Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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A Love-ly Menu for Valentine’s Day Dinner

February 14th, 2011 · No Comments

Cooking for someone special? Here’s a simple Valentine’s Day menu you still have time to pull off – with multiple choices. Make all or just some of the dishes. (HINT: The chocolate lava cake is easy – even if you never bake.)

Recipes follow.

Pinon Grill's Chocolate Cake Martini


Chocolate cake martini from Pinon Grill


Sparkling grape juice bellini

Virgin Bellini


Stone crab claws with mustard sauce


Baked brie with honey and fig jam


Torn Romaine with classic Caesar dressing and shaved Parmesan


Quinoa salad with pine nuts, lemon marmalade and parsley, drizzled with olive oil


Lamb chops rubbed with garlic and rosemary; cooked over charcoal or wood fire; or baked


Baked eggplant halves stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and basil

Poach pears in pomegranate juice instead of wine

Warm chocolate-cherry lava cake


Poached pears with caramel sauce

* * * * *

For the recipes, read more.

Pinon Grill’s Chocolate Cake Martini

  • 1.5 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce light creme de cocoa
  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream

Combine all over cracked ice in shaker; shake well and pour into 10-ounce martini glass. (Rim glass with shaved white chocolate if desired.)

Makes 1 martini.

(This recipe from Pinon Grill in Boca Raton was the winner of the 2011 Chocolate Decadence Contest in the Drinks category.)

Virgin Bellini

  • 2 ounces peach nectar
  • 1 teaspoon Grenadine syrup (optional)
  • 4 ounces sparkling grape juice, well chilled
  • peach slice for rim of glass, optional

Pour peach nectar into champagne flute; add Grenadine (optional); top with sparkling grape juice. Arrange peach slice on rim; serve at once.

Makes 1 Bellini.

Baked brie with honey and fig jam

  • 1 6-ounce round of Brie
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup fig jam, at room temperature

Place Brie on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Just before serving, heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake Brie for 10 minutes or until Brie is soft. Remove and drizzle with honey. Top with fig jam. Serve with whole-grain crackers.

Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Quinoa salad

  • 1 box quinoa with pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup lemon (or orange) marmalade
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped after measuring
  • Olive oil for drizzling, about 1-1/2 tablespoons

Cook quinoa as directed, but add lemon marmalade to the boiling water or stock used to make the quinoa. Let rest; fluff with fork and stir in chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and fluff again. Serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 servings.

Baked eggplant halves with mozzarella, tomato and basil

  • 1 large eggplant, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces chopped fresh mozzarella
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Place eggplants cut side up in lightly greased baking pan. Use a spoon to scoop a cavity down the center of the eggplants, leaving at least 1/2 inch pulp all around and on bottom of eggplant. Chop pulp; reserve.

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a skillet. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved eggplant pulp; cook 2 minutes. Add basil and stir; add salt and pepper to taste. Stuff eggplant cavities with tomato mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove; eggplant can be held at this point for 1 hour at room temperature or covered, refrigerated, overnight. 15 minutes before serving, heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle eggplants with Parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggplants are warmed through.

Makes 2 servings.

Chocolate-cherry lava cake

For cake:

  • 1 boxed chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines preferred)
  • 1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For ganache:

  • 1 (12 oz.) package bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For cake: Combine cake ingredients in mixing bowl of stand mixer. Beat at medium speed for 1 minutes; increase speed to high and beat 2 minutes.

Pour batter into well-greased individual cake pan (4-inch pan) or use jumbo-size muffin tin. Bake cakes at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; a knife test will not work on this cake. Cake may pull away from sides of pan when done. Do not overbake. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack. This can be done in advance.

For ganache: Heat chocolate in microwave in glass mixing bowl 30 seconds; stir. Continue until chips are smooth and melted. Gently whisk in heavy cream a little at a time; stirring to make a smooth ganache. Load ganache into piping bag.

To fill cakes: Put cakes on individual cake plates. Push round tip of bag into top of cake and squeeze ganache into cake. When cake begins to swell slightly, remove tip from cake. Repeat with all cakes. Garnish cakes with fresh raspberries or strawberries; serve with a dollop of whipped cream or small scoop of ice cream.

(Recipe adapted from Examiner.com)

Pomegranate poached pears with caramel sauce

  • 2 pears, peeled, stems intact
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Whipped cream for serving, optional

Peel pears; set aside. Pour pomegranate juice into a medium saucepan large enough to hold pears. Bring to a low simmer on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients. Set pears into juice; reduce heat and allow pears to cook till soft – 10 to 15 minutes, turning so they are cooked and colored evenly. Serve at once, if desired, or refrigerate, covered, in the juice overnight.

Serve with warm caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

For caramel sauce:

  • 1 pound (1/2 box) light or dark brown sugar
  • 8 ounces heavy cream

Combine sugar and cream in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat till bubbly and mixture is thickened. Serve warm. Keep remainders in refrigerator.

Tags: Baking: Cheap therapy · Recipes: What's Cooking!

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