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The Cookstr 10: Ten Valentine’s Day Recipes

February 12, 2010

This year we’re feeling like laying it on a little thick for Valentine’s Day. Thick, as in substantial lamb chops, thick peach puree infusing our bellinis, dense crème fraîche dolloped on our strawberries, wide ribbons of caramel draping over platters of figs and mascarpone. There are so many other days of the year to be austere and reserved; Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to be…not austere and reserved.

Now, perhaps you have a significant other, or an object of your affection in dire need of wooing. Turn up the dial to 11 and lavish them with edible attention. Or perhaps this year you’re hanging with your friends or family, and celebrating love in a more by-and-large way.

Oysters Rockefeller

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1. James Peterson’s Shrimp Risotto. A great thing to remember about risotto is that it continues to cook a bit (and thicken) after it comes off the heat, so when you think you’re about done, add a bit more liquid so it will retain that nice loose consistency even while you’re plating it up. This is actually a great date night dish, because you and your partner can take turns stirring while the other pours the wine and sets the table. Shrimp and saffron are a gorgeous and classic risotto combo.

2. Nigella Lawson’s Bellini. Certainly a flute of sparkling wine is a lovely way to toast your main squeeze on Valentine’s Day. But if you want to show off a bit (or if you are having a party) this is another way to go. This famous drink is a simple and eternally pleasing blend of Prosecco (sparkling wine from Italy) and white peach puree, which–at this time of year–you can buy premade at specialty food shops or online.

3. Christopher Idone’s Oysters Rockefeller. This most famous of all the oyster dishes was invented around 1900, and its roots can be traced back to Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Apparently Jules Alciatore, the son of the founder, developed this dish and exclaimed, “Why, this is as rich as Rockefeller!” Sample a few of these warm oysters nestled under a bed of creamy chopped spinach, parsley, scallions, all seasoned up with a hit of vermouth and lemon, and see if you agree.

4. Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso’s Salmon Caviar Hearts. Look, we think caviar is more than welcome all year long, but clearly its price tag makes it a more special-occasion food for most of us. But when caviar tops a heart-shaped toast slathered with a flavorful cream cheese spread, well, it just makes us glad we were patient.

5. Phillis Carey’s Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Lemon Dill Sauce. If you’ve always thought stuffed chicken breasts were the purview of restaurants or very experienced chefs, this is your chance to pop that misconception and impress someone you love at the same time. All it takes is a little patience and some well chosen filling ingredients–in this case, a fresh-tasting blend of feta, artichoke hearts, dill and lemon zest.

6. Jamie Oliver’s Spicy Shrimp Curry. Looking for something a little spicy? Here, plump shrimp, green beans, and baby corn all bob in a coconut milk curry bursting with the flavors of fresh and dried coriander, chilies, lemongrass, lime and garlic. Is it hot in here, or is it you?

7. Marcella Hazan’s Sauteed Veal Chops with Mushrooms and White Wine. If you can’t spend this Valentine’s Day cozied up in front of a fire in a rustic cabin in the woods, then cozy up to this deeply flavored dish, aromatic with sage and earthy fresh and dried mushrooms. The veal chops are sauced with wine and reduced cream, making this Valentine’s Day centerpiece unbelievably robust and savory.

8. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Steamed Lobster with Garlic-Ginger-Basil Sauce. Indulgent, sweet lobster is a food we all associate with special occasions and celebrations. And lucky for us, lobster’s not terribly expensive these days. This dish looks and tastes complex, but it’s actually a simple gathering of Asian-inspired seasonings that transform this luxe crustacean into something extra special.

9. Dorie Greenspan’s Crème Fraîche. It may seem a bit odd to include a recipe for crème fraîche all by its lonesome, but once you try it, it won’t seem odd at all. If whipped cream had an older cousin whom she worshipped, who was slightly richer, more substantial, more sophisticated, with a bit of a tangy edge…well, anyway, that would be crème fraîche. Dollop it onto brownies, serve a bowl with fresh berries, or grab a ladle and go to town.

10. Marie Simmons’ Fresh Figs with Mascarpone and Orange Caramel Sauce. Looking for something different, something that you can be pretty sure your Valentine hasn’t tried before? This is an elegant and interesting combination featuring lush fresh figs, bright orange sections, and the complete and total indulgence of creamy mascarpone, all covered in ribbons of a rich citrusy caramel sauce. You can be sure your date won’t say, “Oh, I had that last night.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 1:16 pm

    What a fabulous list! Nigella and Dorie have never let me down.

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