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Archive for Valentine’s Day

FOOD FUN: Strawberry Brownie Skewers

We love this idea from Sugar Bowl Bakery: strawberry skewers with marshmallows and brownie bites.

They’re quick and easy to put together. Let the kids do it as their contribution to Valentine’s Day.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Brownies
  • Fresh strawberries (ideally a similar size/width to the marshmallows)
  • Marshmallows
  • Skewers
  • Optional: Smucker’s Magic Shell chocolate sauce (or other flavor*)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems and leaves from the strawberries; wash and pat dry. Slice off the tapered bottoms so there will be a flat edge against the brownie bites and marshmallows.

    2. CUT the brownies in a size that matches the marshmallows. Squares are O.K., but circles cut with a small cookie cutter are better.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Place strawberries on each end of the skewer, with a marshmallow and brownie bite in-between.

     

    strawberry-brownie-skewers-sugarbowlbakery-230

    Fun snack skewers for Valentine’ Day. Photo courtesy Sugar Bowl Bakery.

     
    4. GARNISH as desired with Magic Shell chocolate sauce. You need a sauce that hardens, or things will get messy.
     
    ____________________________
    *Magic Shell is made in six flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint Cookie, Chocolate Pretzel and Funfetti Vanilla Cake.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Savory Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Chocolate Gazpacho

    Top: Savory chocolate gazpacho from Chef Mat Schuster. Bottom: Savory chocolate gazpacho with strawberries from GoodToKnow.co.uk. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Chef Mat Schuster of San Francisco’s Canela Bistro & Wine Bar offered us this Chocolate Gazpacho recipe, which we like for Valentine’s Day. It’s a savory chocolate counterpoint to all the sweet stuff.

    When most people think of savory chocolate dishes, Mexican mole comes to mind. You may have made a chili recipe with cocoa powder. It’s a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes.

    (And why not? Cacao cultivation was begun by the Olmecs, the first major civilization in Mexico, located in the present-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco; and furthered by the Mayas of the Yucatán Peninsula. When the Aztecs learned about cacao from the Mayas, they made it a drink for noble or wealthy Aztecs and their warrior heroes).

    If you’ve ever had an all-chocolate dinner (chocolate used in every dish), you know that it can be included in every course, from cacao nibs in the salad to cacao chèvre for the cheese course. Here are more examples, with the recipes available at Saveur.com.

  • Asado de Bodas, pork in red chile sauce with Mexican chocolate
  • Charred Cauliflower and Shishito Peppers with Picada* Sauce
  • Chocolate Barbecue Sauce
  • Cocoa-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
  • Enchiladas in Chile Chocolate Sauce, with Mexican chocolate
  • Gascon-Style Beef Stew (Daube de Boeuf À la Gasconne), made with
    Armagnac, chocolate and Madiera wine
  • Triple Chocolate Beef & Bean Chili
  • Turkey in Mole Poblano
  • White Chocolate Baba Ghannouj
  •  
    RECIPE: SAVORY CHOCOLATE GAZPACHO

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup seedless or low-seed cucumber (Armenian, English,
    Persian, etc.), diced
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup to 1 cup cold water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Garnishes: shaved chocolate (70% cacao to 100% cacao)
  • and/or croutons†

    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth.

    2. ADD enough water to make the consistency you prefer, but be sure not to dilute the flavor.

    3. TASTE, season with salt and pepper and chill the soup. Before serving, garnish as desired.
     
    WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CHOCOLATE?

    Take a look at our Chocolate Glossary and other articles in THE NIBBLE’S Chocolate Section.

     
    _______________________
    *Picada is a Catalan-style pesto made with almonds, parsley and chocolate.

    †These can be American-style croutons—small squares—or French croutons/Italian crostini, slices of baguette or similar bread, grilled or toasted with olive oil, seasonings (herbs, spices, salt and pepper) and/or optional toppings (for this gazpacho recipe, try fresh goat cheese and chives). You can float it on top of the soup or serve it on the plate under the bowl.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cheese Plate

    To celebrate Valentine’s Day, some cheese lovers make the traditional Coeur à la Crème—sweetened mascarpone cheese in a heart-shaped mold—for dessert.

    It’s very rich, a kind of “French cheesecake.”

    Others serve a cheese course with their favorite cheeses.

    Still others assemble a plate of delicious heart-shaped cheeses. If you’d like to do the same, head to the best cheese stores in town. They’re certain to offer a few limited edition, heart-shaped delights for the big day.

