Prepare a special meal, dessert on Feb. 14

Food is an ideal way to show your partner how much you care while celebrating Valentine’s Day

It is Valentine’s Day, a day to let your partner know just how much they mean to you.

For some people, that means showering their partner with flowers and candy. For others, it’s just paying more attention to them — perhaps giving them a back rub.

But one of the best ways to let someone know how much you love them is with food. Prepare a special meal, maybe filling the menu with favorite foods.

To do that, you may want to make a simple meal for your children and a special dinner for your special someone.

And on Valentine’s Day, it may be time for dessert as well — even if you don’t usually indulge.

While chocolate is a traditional flavor for this special meal, you could also highlight fruits and berries for a delicious but healthy dessert.

Whatever you make, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Try strawberries dipped in melted chocolate  or a parfait made by tossing 1/2 cup raspberries with 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur, then layering that mixture with crumbled brownies and chocolate ice cream in two glasses and topped with whipped cream and more raspberries.

Chocolate can be used in cookies that are delicious as they are or dipped in a fondue to create a decadent treat.

You could bake a cake using small baking pans to create individual servings, then place them on a dusting of cocoa or powdered sugar on a plate.

Garnish with fresh fruit slices, whipped cream or ice cream

Or melt some semisweet chocolate, then dip half of a large marshmallow in the chocolate.

Let the excess chocolate drip off, then top with chopped pistachios, shredded coconut, crumbled graham crackers or any favorite topping.

Let the chocolate set for a minute before eating.

Whatever your forte, enjoy a special Valentine’s Day meal.

Following are ideas for entrees and desserts sized for two from dessertfortwo.com.

 

 

dessertfortwo.com

Red Velvet Cake Truffles

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 egg white
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 ounces almond bark (or white chocolate), for coating

    Place four cupcake liners on the outside edge of a muffin tin.
    In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In another bowl, beat together canola oil, sugar, buttermilk, egg white, red dye, vinegar and vanilla using an electric mixer.
    Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing all the while. Divide the batter between the four cupcake liners and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
    Crumble the cupcakes into crumbs. In a bowl, mix the softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add crumbs and stir well. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and roll into balls. Place on a plate and refrigerate at least four hours.
    Chop the almond bark into 1-inch chunks and place in a bowl. Heat on medium power in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until melted. Dip each ball into the coating quickly, using a fork to turn, then let them dry on a piece of wax paper.
    Truffles can be made three days ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

 

Cheesecake for Two

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh fruit, for serving

    In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on high about 30 seconds, until soft and creamy.
    In another small bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla.
    Add half the whipped cream to the cream cheese and beat on medium speed until combined. Repeat with the remaining half.
Divide cheesecake between two ramekins. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours.
    Serve with fresh berries.

 

Molten Chocolate Cakes

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter. Heat in 15-second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between, until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from the microwave before the chips melt all the way and stir to melt them entirely. The mixture should be smooth and shiny.
    In a medium bowl, beat egg, egg yolk and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy — mixture should fall off the beaters in ribbons.
    Add salt, espresso powder and vanilla extract and beat until just combined. Stream in the melted chocolate and butter and beat until combined. Fold in flour with a spatula.
    Divide the mixture between two small ramekins that have been coated with cooking spray. Place on a small baking sheet and bake in a 425-degree oven for 13 to 14 minutes, until the tops of the cakes appear dry and the edges start to turn dark brown.
    Let cakes rest for one minute on the baking sheet. If you let them sit longer, they will finish cooking al the way through. Run a knife around the edges of each ramekin, and tip the cake out onto the plate.
    Serve immediately.

 

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips

    In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed about 20 seconds, until fluffy. Add sugars and beat about 30 seconds, until it turns a pale color and is fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
    Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl.Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
    Scoop dough into 12 balls and space them evenly on a light colored baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Bake in a 375-degree oven for eight to 10 minutes, removing cookies from the oven when the edges just start to turn golden brown.
    Let cookies rest on the baking sheet for one minute before moving them to a wire rack to cool.

 

 Lobster Risotto

2 lobster tails, fully defrosted
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup minced onion or shallot
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups warm chicken broth
Chives, for garnish

    Bring about six cups of water to a simmer in a two-quart saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons salt, then add the lobster tails. Adjust the heat to maintain a constant simmer — never a boil — and cook lobsters for eight to nine minutes. Before removing from the water, ensure the meat is tender by poking it all the way through in several places with a toothpick.
    Use sharp kitchen shears to split each tail into two pieces. Use two forks to gently pry the meat away from the shell. You can serve it in the shell, or remove the meat and dice for stirring into the risotto.
    Place olive oil and one tablespoon butter in a heavy saucepan, turn heat to medium and melt the butter. When it starts sizzling, add onions  and cook about three minutes, until soft and translucent.
    Stir the rice into the onions and cook five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the rice start to turn translucent.
    Stir in the wine and salt and cook, stirring continuously, until liquid is almost entirely absorbed. Add the chicken broth, 1/2 a cup at a time, continuously stirring until each addition is almost absorbed before the adding the next. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to complete the process. When you’re down to the last 1/2 cup of broth, taste rice to see if it’s al dente.
    When the rice is done, turn off the heat and add 1 tablespoon butter. Stir until melted.
    Melt the remaining butter.
    Divide the risotto between two plates, top each with a lobster tail and drizzle lobster with melted butter.

