Dinner for two

Recipes for romance this Valentine’s Day

By - Feb 12th, 2011 03:45 pm
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Power Couple: Tom and Lee Ann on the cover (inset) of Milwaukee Magazine in 2000

When you cook for a woman, you do not merely feed her. Cooking sends her messages: I do not expect you to wait on me. We will be partners. I know how to live well and wish to share that with you. I could bring something good to your life every day. And last, but not least: I want your body, but I want to nourish it, not just possess it.

If your love is long established, the best plan is love in the afternoon, on an empty stomach, on the promise of a fabulous meal. Follow up the sex with a long, delicious, tipsy dinner, followed by sleep. Under such circumstances, the meal can be meaty and hearty. Steak. Roast chicken. Potato gratin. You’re just going to sleep.

But if the meal is part of seduction and sex is coming later, the food must be lighter. (And go easy on the alcohol; no matter what frat boys think, drunken sex is worse sex.)

The preparation should be part of the seduction, too. Bring her into the kitchen. Let her see the magic happen. Which means getting as much as possible done ahead of time. In the meal below, everything should be ready for the pan before she walks in the door, and the salads should be ready to serve.

Tom Strini’s Valentine Dinner for Two

Simple Citrus Salad

This is for nibbling while she’s watching you cook. Serve it with sparkling water with a twist of lemon and thin baguette slices.

3 cups butter (Boston) lettuce, loosely torn
3/4 cup watercress leaves
2 tsp coarsely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley (get the good organic stuff, it really is better)
1 small navel orange, peeled, halved, and cut into half-rounds
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup lemon juice whisked with 1/3 cup very good olive oil

Divide the ingredients and plate them. Salt and pepper to taste, toss with the lemon olive oil. Optional: Pitted Kalamata olives OR large capers OR blueberries (trust me).

Sauteed Asparagus

Lightly peel 16 asparagus spears. Peel the fat ones a little deeper; take just a strip or two off the thinner ones. Align the flower tops, then chop off all the woody lower ends with one stroke of your chef’s knife. Warm a skillet, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s fragrant, add the asparagus. Grind over some salt and fresh pepper to taste, jostle the spears to oil them. Stir occasionally as they cook uncovered over medium heat for 6-8 minutes.

Seared Scallops with Angel Hair Pasta

8 large sea scallops, about 3/4 pound (Yeah, I know they’re expensive. Pay up. I’m trying to get you laid here.)
25 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 green onions, sliced into 1/8-inch discs well into the green
1/3 cup flour + 1 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper + several grinds of black pepper, well-mixed
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
3 oz. diced pancetta
8 oz. angel hair pasta
8 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1. Slice all the vegetables and have them ready to go into the pan.
2. Set four quarts of salted water to boil in a stock pot; when it reaches full boil, add the pasta and cook for 4 minutes (dried) or 2 minutes (fresh). Drain, return to pot and stir in three tablespoons of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.
3. Place the flour mixture on a sheet of wax paper on a cutting board. Roll the scallops in it to coat.
4. Heat a large, heavy, non-stick skillet; add three tablespoons of olive oil.
5. When the oil is very hot, add the scallops. Sear for two minutes, then reduce heat to medium and cook two more minutes. Turn heat high again and use tongs to flip the scallops. After two minutes, reduce the heat again and cook two minutes more.
6. Remove the scallops and reduce the heat to medium low. Add the green onions and cook one minute. Add the pancetta and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes and parsley and cook one more minute.
7. Add the angel hair pasta and turn and stir to distribute all the ingredients. Add the remaining olive oil, to taste.
8. Add the scallops and cook until they are heated through, about three minutes.
9. Yes, I did arrange the dish into a heart. And I’m not sleeping alone Monday night.

Wine: Any dry, crisp citrus-tinged white will do, but I like Prosecco, a lightly carbonated Italian white, with this dish. And you know how ladies love the bubbly.

What should you do for dessert? Here’s what I do: Call Curt Yorkey, my TCD colleague.

Curt Yorkey’s Saucy Lingonberry Blintzes

Good Times: Curt and Tracy at Horicon’s Harvest Festival last fall

Tracy and I love this dessert because it’s rich but not overbearing, with just a touch of chocolate and the tartness of lingonberries. Serve it with a rich cup of coffee or a light, sparkling white wine. (If there’s any Prosecco left, that will work nicely.)

In terms of ingredients, sometimes the simple things are the best. Don’t be afraid to go with Hershey’s syrup, there’s a reason it’s so popular. Lingonberry jam is available in most grocery stores, and definitely at Woodman’s, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Crepe batter
¼ cup  flour
½ tsp  baking powder
pinch  salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup  milk
2 Tbsp  sugar
1 Tbsp butter, melted

1 ½ cups  ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup + 1 Tbsp lingonberry jam
½ cup  maple syrup

powdered sugar
chocolate syrup

1) In a bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and sugar. Mix the flour and egg mixtures together and add in melted butter. Let stand for 1 hour, covered.
2) In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, sugar and cinnamon.
3) In a saucepan, simmer the lingonberry jam and maple syrup over medium-low heat until slightly reduced. Set aside.

Heat an 8 inch nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add 1/4 cup batter into skillet and swirl the skillet to evenly distribute the batter over the bottom. Cook until bottom of crepe is golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Flip over and cook until lightly browned on second side, about 1 minute. Transfer cooked crepe to wax paper. Repeat, making 4-5 total crepes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto each crepe. Fold each filled crepe into a rectangle pocket by folding the bottom 1/3 of the way up and then folding the left and right sides over the folded bottom. Place seam side down onto parchment paper. Bake until hot, about 4-5 minutes.

Warm the lingonberry sauce. Drizzle chocolate syrup onto serving plates. Place blintzes on top of chocolate syrup. Pour desired amount of lingonberry sauce onto blintzes and dust with powdered sugar.

Categories: Dining

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