    You can find both domestic heart-shape cheeses like Amour from Coach Farm, a semisoft, bloomy-rinded goat cheese made in New York State; and imports like Godminster Cheddar from the U.K.

    Others you may find include:

  • Capriole, a fresh goat cheese heart with pink peppercorns, made in Indiana.
  • Coeur de Bray, a heart-shaped Neufchâtel cheese from the Normandy region of France.
  • Coeur du Berry, a goat cheese from Fromagerie Jacquin in France, available in a plain heart or with an ash coating.
  •  
    Plus these three bloomy-rinded goat cheeses from Oregon’s River Edge Chèvre:

  • Petit Bonheur, studded with pink peppercorns (the name means “petite happiness”).
  • Heart’s Desire, coated with Spanish paprika for smoky flavor and reddish color.
  • Old Flame, a silky cheese without additional accents.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF HEART-SHAPED CHEESE

    Heart-shaped cheeses are not a recent invention for Valentine’s Day (the history of Valentine’s Day). They originated more than 500 years ago in the little town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, in the Haute Normandy region of France.

    Most of the maidens in town worked as milkmaids and cheese makers. When some fell in love with the occupying British soldiers during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), they started to produce heart shapes from the local soft cheese (Neufchâtel), to give as gifts to their sweethearts.

    Note that American Neufchatel is very different from its French namesake. In the U.S. it is a name given to a lower-fat type of cream cheese.

     
    THE VALENTINE CHEESE PLATE

    Decorate the plate with fresh raspberries and strawberries or a scattering of pomegranate arils.

       

    Valentine Cheese Plate

    Coeur de Bray Neufchatel Cheese

    Coach Farms Amour Cheese

    Top: This gorgeous cheese and charcuterie plate from Flora Artisanal Cheese in Charlottseville, Virginia has pink, purple and red color accents that are spot-on for Valentine’s Day. Center: An aged Coeur De Bray Neufchâtel Cheese from Cheeses Of Europe. Bottom: Amour, a soft goat’s milk cheese from Coach Farm, available at Dean & DeLuca.

     
    Or, take inspiration from the gorgeous cheese and charcuterie platter in the top photo, created by Flora Artisanal Cheese in Charlottesville, Virginia. There’s enough for a party, but you can scale it down to your needs.

    Flora has created the Valentine’s Day platter with:

  • Rose-colored salume
  • Pink ham, especially thin-sliced prosciutto or serrano
  • Red raspberries
  • Red grapes, plus green grapes for a bit of contrast
  • Purple olives with green gherkins
  • White cheeses
  • Marcona almonds
  • Fancy crackers
  •  

    Godminster Heart Shaped Cheddar

    Baby Beets

    Top: Godminster makes a heart-shaped
    British Cheddar for Valentine’s Day. Bottom:
    Pickled baby beets from Sainsbury.

     

    MORE IDEAS TO ACCENT YOUR VALENTINE CHEESE PLATE

    To decorate your cheese plate for Valentine’s Day, here are more pink, purple and red garnishes:

  • Dried cherries or cranberries
  • Pickled baby beets (we like Aunt Nellie’s, or you can pickle your own with the recipe below)
  • Pink dragonfruit and lychees
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Purple figs
  • Purple grapes
  • Radicchio
  • Red cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Red radishes
  • Strawberries
  •  
    RECIPE: PICKLED BABY BEETS

    This recipe saves time by using jarred or canned baby beets.

    Ingredients

  • 1½ cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • Optional: 3 tablespoons sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spices or juniper berries
  • 20 baby beets, drained
  •  
    Variations

    For a spiced beets profile, substitute for the pickling spices:

  • ½ cup sliced fresh ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
  • 4-6 pieces star anise
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  •  
    Another variation we like: rice wine vinegar, coriander and cardamom. Let your palate be your guide.
     
    __________________________________
    *You can add sugar and or salt to the brine; but make a batch without them first. It’s healthier, and it will let the flavor of the spices shine through.In either recipe, you can substitute agave, honey, maple syrup or noncaloric sweetener for the sugar.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients, except the beets, in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

    2. ADD the beets to an airtight container and cover with the pickling liquid, which should cover the beets.
    beets. It will easily peel off with your fingers. Cut the beets in half or leave whole if they are very small.

    3. REFRIGERATE for one day to two weeks.
     
    WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHEESE?

