse under cool running water and blot with paper towels to dry the surface, then season with good salt and allow to come to room temperature – generally 70°F or so – before grilling. It’s important to cook the fish to 145F internal temperature. I place the fish on the grill when I turn the steaks the first time. You may want to brush the surface of the fish with a little bit of neutral flavored cooking oil like avocado or peanut – just to help the grill marks get going. Clarified butter is also good for this purpose. To test if the fish is ready to turn, use your fingers or tongs to tug a bit and see if the fillet lifts off the grates Turn once using a metal spatula that has been lightly oiled, placed flat on the grates and slid quickly beneath the fish.
Gulf Shrimp ~ Shrimp cook fast and need to be dried off after cleaning to remove the top vein, then seasoned and lightly oiled with neutral oil like avocado or peanut just prior to grilling. I put the shrimp on the grill when I’m about to remove the steaks, turn the mahi-mahi for the first time. The shrimp will begin to turn pink almost immediately and you should mind them carefully – using tongs to turn to get all sides cooked. Once heated the shrimp are done and will have a bit of carry over heat to finish.
Season the food after cooking. High temperature grilling will burn most seasonings like rubs and even black pepper so add a shake or two of her favorite seasoning after grilling. You can use any type of flavors on the seafood that you enjoy – some folks love tartar sauce, others like salsa, etc. It’s all according to personal taste. My taste is to use less seasoning and enjoy the flavors of the food – but what you like, er… I mean what your sweetheart likes is the deciding factor.
You can visit Barry and beautiful Miss Laura at these sites: