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#1221 - Valentine's Day

February 11, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Valentine's Day

A little later this week we all have an opportunity to express our love to the one who matters most, and Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Waterfront Kitchen knows that cooking up something special for Valentine's Day is a wonderful way to say you care.

Aside from putative aphrodisiacs, certain foods seem to be inherently romantic.  Maybe luxury is a part of the equation:  serve champagne with just about anything and the emotional thermometer goes up.  Here are three recipes Jerry has prepared to help you kindle that love light.

Oysters and Caviar with Crème Fraiche

I’ve been doing a lot of research on caviar these days. There are so many good products out there and the prices are not outrageous. Look for American Hackleback Caviar or Capelin Caviar from Iceland. With these quality products out there you don’t need to spend all that money on the traditional Russian products.

6 oyster per person
1 oz. of your favorite caviar
Crème Fraiche        

Shuck the oysters, put a small dollop of crème fraiche on top and a small spoon full of caviar. Open a bottle of sparkling wine and enjoy!

Butter Poached Lobster
(Adopted from Thomas Keller’s ‘French Laundry’ Cookbook)

Makes 2 servings

2 (1 1/2-pound) lobsters
1/4 cup, cider vinegar
2 cups (4 sticks), butter – cut in chunks
1 teaspoon, minced shallot
1 tablespoon, minced fines herbs: equal parts parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives

Fill large pot with enough water to completely cover lobsters. Add vinegar and bring to a full, rolling boil.

Remove from heat and submerge lobsters.

Steep the lobsters in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water, twist to remove the knuckles and claws and return these to the hot water.

Separate the tails from the body of each lobster (reserve the body for stock or discard). Cut through the cartilage on the underside the of lobster tail, pull it apart and pull out the tail meat in 1 piece. Cut the tail in half lengthwise; remove the vein and trim any loose strands.

Remove the claws from the hot water, and remove the claw meat intact by wiggling off the small, lower claw, to which a piece of cartilage is attached (be sure to remove this cartilage if it separates) and by cracking the fat claw near its base to open and remove the meat without damaging it. Remove the knuckle meat and reserve for another use (it’s great sautéed quickly in butter for a snack).

Place all of the lobster meat on a paper-towel-lined plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (Allow lobster meat to sit at room temperature 1 hour before cooking if chilled.)

To Make the Beurre Monté: Bring 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, reducing heat to low and being VERY careful not to boil the butter. [Cook’s Note: the beurre monté can be made in advance and held, covered tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, in a warm place. It will keep for hours until you are ready to use it.]

Submerge the lobster tail and claw meat in the beurre monté and poach it over low heat until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. (Optimum temperature of beurre monté is between 180 and 190 degrees.)

While lobster poaches, sauté shallot in 1 teaspoon of the beurre monté over medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

To Make the Sauce: When the lobster is cooked, remove the lobster meat from the beurre monté and place it on a warm plate. Add 1 cup of the poaching beurre monté to the shallots, then add the fines herbs. Heat over medium heat until beurre monté is hot but not boiling.

To Serve: Place 1 claw on top each half lobster tail and serve with sauce in warm dish. (You’ll use about 1 cup. Leftover lobster infused butter can be refrigerated, clarified or not, and reused for sautéing.)

The Ultimate Hot Chocolate

8 cups milk
8 oz. dark baking chocolate
2/3 cup Dutch processed Cocoa Powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy cream whipped to soft peaks

In a large sauce pan, heat the milk and water until simmering. Whisk in the chocolate, cocoa powder and salt. Continue whisking until the chocolate has melted and the drink is hot. Remove from the heat and whisk in the extracts. Pour into a mug containing a shot of your favorite after dinner cordial (Amaretto, Kahlua, Bailey’s, etc.) and top with the whipped heavy cream.