    Check out the different types of cheese in our picture-packed Cheese Glossary.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Rose Pear Galette & The Different Types Of Pears

    Given the mark-up on roses for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you might want to bake your own roses. These lovely individual tarts are made from seasonal pears. (See the different types of pears below.)

    If you prefer an apple rose tartlet or a vegetable rose tart, take a look at these rose pastry recipes.
     
    RECIPE: ROSE PEAR GALETTE

    Treat yourself with this elegant and refined after-dinner delight from Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. It’s included in her book The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 to 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Individual Tarts
     
    For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4-8 tablespoons very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado* sugar
  • Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
  • Reynolds parchment paper
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For Serving

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • ________________________________
    *Turbinado sugar is partially refined light brown cane sugar, similar to demerara sugar but with larger crystals. It is sold in bulk packages, and in packets as Sugar In The Raw. See the different types of sugar.
     
    Preparation

    1. MIX together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.

       

    Pear Galette - Reynolds Kitchens

    The Year Of Cozy

    Bartlett Pear

    Top: Rose Pear Galette from A Cozy Kitchen | Reynolds Kitchens. Center: The Bosc pear used in this recipe, although you can substitute the varieties below. Bottom: The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

     
    2. ADD 4 tablespoons of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (generally about 3 additional tablespoons). Flour a work surface and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times until it comes together. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.

    3. MIX this filling together just before the dough is ready to be removed from the fridge: In a medium bowl, toss together the pear slices, brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, vanilla extract and salt.

    4. REMOVE the disk of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough into a 16-inch round, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking. Using the bottom of a bowl or plate that measures about 6 inches in diameter, cut out 3 circles. Re-roll the scraps to get 1 additional circle.

    5. ARRANGE the pear slices neatly in a circular pattern in the center of each of the pie crust rounds, leaving about 1-1/2 inches clear at the edges. Fold over the edges to cover about 1/2 inch of the filling. Repeat with the remaining rounds. Transfer the galettes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    6. BRUSH the pie crust edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Check on the galettes periodically. If at any time the crusts’ edges are getting too brown, take a piece of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and tent over the edges. When the edges are golden brown, remove from the oven. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

     

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/comice 230

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/forelle pear 230

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/seckel 230

    Some of America’s most popular pears. From
    top to bottom: Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Green
    Anjou, Seckel.

       

    A SEASONAL GUIDE TO PEAR TYPES

    Thanks to USA Pears for this background material.

    Fresh domestic pears are available year-round. Although each pear variety has its own unique properties, most can be substituted for each other in recipes.
     
    Bartlett Pears: August to February
    The Bartlett pear turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Very juicy and sweet, with aromatic flesh, it is used most for canning and for salads or desserts (photo above).
     
    Red Bartlett Pears: August to January
    The Red Bartlett turns bright red as it ripens and is similar in flavor and texture to the yellow Bartlett.
     
    Bosc Pears: September to April
    Bosc pears have long, tapered necks and skin that is naturally russet to a cinnamon brown. Dense, fragrant, and honey-sweet flesh with a texture that holds its shape when heated, the Bosc is a good choice for baking, poaching, grilling and roasting.
     
    Comice Pears: September to March
    Pronounced co-MEESE, these pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are usually green, sometimes with a red blush. They are very succulent, with a custard-like texture and mellow sweetness. They are best as an eating pear and go well with cheese. They don’t hold up well in cooking.
     
    Concorde Pears: September to February
    The Concorde has a tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh, with skin that is golden green, usually with golden yellow russets. Its flavor has vanilla undertones and, like the Bosc, it has a firm texture that holds up well when baking, grilling or poaching. It is one of the newer varieties, introduced in the past 10 years.
     
    D’Anjou Pears: September to July
    Green D’Anjou pears, recognized by their egg-like shape, stay green when fully ripe. With moist, sweet and dense flesh, the D’Anjou is excellent for snacking or baking.
     
    Red D’Anjou Pears: September to May
    Sweet and succulent when ripe, red D’Anjou pears are similar to their green counterparts. The red skin is a colorful addition to salads, desserts and main dishes.
     
    Forelle Pears: October to March
    The Forelle, known for its smaller size and unique yellow-green skin, is tasty sweet with a crisp texture even when ripe. Ideal for kids’ lunches and baked desserts.
     
    Seckel Pears: September to February
    Seckel pears are another small variety, recognized by their maroon skin, with olive-green coloring. With their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are great for snacks, pickling or garnishing.
     
