Date Night menu from Cooks Illustrated and Ballard Designs

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Pan seared steak with mashed potatoes

Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce

For a pan-seared steak recipe with a full-bodied, complex sauce, we cooked the steaks in a high-quality, heavy pan, reducing the heat to prevent burning and turning the steaks only once. By adding a few extra ingredients to the traditional trio of red wine, stock, and butter, we produced a luxurious, refined sauce in just minutes.

Pan-Seared Steak with Red Wine Pan Sauce

Recipe for garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes from Cooks Illustrated

Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

We started with potatoes, butter, and whole milk and opted for Yukon Golds for their buttery flavor and supersmooth texture. To get truly complex garlic flavor, we added it in three ways. We incorporated garlic paste sautéed in butter for clean, mellow flavor; a very small amount of raw garlic paste for assertiveness; and a small amount of rehydrated garlic powder also sautéed in butter for complex, lightly roasted flavor. In order to maximize the garlic powder’s flavor, we first bloomed it in water to reactivate the enzyme that produces the compound allicin, which is responsible for garlic’s characteristic flavor.

Garlic-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Strawberry-rhubard fool for two recipe from Cooks Illustrated

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool for Two

For a strawberry-rhubarb fool recipe that would tame the sourness of rhubarb and overcome its tendency to cook into a drab, gray mess, we soaked the rhubarb in water to reduce the acid, simmered it in orange juice and sugar to retain texture and color, and layered the cooked fruit with lightly whipped, sweetened cream.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool for Two

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