Valentines Day: do you love it or hate it?
|Most of us
have strong feelings about Valentines Day; we either look
forward to it or despise it, usually depending upon our
relationship status. Why not do something different this year?
If someone special isn't going to send you flowers, send them to
yourself! Use this day as an excuse to pamper yourself: book a
spa treatment; have a long, leisurely lunch with a friend;
splurge on a nice bottle of wine. The love starts with you.
A LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO CHEF ANDREA
hard to believe, but it's true...
Nutcracker Ballet, Christmas tree, silver and black balloons and
noisemakers... all put away. One year has passed, and new one is
beginning. Promises made, resolutions to fulfill (or not).
Goodbye, 2007! Welcome, 2008. Last year came and went so fast,
but here we are in a new one, and the first month of it is
We're just around the corner from another holiday - probably the
most wonderful one of them all, especially if you're in love!
(And I am... in love with life, and my wife, and every fabulous
Happy Valentine's Day!
Love is what keeps us going. That heart-pounding feeling is why
we tolerate every other frustrating thing in life. Even the fun
things - wealth, travel and toys - don't fulfill us nearly as
much as that toe-tingling, mesmerizing feeling we have when
we're falling in love. The animal instinct - good old fashioned
human chemistry - is the best part of that process. So dive into
it! Live life to it's fullest and fall in love! Don't be afraid.
When you hesitate to fall in love because of past failures,
just remember: when it happens, the rewards make the risk worth
Valentine's Day originated in Roman mythology, celebrating the
occasion when Cupid (the son of Venus, goddess of love) fell in
love with a mortal, Psyche. Alas, their love was doomed... but
Cupid's love became legendary, and now he is known as the sprite
who shoots the arrow of love into the hearts of unsuspecting
people. People lucky enough to be hit with one of Cupid's arrows
turn to each other and fall in love at first sight!
Of course I don't recommend that you sit around and wait for
luck or Cupid - your destiny is up to you!
Don't have a date? Come on, boys and girls - get creative! Don't
even think about moping around alone on the 14th. The best
present you have to give is yourself. So get out with friends.
Celebrate and enjoy life. Whether or not you're in love, you
already have a "special someone" in your life - YOU.
My best advice is to call your friends - or your sweetheart -
and make a reservation to eat IN. The best table in town is in
your own home, right? Go shopping... splurge a little. Buy a
nice bottle of wine, and set the scene. Put your favorite music
on, the kind that makes you want to dance around a little. Make
dinner together and take your time enjoying it.
If the night is going to be romantic, don't forget to set up the
bath for a nice relaxing soak after dinner... candles are a
must. Oh, and don't forget to buy eggs and coffee - you just
might end up making breakfast "the morning after!"
Here's to you -
P.S.: Have you seen my new cookbook?
"CRAB: Buying, Cooking, Cracking" is full of great
recipes. It's crab season! Eat up.
Check out the Web Site!
Tips for Valentines
love on your menu in 2008? Whether you've been with your
sweetheart for a long time, or you're hoping for something new,
we've created a list of reminders. Because everyone needs a
refresher course in matters of the heart every now and then...
1. Make sure you're not the only one who feels a connection.
If you're embarking on a new relationship, it's important to
make sure that both parties have the same interest level and
want similar things. It saves a lot of time (and tears) to
figure this out sooner rather than later.
2. Act with confidence. If you've got your eye on someone
special, go for it. Send that flirty text message or email. Ask
him (or her) out. Why not?! There's a big difference between
confidence and arrogance, so make sure you've got one and not
3. Study the art of seduction. The concept of "dating"
seems corny, but seduction is an art. What do you know about it?
How can you become better at bringing creativity, excitement and
romance into your dates? Remember: practice makes perfect, and
studying hard has delicious rewards.
4. Be a good listener. The minute you think you know
everything about your sweetie is the minute your love life
becomes boring. There is always more to learn about the person
you adore. Be curious; ask questions. Practice listening and
then act on what you hear.
5. Don't talk about your ex. There is nothing more
depressing than someone who carries on and on about an ex.
That's what friends and therapists are for - so please don't
unload your sad story on your date.
6. The details matter. Opening the car door, helping your
lady into her coat, helping your man out of his coat - a caring
touch is remembered for a long time, and the little things count
for more than you might think.
7. The way to the heart is through the stomach. You
already know how we feel about the power of food... and cooking
together... but of course we're going to say it again. Food,
when well made, plays an important part in joy and in matters of
8. Follow the chemistry. When you have chemistry, go with
it. There's nothing better than having a mutual "on fire" moment
when you can't wait to be alone and rip each other's clothes
off. You can get started in the elevator (or the car, or the
Here's wishing you a deliciously steamy February!
Peek A Boo!