    Starkrimson Pears: August to January
    Another new variety introduced within the past 10 years, Starkrimson pears have a brilliant crimson red skin and a thick, stocky stem. Juicy and sweet, they have smooth flesh and a distinct floral aroma.
     
    MORE DELICIOUS PEAR DESSERTS

  • Pears Hélène
  • Poached Pears
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Pancakes

    Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, a day of the week when many of us have some extra time to make pancakes.

    What pancakes do you make for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate pancakes, of course! They can be the focus of breakfast or brunch, or served as dessert in smaller portions.

    Two recipes follow: All-Chocolate Pancakes and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes, which are regular pancakes packed with chocolate chunks.

    You can make either recipe with all-purpose flour, or use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour for more nutrition and an added flavor element. But first:

    Not into chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes.
     
    SOME PANCAKE HISTORY

    People have been eating pancake-like foods for a very long time. According to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, the first mention of anything other than bread baked on a griddle is the oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (“On Cookery) by Apicius*.

    The book describes “cakes” made from a batter of eggs, milk, water and flour. They were fried and served with honey and pepper.

    Here’s more on the history of pancakes.

    RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

    This recipe was developed by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Additional butter, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together until combined.

    2. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Set the mixture aside to rest for 10 minutes.

     

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Red Velvet Pancakes

    Top: Chocolate pancakes by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com. Center: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes made with a heart pancake mold, from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Don’t like chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes from Taste Of Home.

     
    3. PREHEAT a nonstick griddle to 325°F and cook the pancakes in batches. Keep them warm by placing a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet in a 250°F oven, until ready to serve.

     

    Ice Cream Pancakes

    Nutella Pancakes

    Dessert pancakes. Top: With ice cream or
    whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Photo
    by Robyn Mackenzie | Fotolia. Bottom: Add
    some Nutella. Photo by Dusan Zidar |
    Fotolia.

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PANCAKES

    The Baker Chick used heart-shape pancake molds for a special presentation.

    You can also use the molds to fry eggs, shape burgers, etc.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (more if you like)
  • Optional: pats of butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oil, egg and buttermilk, and whisk together until thoroughly combined, adding a splash more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

    3. SPRAY or butter the skillet and pour in the batter. When bubbles form and pop in the batter, carefully flip each pancake, cooking until golden and baked through.

    4. MAKE the syrup: Mash the raspberries with a fork and blend with the syrup. Warm it to your liking.

    5. TOP the pancakes with butter and syrup and serve.

     
    PANCAKE TIPS

  • Have leftover pancakes? Reheat them by toasting them in a toaster oven. The outsides get nice and crispy. In our book, they’re even better than the original batch.
  • Pancake varieties: Check out the different types of pancakes.
  • Syrup: There are 14 different types of syrup—not flavors, but types. See them in our Glossary of Sugars, Syrups & Other Sweeteners.
  • Pancake mixes: Here are our favorite multigrain and whole grain pancake mixes.
  •  
    *“Apicius” is believed to be the pseudonym of one or several writers who authored the book. The manuscript of some 400 recipes is believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. Why the name Apicius? It had long been associated with gourmet preferences, named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a wealthy Roman merchant and epicure who lived in the 1st century C.E. He is said to have once sailed all the way to Libya to eat some much-praised prawns, only to return home without having found any to his satisfaction. He hosted colossal banquets, which eventually drove him to bankruptcy…and suicide.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Heart Garnish

    Even if you’re going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, you can use today’s tip to garnish something.

    Use dried herbs, spices or other ingredients to make heart-shaped designs on your foods.
     
    GARNISH THESE SWEET FOODS

  • Cake or other dessert
  • Pancakes or French toast
  • Toast
  • Anything flat
  •  
    Use One Of These Toppings

  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Ground citrus peel
  • Hot chocolate powder or other drink powder (such as Nesquik)
  • Powdered sugar
  •  
    For savory dishes, check the list below.
     
    Preparation

    1. USE one of these heart-shaped templates:
    – Buy a red paper heart at the card store or party store.
    – Use a cookie cutter.
    – Cut a heart from foil or paper. Fold the sheet in half and cut out half a heart; unfold and both sides will be even.
     
    2. SPRINKLE the sugar, spice or herb over the heart template, using a small strainer (sieve). Let the garnish settle. Remove the template with a pointed tweezers to lift off the heart template.
     
