cooking for girlfriend, advice please

Joined Aug 26, 2009
I'm going to cook a really nice meal for my girlfriend this weekend, below is what I plan to make, please critique:  

Filet w/ Red Wine cream sauce:

-Pan sear the filets, finish in the oven
-In the pan used to sear the filets, saute 1 diced shallot in butter, deglaze with red wine, whisk in heavy cream

Creamed Spinach:
-spinach, cream, garlic, flour, etc

Mashed Potatoes:
-boil potatoes, mash with butter and milk

not sure what to do, definitely something with raspberries. I could borrow a friends ice cream maker and make fresh vanilla bean ice cream with a raspberry topping.  but that might be too much effort.

Joined Feb 1, 2007
Seems like an awful lot of creamed stuff. Is that your intent?

Perhaps lighten up the richness a little---something other than the creamed spinach. And maybe a skillet potato cake instead of the mashed. Or, if you really want the creamed spinach, maybe go with a mushroom pan sauce for the steak, or a sauce diable.

If you're into blue cheeses, perhaps do a cabernet/gorgonzola sauce instead of the straight cream? Still on the rich side, but with deeper flavor IMO.

You definately need some acid in there. Maybe a cucumber/tomato salad topped with a squeeze of lemon, a squirt of extra virgin, a little coarse salt and some fennel seeds.

I'm not much on desserts so will leave that to others.
Joined Mar 12, 2005
Nice idea!

You should do soufflee's or creme brulee for dessert, and maybe add a cheese coarse in there as well, and perhaps a ceaser salad for the starter.
Joined Aug 26, 2009
 hmm, i've never done soufflee or creme brulee. i want to make sure dessert is something that i can pull off. also, must involve raspberries.  
Joined Feb 1, 2007
At risk of contradicting myself, panna cotta is kind of a no-brainer dessert. Combine it with a raspberry chocolate sauce and you're good to go.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Unless you like creamed spinach, fresh steamed spinach with a little rosemary on the stem or a few chunks of peeled ginger and a dash of salt and pepper tastes a lot better and is easier IMO.  I also suggest a simple pan sauce using the red wine as a release and then burn off the alcohol and add a knob of butter for a mild thickener and flavor add. As for the dessert if  you would like an easy solution with your raspberries may i suggest a simple sauce by glazing them with a little sugar an water in a medium hot pan then layering it with plain or vanilla yogurt ( as in yogurt-berry glaze-yogurt-berry glaze top with whip cream and a mint leaf just so). 

Mashed potatoes are fine with the other items not having so much cream. Otherwise I would roast them, possibly with chunks of sweet potato or butternut squash intermixed but definetly with olive oil and a bit of garlic and onion.

May i suggest a simple platter of cheese an bread for an opener. A nice baguette sliced into discs and a sharp cheddar on one side and a creamy (crumbly if thats what you can find) gorgonzola on the other. Best of luck.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Hmmm, cream cream cream cream.  I love cream more than anyone I'd say but it can be a little too much to use cream in every course of the meal.  The filets sound fine, or you could even replace it with salmon and still have all the other creamy accompaniments.

Skip on the creamed spinach.  Buy tender baby leaf spinach and sautee it instead.  In a cold wok or skillet put a little olive oil, and slices of garlic.  Put on low heat and bring olive oil up slowly just so the garlic gets golden and crisp but not burnt.  Take out the garlic an place on paper towel, reserve for later.  Throw in the spinach and sautee quickly until wilted, grate in a little nutmeg and place the spinach in a serving dish.  Back into the wok goes a small handful of pine nuts.  Sautee quickly and drop on to the spinach along with the garlic slices.

Here's a super easy and light dessert to go with such a heavy meal.

-16oz mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
-1 tbs sugar
-1/2 lemon
-vanilla extract
- creme de cassis or some other sweet liquer
- ready made pound cake

1. in a small sauce pan combine the sugar and lemon juice and heat slowly until the sugar melts and you have a clear simple syrup.
2. Combine the syrup with vanilla extract and the mascarpone
3. Cut a one inch slice of pound cake, brush with a little liquer, top with mascarpone mixture, and top with berries.  Garnish with whipped cream if you like.
Last edited:
Joined Aug 25, 2009
There is always Raspberries Romanoff.

pint of raspberries marinated in Kirsch Liqueur or another sweet liqueur (leave in fridge for one hour).....whip up some fresh whipped cream , add to cream, serve in tall fluted or any fancy glasses you have. Serve with a wafer and mint leaf....and if you don't want alcohol, then omit it.

