Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Way To Your Honey's Heart: The Recipes

I wrote a post on WiseBread with ideas for a homemade Valentine's Day dinner that satisfies 3 requirements:
- It can be whipped up by any bachelor in any bachelor kitchen.
- The ingredients are inexpensive, and the meal will save you major bucks over a restaurant meal.
- It will turn out a result that is impressive, sophisticated, and delicious (which is to say, your girlie will be swooning).

The post is here.

The recipes are below. Good luck boys.

French Kisses

Variations on this recipe are all over the internet. Mine has a lipstick red cranberry in the center of each. You end up with a lot of the little guys, but they are irresistible. And you'll need a mini muffin pan.

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (2 sheets)
1/2 lb brie
about 1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce

Remove puff pastry box from freezer to begin thawing (give yourself enough time to follow package directions for thawing). Remove rind from brie if you wish. Cut brie into marble-sized pieces and place them on a plate. You should end up with 32 pieces of cheese. Put the plate in the freezer.

Once the puff pastry is thawed, preheat oven to 400F. Unfold one pastry sheet and press the seams together with your fingers. Cut it into quarters, then cut the quarters into quarters, so that you have 16 squares. Repeat with the second sheet.

Place a pastry square in each cup of a mini muffin pan. Press the center into the bottom of the cup, and keep the corners pointing up. Try to keep them even. Remove cheese from freezer, and place one piece in each cup. Top each with a single whole cranberry from the cranberry sauce.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown.

Broiled Fish Filets

The secret to this recipe is its versatility. It can work with any firm white fish (sole, cod, tilapia, trout, etc.), or even salmon fillets, and you can use your favorite fresh herb: dill, parsley, thyme, mint, basil are just a few ideas.

2 fish fillets
melted butter or olive oil
1 lemon
about 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh herbs

Preheat broiler. Grease a small ovenproof pan with butter or oil. Pat fillets dry with paper towels and place in pan. Brush fillets with more butter or oil; season with salt and pepper. Pour a thin layer of wine or vermouth around fish. Place pan under broiler. and cook until fish just begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Broilers cook food very fast, so check after 3 minutes.

Remove fish from heat. Halve lemon, and use one half to squeeze juice onto fish. Remove any seeds that may fall onto fish. Sprinkle herbs over fish, return to broiler for 1 more minute.

Serve with pan juices spooned over fish, and garnish each plate with a slice of lemon from the non-squeezed half.

Blanched Vegetables


Blanching is simply quickly boiling vegetables, then putting them under cold water to stop the cooking, so that they save their fresh color.

2/3 cup fresh vegetables (broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), cut into florets (except for Brussels sprouts)
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add vegetables and cook for about 3 minutes, until vegetables are slightly soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse vegetables under cold water. Toss with softened butter, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Basil would be the obvious choice of herb here, but mint, thyme, or sage are just a few other options.

1 one-pint package cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a single layer in a baking sheet or ovenproof dish for 10 to 15 minutes, until tomatoes just begin to soften. Remove from heat and sprinkle herbs over top.

Pasta Aglio Olio

Simple and delicious, you can serve this pasta on its own, or choose a small pasta shape (like orriechette, farfalle, or fusilli) and toss it with the roasted tomatoes above.

2 servings dry pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
crushed red pepper to taste [optional]
1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs
grated parmesan cheese [optional]

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic in a large pan over medium-low heat. After about 3 minutes, add pasta. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and toss. Remove from heat, and mix in herbs and cheese.

Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake

Doctor store-bought mix to make a dense, decadent, richly chocolatey chocolate cake. The key to making this look like more than just brownies is a round pan.

1 box dark chocolate brownie mix
eggs and vegetable oil, per brownie mix package directions, plus 1 egg
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur, rum, coffee liqueur, peppermint schnapps, orange liqueur, or prepared espresso [optional]
1 recipe chocolate ganache

Grease a round cake pan, springform pan, or pie dish. Dust pan with a small amount of brownie mix. Prepare brownie batter per package directions, with the following exception: add an extra egg. Bake per package directions; allow to cool 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut off the 'mound' that forms when the cake rises, so that the top of the cake is a flat surface. Run the knife around the circumference of the cake, then turn the cake out, upside down, onto a large plate or serving dish. If it sticks, hit the bottom of the pan firmly a few times. Drizzle the liqueur or espresso evenly over the top of the cake. Spread with ganache. Garnish servings with a few fresh raspberries, powdered sugar, or a small spring of fresh mint.

Chocolate Ganache

1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, heat cream in the microwave, full power, for 20 seconds. Add chocolate chips, and stir to melt the chocolate and combine with the cream. If mixture is not smooth, return to the microwave for another 10 seconds.

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