Recipe Test Nest » 5 Star » February Hearts and Chocolate – Round 1
February Hearts and Chocolate – Round 1

Who can resist themes around holidays? I sure can’t, so I decided to embrace love, my heart cooking gear and an irresistible ingredient called chocolate. On February 12, I had 6 wonderful dinner guests (Tim Tanner, Gabe Jones, Martha Demos, Ben Stratford, Marie Alarcon, and Kevin Shelley) join me in eating, reviewing and ringing in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Mocktail: Winter Punch (5 Star)

The Mocktail was thrilling to the taste buds and full of warm spices. I substituted 24 ounces of Perrier for the alcohol. Dipping the glasses in the spice sugar and adding a slice of tangerine and lemon was a perfect combination to the multiple flavors in the drink.

1st Course: White Bean Soup with Chile Paste (throw away)

I forgot to add cumin and coriander to the soup which would have helped, but it was still bland. The recipe didn’t call for salt and it needed quite a bit. The chile paste added some color but not as much flavor as I would have liked.

2nd Course: Beer Marinated Hanger Steak (3 Star) / Roasted Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart (4.5 Star)

My testers agreed the marinade for the steak was delightful, but the steak was a little chewy. I broiled them so maybe a different cooking process or more practice with hanger steak (which is a butcher’s favorite) is needed. The tart in the shape of a heart was a hit. Tim said, “if a recipe makes me like something I normally don’t, like cauliflower, then it’s a high rating for me.” I steamed green beans and added a little butter, dill, salt and pepper to finish off the main course and add healthy color.

Dessert: Macaroons (3 Star) and Rose Petal Truffles (4 Star)

I’ve never made macaroons or truffles before and I didn’t realize I’d be in for so much work. While the macaroons tasted good, I had to do some creative surgery to save them. They separated and caramelized while baking so I shaped them back into balls, let them sit over night and then baked again.

In a recent stop at Dean and Deluca I came across Rose Petal Truffles. That sounded intriguing to me so I set out to make them. I couldn’t find a recipe online so I improvised two recipes (basic ganache and truffles) and added rose water to taste. They turned out wonderfully, however rose just isn’t a 5 star flavor for everyone. This was my 1st time making Truffles and boy is it a lot of work. Ganache is not so easy to work with, the dipping process takes time, and each step needs a little time in the fridge to harden. I don’t think I’ll be making them again any time soon.

My next TEST NEST is February 22 – I hope my guests will also feel “loved” with their chocolate and heart recipes.


7 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Tango (February 17, 2010)

    what a treat to be included in one of your test nests–a lot of love went into your valentines offerings!

    memorable meal moments: the winter punch (wish I had a Texas size glass), the cauliflower and onion tart, and the subtle rose truffles!

  2. Darin (February 18, 2010)

    Ains,
    Everything above looks absolutley delicious. Tapatio can fix any soup. Broiling a hanger steak is tricky. You need to keep the steak atleast 5" below the heat source for 3 to 4 minutes a side. You could try pan searing then roasting. You are more then welcome to come visit and cook this for me!

  3. Rachel Tebbs (February 18, 2010)

    You are so AWESOME! I like to make truffles (around the holidays for the neighbors), although they do take quite a bit of time. I'll have to send you some of my favorite recipes for truffles. One is SUPER easy…Oreo truffles! YUM!
    The steak sounds great! Maybe try your marinade on a flank steak, which might work out better?

  4. Mike (February 19, 2010)

    Ains – keep a book of the best recipes and send me a copy!

  5. keila (February 19, 2010)

    Looks great. one day i hope to attend. keep me posted.

  6. k merino (February 19, 2010)

    Looks great. one day i hope to attend. keep me posted.

  7. mom (March 2, 2010)

    Amber, Wish I could have tasted all that food. You spent a long time in the kitchen,I'm sure. The pictures looked like a fancy cookbook. I want copies of your favorite recipes.



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