For plating you can always think of adding some colorful garnishes to "pretty" your plate, she might like that.

Are you fixed on the idea of spinach ? If not you can always serve tender asperagus, a tomato au gratin....your mashed potato can be put in a bag and piped ...

a thought.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
You need to start with a light salad.  Fresh young greens in a simple vinaigrette would do nicely; or you could extend what seems to be a "steakhouse" theme and serve an iceberg wedge with a roquefort crumble and sour cream dressing,  Caesar salad is a good choice too.  In any case, I suggest making a show of mixing the salad tableside.  People enjoy watching their lovers doing things for them.  Delight her eyes as well as her palate.  

An appetizeer salad has a couple of other advantages.  One, you can set the salad plate on top of a regular plate (used as a "charger") which makes a nicer setting -- as does setting two forks.  Two, a salad gives you the option of dispensing with the green vegetable on the main course plate -- which makes plating a lot easier and better.  You can replace the green with something like two or three glazed baby carrots or not replace it at all.

Bread.  You want either a baguette or a bread basket on the table.

Too much cream is right.  Another thing, you're bouncing between "fine dining" and "steak house."  Better if you could settle on one in order to orchestrate harmonious combinations. Your choices are fighting one another somewhat.

From a culinary standpoint, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and beef go very well together.  And as a side observatin, you're going "steakhouse," want creamed spinach, then you should have it. 

Still from the culinary standpoint, the problem isn't the spinach it's the red wine-cream sauce.  Lose it.  Please.

It's not just that there's too much cream, it's not such a good idea to begin with. First, a red wine pan reduction doesn't need cream and is better off without it.  Second, it's ugly.  Third, while you can make it taste decent, there are about a zillion other different and better interpretations.  If you want to sauce, I suggest going with a very simple reduction of shallots, a beef stock, red wine, garnished with parsley.  You can smooth it out with a little Madeira or by mounting a little butter in it at the end if you want to take the edge off the red wine.  Or, make bordelaise, if you have demi-glace lying around.  Alternatively, you can make a cold sauce with mayonnaise, dijon mustard, horse radish and green peppercorns.  Either of those fit nicely within both models and generally play well with others.

Worth repeating:  Pan reductions with cream are good things, but not served with creamed spinach.  One or the other.

I do like creamed spinach with beef, as I said.  One of the things I like most about it for your situation is that you can cook it well ahead of time and hold warm for service quite awhile.  Creamed spinach likes long, langorous cooking.  Try and plan your meal so that during its course, you're only in the kitchen cooking once.  Other than that, it's just bringing out stuff that's already ready already.

Mashed potatoes are an interesting thing.  Done right, they are sublime; and it's easy to do them right.  Yet, almost everyone screws them up by either overworking and/or making them too dry.  There's also a best sequence and technique of getting the milk (or cream) and butter in.  How do you make yours?

Baked potatoes and "all the trimmings" might be a little easier to time.  They'll also give you guys the opportunity to pass things to one another at the table.

Raspberries are nice, if you can get good ones.  I get the feeling that their mandatory presence comes from your desire to please -- which is a good thing.  Most women are chocolate fieinds, and if yours is too, there are plenty of wonderful ways to combine the two tastes. 

Again, I suggest making something which can be made well ahead of time -- like a very light mousse made with Mexican chocolate, served with a berry coulis.  Nothing against the other suggestions, but unless she has some other favorite -- chocolate sends a strong message of seduction.  Another nice thing about chocolate mousse is that it can be flavored with rum or cognac, and followed by a snifter of the same.

Sex and chocolate aside, in the interests of sanity and lightness, I'd be disposed to end the meal with a citrus or fruit dessert.  Back to sex:  Be aware that you're planning a very heavy meal, heavy enough to discourage post-prandial activities demanding a certain level of physical exertion. 

Cocktails?  Wines?  After dinner drinks?  Plans?

There are so many different ways to make a menu for this sort of occasion.  Let us know if you want some help making them real.

Last edited:
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Cream for dessert is fine, put a small amount of whipped cream on her lower lip, and use your imagination.................Have fun................Bill
Joined Aug 26, 2009

Spectacular post, thank you very much.  A few thoughts:

I will lose the red wine cream sauce.  Your cold sauce sounds amazing (and has the benefit of being something that I can make before hand), can you give an exact recipe?

