Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seeing Red in A Dinner Menu

Seeing Red in a Dinner Menu

Not surprisingly, many cooks – home and restaurant -- were heart-fully throbbing a red-themed menu for Valentine’s Day. 

It’s fun to purposefully seek a way to put a menu together. 
So with cheer and love, put on those rose-colored glasses and look to recreate a rosy food look.

Red is the language of love.  Red-hot sparks February.  It may be the shortest month but it’s really long on holidays and parties.

From Lunar New Year to Valentines Day, Black History Month to Fashion Week and the tantalizing tail end of Restaurant Week.

If you are pulsing red, think about a dinner menu that starts with homemade tomato soup. 
At this time of year? 
If you didn’t pack away the tomatoes, you have to rely on the artisanal food makers from the Greenmarket like these Garden State geniuses who took the vine-picked red, juicy Jersey tomatoes, cooked and prepared: seasoned with parmesan cheese and canned or specifically jarred for winter time table treats.   Even the pooch was excited! 

For the entrée menu, think red, juicy rib-eye steak.  Shop Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com) or local greenmarket’s offerings. 

Season with fresh grown or fresh from the market herbs and spices: ground chile peppers, cumin seed, and pink peppercorns.
How glamorous and romantic to add a pretty-in-pink taste and visual to culinary cuisine? 

As per Amanda and Merrill
(www.food52.com) who recommend searing the meat on both sides and then add in beef broth and cook for a few more minutes.  

Add a lipstick-red, seasonal vegetable: Swiss Chard.

An easy to make and delicious recipe can be found in Melissa Clarke’s sassy, unique and utterly captivating cookbook, “In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite” Recipes and stories About the Food You Love…  www.melissaclark.net 

Basically, you cut the red stalks or stems from their leafy green tops.  Put a bit of olive oil in a pan with fresh garlic and some shallots.  Then put the red stalks, sliced coin-sized into the pan.  Cook until tender.  Meanwhile, roll the green, red-veined tops into a log and cut along the roll into quarter or half inch slices.  Did I hear you say “chiffonade?!”
Add to the red swiss chard in the pan and add a few squirts of anchovy paste for natural, tasty salt flavor.

There are red apples and red beets that are versatile and healthy and delicious!  

You can add to the menu with some petite red bliss potatoes.  Steam the small garnet jewels or slice and pan fry with garlic and olive oil. 

Also, it’s a great time to secure seasonal fresh mushrooms: oysters and shitake.  Wash and slice and cook in a pan with garlic and olive oil, adding in white, cannelloni beans.

Add in the love potion red wine – Valipocella is an amore Italian love choice to better complement and bring out the rich red taste of the meal. 

For dessert, there are the red cherry pie popsicles. They are so cute and seem to smile back at you.  Make or buy pie crusts, cut into rounds with a glass, fill the center with a teaspoon of cherry preserve filling – Solo is a good choice – since 1895!  www.solofoods.com 

Brush the round and cherry top with some milk.  Then insert the lollipop sticks purchased from craft stores: www   or use coffee stirrers doubled up.  Use two to a pie pop and insert into the cherry-filled round.  Place top round on cherry pie filling and brush with a tad more milk.  Fork close the edges around the pie pop.  Sprinkle with red sugar. Bake for about 10 or 15 minutes or until golden.
A fun and happy way to finish off a red-hot dinner.   Everyone can lickety-split their pie pops while mingling or mixing/mushing with ice cream.

Oh, well there is the dark side to contemplate: CHOCOLATE. 

What did you cook and enjoy for February=Food?

Cheers Darlings!

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