Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dining At Home on Valentine's Day

This Valentine’s Day make reservation for in home dining with your sweetheart or with family and friends. It does not matter if you are the partner that regularly prepares the meals or the one that never prepares a meal. Dining at home gives you a chance to participate in creating a meal with your partner and or family and friends then sit down and enjoy it together with the people you love.
In planning your meal consider having three or four course as if you were in a restaurant. The preparation of each can be divided among all participants. For the first course make it special in that it sets the tone for the rest of the meal. Here are a few suggestions for the appetizer and salad course. Notice the recipes all feature a food item considered to be an aphrodisiac.

First Course
Roasted Oysters
Makes12 appetizer servings
*       2 dozen fresh oysters in the shell (Bluepoints or other large flat-shell oysters)
*       1.5 pounds rock salt
*       1/2 cup diced tomatoes, drained
*       1 jalapeño pepper minced
1/2 cup thinly bias-sliced green onions
*       lemon wedges
1.     Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
2.     Scrub oysters under cold running water. Spread rock salt on a heavy roasting pan or baking sheet lined with parchment. Arrange the oysters, curved shell down, on rock salt so the oysters are stabilized.
3.     Bake the oysters for 10 minutes or until the top shells just begin to open. Remove oysters as they pop and continue baking until all are done. Repeat with remaining oysters.
4.     Hold the roasted oyster in an oven mitt with the flat side up. Using a strong-bladed knife with a hand guard, insert the knife tip into the hinge between the shells. Twisting the blade to pry open the oyster, move the blade along the inside of the upper shell to free the muscle from the shell. Remove and discard the top shell of the oyster. Slide the knife under the oyster to sever the muscle from the bottom shell. Use this shell for serving the oyster on the half shell. Discard any bits of shell on the oyster. Transfer to a platter lined with rock salt.
5.     Mix diced tomatoes, scallions and jalapeno peppers together. Top each oyster with a table spoon of the mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.

Caramelized Onion and Fig Bruschetta

*       12 bias-cut slices (about 1/2 inch thick) baguette-style French bread
*       1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
*       2 to 3 tablespoons fig preserves
*       2 to 3 ounces sliced gouda cheese
1.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bread is crisp and lightly browned, turning once. Bread can be made ahead and stored in an air tight container
2.     Melt butter in a skillet over medium flame.  Add the onions cooking uncovered and stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until onions are soft and golden brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the prosciutto.
3.     To assemble, spread fig preserves on toasted bread slices; top with onion mixture and gouda cheese. Return bread slices to the baking sheet. Bake about 3 minutes or until Bruschetta is heated through and cheese is softened. Serve warm or cool. Makes 12 servings.
4.     The prosciutto can be substituted for Turkey bacon or omitted from recipe.
Smoked Salmon Crisps
Makes 3 dozen crisps
*       4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*       2 teaspoons sugar
*       1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*       1 chilled large egg white
*       4 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
*       1 tablespoon sesame seeds
*       4 ounces sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped
*       1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped shallot
*       1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped chives, plus a few snipped, for garnish
*       1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
*       Freshly ground white pepper
*       1/2 cup crème fraiche
*       ½ cup Pistachio nuts finely chopped
1.     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.     In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt to add air. Add the egg white to the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.  Then whisk in the butter until smooth and creamy.
3.     Spoon tablespoon of the batter 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and spread to 2-inch rounds. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake in the upper and middle third of the oven for about 15 minutes.  Pans can be rotated in the oven, until the tuiles are golden and fragrant. Let cool. The tuiles can be made up to two days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room.
4.     In a medium bowl, combine the salmon with the shallot, chopped chives, lemon zest, and a pinch of white pepper. Spoon the salmon onto the tuiles and top with a dollop of creme fraiche and a spinkle of pistachio nuts. Serve right away.
Your appetizer was a big hit so choose a salad that has character but does not over power the main entrée.  Here are two suggestions that are full of flavor.

Arugula, Carrot & Celery Root Salad with Almonds
Serves 6
*       2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*       2 tablespoons honey
*       1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
*       6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*       Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
*       3 medium carrots peeled
*       1 small celery root (6 – 8 ounces)trimmed
*       3 lightly packed cups baby arugula (about 3 ounces)
*       1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
*       1 ounces chopped fresh cilantro
*       Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1.     In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, and mustard. Whisk in the oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

2.     Grate the carrots and celery root in a food processor fitted with shredding disk. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the arugula, half of the almonds and half of the cilantro; lightly toss with the small amount of vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds and cilantro and serve.
Picture courtesy of

Raspberry, Avocado & Mango Salad

4 servings, about 1 cup each
*       1 cups fresh raspberries, divided
*       1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*       1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
*       1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
*       1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
*       1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
*       44    4 cups Field greens
*       1 ripe mango, diced
*       1 small ripe avocado , diced
*       1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion
*       1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
1.     Puree 1/2 cup raspberries, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender until combined.
2.     Combine greens, mango, avocado and onion in a large bowl. Lightly pour the dressing on top and gently toss to coat. (Reserve remaining dressing for a marinade.)
3.     Divide the salad among chilled salad plates. Top each with the remaining raspberries and sprinkle with nuts.
Preparing a meal together with someone you love can be fun and memorable. If the labor that comes with cooking and cleaning up afterwards does not fit your idea for a perfect romantic Valentine meal. Consider using a personal chef for At Home Cooking Lessons or Meal Makers Inc. to prepare and serve the meal in your dining room.  Look for our Valentine Entree and  Dessert suggestions in an upcoming post.

Some of the photos used are courtesy of
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  1. those salads look delicious!!

  2. With a lot of Food hygiene Certification courses in the Internet as well as safety training courses online, this should serve as among the solutions on the problems when it comes to food safety in every individual. We should learn from previous lessons and make use of our modern technology in providing a more safe and efficient food products and consumption globally.