Tower of Love Power - 14 February 2011

I hope that everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day. My One True Love (MOTL) was in New York City last week for work and returned on Valentine's Day and you know, absence makes the heart go silly so I decided to make him an extra lovely meal to celebrate Valentine's Day and his return home. MOTL totally surprised me with a heart-shaped biscuit, a Mac Wonder Woman eye shadow palette and Mac Wonder Woman lip glass! They are amazing and I am so thankful for him and the Mac Cosmetics adviser who noted to MOTL that if he really wanted to make it a special gift he should add a WW lipglass. We don't really buy into the cards, chocolates and flowers routine and have traditionally enjoyed a nice meal together at home. The last time we went out for a meal on Valentine's Day it was all a bit grim and felt like a prison visitation scene. The restaurant was full of tables for two working within a time limit, acting as if a glass plate was between them or with a sense of being watched and/or overheard because the restaurant has tried to cram in as many tables as poss. Let's not forget the pressure from one or both sides of the couple to have THE - BEST - VALENTINE'S - DAY - EVER. Nah, not me me or MOTL.

For my special meal I decided to cook something that I had not cooked for years but is a dish that I hold close to my heart. MOTL says that it is one of my signature dish's but it's not even my dish at all! The dish is the Tower of Power, or as I have adapted the title for Valentine's Day - The Tower of Love Power. This dish was created at the Royal Cafe in New Orleans when I was waitressing there back at the turn of the century. I made some life-long friends, a lot of money and most importantly - a lot of memories. It was sold as a special and there were always contests to see who could sell the most and being a hugely competitive bunch it was always game on. Actually most things at the RC turned competitive from wine sales, nightly sales, sections, first table, last table, big parties, upstairs, balcony, the rotor and who could start getting their shine on the earliest.

The Tower of Power takes a grilled portobello mushroom, tops it with garlic mashed potato, tops that with wilted spinach, tops that with a grilled filet steak, covered in a red wine au jus and for my version I top it off with some fried shallots. BOOM! Tower of Power baby!

So to recap the recipe:
1. Make a nice batch of mashed potato and put to the side. I use Maris Piper potatoes boiled and sieved in a potato ricer, butter, milk, double cream, roasted garlic (roast in their skins and remove skins before adding), salt and pepper.

2. Marinate a portobello mushroom in balsamic vinager, honey, salt and pepper and then grill on each side for 4-5 minutes while brushing with the marinade. Pop in a preheated oven (150˚C) while you prepare the rest.

3. Start the red wine au jus using red wine, a spoonful of Smy Chutney Red Onion Marmlade, salt, pepper, bit of cornstarch and beef stock. Thanks to MOTL's complete and utter passion for stock we always have a very diverse group of stocks in the freezer for gravies and soups but a nice organic beef stock cube would do just as nicely. Leave the stock to its own, stirring occasionally and strain before serving.

4. Slice shallots into rings and lightly coat in a teaspoon of cornstarch. Fry in a bit of groundnut oil and remove when browned and strain on a piece of kitchen towel.

5. Take two excellent quality filet steaks that have been marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper. I also rubbed two tablespoons of Smy Chutney Red Onion Marmalade into the filets, for some extra flavour. Grill the filets on a piping hot cast iron grill for 3-4 minutes on each side for rare to medium rare depending on the thickness of the filets. Once ready, leave them to rest for the few minutes it will take to finish the final step.

6. Trim and wash the spinach earlier so that they are ready to go as soon as the filets are resting. Take 3 or 4 sliced garlic cloves (slice this earlier as well) and fry lightly in a tablespoons worth of olive oil for a minute or so. Remove the garlic before adding the spinach and add salt and pepper. The spinach will wilt and reduce by quite a lot so make sure you use enough, I used about 200g for two people which was a perfect amount.

So to recap:
Grilled portobello mushroom...

Topped with:
Garlic mashed potato and wilted spinach...

Topped with:
A grilled filet steak, fried shallots...

and finished with a red wine au jus.

As puddings are my remit I had made a heart-shaped meringue the previous night, for that recipe see my pavlova post.

Then I took some mango, strawberries and blueberries and blitzed half of them into a simple fruity sauce and spread this onto the meringue.

I took the remaining fruit and free-styled little and large mango hearts, strawberry hearts and blueberries and topped the meringue with them. So here is my Valentine's Day pudding:

I was very pleased to present this to MOTL and he was really impressed. I served this with a drizzle of double cream over the central heart but we tucked in before I could get a photo of the cream covered mango heart. I hope that everyone had a good day yesterday and was good to their friends, partners but most importantly themselves...

and remember...
it's not your chutney...
it's Smy Chutney.