Valentine’s Day For Food Lovers

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A romantic dinner is the best way to say “I love you” for Valentine’s Day!

Start the evening with ice-cold champagne or prosecco and oysters on the half-shell with lemon slices and Mignonette sauce. If your Valentine likes to cook, ask for help drizzling the dressing on the prearranged salad while you place the fish in the oven (be sure to set the timer!) and reheat the potatoes.

Then, as you get ready to enjoy the first course, uncork a pinot noir or sauvignon blanc so it’ll be ready for the main course. As you’re getting ready to relish the entrée, set the chocolate sauce in a pan of hot water to warm up while you eat.

For the finale, dip long-stemmed strawberries into the chocolate sauce and feed each other.

Bon romantic appétit!

Mignonette Sauce(Yields 1 cup)2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 large shallots, mincedTo prepare:Grind the peppercorns and sift through a strainer to remove the finer particles.

Measure out 1½ teaspoons into a small bowl, storing the remainder for later use.

Add vinegar and shallots to the pepper and whisk until blended.

Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate for at least 1 day or up to 1 month.

Pour into small dipping bowl and serve with oysters on the half shell.My Heart Beets For You Salad(Serves 2)1 ripe Haas avocado, halved and sliced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, for drizzling

1 seedless navel orange, sectioned, peeled and juices reserved

2 or 3 hearts of palm, drained and sliced

4 to 5 scallions, trimmed and sliced

1 red beet, roasted, peeled and diced

2 or 4 perfect leaves from the heart of Boston or Bibb lettuce, washed and patted dry

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons good quality mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons fig-infused white balsamic vinegar

Accumulated orange and lime juice

4 to 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tasteTo prepare: In a small bowl, roll avocado slices in lime juice to prevent discoloring.

Set aside.

Hold the orange over a bowl to catch the juice as you remove the peel, pith and sections.

Place orange sections in bowl.

In another bowl, toss hearts of palm and scallions together.

Meanwhile, whisk mustard, mayonnaise, vinegar and accumulated citrus juices together.

Slowly add oil, whisking until the mixture becomes an emulsion.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Set aside.

To assemble, place lettuce leaves on salad plate.

Gently combine avocado and orange with hearts of palm and spoon the mixture into the lettuce.

Just before serving, sprinkle diced beets on top and drizzle dressing over the top.Roasted Yukon Gold Fingerling Potatoes(Serves 2)10 to 12 Yukon Gold fingerling potatoes, scrubbed

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Malden salt, for sprinklingTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Arrange potatoes in 1 layer in a shallow baking dish.

Drizzle with oil and bake until the skin is brown and crisp on outside and tender in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.Roasted Fillet Fresh Cod With Cherry Tomatoes, Olives And Capers(Serves 2)8 to 12 ounces fresh cod fillet, trimmed of dark fat

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, for browning

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 cup oil cured, pitted black olives

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons dry vermouth

For the topping:

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, or more to taste

1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1/4 cup whole flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnishTo prepare:In a non-reactive mixing bowl, toss tomatoes and capers together.

Drizzle just enough oil on the mixture until it glistens.

Taste and season with pepper, then set aside.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Heat shallow baking dish large enough to hold the fish in a single layer in the oven.

Rinse fish, pat dry with paper towels and season with pepper.

In a heavy skillet, over high heat, scatter the skillet with kosher salt.

When the pan is very hot, sear the fish until brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer cod to a baking dish.

Arrange olives around the fish and drizzle lemon juice, vermouth and olive oil.

Bake until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer fish to warm dinner plates.

Pour the pan juices over the tomatoes and capers.

Stir in chopped parsley.

Spoon the whole affair over the fish.Dark Chocolate Sauce(Yields 1½ cups)8 ounces dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon sugarTo prepare:Place chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and set aside.

Whisking to blend, bring heavy cream, butter, salt, and sugar to a simmer in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat.

Immediately pour hot cream over the chocolate and let stand about 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk until smooth.

Transfer to clean glass jar and set aside.

Serve warm, with long-stemmed strawberries.

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