The following is an excerpt from Food With My Friends, the debut cookbook by Chris Kohatsu, now available in eBook, iBook and printed versions. Photographs by Stephanie Cameron. All rights reserved.
I can’t help but giggle as I write this. I’ve never been lucky in love. I’ve dated a lot, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of short-term relationships, but when it comes to true love I always strike out as if I were up against the best baseball pitcher in the world.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to start a wonderful relationship with Ron, and while we are no longer romantically involved, we remain good friends. He and I have shared more dishes than I can count. When I told him I was writing a cookbook, he quickly rattled off his favorites from all of the foods I’ve made for him over the years. I narrowed his choices down to four meals that I happily share with you here.
A romantic meal has to be genuine and full of thought, with elements of fun. I like to keep it casual, unique and somewhat light. You’ll need your energy for other activities during the night (and a reason to have a good breakfast in the morning)!
The following meals have been portioned for two people, but can easily be adjusted to accommodate a double date or larger family gathering. I’ve also included steps to ensure that all of the elements come together perfectly, as timing is everything.
If you are lucky enough to be in the kitchen with a special someone, these meals will practically make themselves in no time. If you want to impress someone, you can easily make any of these on your own.
Alternatively, if you’re like me and love to wish and hope and pray for a magical moment—practice, practice, practice these recipes. You just never know when you’ll need to have an “I Love You” meal at the ready!
Balsamic Marinated Steak with Spinach & Strawberry Salad
For the Marinade:
⅔ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 New York strip steaks
Salt and pepper to taste
Follow Raspberry Vinaigrette recipe, substitute strawberry jam
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 small or 2 large fresh strawberries
¼ cup sliced almonds
1. Start the Marinade
In a non-reactive dish or re-sealable plastic bag, mix the vinegar, brown sugar and garlic cloves.
With a fork, prick the steaks all over. Place the steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for one hour. Thirty minutes prior to grilling, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
2. Light the Grill
Heat the grill to high heat. Brush and oil the grill as needed.
Remove steaks from marinade and allow excess marinade to run off. Salt and pepper the steaks then place on grill. A thin-cut steak should be turned after 1-2 minutes. Thicker cut steaks will need 3-4 minutes per side.
Once steaks are finished, remove from grill and tent with foil. Allow steaks to rest for five minutes.
3. Make the Dressing
In a glass jar or leak proof container, shake the ingredients to make the vinaigrette. Refrigerate or set aside. Can be made 1 day in advance.
On plate, assemble a handful of spinach. Slice 1 large or 2 medium strawberries on top of spinach. Drizzle with vinaigrette then sprinkle with almonds.
4. Slice and Serve
Slice steak into strips, holding your knife at an angle and slicing across the grain. Serve steak and salad and enjoy immediately.