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Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam

 

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The secret to Chris Kronner’s delectable sandwiches is the jam spiked with Pinot Noir. Kronner got the idea when he was helping Elisabeth Prueitt test jam recipes while they drank wine.

 

Adapted from Chris Kronner
Food & Wine
April 2010

Serves 4

Ingredients:
Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of brioche
1/2 cup strawberry jam mixed with 2 tablespoons of Pinot Noir
8 thin slices of baked ham
8 thin slices of Gruyère cheese
Softened unsalted butter

Directions:
Heat a large griddle. Spread 4 of the brioche slices with the jam. Top each slice of bread with 2 slices of the ham and 2 slices of the Gruyère and close the sandwiches. Lightly butter the outside of the sandwiches and fry the sandwiches over moderate heat until toasted and the cheese is melted, 2 minutes per side. Cut in half and serve right away.

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Valentine’s Day Dinner

Reservations are scarce, restaurants are crowded, and the weather can be frightful this time of year — so why brave the Valentine’s Day scramble for a restaurant reservation when you can go to the best restaurant of all: The one in your kitchen. You don’t need to make a reservation, you get to call the shots on the lighting, the music — and most importantly — the menu.

 

 

 

The secret to this menu is fresh, top-quality ingredients simply and deliciously. All you will need to do is a quick shop and do it early in the day if you can, then get out some candles and cue your favorite music for an intimate meal you can have ready in under an hour.

Plus, the act of preparing a meal for, or maybe even with, someone can be a romantic gesture. So, yes, a Valentine’s Day date night at home can be special, memorable, romantic — and delicious. Here’s our ultimate Valentine’s Day dinner menu that feels just as special as a table at a fine dining restaurant, minus the whole going-out hassle and it will leave you plenty of time for relaxed, indulgent dining.

 

 

THE MENU

 

Oysters

Oysters

Start with an appetizer of sweet, briny, velvety oysters: They are  the classic aphrodisiac for lovers and a great at-home treat. You can shuck them yourself — just watch this how-to video.

Serving them can be as simple as placing some lemon wedges and a small bowl of cocktail sauce on the side, or try an easy topping like chimichurri, a fresh, herbal sauce that is an unexpectedly delicious topping for oysters; try this recipe for a simple mild chimichurri sauce with chopped bacon and finely diced jalapeño, a pleasure for bacon lovers.

Oysters can also be served with sriracha and lime, a modern riff on the spicy-tangy combo. Also, a  Classic mignonette sauce, a sophisticated pairing of red-wine vinegar and shallots that’s so easy to make. They will be absolutely delicious.

 

 

Surf & turf: Ribeye Steak and Lobster Tails
Few dishes say “special occasion” like surf and turf, a white tablecloth classic. Pair a beautifully marbled, ribeye with creamy, rich lobster tail.

There’s nothing quite like sharing tender, succulent lobster with someone you love. Wild-caught lobster tails are a fantastic way to indulge,How to Cook: Steamed Lobster Tails with minimal prep and mess (no bibs required!). Steamed lobster is a classic and tops for enjoying the pure taste of the luscious tail meat. Or you can roast the tails with a flavorful herb topping; this easy recipe shows you how.

You will want one or two tails per person, and have extra lemon slices and melted butter on the side, plus some flaky seas salt and cracked pepper — simplicity rules.

 

 

Twice-baked New Potatoes
Baking these creamy, fluffy potatoes twice — once to cook the potato, and again to crisp up the topping — gives a special occasion­–worthy upgrade to an otherwise everyday side dish. The technique results in a much more striking visual presentation than standard mashed potato fare, without being too labor-intensive or tedious. Add an extra-special touch of decadence by topping with chives and caviar.

 

 

Lemony Asparagus Spears
With their juicy stalks and slightly crispy ends, oven-roasted asparagus make a perfect counterpart to a fancy entrée like steak and lobster. Plus, it’s delicious enough to stand on its own without taking over the plate. Steam the spears or blanch them in lightly salted water, and they’ll be ready in minutes; cook them just until they turn bright green and the stalks just turn tender. Drizzle them with a little fresh lemon juice for a subtle pop of acidity and sprinkle of salt and pepper that takes this takes this side dish to the next level. For the roasted version on this dish click on the link here.

Simple roasted asparagus recipe (the perfect spring side dish!) - cookieandkate.com

                   Photo Credit: Cookie+Kate

 

 

Chocolate-covered Strawberries
Chocolate Covered StrawberriesEvery romantic dinner should end things on a sweet note. Chocolate-covered strawberries are an all-time classic romantic dessert, and for good reason: The juicy, sweet-tart berries pair perfectly with the creaminess of milk chocolate or the bittersweet flavor of dark chocolate. For and easy chocolate-covered strawberry recipe click on the link here.

 

 

Don’t Forget the Bubbly
For the requisite champagne, fill your flutes with Jacques Bardelot Brut, a crisp, dry French  Champagne with clean and balanced flavors that will complement, rather than overpower, the meal. Not a fan of bubbly? Consider the wine pairing or H&G Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with the ribeye.

Another suggestion is a sparkling wine: Toad Hollow Risque French Sparkling Wine,  which is a fruity sparkling wine with a natural delicate sweetness.

And in serving champagne or wine at at home with your special dinner has another benefit to staying in: no corkage fee!


Braised Chicken with Tuscan Kale and Andouille Sausage

chicken and kale.jpgA traditional Italian dish of braised chicken nestled in a bed of earthy kale and sweet red peppers makes a perfect combination with the spiciness of Louisiana Creole andouille sausage, giving you a one-skillet meal packed with lots of flavor!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken:
6 chicken thighs on the bone with skin, about 2 pounds total
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly black ground pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bread
1 large sweet onion, quartered, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
7 ounces fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 cups (10 ounces) roughly chopped Tuscan kale*
½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

For the Crostini:
6 thick slices French or Italian bread
3 tablespoons crumbled feta
Fresh chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Season chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large (14-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, in single, uncrowded layer. (Use two pans if necessary.) Cook until nicely browned and skin is crisped, about 12 minutes. (Turn on the exhaust fan and use a splatter guard to keep mess to a minimum.) Flip chicken; brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate skin side up so it stays crispy.

Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet. Add onion and red pepper. Cook, stir occasionally, over medium heat until onion is nicely golden, about 8 minutes. Add sliced sausage and garlic; cook, 1 minute. Stir in kale. Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine to mix well. Nestle the chicken, crispy skin side up, into the kale mixture leaving the skin uncovered. Cook, uncovered, on low until chicken juices run clear, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat broiler. Brush bread slices on both sides with olive oil. Broil bread, 4 inches from heat source until golden, about 1 minute. Flip; top with a little feta cheese. Broil the second side until golden, about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle chicken with parsley leaves. Serve chicken with the bread for mopping up all the pan juices.

*Cook’s Note:
Polish sausage can be substituted for the andouille for a milder dish. Cleaned and cut Tuscan kale, also known as black or lacinato kale, is sold in 10-ounce bags at some grocers. If Tuscan kale is not available in your local area, you can substitute 2 small bunches (about 1 pound total) kale, then trim off tough stems before cutting into 2-inch pieces.

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