Its likely that my mashed potatoes lack proper refinement, how should they be done?

She actually dislikes chocolate, I realize this is odd.  Loves vanilla bean ice cream and raspberries.  Ideally, dessert should contain both.

Drinks?  Didn't give it any thought, probably just a decent bottle of cabernet

I appreciate the concern about post-dinner activities, but we are both resilient in that respect, shouldn't be an issue :)
Joined Nov 16, 2009
As you mentioned that you are going to sear filets.
for the pairing , I think it would better use White Wine instead of Red wine..
Joined May 29, 2006



2 T  10X SUGAR

4 Vanilla wafers

Whip cream with sugar till stiff peaks
puree 1/2 cup berries and combine with whipped cream
Pipe into champagne or coup glass with pastry bag star tube placecookies around it
Place whole berries on top with a sprig of mint refrigerate till service time
Thats it easy,elegant and foolproof.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Aww rats, Ed, you beat me to it.  Sounds like a good choice.

The red wine reduction is a definite improvement. I like the ccold sauce too, if time will be an issue.  Why not go some steamed greens - broccoli, broccolini, fresh runner beans, mange tout?  Or Beans Armandine.  Or a  mix of steamed baby carrots and runner beans tossed with butter and pepper.  Even sauteed zucchini(courgettes).  Keep the greens plain whatever you do, the filet needs to be the star of the show.

With the potatoes, if you have a ricer, pass them thru that then add your hot milk and butter, S&P.  No ricer?  Potato masher first, Then use a wire mesh sieve and scrape and push it thru with a spoon, scrape the sieved potato off the outside, continue as above.

Totally agree on the caesar salad if you want to go heavy on the other 2 courses.

Drinks?  Champagne with the caesar.  Cab/cab sav/merlot with the beef. Dessert wine - I love honeyed mead.

That could work....very well .
Joined Jan 27, 2010
Wow i appreciate your idea ..mmmh cooking for your girlfriend ? seem so lovely and romantic you are ! Very nice guy ! keep it up
Joined Nov 5, 2007
As others have mentioned a red wine and cream sauce might sound rich and tasty, but it can end up with a rather unappetizing color.  I'd go with a mushroom and shallot red wine reduction myself.  Or if you are up to making a bearnaise, it is heavenly on red meat as well as asparagus spears.

And with choclate out of the picture I'll suggest another course of action, fairly simple to prepare.  Take a melon, like a cantalope or honeydew and cut two slices out of the equator, so to speak, leaving a ring of melon.  Trim off the skin, lay them on a plate.  In the center put down a bit of whipped cream made with a bit of sugar and some vanilla extract, or perhaps a sploosh of dark rum.  Over the whipped cream place some rasberries, either just them or augmented with other fruit like mango, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries.  I'd stay away from acidic fruits like citrus, pineapple and such.  Fresh peach might be a bit hard to come by this time of year.  On top of the layer of berries, another dollop of whipped cream topped with a rasberry.  I did something like this for Valentine's brunch, I should have snapped a quick photo.

Joined Feb 26, 2007
Ooh...sudden thought (doesn't happen often).  If you are going to do a raspberry fool - get some liquer of choice and a straw.  Mouth on end of straw, suck it up till it's ful.  Finger over end of straw to hold it in.  Just before serving this is.  Then put filled straw all the way down into bottom of the glass, release finger from end any slowly slide straw up and out so it makes a tube of extra flavour thru the middle.   Ok, its a bit twee, but a nice surprise.

Silly idea /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Chambord......pricey but nothing says black raspberries as much as Chambord liquor.

shoot, buy premium ice cream and raspberry sorbet, top with fresh raspberries and chambord.
A couple of pretty cookies on the side.....tuilles if available or sables......
Joined Jul 18, 2000
How bout white choc ice cream, balled and split in half, with fresh raspberries and a splash of raspberry couli in the middle. failing that, go the van bean ice cream as said.  With the fillet, rather than cream spinach, just use wilted spinach.  Can also use roasted kipler pots instead of the mash. Perhaps a balsamic onion jam to cut the richness of all that cream if you go with the mash.

Strangely enough, if you reduce the amount of elements in the actual main dish, you still can achieve the end result, by spreading the textures over all the courses.
Top Bottom