Avoid a Valentine’s Day Disaster!Monday, February 11
Alright gentlemen, this one is for you. Last year at this time my column fell on February 15th, the day after Valentine’s and I wrote about saving your bacon after forgetting to do something special for your significant other. This year, you’re a year older and a year wiser. You’ve learned from your missteps last year, and hopefully your better half stuck around long enough for you to make it right this go around. Thanks to the leap year I get the chance to put this out the day before the big day and help to steer you in the right direction. What? You don’t remember how bad you messed up last year? You don’t have a reservation at one of our restaurants for the big night? Don’t worry, I ‘ve got you covered.
Instead of scrambling to call every restaurant in town desperately trying to find the last possible table available try something different to impress her this year. Make dinner yourself. I know, I know, you don’t know how to boil water. Relax, cooking is not that hard, and she will greatly appreciate the effort you went through to create a unique and memorable experience for the two of you, rather than simply filing into a packed restaurant like virtually everyone else out there.
Every good evening together should start with a beverage, and what better way to celebrate your love than to share in some sparkling wine. This year though, try something different, instead of simply picking up a bottle of bubbly prepare for her a tasty sparkling cocktail. Here is one of my favorites.
The Red Stiletto
For each cocktail:
1 oz. frozen strawberry puree, I prefer the Boiron variety, but Oasis, or anything similar will do
½ oz. pineapple juice
½ oz. Chambord royale
4 oz. champagne, or sparkling wine
1 pc. lemon twist, for garnish
- Ensure all of the ingredients are well chilled
- In a champagne flute place strawberry puree, pineapple juice and Chambord royale, stir to combine with a spoon
- Top with 4 oz. of sparkling wine
- Garnish with a lemon twist
Now that you have a cocktail to set the mood handled it’s time to set about figuring out dinner. In order to determine what to make for her it’s going to have to start with knowing a little bit about what she likes to eat. Chances are if you listened to her at all throughout your relationship she might have shared some clues about things she likes and doesn’t. Think back to your recent restaurant visits, what did she rave about, and more importantly, what did she not enjoy? You do listen while she talks don’t you? No? Well, there may be no hope for you after all. If that’s the case the only thing that may save you is to head to the nearest jewelry store and pick up something with a lot of carats.
If you have been paying attention and you have some clue, piece together what you think you are capable of creating. Don’t overthink it either. It could be as simple as putting together a picnic type meal, with an assortment of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, nuts and some fresh baked breads and crackers. It could be as elaborate as beef wellington. It will depend on your level of comfort in the kitchen. Remember, she will appreciate the fact that you took it upon yourself to create a special experience for her, rather than simply sticking with the standard flowers or box of chocolates.
A personal favorite for me to start any great meal is to shuck some fresh oysters. If you have it in you to use an oyster shucker then this can end up being a simple, yet tasteful way to set the mood for the evening. A little squeeze of fresh lemon and splash of Tabasco is all you need to compliment these supple gifts of the ocean, and there is something to be said about their powers as an aphrodisiac.
I will leave the main course up to you. After all, I can’t do all the work for you. Do keep in mind that you want to keep things light and fun. There is nothing that can kill the mood more than sitting down to a heavy meal. Serving something hands on can help to make things a little more enticing too. Don’t forget to save a little room for dessert because I’ve got something simple enough that even you can’t screw up and is sure to make your lady melt.
You would be hard pressed to find a lady who doesn’t love a classic chocolate dipped strawberry, after all, both chocolate and strawberries happen to be aphrodisiacs, which might really help to end the evening off just the way you hoped it would. Let’s take the classic pairing of chocolate and strawberries and crank it up a bit though.
Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Prep time: 30 minutes at most
Feeds: 2 silly!
½ pint strawberries
100 gr. dark chocolate, I recommend Callebault or Valrhona
2 slices New York style cheesecake
The cheesecake is the kicker. You can make this yourself, but if the idea of baking a cheesecake is completely out of the question then don’t sweat it. Your neighborhood grocery store likely has a good quality cheesecake ready to go for you. They probably have a small, or personalized sized cheesecake so that you don’t even have to buy a full one.
- Remove the two slices cheesecake from the fridge and slice away the crust, preserving only the cream cheese portion
- Place in a bowl and allow to soften at room temperature
- Using a fork, work to spread the cheesecake in the bowl to make it spreadable, if you find it a touch dry you can easily add a teaspoon of cream, or even milk to help smooth it out
- Now, using a paring knife slit the strawberry from the bottom to the top, stopping short of cutting it through, the intention is to create a clamshell effect
- Now, gently open the strawberry, being careful not to break it apart
- If you have one, place the cheesecake puree in a piping bag and gently pipe a tablespoon into the opening of the strawberry
- Not confortable using a piping bag, don’t sweat it, use a spoon to gently smear the cheesecake filling inside the strawberry using a spoon
- Set on a plate and place in the fridge
- Place a small pot which about an inch of water on the stove and bring to a boil
- Coarsely chop or grate the chocolate and place into a metal bowl
- Cover with plastic wrap and place over the top of the pot of boiling water
- Allow the chocolate to melt, 4-5 minutes
- Remove the plastic, being careful not to let any water into the chocolate
- Place the chocolate in a small round cup, something deep enough to allow you to dip the strawberries, and not so large that the chocolate doesn’t fill the cup up high enough
- Remove the strawberries from the fridge and dip into the chocolate one at a time and then place on a platter
- Set aside to cool and get ready to enjoy some yummy goodness
If this tasty finish to the evening doesn’t go about earning you some much needed brownie points, then there is nothing more I can do for you! Happy Valentines everyone!