Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Romantic Homegrown Dinner Menu Celebrates Cupid & Love

Our Homegrown Valentine’s Menu was memorable – from the tasty food to the heart-felt plated presentations.

I want to share our cupid-inspired dishes with you so that can re-create some heart-throbbing food memories of your own using these suggestions. 

Better yet, build on these; and let me know what you made for dinner this weekend.

It was a fun-filled double header: Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. 
This calendaring set up a whole lot of Martha Stewart-filled chances to theme the tablescapes, floral designs, and menus.
From candy hearts messages to chocolate to cherry pie to… 

On Friday the 14th, I shot my arrow and posted my Valentine’s Day Food & Drink story on Examiner about Kitchensurfing – a service that matches up chefs and people who not only love food but also need a cook. 

Following that fun foodie story I got down to the business of romance.

We all know the way to our hearts is through our stomach.
I further the delicious detour…

Remember the French adage: “The eyes eat first.”
So the presentation is paramount. And fun to prepare.

Next stop on the food journey to the heart are the taste buds. 
This is a long, luxurious stopover…

So after a trip to the markets, it was time to organize the menu and get to the preparation.

Just remember, of all the ingredients, the best one is love…
Have fun, relax and enjoy.

Homegrown Valentine’s Menu

Roederer Champagne – option to add Solerno Sicilian Blood Orange liquor or Lillet with a slice of blood orange. www.roederestate.com  and www.solernoliquer.com 

Crisp, cold Martini – You must make them with the classic, dry Dolan Blanc Vermouth (made with the same great recipe since 1821) & LiV Vodka – this is Long Island premium potato vodka.  With hints of fruit, vanilla and anise.

I’ve written about LiV – they have a fascinating, story – a true American success story.  A dedicated, quality, tasty, success story. (They also produce sorbets using local Long Island fruits, and award-winning Pine Barrens whisky – the first made in Long Island - repurposing the used oak barrels or casks from local Out East vineyards.
I’ve also been privileged to have done a Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook book signing at their distillery in Baiting Hollow in the heart of wine country – and surrounded by 5,000 acres of potato farms!

Pair the Homegrown Martini with Long Island Blue Point Oysters – with mignonette sauce made from our garden’s shallots and champagne vinegar.
It’s all the romance and beauty of the sea on that gorgeous oyster shell. Slurp with abandon.

The first course was “Heart-Beets.” 
Cute, right?

I got the recipe from the Food Loves Writing bog and then adapted it a bit. http://foodloveswriting.com/2014/02/03/heart-beet-patties-with-pecorino-garlic-butter-and-beet-greens-pesto/

I highly recommend this Heart-Beet dish.  It’s made with fresh beets, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, topped by its own beet pesto.
What’s not to love?

The beets are shredded and after the flour and cheese – and our Homegrown garden garlic was added, I worked it like bread dough.  It looked not unlike chopped meat.
I rolled out half the ball – it was almost like cookie dough. 
I then cut out the beet patties.
You can use a cookie cutter. I used heart-shaped ramekin dishes/cups. 

We love beet tops -- I usually cook them in olive oil, with garlic and anchovy paste.
I can’t believe it’s the first time we used the beet greens to make pesto. Especially since my husband make THE best basil pesto. 
Seriously.  And it’s not just my opinion.  He could sell it.  He has legions of Pesto fans.  He used lots of fresh cheese.  And walnuts vs. pignoli nuts

The Heart Beets were to be about ¼” or so thick. 
They are cooked for about 10 minutes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. 

The cooked beets are matched up again with their green tops – that we made into pesto.
Sweet love reunited.  
Sinatra could’ve been crooning, “Love is lovelier, the second time around…”

The Heart-Beets are just so darned adorable! 

They are also filling. 
The recipe calls for them to be stacked. 
And they do look impressive, towering with a Mies van der Rohe nobility. 

With the Heart-Beets, we sipped a light, poised French rosė: Chateau d’Eslcans Whispering Angel – often referred to as “The Water of the Hamptons” because it’s enjoyed with abandon and frequency all summer in the Hamptons.  Or as long as one can get the rosė.
It is made in limited supply and sells out quickly especially during the summer.

Meanwhile, I had made the lemon rice to accompany the Angry Lobster entrée. 
Angry Lobster is a fiery, spicy lobster made with red cayenne pepper.  Just what one needs to fire up a romantic meal...
I used our homemade chicken stock in the rice for an added heart-warming zing of taste.

With the entrée we enjoyed a Morgan Pinot Noir https://www.morganwinery.com characterized as the “Crown Jewel of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine is terrific and went so well with the spicy lobster.  It is described as a: beautiful combination of earthy and floral, highlighted by dried herbs and raspberries. Black cherry, sweet oak and spice seamlessly transition from nose to the palate.

With Mother’s homemade bread and the candles and fireplace ablaze, we were all set.
Bill brought a vase filled with white roses and stargazer lilies and orange leaves.  
So rich looking against the wood table - and fragrant, too.

We topped it off with our homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Valentine’s Dinner was delicious and pretty.

The next day, I couldn’t wait to use those heart ramekins again.  I feel badly I’ve neglected them for so long, only using previously for desserts.

Saturday, we made individual lasagna servings in the heart dishes. 
Another triumph – made with homemade mozzarella and ricotta from the local Italian store, along with our garden tomatoes (I had frozen a lot in bags) and our homegrown garlic. 

Tear off some of Mother’s Italian bread and wow.   Simple and delicious.

President’s Day included what else? Cherry Pie!
Mother makes this favorite of Bill’s on more than one occasion – and I can’t tell a lie - with the homemade ice cream – it was an indulgence that I couldn’t resist.  

What did you make this long food-loving weekend?


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