Thursday, February 12, 2009

Completely Sweet Valentine's Day Supper

Feeling McLovin’ and looking for a unique way to impress your dude or dudette this Valentine’s Day? Why not flash a peace sign, zip down to Montréal and enjoy a one-night stay at the exact same suite John Lennon and Yoko Ono lounged in during their 1969 Give Peace a Chance bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Yep, for a mere $2,000 CDN, or one very large coffee tin full of toonies, you and your sugar pie could enjoy a leisurely stay in legendary suite 1742 complete with souvenir Jo-Ko PJs, a bouquet of white flowers, wine, breakfast and dinner as ordered by the famous nesting lovebirds 40 years ago. Just imagine!

Or, you could KISS (keep it simple sweetheart), save those under-the-bed toonies for junior’s tuition and host your very own love-in with a simple “I wanna hold your hand” dinner at home—sans les enfants. Just select your favourite lounge crooner “romantic hits”, set a peaceful table for two—complete with flowers and candles—and serve up a Lovin’ Spoonful Valentine’s meal all of your own. Start with a heart-friendly cranberry and feta salad and follow that number with a medley of sesame carrots, red peppers and sugar snap peas, rosemary-roasted red potatoes, maple-nut crust baked salmon and a dessert of frozen vanilla yogurt laced with crushed hot-cinnamon hearts. Best of all, this meal can be prepared in advance or quickly assembled at the last minute, giving you lots of “quality time” to spend with your sweetheart! But before the chopping and romantic fireworks begin, agree on who is Chef or Sous-Chef and Give Peace a Chance.

Cranberry Feta and Roasted Walnut Salad
4 cups mixed greens
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tart, sliced apple

½ cup toasted walnut pieces mixed with:
1 tsp each melted butter, sugar and cinnamon

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp Dijon or old-style mustard
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Toss nut pieces with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Bake for 5-6 min at on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet for 325F. Let cool. Layer salad greens in a large, shallow salad bowl or on a large serving platter. Whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard and pepper in small bowl. Slowly add oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. Pour over salad greens. Toss gently to coat. Sprinkle cranberries, cheese, sliced apples and cooled walnuts over top. Serve immediately. Tip: Double or triple the dressing mixture and store in a glass jar, unrefrigerated. Keep large batches of the other salad ingredients in Ziploc bags in the refrigerator for quick salad prep. Imagine, you'll be getting your greens... every night!

Sesame Carrots, Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas
1 cup mini carrots
1 cup washed and trimmed sugar snap peas
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Steam carrots for 5 min. Add peppers and snow peas to carrots and steam for another 3 min or just until tender crisp. Drain water from pot. Over low heat, in the same pot toss carrots, peppers and peas with 1 tbsp sesame oil. Sprinkle 2 tbsp sesame seeds over top and mix well. Serve immediately.

Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes

6-8 small red potatoes
2 tbsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coarse salt
Wash potatoes (leave skins on) and slice in half. Boil for 12-14 min. Drain. Place potatoes in a foil-lined 13x9” baking dish. Mix together olive oil and rosemary. Pour oil mixture over potatoes and toss gently with a pastry brush. Sprinkle pepper and coarse salt over top. Bake for 45 min at 425 F (stirring at halftime) until lightly browned

Salmon with Maple-Nut Crust
This recipe is for one large tail piece of salmon with the skin on. The tail of the salmon is always the sweetest and leanest.
1 large tail piece of salmon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup almonds, pecans or shelled pistachios

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry salmon with paper towel and place skin side down (flesh side up) on the sheet. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Mix together syrup, curry and mustard. Chop up or crush nuts. Preheat oven to 425F. Spoon half of maple syrup mixture over fillets then sprinkle with nuts. Spoon remaining maple mixture over nuts. Cover the exposed areas of the sheet around the fish with tin foil pieces—this keeps the oil from splattering and burning. Bake in centre of oven at 425F for 35 min.

Crushed Hearts Vanilla Frozen Yogurt (pictured above)
3 cups very slightly melted and softened Vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream
3 tbsp crushed cinnamon hearts, reserve 1 tbsp
1/4 cup coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate bits
2-4 rolled wafers or chocolate biscuits
Chocolate syrup (optional)
In medium sized plastic tub mix frozen yogurt, 2 tbsp crushed cinnamon hearts and chocolate bits together well. Place mixture in the freezer. To serve, use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon and spoon into glass bowls. Garnish with rolled wafers or chocolate biscuits. Drizzle with chocolate syrup (optional). Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp crushed cinnamon hearts. Serve immediately.

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