Valentine's Dinner, Salad Course

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 
Hubby and I went out to dinner on Sunday for our Valentine's Day celebration and enjoyed a wonderful meal at Noah Grant's.  So for the actual evening of V-Day, we stayed in and I decided to surprise hubby with a land and sea dinner.  We pretty much had everything I needed in the kitchen (except for a steak), so I got to work prepping for our dinner together at home.

After we caught up on each others day and munched on some cheese and crackers, I set the table and got ready for the first course. I had decided to start the meal with a hot bacon dressed spinach salad.  I had some bleu cheese, bacon, eggs, spinach and everything else in the fridge, so this was going to be an easily accessible dressing.  My mother makes a fantastic hot bacon dressing, but for some reason, I decided to not follow it and do something on my own.

I began by cutting up and cooking some bacon (while of course, tell our pup Nala 'no' - that girl loves her bacon!)  I was planning on using all the rendered grease for my dressing base, so I let it get nice and crispy before removing it with a slotted spoon (didn't want to waste any of the grease!)  I also only used two pieces of bacon since it was just the two of us I was cooking for, though I could have easily used more to get more grease for the dressing.  And honestly, who doesn't like stealing a treat of bacon here and there (except for my veggie friends of course!)

Note - I normally am not a "ooo, let's cook with grease!" type person.  But sometimes a special occasion calls for it - cheers to bacon grease!

Once I had all the grease in the pan, I added a scrambled egg that was mixed with water.  I quickly stirred the egg and crossed my fingers that it wouldn't scramble too badly.  ::sigh::  It scrambled, but not in the "I want scrambled eggs for breakfast" kind of way.  I pondered on whether I should bail on the plan and plop a bottle of bottled dressing on the table.  I figured, I already had mixed up my next (and final) ingredients, so I pushed forward to see what would happen.  Isn't that one of the many great things about cooking though?  Experimentation is a great thing and I moved on!

Some apple cider vinegar, sugar, corn starch (maybe I should have left this out and it wouldn't have been so thick?!), salt and pepper were mixed together and added to the base (after the obvious 'should I or shouldn't I' debate that I had with myself.)  I let it come all together and then pondered, "should I really serve this?" because of the texture.  I tasted it, add a bit more pepper.  It tasted good, but the texture wasn't what I wanted.  After asking hubs to taste it, he gave me a thumbs up that he would eat it because, "it was good, just not pretty."  Eh, I'll take it.

Our plates were prepped with spinach, red onions, bleu cheese and for me, a hard boiled egg (hubs doesn't "do" eggs on salads - I think that is crazy talk!)  I drizzled on the dressing and we sat down for our first course of the evening.  We also popped open a bottle of crisp Chandon champagne to enjoy throughout the meal. 

Overall, the dressing tasted great.  It was sharp in vinegar flavor but had the richness of, you guessed it, bacon.  Unfortunately, I didn't achieve the texture I was going for - the eggs had scrambled (obviously Angie...) and left me with a much thicker sauce than I intended.  But it was a great salad and we enjoyed the start to what would be a fantastic meal!

I even whipped out the wedding china for our Monday night dinner.  Sure, it wasn't meatless Monday (and I promise I am still doing meatless once a week, just not always on Meatless Monday!), but at some point this week it will be.

What have you made recently that tasted great, but didn't look beautiful as intended?