    USE THESE SAVORY GARNISHES

    Look for dried herbs, spices or other garnishes that are mild enough to complement the food item. For this reason, we’ve omitted intense flavors such as chili flakes and curry powder, but let your palate guide you.

  • Bacon crumbles
  • Capers
  • Celery leaf flakes
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped olives
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Fines herbes
  • Garlic chips
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Italian herb blend
  • Parsley
  • Pizza seasoning
  • Salad sprinkles
  • Toasted onion
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    You can also make your own blend.
     
    Sprinkle The Garnish On These Foods

  • Chicken breasts
  • Chops
  • Fish fillets
  • Mashed potatoes (patted flat)
  • Sandwich tops
  • Savory pancakes
  • Toast
  •  
    As always, have fun with it!

     

    heart-decoration-the-baker-chick-230

    Valentine

    Strainer Set

    strawberry-powder-aayushfoodingredients-230

    Dried Parsley

    Top photo: Mini flourless chocolate cakes from The Baker Chick are garnished with powdered sugar. Here’s the recipe. Second: Use a paper heart for your template. Third: If you don’t have a small strainer, pick one up. This set, about $10, is from Culina and available on Amazon. Fourth: Make a pink heart with Strawberry Nesquik. Photo courtesy Aayush Food Ingredients. Bottom: For savory dishes, use dried parsley or other herb. Photo courtesy Alamy.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cocktails Or Mocktails

    Some people think a Valentine’s Day cocktail should be rose red. Others think it should be chocolate. Still others want to drink pink.

    Here, we offer chocolate, coffee, red and pink Valentine cocktails for your consideration. If you’re having a party, choose several.

    Mocktail options follow.

    VALENTINE COCKTAIL DRINKS

  • Amore Espresso Cocktail Recipe
  • Bright Red Cocktail Recipes (including the Lovecicle)
  • Chocolate Basil Martini Recipe
  • Five Chocolate Cocktail Recipes (including the Hot Lips Chocolatini)
  • Love Nectar Recipe (red, with tequila, cider, red grapes)
  • Love Potion Recipe (bright red)
  • Passionfruit Tequila “Besame” (Kiss Me) Recipe (bright red)
  • Pink Cocktail Recipes (including Cupid’s Cosmo)
  • Pomegranate Martini Recipe (deep pink with red arils)
  • Pomegranate Refresher Recipe (pale pink with red arils)
  • The Right Kiss Gin Cocktail Recipe (deep red)
  • Rose Cocktail Recipes (pink, with rose simple syrup)
  • Secret Crush Champagne Cocktail Recipe (red)
  •    

    Valentine Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush “Champagne” cocktail made with Prosecco and grenadine. Photo courtesy Macao Trading Co.

     

    VALENTINE MOCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

    To make a Valentine-red mocktail, you need to use either a red base (blood orange juice, cranberry juice, cherry or raspberry soda) or a red-colored flavor such as grenadine or strawberry purée)—or both.

    Blend the juice and soda in proportions you prefer. If it isn’t red enough, add one of the red-colored flavors. Taste, add some citrus juice to pick up the flavor, and select a garnish.

     

    Valentine Cocktail

    The Pomegranate Refresher can be made
    with tequila, or as a mocktail with regular or
    diet 7-UP or Sprite.

     

    Juice

  • Blood orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pink lemonade
  •  
    Soda Pop

  • Cherry Soda
  • Club Soda
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Raspberry Soda
  •  
    Red-Colored Flavors

  • Grenadine
  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Strawberry or raspberry purée
  •  
    Flavor Accent

  • Bitters
  • Citrus juice: grapefruit lemon, lime
  •  
    Garnish

  • Fruit: blood orange wheel, notched strawberry, pomegranate arils, raspberry pick
  • Herbs: fresh mint, opal (purple) basil
  •  
    Plus

  • Ice
  • Optional: red straws
  •   

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sparkling Wines For Gifting & Drinking

    Brachetto d'Acqui Banfi

    Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui: a wine that says “Be My Valentine.”

     

    If you’ve taken a look at Champagne prices, you’d like a recommendation on which way to go.

    Our recommendation: Steer away from Champagne and look at other sparkling wines. Here are two of our favorite affordable bubblies for Valentine’s Day. Both are crowd pleasers. One is a perfect dessert wine or an apéritif; the other can be enjoyed anytime, with any course.

