Friday, February 7, 2014

An Early Valentine's Day Celebration.....

This will be my last post until the end of the month, because my husband and I are leaving for our whirlwind adventure in Costa Rica! I can’t wait to get out of this cold and dreary Midwest winter and into the warm and soothing rays of the sun! This trip will be more a trip of solitude and adventure then trips previous, we’ll largely be on our own outside of major cities. There will be a lot of time spent hiking in the National Parks, Visiting Ecological Reserves and Lazing on the Beach. Exactly what we need.

Since we’ll be in Costa Rica for February 14th I decided I’d make us a special Valentine’s Dinner before we left so that we wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to have a big decadent meal. Unfortunately since we were quite busy on Monday, we ended up eating quite late, which meant I was a bit neglectful with my photo taking. Rather then photograph each individual dish as I normally do I just took a picture of the plate. Sorry, but C’est la vie!

For the main Pièce de résistance I decided to try something new, and so I made the Seitan Mignon from “The Gentle Chef Cookbook” by Skye Michael Conroy. This was a book I was eager to get my hands on, but it seems I never have the time to actually cook from it. What better time then a holiday right? This was a bit of work to prepare. First you need to make your own beef broth which was actually pretty easy just time-consuming, but man it sure smelled good when it was simmering! Then you make the seitan dough, then you simmer the dough in the broth for an hour. Then the seitan needs to be refrigerated for eight hours. So I made the broth last Wednesday, the Seitan last Thursday and finally seared it up red-wine and Earth Balance style for our dinner Monday night.

Now, I’ve never had actually Filet Mignon in my life - and I’m proud of that! - so I have no idea what it’s suppose to be like, but as far as seitan goes this one was very mild. Not much aftertaste, and it was super juicy, and very tender. My twin brother E says he always hated Filet because it would crisp on the outside and be bland and mushy on the inside. If that’s how filet actually is then textually I think this version comes very, very close to that description - albeit with better flavor.

My husband really loved it, especially since I served it with sauteed onions and mushrooms! Flavor-wise I thought it was great, and I loved the seared outside, but I’m just not sure I was thrilled with the texture.  Overall it was worth trying though, and I always enjoy trying new things.

Since I’ve never eaten Filet before I wasn’t really sure what was appropriate to serve with it, but judging from all the steak commercials on t.v. people typically serve meat with potatoes and a token green, and that sounded good to me. I was really in the mood for asparagus and so I steamed some up and dressed it in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, garlic and black pepper.

Then I made the Papet Vaudois recipe from Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s book “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions.” I love this little book and I’ve actually had my eye on this recipe for a while. It’s super simple, and yet super delicious. Potatoes, onions and leeks sauteed until brown and crispy then add veg broth, white wine, non-dairy milk, salt, white pepper, nutmeg, and liquid smoke - cook until creamy, So good!

We also had some toasty warm French bread and downed the whole thing with a couple of bottles of wine. One bottle of Riesling brought back from our trip to Wurzburg, Germany - I actually opened this by accident - oops! - happy accident though because it was AMAZING! And then a bottle of Italian Red that was quite a bitter contrast to the Riesling, but it did the trick.

For dessert, because I didn’t have the time to do any baking of my own, my wonderful husband picked us up a couple of slices of cake from The Chicago Diner. Once slice of Triple chocolate for him, and one slice of Chocolate Peanut butter for me. Which we enjoyed with entirely too much Coconut Bliss. I think out of the two flavors I picked up the Salted Carmel Chocolate was our favorite but the Ginger Cookie Crunch was pretty darn good too!

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day - See you when I return!


  1. Dinner looked GREAT!!! Have a awesome time in Costa Rica!!! Look forward to your posts when your back.....hopefully you will have tried some interesting eats!! S.T.

  2. Meant to tell you my sister in law has been following your blog....she has a few health issues, gallbladder..she told me she has been eating your way, not only is she feeling better but has lost about 7 pounds! Just wanted to let you know! S.T