|Cocktail courtesy of Luksusowa
It's easy to fall in love. Staying in love is something else. Half the journey is tied into the thrill of the hunt. But once Cupid has successfully zeroed in on the heart...how do we keep the embers burning? Certainly through the intimacy of sensual supping. After all, we do employ the same senses — smell, taste, touch, mouth, tongue — to food as we do to passion. Something about the briny flavour and slippery sensation of a freshly shucked oyster. Or the warm moistness of a dark chocolate mousse.
But feelings of love can also be found in everyday foods that are anchored to that first blush of true love — a simple bowl of broth, or a sugar cookie — unleashing memories worth revisiting. Aphrodisiac? Pass me a wee plate of baby potatoes, freshly boiled with a touch of melted butter. However you look at food, and the role it plays in your love life...how about cooking up a little romance this Valentine's Day? Foods that will have you falling in love. All over again.
Delicate with lovely vanilla overtones, this cocktail is the perfect start to a perfect evening. Recipe courtesy of the uxurious Luksusowa Polish brand of vodka (Wjdeutschspirits.com.)
- .5 oz (1 Tbsp./15ml) cherry vodka
- 1/2 tsp. (2ml) Vanilla syrup*
- Vanilla stick garnish
Shake cherry vodka and vanilla syrup in a shaker with ice. Double strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with cold champagne, garnish and serve. Serves 1.
*Vanilla syrup can be purchased at any outlet that sells alcoholic products or in your grocery store and supermarket. You can make your own by boiling equal amounts of sugar and water with 1 tsp. (5ml) vanilla extract. Stores in fridge for two weeks.
“Nine times out of ten, good food is always the start of any good romance,” says Chef Mike Nezny of Toronto's Chop Steakhouse & Bar, who created this indulgent entree for a cozy dinner for two. (Chop.ca.)
- 1/4 red onion, finely diced
- 3 Tbsp. (45ml) lemon juice
- ¼ cup (60ml) lemongrass, chopped and crushed into 1-in pieces
- 6 Tbsp. (90ml) white wine
- ¾ cup (175ml) whipping cream
- 1/8 tsp. (.1ml) salt and black pepper
Combine red onions, lemon juice, and lemongrass in a medium pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Boil until thick and syrupy, and reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add white wine to reduced sauce. Bring to a boil. Boil, again, until thick and syrupy and again reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a full boil. Once boiling, immediately strain into a bowl, pressing on lemongrass and onion to release all flavours. Discard all solids. Set sauce aside.
- 1 lb. (450g) fresh mussels, scrubbed with beards removed
- ¾ cup (175ml) lemongrass sauce
- 2 Tbsp. (30ml) cilantro (finely chopped)
- 2 Tbsp. (30ml) tomato (finely diced)
Over high heat, cook mussels, lemongrass sauce, cilantro and 1 Tbsp. (15ml) of tomatoes in a large sauté pan with lid on, until all mussels are opened (about 2 minutes). Discard mussels not opened. Toss sauce & mussels to ensure a good coating of sauce on mussels. Pour cooked mussels into a large serving bowl. Use tongs to arrange most mussels facing up. Garnish with remaining diced tomato. Serves 2.
Spiced Chocolate Cream
Whoever heard of Valentine's Day without chocolate! This absolutely sensual sweet is the perfect ending to a perfect meal. Recipe courtesy of Green & Black’s Organic.
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream, with a little extra left over
- 1/2 small, fresh red chili, seeded
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 7 oz. (200g) good quality organic 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- Shortbread cookies, for dipping
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan slowly bring cream, chili, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves to a boil. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain infused cream into a measuring cup. Discard spices, and top off hot cream to 1 cup (250 ml) with your extra cream if level has gone down slightly. Bring infused cream back to a boil in pan and add chocolate. Remove from fheat and continue stirring until mixture has a velvety, smooth texture. Divide mixture between six cups or glasses and grate a little nutmeg over top. Serve warm or at room temperature with shortbread cookies to dip in. Serves 6.