Heating Things Up in the Kitchen…And Beyond!
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and if you are still trying to decide how to show that special someone you care, why not consider making them dinner? But not just any dinner. How about one bursting with aphrodisiacs in every course!
Throughout the ages lovers have attempted to make the connection between certain foods and romance. Artichokes, asparagus, chocolate, chili peppers, dates, figs, honey, lobsters, mushrooms, passion fruit (no surprise there – the name kind of gives it away!), ginger, truffles, veal, salmon, pomegranate, bananas, almonds, avocado, red wine, vanilla, bamboo shoots, fried chicken gizzards (really!?!?), leeks, marzipan, coriander, pistachios, cumin, basil, crayfish soup, calf’s brain, eggs, caviar, saffron, pepper, mustard and garlic are just a few of the foods that make the top of the teaser list.
But do aphrodisiacs really work? Do they truly have the power to induce amorous moods and lift the libido? Believe it or not, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that certain foods do in fact help get us “in the mood,” thanks in large part to their antioxidants, zinc, omega-3s, and unsaturated oils. So, with that in mind, why no spice things up with a little this Valentine’s Day with some capsaicin…indulge in the earthy, muskiness of a truffle, or nibble on some juicy pomegranate seeds. And while few things in life are guaranteed, the menu that follows is a good place to start! Just be sure to serve it with your favorite red wine. And if you needed any further encouragement, keep in mind that Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every day!
· 24 oysters, on the half shell
· 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small cubes
· 2 Tbsp. brandy
· Freshly cracked black pepper
· 1 tsp. thyme
· ¼ lb. bacon, cut into 2” slices
· ¼ C. Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 425°.
Place the oysters on a cookie sheet. Top each with a cube of butter, a sprinkle of brandy, pepper, thyme and a slice of bacon. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bacon cooks.
Top with parmesan cheese and finish in oven for 1 more minute.
Avocado & Grapefruit Salad
· 1 large red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
· 1 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
· Red onion slices
· Boston bibb lettuce
· ¼ C. grapefruit juice
· ¼ C. olive oil
· 1 Tbsp. honey
· Pinch of cayenne pepper
· Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Arrange the grapefruit and avocado over the lettuce on each plate. Top with red onion slices.
Whisk the vinaigrette together and serve over the salad.
Almond Crusted Salmon with a Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce
· ¼ C. almonds
· 1 Tbsp. flour
· ¼ C. panko
· ¼ tsp. ground coriander
· ¼ tsp. ground cumin
· 2 salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
· 2 egg whites
· Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500°.
Combine the almonds and flour in a food processor to grind. In a bowl, combine with the panko, coriander and cumin. Set aside.
Dip the fleshy side of the salmon in the egg whites. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the flesh side in the almond topping. Place the skin side down on a cookie sheet. Press the topping gently to the fish to adhere. Bake at 500° for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce
· ½ shallot, finely diced
· ¼ C. dry white wine
· ¼ C. white wine vinegar
· ¼ C. butter, unsalted, cut into pieces
· ½ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Combine the shallot, wine, & vinegar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until almost all of the liquor has evaporated. Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.
Molten Lava Cakes
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the ramekins
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of chipotle pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ C. all-purpose flour
1 ¼ C. confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)
3 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter four 6-ounce ramekins and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar.
Combine the butter, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk the flour, confectioners' sugar, eggs and yolks, vanilla extract and almond extract in a bowl until creamy. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Divide among the prepared ramekins.
Bake the cakes until the tops are stiff and the edges darken, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cakes with a small paring knife and transfer to plates while warm. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serves 4