A Belated Valentine’s Surprise (Thai Basil Beef and Chocolate Cup Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing)

17 Feb

I spend my Monday and Wednesday evenings in class so cooking a Valentine’s dinner on the actual holiday was out of the question.  So I tried to add little romantic touches on dinner last night.  But dinner still needed to be quick, as I’m swamped at work and getting off early on Friday was out of the question.

Thai basil beef atop steamed jasmine rice with an egg roll (frozen aisle type, because I was lazy) and a glass of 2003 Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti, a medium-bodied Italian red.


Thai Basil Beef 
variation of original recipe from Linda Doeser

6 tbsp cooking oil (vegetable, canola, peanut)
about 10 large fresh basil leaves, de-stemmed
10 oz rump steak, tenderized with mallot and sliced against the grain into bite sized pieces (some grocers actually carry pre-tenderized meat, often labeled as “stir-fry” beef, one of my trusty time-saving strategies)
2 tbsp fish sauce (found in the international foods aisle)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
2 dried red chiles, crushed (or you can use 2 fresh serrano chiles, sliced into small rings)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp ginger powder
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped for garnish
1 tsp corn starch (optional)
squeeze of lemon juice

Mix together fish sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in small bowl.  Place marinade in ziplock bag with sliced steak pieces and refrigerate/marinate for about 30 minutes.

While beef is marinating, heat oil in wok over high heat.  When oil is hot, add in fresh whole basil leaves and deep fry about 1 minute until crisp and golden.  Drain grease from basil leaves on paper towels, lightly crush (should be easy since leaves will be crispy).  Do this in several batches as needed depending on the size of your wok.  Remove wok from heat and pour off all but 2 tbsp of the oil.

Reheat wok with the 2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat.  Add in chiles, garlic, ginger, and sliced shallot and stir-fry for about a minute or until garlic is golden brown.  Add in marinated beef and stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes or until beef is done throughout.  Add in corn starch to thicken the sauce (optional, purely preference).  Add in crushed deep fried basil leaves.  Add in a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve thai basil beef on top of steamed jasmine rice and top with a few pieces of chopped fresh basil.

Serves 2

My belated Valentine’s surprise, chocolate cup cakes with cream cheese icing:


Cream Cheese Icing
The white icing.  The pink stuff is just gel icing from the grocery store.

1/2 brick (4 oz) reduced fat cream cheese
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s (powedered) sugar

Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Easy, huh?  It’s creamier and less sugary than store-bought icing, but you will need to refrigerate the cake/cupcakes until you’re ready to serve.


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