by Lisa Bynum
Article originally posted in the Feb/March 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI
This year, impress your special someone with a decadent and romantic dinner in! Pull out the white linen tablecloth and the fancy napkins. Use the Sunday china, the expensive wine glasses from the hutch in the dining room, and Grandma’s antique candlesticks. A centerpiece of fragrant red roses and greenery in a low bowl will allow you to see your partner across the table.
Start by toasting the occasion with a sparkling sunset-hued Strawberry Champagne Cocktail. Then, knock their socks off with an elegant surf and turf entrée of Steak Oscar. Finally, show them just how sweet you think they really are with a slice of Red Velvet Cake topped with cream cheese icing. It’s sure to be a romantic (and delicious) night you’ll never forget!
Strawberry Champagne Cocktail
1 pound fresh or thawed frozen strawberries, roughly chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2" piece of peeled, fresh ginger
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 bottle (750ml) semi-dry champagne, sparkling wine, or 24 fluid ounces of ginger ale
Prep the cocktails:
In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar, ginger and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are broken down and softened, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove and discard the ginger. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as you can.
Add the lemon juice and allow the mixture to come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator to chill.
Just before serving, add about 1 ounce each of the strawberry syrup to a champagne flute. Slowly fill each glass partially with the champagne. Once the champagne has stopped fizzing, continue to fill each glass to the top.
1 Tablespoon cooking oil
2 (4 oz. each) beef tenderloin filets or cut of your choice
Kosher salt and ground pepper
For the steaks:
Preheat broiler. Position an oven rack about six inches from the element.
Heat oil in a large, oven safe skillet over medium high heat.
Season both sides of the filets with salt and pepper.
Once oil is hot, carefully add the filets. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until seared.
Place the skillet under the broiler and finish in the oven until the meat reaches your desired internal temperature – 120 to 125 degrees F for rare, 130 to 135 degrees F for medium rare, 140 to 145 degrees F for medium, 150 to 155 degrees F for medium well, and 160 degrees F for well done.
Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the filets to plate. Allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes while preparing the topping.
For the crabmeat topping:
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons sliced green onions
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz. lump crab meat picked of shells and cartilage
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Prepare the topping:
Using the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the bell pepper and cook for 2-4 minutes until slightly tender. Add the garlic and green onions and sauté for one minute.
Add the flour, stirring to combine. Sauté for 1-2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
Pour in the heavy cream, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the cream has reduced and thickened, about 2-4 minutes.
Add the crabmeat, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the crab; cook until heated through. Season with salt.
Top each steak with a heaping tablespoon of the crabmeat topping. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Dessert for your decadent dinner for two is a rich, creamy Red Velvet Cake. While it's excellent fresh, you can also make it the day before and store in the refrigerator. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.
Red Velvet Cake
1 cup shortening, softened
1-1/4 cups of white granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
2 ounces red food coloring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4 cups cream cheese icing (recipe below)
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cream the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine.
Sift the cake flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a separate mixing bowl.
With the mixer running on low, add one third of the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.
Add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and continue to mix.
Continue to alternate with 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the remainder of the buttermilk, ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
Add the red food coloring and beat on medium until the food coloring is thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixer off.
In a large nonreactive dish or measuring cup, dissolve the baking soda with the vinegar. This will fizz for a moment. Once the fizzing stops, gently fold the soda and vinegar mixture into the cake batter.
Pour the batter into two greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake layers to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing them. Allow the layers to cool completely before frosting.
For the cream cheese icing:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prep the icing:
In a large mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese and butter until smooth using an electric mixer at medium speed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add one cup of sifted powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture. Once the powdered sugar is combined, add another cup of sifted powdered sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the powdered sugar is mixed in.
Add the vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Spread or pipe the cream cheese icing over a cooled dessert.