Want an easy, elegant meal that begins with one all-purpose recipe for beef, chicken or fish? Mark Bittman, author of "How to Cook Everything,” was invited on the “Today” show to share these romantic meals for two. Here are the recipes:
Steak, Chicken, or Salmon With Mustard CreamMark Bittman
Makes 2 servings
Time: 20 minutes
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Put the butter and oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter melts, add the steaks and turn the heat to high. Sear on the first side for about 3 minutes, then turn. Sear on the second side for 2 or 3 minutes; lower the heat and cook until just short of your chosen level of doneness, about 7 minutes total for medium-rare. Keep warm in the oven while you make the sauce.
Pour out any fat from the skillet but leave brown bits in there. Over medium-high heat, add the butter and shallots and cook until the shallots are soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the green peppercorns and cook 30 seconds. Add the mustard and the cream and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Use a nonstick skillet. Cook, skin side down and undisturbed, until brown, about 8 minutes. Turn, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. When the meat is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more, remove it to a plate and keep it warm (you can just put it back in the oven with the heat off and the door slightly open). Steps 2 and 3 remain the same.
For the salmon: Same as the steaks, but use a nonstick skillet.
9123378604813980460662butter, neutral oil2tablespoon2 tablespoons butter, neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or a combinationtenderloin steaks22 tenderloin steaks, each about 6 to 8 ounces; or 2 plump chicken breast halves, preferably boneless but with skin on; or 2 6-ounce salmon steaks, cross-cut from the center of a filletsalt and black pepperSalt and coarsely ground black peppershallot or scallion2tablespoon2 tablespoons minced shallot or scallioncapers1tablespoon1 tablespoon capers, optionaldijon mustard1tablespoon1 tablespoon Dijon mustardcream0.25cup1/4 cup cream
Potatoes AnnaMark Bittman
Makes 2 servings
Time: 45 minutes
Peel and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (a mandoline is a good tool to use here). Toss them with 3 tablespoons of the butter or oil and some salt and pepper. Layer them neatly in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Put them on the stove over medium-high heat and begin to cook.
When the potatoes begin to sizzle, press them down with a plate or pot lid to help them form a cake. Adjust the heat so the mixture sizzles, but not too loudly; you want to brown the potatoes, not burn them. After about 15 minutes, slide the cake out onto a plate. Top with another plate, and invert.
Now add the remaining butter or oil to the pan and slide the potatoes back in, uncooked side down. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned and the potatoes tender throughout, another 10 to 15 minutes. You can keep these warm over a low flame for 15 minutes, or even a little longer.
91233786057560497all-purpose potatoes1pound1 pound all-purpose potatoes, like Yukon Goldmelted butter, extra virgin olive oil, or a combination4tablespoon4 tablespoons melted butter, extra virgin olive oil, or a combinationsalt and pepperSalt and pepper
Simmered Asparagus With Oil and LemonMark Bittman
Makes 2 servings
Time: 15 minutes
Lay the asparagus down in a skillet that can hold the spears without crowding, cover with salted water, cover the skillet, and turn the heat to high. Cook just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife.
Drain and serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with the lemon juice, oil, and a little more salt.
91233786057560492asparagus1pound3/4 to 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and peeled if necessarysaltSaltlemon0.5Juice of 1/2 lemonextra virgin olive oil1tablespoon1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or a little more
Chocolate Mousse for 2Mark Bittman
Makes 2 servings
Time: 30 minutes, plus time to chill
Use a double boiler or a small saucepan over low heat to melt the butter and chocolate together. Just before the chocolate finishes melting, remove it from the stove and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and beat in the egg yolks with a whisk. Place the bowl in the refrigerator.
Beat the egg whites with half the sugar until they hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Set aside. Beat the cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks.
Stir a couple of spoonfuls of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit, then fold in the remaining whites thoroughly but gently. Fold in the cream and refrigerate until chilled. Serve within a day of making.
91233786049127770unsalted butter1tablespoon1 tablespoon unsalted butterchocolate2ounce2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, choppedeggs22 eggs, separatedsugar0.25cup1/4 cup sugarheavy cream0.33cup1/3 cup heavy creamvanilla extract0.5teaspoon1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract