Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Valentine’s Day Family Feast

Instead of eating out with the hoards of people crowding every restaurant on Valentine’s Day, consider making a romantic dinner at home that your children can enjoy as well. Valentine’s Day falls on a weeknight this year so this menu is designed to be put on the table quickly. The appetizer and dessert can be made ahead of time, and the main dish can be on the table in less than 40 minutes. 

Drink – Kir Royal (for the adults)

A Kir Royale is the perfect drink for Valentine’s Day. It features the classic appeal of champagne but has Crème de Cassis, which makes it extra special and gives the drink a lovely red hue that is appropriate for the holiday.  To make your children feel included, make them an ever popular Shirley Temple.


4 oz of your preferred champagne (sparkling wine, processco cava etc. are fine substitutes)
1 tablespoon Crème de Cassis.
·         Pour the cassis into the champagne flute, top with champagne. Serve cold.

Appetizer –Bruschetta

Bruschetta is an ever popular appetizer and kids just seem to gobble it up. This can be made the day ahead, just leave out the olive oil until you are ready to serve so it doesn’t get too soft and soggy.

5 plum tomatoes
1/5 of a red onion
1 bunch of fresh basil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper
·         Dice the tomatoes and red onion.
·         Chop the basil
·         In a bowl mix together the tomatoes, onion, bail, and cheese together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and it can be stored over night in the fridge
·         Slice and toast the baguette
·         Add the olive oil, give a good stir and adjust seasoning if needed.
Top the toasted baguette with a spoonful of the bruschetta mix and enjoy! 

Main Course – Lemony Shrimp Pasta with Broiled Asparagus

Seafood is right up there with steak when people thing of romantic foods. Shrimp is a great weeknight seafood choice because it cooks so quickly. Asparagus is reportedly one of the top 10 aphrodisiac foods, and it also tastes delicious!


Asparagus, ends trimmed
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and thawed
1 box of spaghetti
¼ cup of butter
1 shallot, minced
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

·         Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat your broiler on high
·         In a bowl, toss together the shrimp, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a short squeeze of the lemon and a teaspoon of the garlic, season with salt and pepper and set aside for a few minutes.
·         When the water reaches a boil, add the spaghetti.
·         While the spaghetti is cooking, toss the asparagus with 1 table spoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking tray. Broil for 3 minutes
·         Remove the baking tray from the oven, add the shrimp and return to broiler for another 2-3 minutes.
·         When the pasta is cooked al-dente, reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.
·         While the pasta is draining, add the ¼ cup of olive oil and the ¼ cup of butter to the pot the pasta was cooking in. Add in the garlic and shallots and quickly sauté for about a minute. Add in the lemon zest, juice and shrimp. Add the pasta back into the pot and toss altogether. Season to taste with salt and pepper and some of the pasta water if needed to help loosen up the sauce.
Serve the pasta in a pasta bowl or plate with a side of the beautiful broiled asparagus. 

Dessert – Heart Shaped Ice Cream Sandwiches with Strawberry Milkshake Ice Cream

Everyone loves ice cream sandwiches, but the ones you buy in the store can taste like cardboard. If you make your own, you can switch up the ice cream flavours and shapes of the cookies. These cookies are shaped like hearts and filled with a softly tinted pink ice cream that tastes like a strawberry milkshake. *You can always use a store bought ice-cream if you don’t have an ice-cream maker. Once you make the sandwich, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and it can be stored in the freezer for up to a couple months.



3 tablespoons of salted butter – room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup of sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp of vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
·         Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
·         In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour and baking powder. Set aside.
·         In a large bowl combine the butter, oil and sugar, mixing until smooth. Add in the egg, and when thoroughly incorporated, add in the egg yolk. Add in the vanilla and milk until smooth.
·         Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions until just combined.  
·         Shape into a dish and chill the dough thoroughly.
·         Roll out the dough and using a heart shaped cookie, making sure to have an even amount of cookies.
·         Bake for 10 minutes.
·         Cook on a baking sheet.

Ice Cream

2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1.5 cups of freshly pureed strawberries
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

·         Prepare an ice bath
·         Pour cream into a large bowl and place over the ice bath
·         In a large saucepan, warm the whole milk, pinch of salt and the sugar.
·         In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. While constantly stirring the yolks, slowly stir in the warmed milk and sugar mixture.
·         Place the mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
·         In case there are any bits of cooked egg in the mixture, strain the mixture into the cream. Add in the puree, lemon juice and vanilla. Still vigorously until the mixture has cooled.
·         Chill at least two hours in the fridge before pouring into the ice-cream machine.

Putting it together
·         One the cookies have cooled to room temperature, take out the ice-cream and let soften slightly.
·         Scoop some ice-cream onto one cookie, then using another cookie, sandwich them together.
·         Wrap each ice cream sandwich tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

All year round Vanessa, the author of this article and employee of this website can be found in kitchen creating new ice-cream flavors.

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