This Valentine’s Day was special in more ways than one. On the food front, this post is brimming with delicious photos that will make your mouth water. Scroll all the way down to the very end- and be prepared to feel suddenly famished and terribly hungry. Fear not, friends- all the recipes are included!
Mom was able to spend a quiet day with her sweet kids and awesome hubby – who made sure to buy aromatic flowers, deep, rich chocolate and scarlet, full-bodied wine for their leading lady. Well done, Dad and munchkins! Plus, my sweet brother (love you, Pat!) sent the most touching card and gift; his note encouraged me to keep blogging, photographing, writing. It means so much that he, like many, see so much in- and believe in- me. No matter how much higher education came before life as “a stay-at-home mom” (domestic engineer?) with (in this case three) young cherubs, mothers are happy to be reminded they have myriad skills (that don’t apply to dispensing hugs, folding laundry and changing diapers).
The Valentine’s Day meal, well, it was fantastic. The kids were fast asleep and the parents dined. The hubby helped cook; this reminds me of early married life spent together in the kitchen (pre-MD, pre-kids, but just the same in terms of l-o-v-e). It was pretty fabulous to have such a good-looking sous chef- and one with exceptional knife skills. If you’re married to a surgeon, get him or her in the kitchen! They’ll sharpen your knives; cut even, beautiful mirepoix and measure ingredients with a scientist’s precision.
The meal’s ingredients were local, organic and super fresh; their presence in our icebox inspired the creation of the mouth-watering, colorful recipes below. Beautiful produce (juicy tomatoes, crisp chard…) and gorgeous, creamy cheeses lead to undeniably delectable and creative culinary delights. Like a good artist needs a muse, a cook requires a few fantastic foods to drive a dish. Fortunately, this Mom made a trip to the local food Co-Op on Friday.
Mom and Dad both had some rough recipe ideas of what they wanted to cook and devour for the special meal. Dad wanted a firm, white fish with a spicy, citrus sauce and a lemony chard. Mom required two colorful salads, one with beets and tomatoes, the other with sweet fruits and crunchy nuts… And at least one artisan cheese in sight. In this case, a favorite pungent, blue-veined chèvre, Humboldt Fog, prevailed (a thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift from Dad). There was a fantastic bottle of wine for the meal. Another requirement of Mom’s; Dad certainly didn’t decline his glass.
Some of the recipes (as always) included garlic- and sweet, caramelized onion. After fourteen years of Valentine’s Day dinners, no one here is phased by a big smooch with a hint of “aromatics.” Still, garlic-infused oil (or any flavor-infused oil) offers a complex, clean, mellow flavor the raw form cannot. Plus, high-quality infused oils cut down on meal prep-time and ingredients.
Obviously, both of the diners were in agreement on dessert: chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. A light, luscious chocolate mousse is layered with juicy macerated fruits, pillowy white clouds of freshly whipped coconut cream and shaved hazelnut dark chocolate. Add some nibs for a bit of crunch and extra bitter, earth cocoa notes. Oh, and this bowl of silky, chocolate-laiden divinity is majestically dairy-free. Hey, a glass of bubbling of champagne and a big, glorious bowl of this mousse (and the decadent accoutrements) is a perfect, lazy dinner after a long day. Double the recipe if you agree!
Of course, there is nothing better than leftovers. The herbed beet and tomato salad are fantastic tossed with spring mix, roasted kabocha winter squash, oil and balsamic vinegar for a light Sunday lunch the next day.
The complex, deep flavors of the remaining citrus harissa purée , which topped our fish, will be drizzled over medium-rare steaks and roasted vegetables (cauliflower, asparagus, eggplant, potatoes) for an easy, fresh and flavorful take-two meal the eve after Valentine’s Day.
What made your Valentine’s Day special? Did you prepare anything you’ll remember to make again next year? Share the Valentine’s Day foods and moments that are etched in your memory in the comments section. Wishing each of you nothing but good things – and good food.
Truffled Deviled Eggs
Yield: ten egg halves
5 perfectly medium-boiled eggs, halved
2 Tablespoons finely chopped chives
2-4 teaspoons high quality truffle oil, to taste
a few pinches of Maldon sea salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to mix into the “devilish” paste and crack atop the finished egg, to taste
2 Tablespoons high-quality canola oil mayonnaise or Greek yogurt, homemade or store-bought
Mix the egg yolks, truffle oil, Maldon sea salt and pepper in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chives.