One Slinky Cocktail
took one look at this cocktail at the Fancy Food Show in San
Diego and fell in love. Dreamed up by a company called
Wild Hibiscus, these
gorgeous flowers are preserved in a delicious syrup that tastes
like ripe raspberries with a nice hint of tartness. Here in the
San Francisco area, they can be purchased at
Whole Foods in the wine
section. Hand one of these to your Valentine for a perfect start
to the evening...
One Slinky Cocktail
- 4 ounces premium vodka
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons hibiscus syrup (from Wild Hibiscus)
- dash cranberry juice
- dash Cointreau
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients and fill to
halfway with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into two chilled
martini glasses. Garnish with a hibiscus flower skewered with an
elegant chopstick or other skewer. Enjoy immediately.
Serves 2. Purr.
Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail
- 2 chilled champagne flutes
- Your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine
- 2 Wild Hibiscus flowers, with a drop of syrup
Drop one flower into the bottom of each chilled flute, allowing
the syrup to pool into the bottom. Fill with Champagne. Enjoy!
Serves 2. Oh la la.
Soft Burrata Cheese on Crostini with
Crab, Smoked Salmon & Avocado
beautiful bites are a perfect way to begin a special evening.
Soft cheese, creamy avocado, indulgent fresh crab... if that's
not decadent, we don't know what is! Even better: they only take
moments to put together.
Soft Burrata Cheese on Crostini with Crab, Smoked Salmon &
- 8 ounces burrata cheese -
make your own or buy from a gourmet cheese counter
- 8 slices good-quality bread (we like
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- 4 ounces fresh crabmeat
- 4 slices avocado
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
- Coarsely ground salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
Brush bread lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.
Toast beneath the broiler for 30 seconds -1 minute, or just
until golden brown and crisp on top. Remove and cool.
Lay four crostini on a serving platter; atop each, place one
piece of smoked salmon, followed by crab. Top with avocado
slice; sprinkle with green onions. Place burrata on the serving
platter, and drizzle both the crostini and cheese with olive
oil; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with extra crostini.
Make Your Own Buratta
Seared Scallops with Pesto & Tomatoes
dish was inspired by Insalata Caprese, the famous Italian salad
"in the style of Capri" made of tomatoes, basil and fresh
cheese. Scallops are seared and placed atop slices of ripe
tomato, with fresh pesto drizzled over the top.
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 large scallops
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
- 1 large heirloom tomato, cut into 6 slices
- 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Begin by making the pesto:
Place the basil and pine nuts into a blender or food processor;
pulse slowly until a rough paste is formed. Add the olive oil in
a steady drizzle, keeping the blender on low. Add the cheese.
Pulse until blended. Season with salt and pepper.
To prepare the scallops:
Pour the oil into the bottom of a cast-iron skillet, tipping the
pan to evenly coat the bottom. Place the skillet over high heat.
When the skillet is hot, sear the scallops for 1-2 minutes on
each side, until a golden crust is formed. Remove from heat.
While the skillet is still hot, add the capers and fry quickly,
about 2 minutes, until hot and crisp. Remove from heat.
Divide the tomato slices between two serving plates, laying
three slices on each plate in a single row. Drizzle 2
tablespoons of pesto over the tomatoes. Place one scallop on top
of each tomato slice; drizzle with more pesto. Garnish with
capers and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately.
A Sweet - and Happy - Ending
I love about this dessert is that it is both simple and
incredibly indulgent. Who doesn't love warm cookies with ice
cream? Now that's what I call a happy ending.
Warm Chocolate Cookies topped with Creamy Vanilla Gelato
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, beaten lightly
- 2/3 cup raw almond, roughly chopped (if desired)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Grease and flour a baking sheet. Alternatively, you could line
it with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking
powder, and salt. Stir. Add the eggs, stirring gently to
combine. Fold in almonds.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough until about
3/4-inch thick. Using a 3-inch round pastry cutter, cut rounds
out of the dough to form cookies. Place on the baking sheet and
bake for 30 minutes, or until a crust forms on the top, and the
cookies are cooked through.
Transfer to a wire rack; cool for about 30 minutes. Place back
in the oven to "crisp" for another 5 minutes, if desired.
To serve, place the cookie on a plate and top with your favorite
gelato or ice cream; sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and
garnish with a sprig of mint.
If you're in the Bay Area, you've got to try
Ciao Bella gelato -
smooth, creamy and decadent, it tastes like the Italian gelato
that I loved as a kid (and still do)!
Ciao Bello Gelato
1) Even though I don't get to see my Mama on Valentine's Day, I
keep her close to my heart always. For all of you out there with
moms, don't forget her on this special day! A phone call or a
special gift will show her that you care.
2) Hi, Anaef! It was fun to see you in Italy on Valentine's Day
last year... hope you're having a great one !
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