Technically this was our Valentine's Day dinner - we stayed at home and I cooked and M ran out to the tiny and excellent burger place on the corner to buy the best frites in the city and then we watched Alexandre Bilodeau win Canada's first gold medal on home soil at the Olympics.
Steak with shallot butter, green beans, and frites from Patati Patata
This was my first successful foray into cooking steak INSIDE. Mid-February is still winter here. (OR IT SHOULD BE!) At any rate, you can't get to a barbecue unless you are very determined and/or your barbecue is a lot closer to your back door than ours is. Also I think ours is broken. But as I discovered, inside steak is actually quite delicious - that's how they do them in restaurants, after all.
The trick is to try to replicate the serious heat a restaurant stove can kick out - a domestic stove just does not have the same kind of heat-producing capabilities. The other problem is that steak is expensive even at the grocery store. Thanks to the combination of two pieces of sage advice from two well-known stores of wisdom, YOU TOO CAN COOK DELICIOUS STEAK AT HOME. Just have one person on hand to wave a towel at the smoke detector - it gets a little smokey.
Tip number one, from The Steamy Kitchen: Salt your steak and let it sit in salt (a lot of salt - like a thick layer) for a while before you cook it. This draws moisture out of the steak so when you are cooking it, especially in a pan, it doesn't steam and get tough and nasty. This enables you to buy cheaper steaks and still have them be tender and lovely. Just rinse and dry the steak off thoroughly after it's been salted for a good amount of time.
Tip number two, from The Kitchn: Use a cast-iron pan and heat it up under the broiler until it is SCALDING scalding hot. Your broiler gets way hotter than your stove-top so use that to your advantage. Heat up the pan, then stick it on the stove on high and cook the steak in the scalding pan for thirty seconds a side. Then stick it back in the oven for two minutes.
There you go. Medium rare steak with a beautiful meaty crust on the outside and a juicy, tender centre.
I made shallot butter to serve on top, just like at a fancy restaurant! Mince a shallot finely and whip it into softened butter (not melted). Wrap the butter in saran wrap and shape into a log with your hands. Then chill until you're ready to use.