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Video: Giada’s last-minute Valentine’s Day dinner

TODAY recipes
updated 2/1/2012 11:25:03 AM ET 2012-02-01T16:25:03

Recipe: Spaghetti with beef, smoked almonds and basil

  • 1 pound (1-inch thick) beef tenderloin steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta
  • 1 (15 ounces) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup chopped smoked almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place an oven rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the steaks on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the herbes de Provence on both sides of the steaks and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes for medium-well. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Process until the mixture is coarsely chopped.

Place the cooked pasta, tomato mixture and smoked almonds in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil. Slice the steaks into 1/4-inch-thick slices and serve alongside the pasta.

*Cook's Note: The steaks can also be grilled over medium-high heat on a preheated grill pan or gas or charcoal grill for about 5 minutes each side.

Serving Size

4 to 6 servings

Recipe: Tarragon and merlot truffles

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Merlot wine
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the cream and chocolate in a medium bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tarragon, wine and salt until smooth. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm. Let the mixture stand at room temperature until moldable, about 45 minutes. Using a melon scoop, scoop level amounts of the truffle mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Roll into 1/2-inch balls.

Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Roll the truffles in the cocoa powder until coated.

Arrange on a platter and serve or refrigerate in an airtight container.

Serving Size

40 to 45 truffles

Recipe: Chocolate honey almond tarts

  • 3 large or 7 (2 1/2-inch) square chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pans
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Nestle Toll House
  • Almond Crunch Brittle, recipe follows
  • Almond Crunch Brittle
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) slivered almonds, toasted* see Cook's Note
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

Special equipment: 2 4-inch diameter round or heart-shaped springform pans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the bottom and sides of 2 4-inch springform pans.

Place the graham crackers and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture forms fine crumbs, about 15 to 20 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until incorporated. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pans. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, whisk the cream and honey together over low heat until the honey has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to just below a boil. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth. Ladle the chocolate mixture over the prepared crusts. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.

Loosen the tarts from the sides of the pans by running a thin metal spatula around the edges. Remove the sides of the pans and transfer the tarts to 2 dessert plates. Top with pieces of almond crunch brittle and serve.

Cook's Note: If chocolate graham crackers are not available, substitute with honey graham crackers and add 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder when blending.

Almond crunch brittle:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the toasted nuts close together in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let the bubbles subside, then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts. Cool for 5 minutes and refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes. Once the mixture has hardened, top with another piece of parchment paper and pound into small pieces, or place the sugar-nut mixture on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

Serving Size

2 servings

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