Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Date Night at Home in Four Dishes

 Now that we've passed the weekend of love, I feel enough time has passed to talk about two of my loves. 1) Cooking multi-course sophisticated meals at home as opposed to going out to eat on one of the busier restaurant date days (see: Valentine's Day); and 2) Achieving amazing time management skills in the kitchen.

When you're cooking multiple courses, time management can be extremely difficult. One key factor is having a partner in the kitchen to help execute multiple dishes at the same time. I'm happy to report that our date night at home effort was very successful in the area of time management. Not only did we execute a starter salad, a main dish with side, and a dessert in under 2 hours (when you count the time it takes to cook the sweet potatoes in the oven) we did so without any major disasters and little time wasted. We even had the dessert ready to go in the oven when we started the meal so once we were done eating 20 minutes later, dessert was ready.

In short, here is what we made and how we got it done. Our menu was as follows:

1) Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad (courtesy of Epicurious, see recipe below)
2) Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin - a gem I've made multiple times.
3) Sweet Potato Puree with Smoked Paprika (also courtesy of Epicurious)
4) Maple Bacon Bread Pudding - I learned to make this during a cooking with bacon class last year

In order to execute this four course meal, I suggest starting by cooking the sweet potatoes in the oven as this will taken the most time to execute (1 hour). While those are cooking, I suggest opening a bottle of red wine. Because I said so. 

About halfway through the cooking time, and once you've enjoyed some wine, make the salad dressing and set aside. Then mix the herb topping for the pork tenderloin so that once the potatoes are removed from the oven, the meat is ready to cook. I also suggest cubing the bread for the bread pudding. Once you place the pork tenderloin in the oven,, you can also toast the bread cubes needed to make the bread pudding. I suggest assembling the bread pudding at the same time as when the meat is cooking so once that is done, you can place the ramekins filled with maple bacon bread pudding goodness in the oven so they'll be ready when you're done eating.

I know this sounds a bit complicated, but if you take a few minutes to plan your prep strategy for any multi-course meal, it can be done. Wine also helps.

Here's the kale salad recipe. It's awesome and I'll be making this again. The dressing also works well with arugula.

Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad (serves 4)


  • 3/4 to 1 lb. lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale) or tender regular kale, stems and center ribs discarded 
  • 2 TB finely chopped shallot 
  • 1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper 
  • 4 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 oz. coarsely grated ricotta salata (1 cup)

Working in batches, cut kale crosswise into very thin slices.

Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well.

Toss kale and ricotta salata in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat well, then season with salt and pepper.

1 comment:

  1. Next time I open a bottle of red wine while cooking, I'm going to say, "I'm doing this because Katie said so."