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Home-cooked meal is perfect for Valentine's

You know what they say about "the way to a man's heart ..." (a woman's heart as well, if the truth be told). With these recipes, you can have a really beautiful dinner for Valentine's Day without the expense of going to a restaurant.

You know what they say about "the way to a man's heart ..." (a woman's heart as well, if the truth be told).

With these recipes, you can have a really beautiful dinner for Valentine's Day without the expense of going to a restaurant. Splurge on a great bottle of wine or champagne to accompany your special meal, put on some romantic music, light the candles and enjoy.

The nice thing about the following recipes is that the potatoes and dessert can be made ahead and baked just before serving, and the steak takes only a short amount of time to prepare. The final touch would be some roasted asparagus -- toss trimmed asparagus spears with some olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes while the potato casserole is baking.


It's a criminal offence to cook tenderloin any more than medium rare! Don't use a non-stick skillet to sear the steaks -- they won't brown properly.

4 beef tenderloin steaks, about 1*" thick

2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 tbsp butter, cut into 4 pieces

10 oz mixed wild mushrooms (you can find "chef's blend" mushrooms in grocery stores, which are a mixture of several different types, but regular sliced button mushrooms will do fine as a substitute)

1 shallot, minced

* cup red wine

- cup low-sodium beef broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large steel skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steaks to the pan and do not move them for three minutes. Flip the steaks over and cook the other side for three minutes. Place the pan in the oven and let the steaks finish cooking for six to eight minutes for medium rare. Remove pan from oven and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Remove steaks from the pan and place them on a plate, loosely tented with foil.

Melt half of the butter in the skillet; sauté the mushrooms and shallot until browned, six to eight minutes. Add the wine and broth and any steak juices which have accumulated on the plate. Cook until reduced to about º cup -- this will take about five to six minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining butter; season to taste with salt and pepper. Top each tenderloin with one quarter of the sauce. Makes four servings.


You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate covered for up to 24 hours. Let it warm up a bit at room temperature before baking.

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1.5 lbs), peeled and cut into chunks

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives or green onions

1/3 cup milk, heated

1/3 cup herb and garlic cream cheese (the soft variety in a tub)

1 tbsp butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese

Cook potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water, covered, about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to pot. Add the chives, milk, cream cheese, butter, egg and salt and pepper to taste; mash together until very smooth.

Spoon into a greased eight-inch square glass baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 degrees until browned and a knife inserted into the centre comes out hot, about 40 minutes. (If casserole has been refrigerated you will need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes). Makes four generous servings.


For best results, use a high quality dark chocolate with about 30 percent cocoa butter content. These only take 13 minutes to bake so they can go into the oven just before you want to serve them. The recipe makes eight servings -- I'm betting everybody will want seconds!

12 tsp plus 5 tbsp granulated sugar

8 oz bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

æ cup unsalted butter

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 tbsp all purpose flour

2 pints premium quality coffee ice cream (go for the good stuff -- it's worth it!)

Generously butter eight æ cup ramekins. Sprinkle the inside of each one with 1* tsp sugar. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer beat eggs, egg yolks and remaining five tbsp sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about eight minutes. Fold 1/3 of the warm chocolate mixture into eggs, then fold in the remaining chocolate. Fold in flour. Divide the batter among the ramekins. (Can be made ahead to this point; cover with plastic and chill.) Bring dishes to room temperature before baking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place ramekins on a baking sheet; bake until edges are puffed and slightly cracked but centre one inch of each cake jiggles slightly when dishes are gently shaken -- about 13 minutes. DON'T OVERBAKE!

Top each cake with a scoop of coffee ice cream and serve immediately. Makes eight servings.