Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quick and Sexy Valentine's Day Menu with Recipes

Valentine's Day doesn’t sneak up on you – it pounces. You’ve been blasted with red signs and teddy bears holding silk hearts for a full month now and you have learned to blur it out.  Then BAM: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and you don’t want to do anything special because you don’t want to be sucked into the consumerism, but you know that if you don’t plan at least a nice meal at home (you’ve spent all your money at Winterlicious) you will end up in trouble with your significant other. Alternatively, you will become depressed and muttering curses at every couple you see, you will go home and hide in your pajamas watching bad TV until 4am.

The first Valentine’s day card was sent in 1806, but the history is long and ambiguous: A priest named Valentine who married young lovers against the Emperor’s will; A man who helped Christians escape Roman prisons; An imprisoned man in love with his jailor’s daughter.

Or, the month of February could have been dedicated Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. It is the beginning of spring, and animals are swelling with fertility. White snowdrops are bursting through the ground, demonstrating nature’s cycle of death and life. 

Basically, it is all about love, sex and reproduction. So do something that is inexpensive, fun, and truly appropriate for the day. Eat a seasonal meal and get in tune with all your senses: 

          Velvety Smooth Parsnip Soup with Crumbled Stilton

                                Smoked Trout with Crème Fraîche and Braised Leeks

Rhubarb Apple Crumble

Parsnip Soup:
1. Chop one onion and sauté in butter. Add 1 clove chopped garlic.
2. Add 3 chopped up parsnips, 1 sprig of thyme and season with salt.
3. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, then pour over some vegetable or chicken stock.
4. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat so that it is gently simmering for 15 minutes.
5. Remove the thyme stem and puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh sieve and use the back of your ladle to push the soup through, back into the same pot. Re-heat, ladle into 2 bowls and crumble Stilton on top just before serving. 

Smoked Trout with Crème Fraîche and Braised Leeks:
1. Buy the smoked trout locally. In Toronto, Roncesvalles is the best place to find really good smoked fish.

2. Buy crème fraîche or make it quickly:
(recipe from Chow)
- Combine  ¾ cup heavy cream, ¼ cup sour cream and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes
- Whisk them together until soft peaks form
- Use right away or refrigerate and use within 24 hours, whisking gently before serving if required.

3. Braised leeks:
- Chop off the top part of the leek that is very green and compost it
- Split the rest of the leek down the centre, lengthwise and wash under running water thoroughly. (Leeks grow in sandy soil)
- Put the leeks flat side up in a baking dish and pour over 1/2 cup orange juice and then dot the top with knobs off butter (about 1 tbsp per side).
- Cover and put into a 350˚ oven for 15 minutes, until tender – but not mushy.

Rhubarb Apple Crumble:
1. Chop up 3 stems of rhubarb and combine with 2 chopped apples in a mixing bowl
2. Add ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp butter and a pinch of salt
3. Put into a greased baking dish
4. In a bowl, combine 1 cup all purpose flour, ½ cup cold butter and ½ cup brown sugar
5. Massage the mixture gently but quickly with the tips of your fingers until crumbs form in the size of peas.
6. Put the crumble on top and bake in a 350˚ oven until the crust is golden and the apples and rhubarb are bubbling beneath, about 20 minutes. Serve with some ice cream or whipped cream.

This sexy meal will have you happily enjoying Valentine's Day in no time (and with far less fuss than usual).


  1. Not sure if I would go with parsnip or leeks to fire up my romantic dinner. I think I am going to go with a dozen Kusshi Oysters raw on the half with home-made mignonette to start, then maybe a seared ahi tuna with a light ponzu (if I can find yuzu), and then for dessert either a dark chocolate and rasberry mousse, or chili chocolate pot de creme with strawberries or rasberries. Pair that with a nice gewurtz for the appy, a nice sake with the fish, and a muscato with the chocolate (not for me though as I will have scotch and no chocolate).

    that should set things up nicely. Now to shop!

  2. Just an update, i decided to go with the following: Avacado, Feta, and Tomatoe salad with a Meyer lemon vinagrette followed with Qualicum Bay Scallops, pan seared on top of braised red wine infused cabbage topped with some meyer lemon and a lamb demi. Main is a frenched rack of lamb crusted with coriander, fennel, and cumin, sitting on a morel mushroom dux in lamb demi, on top of garlic mash. Dessert is a raspberry sorbet with raw caocao nibs.

    Or at least that is the plan, and what the groceries are now supporting. Wine to start is the pfaffenheim gewurtz, red is the 2007 mouton cadet. Dessert... haven't sorted wine... i will still probably have scotch.


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