Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hearts and Flowers

Today, of course, is St. Valentine's Day. All else being equal, of course, this is a C-Level Gift day. Now, for those of you who are new here might not be aware of how I categorize -- authoritatively, mind you -- these things.

A-Level Gift days are the BIG Birthdays and Anniversaries. Those divisible by 5, 10, or 25; the latter being the most A-Levelish of all. After all, you don't see many people making a huge fuss over their 42nd birthday.

The B-Level Gift days are "regular" Birthdays and Anniversaries, and Christmas (or, for the Jewish kids, Chanukah) and the C-Level Gift days are as above.

One buys one's beloved a lovely bauble, and ideally a lovely meal is shared and affection and sunshine and lollipops and blooming and Cupid slinging his arrows. Tra-la-la.

Naturally, this means that one must dance attendance. Since we have drained the bottle of babysitting privilege to its lees, this precludes our going out for an overpriced dine-and-dash on the most crowded night of the year. In lieu of that, I'm going all out on the dinner fixin's at home. This is a good and wise thing since TFBIM is still working brutal hours and she is having a Day Two kind of day. Ahem.

So I'm going with lobstah and champagne and chocolate (not together, relax).

Normally, by the way, I suggest Japanese food for St. Valentine's Day as it's clean and light and it doesn't weigh you down should the evening proceed into more, er, strenuous pursuits.

Anyway, here's the plan:

Seared Scallops with Beurre Blanc*
Steamed Florida Lobstah with Saffron Aioli**
Amaretto Chocolate Mousse***


*4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into TINY pieces

In a saucepan combine vinegar, wine, shallots, salt and white pepper and bring to a simmer.
Gently simmer liquid until reduced to syrup. Off-heat whisk in 1 tsp. of chilled butter. As the butter is incorporated into the liquid add another piece and continue to swirl or whisk. Put the pan back over the lowest heat and -- don't stop whisking! -- add the bits of butter one at a time.

When all of the butter has been added remove from heat. Sauce will be thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve immediately. (You can hold it in a Thermos for a while, but you're running a chance.)

** 5 cloves garlic (what?) MAKE SURE it's fresh and firm.
White pepper
1 pinch saffron threads
1 egg yolk, room temperature (if you are even remotely worried about salmonella, etc., skip this recipe)
1 cup EVOO
1/2 lemon, juiced
Pinch ground red pepper

In food processor or blender (I prefer blender), puree garlic. add salt and pepper and then the saffron and egg yolks. With blades running, S-L-O-W-L-Y add the olive oil in a thin steady stream. Add the lemon juice and red pepper and taste for seasoning.

*** 3.5oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) ideally in "chips"
10oz heavy ("double") cream
2 tbsp Amaretto (or espresso)
1 egg white
3-4 tbsp. sugar
handful of amaretti cookies or chocolate shavings, to garnish

In a small saucepan, heat half the cream until it starts to bubble around the edges. Take it off heat, add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted smoothly. Pour into a bowl resting over ice. Add the rest of the cream and Amaretto. Whisk to soft peaks.

Meanwhile, whisk (clean the whisk, OK?) the egg white until the soft peak stage. Add the sugar in a stream and continue whisking until you have peaks that are firm and glossy. Fold the meringue and the chocolate/cream CAREFULLY (you don't want to pop all the bubbles). Serve in chilled martini or margarita glasses.

Place the amaretti into a bowl and lightly crush with the tip of a rolling pin. Sprinkle over the chocolate mousse and garnish. Serve immediately or chill for up to two days.


Post a Comment

<< Home