February 14 is always a day to love and be loved, a day to celebrate love and romance. Ever since the third century A.D., when St. Valentine was martyred, we have come to celebrate the sentiments of passion and love by exchanging cards, flowers, chocolates and other romantic gifts. Hearts, lace, hues of pinks and reds are always the first things that come to mind when thinking about setting the proper Valentine’s day mood. All of these ideas may be easily integrated into a romantic dinner for two that will allow you to bask in the glorious celebration of love. The following menu takes advantage of red, pink and white, as well as foods that are best enjoyed by two lovers.
Why not complement the menu by setting the table with a damask cloth and pink napkins. For subtle accents and atmosphere, a silver candelabra and a silver bowl filled with the heady smell of red and pink roses, freesia and baby’s breath. Greet your guest with a filled champagne flute and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” playing softly in the background. Relax with an hors d’oeuvre of coeur a la creme and leisurely follow it with the romantic three-course meal beginning with oysters and finishing with a light lemon mousse with fresh raspberry sauce. Everything to excite every one of your senses, and especially your sense of love and romance.
Oysters with XO Sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1 red shallot, finely diced
1 slice bacon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
4 large oysters, freshly shucked
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon XO sauce
(available at Asian markets)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Quarter size piece of ginger,
cut into julienne
Thinly sliced scallion
1. In a saucepan, over high heat, add oil, then add shallot and bacon and stir until bacon is crisp (3-5 minutes), then add garlic and stir until tender (1to 2 minutes). Add wine, XO sauce and soy sauce. Warm through and set aside.
2. Remove any broken shell from oysters, then remove oysters from shells (reserve 4 shells) and transfer to a bowl, strain juice from oysters into bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bamboo steamer, place four oyster shells and oysters. Drizzle with sauce and divide, then cover and steam over a saucepan of boiling water until just warmed through (1 to 2 minutes). Sprinkle with scallion and serve warm.
COEUR A LA CREME WITH CUCUMBER HEARTS
¼ pound goat cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoon sour cream
¼ cup heavy cream, whipped
to soft peaks
1 tablespoon each of chopped dill, flat leaf parsley, thyme and scallion salt and white pepper to taste
1 gourmet cucumber, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
Special Equipment: Heart Mold
1. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the cheese and sour cream. While the motor is still running, add the herbs. Fold in the whipped cream, taste and season.
2. Line a small heart mold with cheese cloth, add the cheese mixture. Fold the cheese cloth over the top of the cheese and refrigerate the mold for at least 24 hours.
3. Just before serving, peel and slice the cucumber. With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the cucumber slices into hearts. Unfold the cheese cloth and unmold coeur a la creme on a hard-shapped platter, surrounded with cucumber hearts; garnish with sprigs of dill.
CULINARY ARCHITECT’S BAKED LOVE APPLES
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1. In a skillet, melt the butter and saute the tomatoes until the skin shrinks lightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle thyme over tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, place in 375 degree oven and heat for 10 minutes. This dish can be prepared, covered with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator 4 hours in advance. Then heat the tomatoes with the lamb.
2. To Serve: Carefully carve the lamb into individual chops. Crisscross two chops on each plate and place the tomatoes in the empty space.
LEMON MOUSSE WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoon and ¼ cup of sugar
1 lemon, juice and rind
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup of cookie crumbs
1 small package of frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon Eau de Framboise or similar liqueur
1. In a mixer, or in a bowl with a whisk, whisk the egg yolks and slowly add the 2 tblsps. sugar. Beat in the lemon juice and rind. Separately, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the whites into the mousse.
2. In two small ramekins, or heart molds, sprinkle half of the cookie crumbs. Pour the mousse and top with remaining crumbs. Freeze the mousse for at least 12 hours.
3. Combine ¼ cup sugar with ¼cup of water and bring to a boil. Add raspberries. Puree in a food processor, then strain raspberry mixture through a fine sieve. Add liqueur and refrigerate until serving.
4. To serve: Place enough sauce on the plate to cover. Carefully unmold the mousses onto the plates. Garnish the top of the mousse with a rose petal and serve.
Alexandra Troy is owner of Culinary Architect Catering, a 35-year old Greenvale-based company, specializing in private, corporate and
promotional parties for 2 to 2000 people. If you make any of these recipes take photos and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org