 

Brown Butter Risotto With Grilled Artichokes

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
3/4 cup  white table wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups low sodium chicken broth, hot
2 whole artichokes, cleaned and trimmed
Olive oil
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Lemons, for garnish

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Let it cook undisturbed until the fat starts sizzling and until it turns a dark caramel color. Remove from the heat immediately and strain into a bowl.
    Place 1 tablespoon browned butter back into the pan and cook the chopped onions over medium heat five to seven minutes, until softened. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add rice to the saucepan, and cook about five minutes, until the edges just start to appear translucent. Pour in the wine and cook until almost evaporated.
    Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the rice and cook, stirring continuously, until almost absorbed. Repeat with the remaining broth until the rice is al dente and creamy, about 20 minutes. When done, drizzle in the remaining browned butter.
    Grease grill with olive oil, then grill cleaned and trimmed artichokes on a grill pan until nicely charred.
    In a separate bowl, stir together mayonnaise, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
    Divide risotto between two plates, top each with a grilled artichoke and dollop of the smoked paprika mayo. Add lemon slices on the side for garnish.

 

Easy Chicken Parmesan

For tomato sauce:
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt
For chicken and spaghetti:
1/4 cup flour
1 large egg
3/4 cup panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
Salt
Pepper
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ounces whole-milk fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
4 ounces uncooked spaghetti

    For sauce, pulse tomatoes in a food processor six to eight times, until coarsely ground.
    Saute garlic in two tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat about two minutes, until fragrant but not burned. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in basil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
    Spread flour in a shallow dish. Beat egg in a second shallow dish. Combine panko and Parmesan in a third shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then egg, then panko.
    Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Gently lay chicken in the oil and cook four to six minutes per side, until golden brown on each side and the chicken registers 160 degrees. Place on a baking sheet.
    Divide cheese over the chicken, then broil until the cheese melts.
    Cook pasta in ample boiling water and toss with tomato sauce. Serve chicken with pasta and tomato sauce on the side.

 

Cowboy Steaks

2 10-ounce London broil steaks
2 teaspoons coffee grounds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried onion powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons steak seasoning mixture
    
    Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over high heat. Once the pan is hot enough that you can only hold your hand a few inches from the surface for a few seconds, turn heat to medium.
    Combine the coffee grounds, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Rub mixture generously on all side of the steaks.
    Add vegetable oil to the pan and tilt carefully to coat evenly. Add steaks and do not move for at least five minutes, then flip the steaks. Cook another four to nine minutes, depending on how you like your meat.
    When the steaks are five-degrees undercooked, remove from the pan and wrap in foil. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
    Place Brussels sprouts, steak seasoning and olive oil on a half-sheet pan. Toss to coat, then roast in a 400-degree oven for 13 to 16 minutes.
    Serve with steaks immediately.

 

Beef Bourguignon for Two

3 ounces bacon, chopped
1/2 pound beef stew meat
1 carrot, sliced into 1-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef broth
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
For onions:
6 ounces baby onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
For mushrooms:
12 button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For mashed potatoes:
3 russet potatoes
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

    Cook chopped bacon in a two-quart cast iron braising pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bacon is no longer pink and starts to crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan. Set aside.
    Generously sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, then place in pot with bacon grease. Sear beef on all sides. Add sliced carrot and red onion to the pan and cook three to five minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Sprinkle flour over vegetables and meat, then cook one minute, stirring. Add wine, beef broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and garlic clove. Add bacon pieces and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover pot and place in a 325-degree oven for two hours, stirring after the first hour.
    About an hour before beef mixture is done, peel onions and slice off the root ends. Place the onions in a skillet with butter and olive oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and sear five to six minutes, until onions start to caramelize in a few places.
    Add beef broth, bay leaf, thyme sprig, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and cook until the beef broth reduces to a syrupy liquid and the onions are soft. Pour the onion mixture into a bowl.
    Without wiping out the pan, add mushrooms, olive oil and butter. Turn heat to medium and cook seven to eight minutes, until mushrooms start to caramelize around the edges. Remove mushrooms from the pan and add to the onions.
    When the beef is done, remove the lid and stir in the onions and mushrooms.
    Peel and chop potatoes, then place in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a gentle boil. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain potatoes, then place them back in the saucepan. Add buttermilk and butter, cover pan and let it rest five minutes. Mash potatoes  and salt and pepper to taste.
    Divide mashed potatoes between two bowls and top with a generous serving of stew. Sprinkle with parley before serving.

 

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