Kita, from Pass the Sushi, contacted me about contributing to Steph’s (from Steph’s Bite by Bite) surprise virtual bridal shower and I definitely knew I wanted to be a part of it. Even though some of us (myself included) are already donating desserts to her dessert bar for the big wedding day, this was a fun idea to do in addition since it is after all, a surprise! Who doesn’t love surprises?
Another thing that I really liked about this idea, is that even though I am very aware that Steph is fully capable of pleasing her soon-to-be-hubby’s belly, she will now have a big new list of great date-night meal ideas to play with. I don’t know if that was the original intention behind this masterful plan, but I think it makes sense.
I decided to go all the way and do a full meal. Naturally, I created a huge mess in my kitchen making everything for this, but I drank a glass of wine in the process so it make it not seem so bad. And had another glass after cleaning up after myself. And then maybe I invited Katie over and we finished the whole bottle while watching Project Runway and being amused by my cat playing with a rubber band. Maybe… yes. Yes, I am getting sidetracked.
I prepped the potato cakes first, then let them sit for a few minutes while I prepared the flank steak. Once the steak was in the oven, I cooked up the potato cakes. The timing was just perfect and I can’t believe how well it all went together. The juicy flavorful steak was served curled up on top of the crunchy potato cakes that were super moist and heavenly. It is a fancified (I may have just made that word up) meat and taters!
As for the cheesecake, it was the logical choice for the end of this meal. With the Italian-ish feel of the steak, having a dessert with Amaretto and mascarpone just seemed right. And it is made one day in advance so the kitchen mess gets spread out between two days. But the dessert really doesn’t make much of a mess. Except maybe a mess of your diet, because I decided it needed a drizzle of Nutella on top while I was at it. Go ahead and try to tell me I was wrong.
Happy surprise virtual bridal shower, Steph!
FLANK STEAK STUFFED WITH SUNDRIED TOMATOES, GOAT CHEESE AND BASIL
10 oz. (ish) flank steak
2 oz. goat cheese, brought to room temperature to soften
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Butterfly the flank steak, and then pound is to flatten it slightly. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
- In a bowl, combine the softened goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, basil, a few grinds of pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the flank steak, and then roll it up to form a log. Secure the steak with kitchen twine or toothpicks.
- Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the flank steak and brown it on all sides. Place the flank steak in the oven to finish cooking to your desired level of doneness (about 1o minutes for me). Place the steak under a foil tent to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
SPINACH POTATO CAKES
Makes one dozen
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup packed fresh spinach, stems removed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large Idaho potato, boiled and mashed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter, melt, then add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Squeeze the spinach dry and finely chop; place in a large bowl. Add the egg and stir until well combined. Add the mashed potatoes, Parmesan, and lemon zest, and season with more salt and pepper; stir until well combined. Stir in the bread crumbs and flour until the mixture holds together. Pat into 2-inch by 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
- Pour Panko bread crumb into a shallow bowl. Coat each potato cake and press down slightly to adhere. Gently shake off any excess and transfer to a plate.
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cakes and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
AMARETTO CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE BARS
Makes 9 bars
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour, divided
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp Amaretto
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang, and set aside.
- Cut the butter into 1 cup of the flour and powdered sugar until crumbly. Press evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese in large bowl until smooth. Add mascarpone and 2 Tbsp flour; beat until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
- Gradually add sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in Amaretto. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Divide the batter in half. Add cocoa powder to one of the batters and mix until fully incorporated.
- Pour chocolate filling into pie shell. Carefully spoon plain Amaretto batter on top. Scatter chocolate chips if using.
- Bake cheesecake until top is golden and cake is almost set (center 2 inches will still move slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 40-50 minutes. Cool cake on rack 1 hour before refrigerating uncovered overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
- Before serving, lift out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper before cutingt into 9 squares. Drizzle melted Nutella over the top is desired.