How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day now?
The buckets were filled with flowers. Red, white and pink carnations. Besides laid another basket with small heart shaped mylar balloons attached to a plastic white stick. All of them had labels with names already filled in. The dice were thrown. At the end of the last period of school a senior student would enter your classroom to call out the kids that were sent a flower or a balloon. Or both. That was the moment to find out who liked who. And if someone liked you. If you didn’t have a boyfriend you were just crossing your fingers that at least your best friend saved a buck or two from her allowance to buy you a flower so you could have your turn in the gifts distribution show. They were some good weeks and everything revolved around V day. This was a serious holiday with serious repercussions back then!
A couple of years forward I was dressed with a sexy super stretch knee length brown dress (remember the ’90 where everything was about brown lipstick and brown everything) with a lacey white bolero in a fancy Thai restaurant in what probably was my first grown up Valentine’s. Or at least I thought so. At the middle of dinner I remember noticing how everyone around was looking at us, with this oh-my-God-look-how-cute-they-are look. Suddenly I noticed that we were the lovebirds in that restaurant and, no matter how I was flaunting a sexy and sophisticated look, inside my eyes was still that little girl that was impatiently waiting for her name to be called for some flowers and a balloon. Only this time instead of a Carnation the hopes were for a dozen red roses. And for the mylar balloon a small and velvety box instead!
Nowadays Valentine’s has evolved for us to a more comfort holiday where we sometimes share it with friends, family, and maybe a little surprise on the side. For us the married with children crowd, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are the main days to celebrate. Yet, Valentine’s Day could still be pretty exciting, especially if the day is during the weekend. You have a good time frame to celebrate like old days.
So I’m going to propose to you a Valentine’s date night in with these recipes I made for a super cool collaboration with my friends at La Mafia Puerto Rico. Even though they’re the voice of the top happenings in the gastronomy Puerto Rican scene, they wanted to present a romantic alternative to restaurants, and that’s when I came in.
The menu is easy yet fancy enough to feast on Valentine’s. The best part is that it’s outlined to be prepared between both of you, so you have more time hearing lounge type music, feeling the food and having a good time. First, some rosemary and cloves roasted olives with a tray of Asiago, Manchego and Gorgonzola cheeses drizzled with honey and white truffle oil. Then steamed mussels over a creamy, warm and exotic pasta covered with a saffron, paprika and chili cream sauce. For dessert you have to have chocolate, and this decadent and rich chocolate pot d’ crème is what you need, flavored with almond and a hint of coffee. Everything with some sparkling wine infused with tarragon syrup.
Here I’m sharing with you the pot d’ crème recipe. Go over the post at La Mafia Puerto Rico blog to see the compete recipe. Yes, they’re in Spanish, but nothing Google translation couldn’t solve. But you could leave me a comment with any doubt you have in any recipe.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s weekend. Enjoy your food, enjoy the love and enjoy this lovely photos which are not mine by the way, they are from La Mafia. Keep the love spreading!
Chocolate Pot d'crème with Honey Whipped Cream
About 5-6 small cups
Total time - 3 hours, including time in a refrigeratorActive time - 15 minutes
Equipment - food processor, hand strainer, soufflé molds or small cups, electric hand mixer with the whipping attachment
Semi sweet chocolate chips - ⅔ cup
Whole milk - ¾ cup
Heavy cream - ½ cup + ½ cup whipping
Fine sea salt - ¼ Tsp + ½ pinch for whipped cream
Instant coffee granules - ¼ Tsp
Pure almond extract - 1 Tsp
Raw sugar - 2½ TBSP + 1 pinch for the whipped cream
Egg yolks, beaten - 4 small or medium
Honey - 1 Tbsp
Milano style cookies for serving and decorating
Place the chocolate inside the bowl of already attached to the base of the food processor. In a small saucepan mix well the rest of the ingredients. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from curdling. The most important thing is to monitor the consistency; you must cook until the liquid has thickened enough that when passing a finger through the back of the wooden spoon the liquid stays separated and do not re-incorporate. This should take from 10 to 12 minutes. Once thickened remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Pulse for 30 seconds until everything is integrated, then strain the mixture through a hands strainer in a big bowl. Using a soup ladle serve into molds or cups and chill for at least 2 ½ to 3 hours, ideally overnight.
For the whipped cream, place the whipping wire, a glass or metal bowl and the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes (this will help the cream grow). Then pour the cream into the bowl and stir gently with a circular motion for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cream begins to thicken and soft peaks form. Add the pinch of sugar, the half pinch of salt (this is to keep the flavors balanced) and the honey and beat again for 2 to 3 more minutes, until you reach a thicker and dense consistency. Do no t overbeat or the cream will become butter. Serve on top of the pot d 'creme. You can prepare it with a day in advance; just mix it with a spoon before serving.
Decorate with cookie pieces on top.