This menu features three of my favorite Valentine’s Day recipes. I’ve written each of the recipes to serve two, since they’re designed for a night of seduction. However, I think they’re the kind of recipes you’ll want to add to your regular rotation. Each of them can be doubled fairly easily. Of course, if the results of this aphrodisiac meal are as successful as I’m predicting, you may want to keep them just between you and your lover.
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Seared Scallops
Scallops are the product of Aphrodite’s sea-foam voyage, and are high in phosphorus and iodine, which may have a beneficial effect on sexual potency. Mushrooms, along with their earthy sensuality, have high phosphorus and potassium content, as well as a magical, mythical reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac.
This main course of my Valentine’s Day recipes takes a little bit of technique but with good teamwork between you and your lover, you’ll easily conquer any cooking challenges together.
2 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb scallops, crescent-shaped muscles removed and discarded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb assorted mushrooms, such as Portobello, crimini, and shiitake, stemmed
Leaves from handful fresh thyme sprigs
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
4 cup canned chicken stock, heated
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Place a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle with a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper and brown well on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm while you make the risotto.
Reduce the heat to medium. Drizzle in another tablespoon of oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until soft. Toss in the mushrooms and herbs and cook until the mushrooms lose their liquid and are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir 2 minutes to coat with the oil; the grains will turn opaque. Season again. Stir in the wine and cook 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol.
Pour in 1 cup of the warm stock and stir with a wooden spoon until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Add another cup of stock. Continue in this way, stirring constantly and adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. When the risotto is cooked, fold in the butter and cheese, top with the scallops and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve hot. Garnish with parsley.
Seductive Chocolate-Espresso Souffles
1/4 cup sugar plus additional for coating gratin dishes
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 tbsp freshly brewed espresso
1 lg egg, separated
Preheat oven to 400º. Butter two 3/4 C gratin dishes and coat with additional sugar, shaking out excess.
In a small bowl blend together 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, butter, and a pinch salt until mixture forms into small pellets.
In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Whisk in flour mixture, chocolate and espresso. Cook mixture over low heat, whisking until thickened, about 15 seconds and cool 30 seconds.
In a bowl, whisk yolk lightly and whisk into chocolate mixture. In another bowl, whisk whites with a pinch of salt until they hold soft peaks and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, until meringue holds stiff peaks. Fold in remaining meringue gently but thoroughly.
Divide souffle batter between gratin dishes and put on a baking sheet.
Bake chocolate souffles in middle of oven for 15 minutes or until puffed.
A cocktail recipe for two really completes any list of Valentine’s Day recipes. Diane’s version is a simple, blush-pink variation on a martini with a hint of raspberry flavor.
1 oz currant-flavored vodka, like Absolute Kurant
1 oz Champagne or sparkling wine
1 oz Chambord
Mix vodka, Champagne and Chambord in an ice-filled shaker. Pour into a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a thin lime round or a strawberry.
Diane Brown is author of The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations For Lovers
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