    Drink them yourself or give them as gifts. As with all sparkling wines, serve them chilled.
     
    BANFI ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy is a vivid rose red. The color is natural!

    It’s made from the Brachetto df’Acqui grape, which grows in the area of Acqui Terme in rocky, calcareous soil (tough soil makes better wines).

     
    The bouquet is very aromatic, with hints of raspberries, strawberries and rose petals. You’ll taste hints of fresh raspberries, with crisp acidity.

    In addition to dessert—cakes, tarts, ice cream—it pairs well with seafood, cheeses, spicy fare and yes, that box of Valentine chocolate.

    One of our friends calls this wine “love at first sip.” It’s pretty romantic stuff.

    The price: $17-$20 per bottle. The pronunciation: bra-KET-toe d’AH-qwee.

    There’s more on the brand’s web page.
     
    YELLOWTAIL BUBBLES SPARKLING ROSÉ

    A recent Top Pick Of The Week for the holidays, this sparkling wine from Australia makes everything more festive—at just $10-$11 per bottle. It’s not a sweet wine, but crisp and refreshing, so it can be paired with anything.

    The fragrant nose promises cherries and strawberries on the palate. Unlike the deep red of Brachetto d’Acqui, it’s a pale pink color, similar to a rosé Champagne.

    Depending on the retailer and promotion calendar, the bottle may come with a resealable, plastic cap that allows you to seal in the bubbles for the next day. If not, and if you don’t have one, pick up a Champagne resealer. It’s inexpensive, and really does keep that wine sparkling for days.

    And it can be the part of the gift that remains, when the wine is long gone.

    Here’s our full review of the wine.

    And here’s the Yellowtail Bubbles Rosé web page.

     
      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sweets We’d Like To Receive

    If you’re on the hunt for Valentine chocolate, you probably don’t have to hunt too hard. Even our drugstore looks like a chocolate shop.

    But here are some yummy items we enjoy, year after year.

    CHOCOLATE CHERRIES FROM CHOCLATIQUE

    Most of us grew up hoping to get the chocolate covered cherry in the box of mixed chocolates. At Choclatique, you can get an entire box of cherries!

    These are not the overly-sweet chocolate cherries of our youth. They are Grade A maraschino cherries that are marinated and then wrapped in a white chocolate-butter ganache. Next, they’re enrobed in premium dark chocolate shells (64% cacao).

    The bonbons are allowed to to cure, so that the ganache centers liquefy. The result is a delicate liquid center with just a touch of white chocolate ganache—and a memorable chocolate cherry.

    The chocolates are all natural and you can pick either a bright red ribbon for Valentine’s Day.

  • 12 Piece Box, $30.00
  • 24 Piece Box, $50.00
  •  
    CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CRISP FROM GARRETT POPCORN

    Garrett Popcorn, known for its high quality popcorn gift tins, has two suggestions for Valenetine’s Day:

  • Lover’s Mix, a combination of Dark Chocolate Covered Caramel Crisp and regular Caramel Crisp. Note to caramel corn lovers: This regular Caramel Crisp is the best caramel corn you can buy, with a “burnt caramel” flavor that’s so much better than the ubiquitous one-dimensional sweet corns out there.
  • Spicy CheeseCorn, for those who prefer spicy to sweet. We’ve also recommended this corn for the Super Bowl. It’s a perfect blend of cheese and spice.
  •  
    Tins start at $39 for a one gallon and $69 for 2 gallons. The one gallon pink tin of Lover’s Mix is $47.

    Order yours at GarrettPopcorn.com.
     
    CLASSIC CHOCOLATES FROM LI-LAC

    Li-Lac Chocolates is one of our favorite munching grounds. This chocolate shop specializes in old-fashioned chocolates of top quality—the kind it’s become hard to find.

    Take a look at the choices at Li-LacChocolates.com.

       
    Chocolate Covered Cherries

    Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

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    Top: Gourmet chocolate cherries from Choclatique. Middle and bottom: Lover’s Mix and the Valentine tin from Garrett Popcorn.

     
    Whether a mixed box of chocolates or an entire box of our favorite chocolate-covered marzipan rolls, we hope our Valentine reads this message. (Please send both!)

    The chocolates are certified kosher.
     
    For those looking for kosher chocolate, LakeChamplainChocolates.com is another favorite chocolatier. Let us emphasize that, kosher or not, these to companies make excellent chocolates.
     
