Kachemak Cuisine: Cook a Valentine’s Day meal for your sweetie

Hello, February. I am happy to welcome in this short month of more daylight that gets us closer to spring. In preparation for Valentine’s Day next week, I’m planning to make my valentine a nice dinner at home. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of this special day is the menu, which I’ll create for the Other Fisherman, my valentine of 41 years.

As it’s a week night, time for cooking is limited, so I’m all about preparing a tender little filet of steak cooked up hot and fast in my seasoned cast iron skillet. Prepare a pan sauce of sautéed mushrooms and shallots in a savory wine sauce to drizzle over the steak for the main course.

I can’t eat steak without Alaskan grown potatoes and I’ll also plan on a side of whatever fresh green vegetable catches my eye at the market. Of course, you’ll want something chocolatey and gooey for dessert. Open a good bottle of wine, light a fire in the fireplace, put on some nice music and don’t forget candles on the table.

There you go: romantic setting, good food, people you love and even the kids will feel special and enjoy dining with you if you still have children at home.

When I was a kid, sometimes mom and dad would go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy a steak sandwich. Basically, a flavorful tender piece of grilled steak served with buttered toast. Somehow the toast and steak combination are extreme perfection on the palate.

When Mark and I dated many years ago, the trend was for fancy restaurants to serve chateaubriand for two as a romantic dinner menu offering. Chateaubriand is a roast made from the center section of the beef tenderloin and served with a white or red wine demi-glace sauce. Telling the difference between the beef tenderloin and filet mignon can be a little confusing if you’re not used to selecting cuts of beef. Beef tenderloin is the name of the large cut of beef before it is sliced into steak. Once it is cut into steaks, those steaks are known by the French name, filet mignon.

Here is my rendition of a quick but special dinner. The steak and sauce cook up fast and the chocolate dessert needs to made ahead of time, which works out well.

Bistro Steak au Poivre

Serves 4

Steak au poivre is simple to prepare and makes an easy and elegant meal. Essentially it is a sautéed steak with a quick pan sauce. Serve it with Alaskan potatoes, and your homemade Valentine’s steak dinner will be better than the best bistro around.

4 beef tenderloin steaks, 6 ounces each, cut 1 inch thick

Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon coarsely- ground crushed black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1- pound fresh mushrooms, sliced thin

½ of a large shallot, finely diced

1 ½ cups rich beef or chicken broth

1 tablespoon Cognac or bourbon

¼ cup crème fraîche or whipping cream

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Minced parsley for garnish


1. Put steaks in a shallow dish and season well on both sides with salt and sprinkle with black pepper. Press pepper into both sides with hands and leave for 10 minutes.

2. Set a large cast iron skillet over high heat. When surface is nearly smoking, add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan, swirl to mix butter and oil and add steaks. Adjust heat as necessary to keep steaks sizzling.

3. Cook for 2 minutes on first side; seared side should be nicely browned. Flip and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer steaks to a warm platter and cover with foil. Set aside.

4. Make the sauce. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a separate sauté pan. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté for a minute or so, stirring, until they begin to brown. Add broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add Cognac and continue to simmer until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in crème fraîche or cream and Dijon mustard. Cook until sauce is lightly thickened.

5. Return steaks to pan to warm, spooning sauce over them and turning once. Arrange steaks on individual plates and top with more sauce and sprinkle with minced parsley.

Buster Bar Ice Cream Dessert

Dairy Queen serves a famous ice cream dessert called a buster bar or you can order a peanut buster parfait. This recipe makes a whole 9×13 pan full of this delicious treat and enough to share with family and friends.

Make at least 4 hours prior to serving, or better yet, the day before.

1 package (14.3 oz.) Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed. Let the food processor do the work.

½ cup butter, melted

1 ¾ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ gallon vanilla ice cream

1 can Spanish peanuts

1 container whipped topping


1. Combine crushed cookies and melted butter and press into a 9×13 inch dish. Chill about 1 hour.

2. In a medium size saucepan over medium heat combine confectioner’s sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil 8 minutes. Remove from heat, add vanilla. Transfer fudge sauce to a bowl, cover and set aside to cool in refrigerator.

3. Remove pan of cookie layer from freezer.

Slice vanilla ice cream into ¾ inch slices, and place in a single layer over the chilled crust. Smooth ice cream seams and spread evenly.

4. Sprinkle ¾ of the can of peanuts over the ice cream.

5. Top with the cooled fudge layer.

6. Spread whipped topping over fudge layer and sprinkle remaining peanuts over the top.

Cover and freeze at least 4 hours. For ease in cutting, while holding onto pan, hold bottom area of pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes.

Lots of love,


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