Let’s Talk Food: Friday is Valentine’s Day

Friday is Valentine’s Day and a special one for your loved one. Forget it and you will certainly be in trouble!

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, honors one or two early saints named Valentinus. Saint Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings to soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge and then wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.

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In 18th century England, it became a day in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, candy and sending Valentine’s cards. Today these handwritten cards have been replaced by Hallmark mass-produced cards.

In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are given out to a loved one yearly. In addition to this, there are hundreds of millions that school children exchange. It is certainly a day of showing your love by spending money as in 2017 $136 was spent per person or $18.2 billion!

In Japan, women give chocolate to men, usually all their male co-workers and is called “giri-choko” or “obligation chocolate.” The romantic “date night” in Japan is not on Valentine’s Day, but is on Christmas Eve. The men get their chance to give chocolates on “reply day” or March 14 when they can return the favor to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day, also called “White Day” for the color of the chocolates being offered.

South Korean women also give chocolates to men of Valentine’s Day and also have a “White Day” or March 14 when men give non-chocolate candy to women. Those who did not receive anything for Valentine’s Day or “White Day” go to a Chinese Korean restaurant to eat black noodles or “jajangmyeon” and lament their single life

Have no reservations at a restaurant? Here are some recipes that are sure to please:

Seared Sea Scallops with Sparkling Wine Saffron Cream Sauce and Mushroom Risotto

Chef Ryan Day

Risotto:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 pieces chopped shallots

2 cups arborio rice

1 cup sparkling wine

3 cups chicken stock

4 ounces chopped wild mushrooms

4 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute shallots in olive oil until soft, add in rice, stirring for 3-5 minutes. Pour in sparkling wine and half the chicken stock. Simmer and occasionally stir for 15 minutes. Slowly add the rest of stock. Cook until rice has a creamy consistency. Saute mushrooms and add in with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Saffron Cream Sauce:

3 cups sparkling wine

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces softened butter

3 pieces shallots

1 pinch saffron

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound (10-20 size) sea scallops

Saute shallot in 1 ounce butter until caramelized. Deglaze with sparkling wine. Reduce by half and add in saffron and cream. Simmer and season to taste. Add in the rest of butter; remove from heat and let thicken. Sear scallops in butter on both sides, until golden brown. Place hot risotto in the center of the plate, place scallops around the risotto in a circle. Ladle sauce over scallops. Garnish with orange tobiko and chive sprigs.

• • •

Saveur magazine’s 25th anniversary issue, with the best recipes of all times ran Maida Heatter’s Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate-Covered Mints. Ms. Heatter passed away last June at the age of 102. You might want to bake this on Wednesday night and have some to take to work on Thursday for the office staff.

Maida Heatter’s Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate- Covered Mints

Makes 32 large brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons more for greasing

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate

5 large eggs

3-3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon powdered instant espresso

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 cups walnuts, broken into large pieces

Two 11-ounce bags York Peppermint Patties

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter and line a 9-inch x 13-inch cake pan with foil, shiny side down, then butter the foil as well.

In a double boiler or medium metal pan placed over a medium pot of simmering water, add remaining butter and chocolate, and warm, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, add eggs, sugar, instant espresso, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt and beat on high speed until very thick and voluminous, 10-12 minutes. Adjust the speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and beat only until mixed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the flour and again beat on low speed only until mixed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a silicone spatula to fold in the walnuts.

Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and use the spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Place a layer of the mints, touching each other and the edges of the pan. Pour the remaining batter over the mints and use the spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the top. Transfer to the oven and bake until the brownies have a firm crust on top, but a toothpick inserted in the center still comes out well and chocolatey, 33-35 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature.

Cover the pan with a large baking sheet and invert the pan and the sheet. Remove the baking pan and foil lining, then cover the brownies with a length of waxed paper and another baking sheet and invert again, leaving the slab of brownies right side up. Refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight. Use a long, heavy knife with a sharp blade to cut the slab into 32 bars. Serve immediately, pack in an airtight box, wrap individually in cellophane, wax paper or foil. These freeze perfectly, and can be served very cold or at room temperature.

Foodie Bites

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The Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts program’s Bamboo Hale is open today till Friday with the menu of the Americas and New Orleans. Seatings are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with the last seating at 12:20 p.m. Call 934-2591 for reservations. The Cafeteria is open also from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Call 934-2559 for specials of the day and take-out orders.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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