    MORE FAVORITE CHOCOLATES

    We’re happy with anything from John & Kira’s or Burdick Chocolate, two of America’s great artisan chocolatiers.

     

    Gimbal's Chocolate Cherry Chews

    Cherry Chews from Gimbal’s are available in
    several sizes, and are very affordable if you
    like to give something to many friends.

     

    CHERRY CHEWS FROM GIMBAL’S

    For something fun, affordable and not chocolate, try Gimbal’s Cherry Chews. They’re all natural and made with real cherry juice. They were created to have a cherry shape, but as you can see in the photo, they also resemble Valentine hearts.

    And they also double as celebratory sweets for George Washington’s Birthday.

    Bags in several sizes start at $1.39 to give out to friends and colleagues. A 38-ounce jar is just $13.99.

    Get them at GimbalsCandy.com.

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Low Calorie & No Calorie Gifts

    Keurig Pantone Red Brewer

    Rick's Picks Assortment

    Top: The Keurig 2.0 H200, which makes single cups as well as carafes. Bottom: Rick’s Picks: Great flavor, few calories.

     

    As you eye the sea of Valentine chocolates, what can you get for loved ones who can’t have (or don’t care for) chocolate?

    Some people don’t want the calories, others can’t have the caffeine or the sugar, and rarely, a few are allergic to chocolate.

    For those who avoid caffeine and chocolate, there are scrumptious macarons, artisan (“gourmet”) marshmallows, creamy fudge, fine red licorice and other confections. But they’re still packed with sugar.

    But what if you need to avoid the sugar entirely?

    There’s sugar-free candy, but it’s pretty unexciting. Here are what we’d like to get for Valentine’s Day.
     
    FOR COFFEE LOVERS: KEURIG 2.0 K200 SINGLE CUP BREWER

    This new model comes in seven colors, including red for your Valentine. It not only brews a single cup, but a 4-cup carafe, with a single touch.

    There’s a separate setting for specialty beverages such as chai, hot cocoa and mochas. And with more than 500 varieties of coffee, tea, specialty beverages and iced beverages, your Valentine has lots of choices.

    The carafe is sold separately; you can also add a Valentine mug (something with hearts?) to express your affection.

    Get yours at Keurig.com. The list price is $109.99.

    If you don’t want to spend that much, head to the nearest housewares department and get a red water bottle or red implements—spatulas, slotted spoons, etc.—to fill a Valentine mug.

     
    FOR PICKLE LOVERS: RICK’S PICKS PICKLE CLUB

    Good pickles are on our list of yummy foods with few calories.

    One of America’s great pickle makers offers a club that delivers four varieties, four times a year. The club is $ 199.95, including shipping.

    There’s also a Top-Seller Pack, $ 48.95, and a Rick’s Picks Sampler for $64.95.

    Order yours at RicksPicks.com.

    For a less expensive gift, head to your nearest fine market or specialty food store, pick up a single jar of Rick’s Picks, and tie a red ribbon around the neck.
     
    NOT INTO PICKLES? TRY STRAWBERRIES

    If your Valentine prefers sweet to tangy, consider Edible Arrangements or create your own strawberry basket. Look for the biggest, freshest strawberries, find a lovely small basket, and don’t forget the red bow!

     

    FOR SODA DRINKERS: SODASTREAM SPLASH PLAY

    There are red SodaStream machines that make calorie-free sodas and flavored waters. The brand has recently released a new machine, the Sodastream Splash Play, designed by Yves Béhar, a Swiss designer and sustainability expert.

    It carbonates water with touch button activation as well as quick snap-lock bottle insertion. It requires no electricity. It has a small footprint.

    Not only is it fun; it saves you from hauling home bottles of soda, and from tossing the empties into the landfill.

    For calorie counters and water enthusiasts, SodaStream also has a new line of waters, made with all natural sweeteners and colors, called Sparkling Gourmet. It has chef-inspired flavors, including Green Apple Cucumber, Blackcurrant Lime, Coriander Apple Blossom, and Lime Basil. All with 45 calories per 8-ounce serving.

     

    Sodastream Play

    Give a Sodastream in Valentine Red.

     
    There are also calorie-free flavored water options, and plenty of diet sodas.

    AND, if you own a Sodastream, you know that there are two different sizes of carbon dioxide tanks for different models, and they aren’t interchangeable. The Splash Play can use either of them! Bravo, Sodastream.

    Get yours at Sodastream.com. It’s $79.99.

      

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