Divide the mixture evenly between the ten halved egg whites.
Season with additional sea salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Light, Luscious Dark Chocolate Mousse (dairy-free)
Yields: two servings
1 very ripe avocado
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup raw, local honey (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
2 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee, cooled
2 Tbsp. elderflower liqueur
3 teaspoons ground chia seeds/chia powder
To garnish: coconut whipped cream (homemade or store-bought), fresh berries tossed with orange liqueur, shavings of hazelnut dark chocolate
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Place the mixture in a bowl in the refrigerator to chill for several hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, layer the mousse, coconut whipped cream and berries in a clear glass. Garnish with shaved chocolate.
Vibrant Rainbow Chard
Yields: to servings
1 large bunch (or two small bunches) of rainbow chard, washed, dried, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1 small or 1/2 large sweet yellow onion, halved and sliced into small-to-medium sized strips
1 Tablespoon garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, homemade or store-bought, or more, if needed.
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425•F. Divide the chard between two pans. Place the onion on a separate pan.
Drizzle all the pans with the oil and sprinkle the chard (only) with sea salt and pepper.
Bake until the chard is crisp and the onion is slightly caramelized, about ten to fifteen minutes. Keep an eye on the onions, as they burn quickly.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle the onions with sea salt and pepper.
Toss the chard mixture with the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and additional sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
White Fish with Citrus Harissa Purée
Yields two servings of fish, plus additional purée to save for another day
Ingredients for the fish:
2, six-ounce fillets of white fish
Maldon sea salt or kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Ingredients for the sauce:
1/4 cup garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, homemade or store-bought
1 clove of garlic
2 Valencia oranges, peeled, seeds removed, and sliced into small squares, plus the zests of both oranges
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-4 Tablespoons Harissa paste, to taste
2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 3 teaspoons fresh)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Maldon sea salt or kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste.
To garnish: 1 Tablespoon Thinly sliced scallions
Preheat the broiler to high. Place the fish on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive. Season with salt and pepper.
Broil until the fish is cooked through and lightly golden on top. The fish will flake easily when done.
Keep an eye on the fish; the cook time will vary based on the thickness of your fish. Place the fish on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Place all ingredients for the purée in a food processor and process until very smooth. Taste and add additional sea salt and pepper, if necessary. Strain through a sieve for a silky texture or serve as is.
Drizzle the sauce over the cooked fish and serve.Sprinkle the scallions on top of the sauced fish. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator and use as a topping for any protein.
Herbed Beet and Tomato Medley
Yields: two to four servings
4 medium chioggia (candy striped beets), roasted, peeled, stems removed, halved and thinly sliced
2 medium organic, heirloom tomatoes or the best you can fine, halved and thinly sliced
fresh parsley and cilantro, or any combination of leafy herbs, chopped
garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper, taste
Optional: Billy Goat Blue or Roquefort cheese, to garnish
In a small bowl, layer the beets, tomatoes, drizzling each layer with oil and sprinkling with herbs, salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature.
Rosemary, Spinach and Pear Salad with Humboldt Fog, Candied Walnuts and Dried Cherries
Yields: two to four servings
5 ounces organic baby spinach
1 D’Anjou pear, julienned
12 baby carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal, about 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
To garnish: dried cherries, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, halved blueberry candied walnuts
Optional: additional salt and pepper, to taste
2-4 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette*, homemade (recipe below) or store-bought
Preheat oven to 375•F. On a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, toss two cups of candied walnuts in 1/4 cup Maine blueberry maple syrup and sprinkle generously with Maldon sea salt or kosher salt. Bake for eight to ten minutes, just until the nuts are a very light golden hue. Take care not to burn the nuts.
Toss the spinach, carrot, pear, balsamic vinaigrette and rosemary in a large bowl. Use just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens.
Divide salad into bowls and top with crumbles of goat cheese, dried cherries and candied walnuts, to taste
*to make your own vinaigrette, place four Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, two Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon Dijon mustard (or more, to taste), two pinches of fine salt and one pinch of cracked black pepper in a small mason jar. Add a pressed garlic clove or two teaspoons of finely minced shallot, if you have them on hand. Shake vigorously until fully combined. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature so the finished product is emulsified and smooth.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013-2015), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.