Well we sure had some fun classes celebrating Valentine’s Day this past week and, lets face it, celebrating in general! Even if you weren’t able to attend our classes (Here is the link to upcoming classes: Home Appliance Classes with Chefs Brittany & Matt) I wanted to share the recipes for the dishes we made!
With a celebration meal of any kind, there is an opportunity & eagerness to create something special. If our occasions are marked with ordinary happenings, it tends to lack the feeling of truly celebrating. That being said, we don’t have time to create 4 course meals of gourmet restaurants! This menu does include one dish with a bit more commitment, so I balanced it with some simple courses to compliment. Several of these can also be made ahead which is always a win in my book.
Palmiers with Blue Cheese & Fig Jam
Green Salad with Herbs De Provence Vinaigrette
Homemade Gnocchi in a Rose Wine Cream Sauce
As far as preparing ahead of time, here are the items that will keep well a day or 2 in advance: All the Cocktail Components, Vinaigrette, Gnocchi can be made and frozen ahead – cook from frozen, Cream Sauce, Cake (if making from scratch), Whipped Cream (if making from scratch).
I like to make different flavored simple syrups to have on hand for cocktails etc. What I generally do is make a large batch and divide it into several heatproof containers while it is still hot. Then I add my flavor infusion (ginger, lavender, clove etc). Once they’ve cooled and infused the flavor to my liking (you can always reheat on your stovetop & let cool again to impart extra flavor), I pour the syrups into freezer safe containers and label them. Because of the sugar content, they don’t freeze completely solid and you are able to take a spoonful, or few, as needed. The shelf life of simple syrup in the fridge is only about 2 weeks, but over a year in the freezer, so you’re making it a bit more worthwhile and it is so fun to have them all on hand whenever you need them!
For our cupid cocktail, we used a hibiscus simple syrup with the addition of rose water (simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water – heat over the stove until the sugar is dissolved – at this point infuse, if you would like – let cool & it is ready to use. This syrup was 1/4 tsp of rose water to 1 cup hibiscus syrup.)
Cupid Cocktail (Makes 2)
4 oz Gin
2 oz Hibiscus Rose Simple Syrup
2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
4 oz Pomegranate or Cherry Juice
1 Egg White
I used a Vitamix Aer, but you can also hand shake this with your cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients plus ice and shake vigorously for 1-2 full minutes. Strain off from ice and pour into pretty glass – top with a bit of seltzer water if you wish and garnish with an edible flower!
A great appetizer to have up your sleeve when entertaining, or attending dinner parties are Palmiers. Traditionally a sweet treat made with puff pastry, melted butter, & cinnamon sugar, we put a savory twist on them and it did not disappoint! Note that you can use any kind of jam you have on hand and also can change up the cheese, if you are not a fan of blue cheese, or simply want to use up what you already have in the cheese drawer!
Palmiers with Blue Cheese & Fig Jam
1 Pkg of thawed, but cold, Puff Pastry
2/3 Cup Fig Jam
2/3 Cup Blue Cheese Crumbles
Preheat the oven to 425 & line 2 sheet trays with parchment paper. open your puff pastry sheet and spread 1/3 of the jam on each, leaving a 1/4″ border so it doesn’t over flow when folding & cutting. Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles over the top. Fold both ends into the center & then in half (a book fold). Slice 1/2″ pieces and arrange on your sheet tray cut side up. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes and serve warm! Oh, and bonus: they are heart shaped!!!
For our Vinaigrette, we got fancy & used a rose wine vinegar, as well as Herbs de Provence. When using any dried herb, it is best to make a day ahead, as the flavors open up a considerable amount. Below is a tutorial/recipe for a basic French vinaigrette. To create our Valentine version, simply replace the Thyme with Herbs de Provence & use rose wine vinegar in place as well – all optional! For our Salad, we kept it simple by using fresh greens, tossing in the vinagrette & using a vegetable peeler to shave some good parmesan over the top – easy as that & so good!!
Onto the very fun job of making Gnocchi! Though this can be made ahead and frozen (which is great to have on hand for busy weeks) this truly is a great activity to do with your valentine…or family & friends. After the dough is mixed together, it is a fun way to catch up on the day and many hands make light work! Below is my recipe for homemade gnocchi.
A few tips:
- Make sure to use Russet or Idaho Potatoes. Other kinds can hold too much moisture or have a waxy texture requiring the addition of more flour. More flour=more gummy texture=no thank you!!
- Bake your potatoes. Again we don’t want to add moisture, so boiling=no bueno.
- Peel your potatoes when hot & grate while still warm. Make your dough as soon as potatoes cool & shape/cook as soon as the dough is done.
- Try not to overcrowd your pot when cooking. I will add about 1/2 of a sheet tray worth at a time to cook. If we add too much, the weight of them will cause them to stick together on the bottom of the pot.
- Make sure your water is at a rolling boil the entire time so they cook through quickly – the long they have to sit in the water, the more gummy of a texture they produce.
For Gnocchi (Serves 4):
- 1 1/4 lbs Baked & Grated Russet Potatoes (I use a digital Scale…this is approximately 2.5 Cups, but we all measure differently!!)
- 1 Cup Flour (Extra in case of stickiness & for rolling out.)
- 1 Egg, Beaten
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
Bake the potatoes at 350 for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until tender. While still hot, use a towel to hold them while you peel. Grate (or rice) your potatoes while they are still hot, on the small holes of the grater, but not the zesting side. Add flour, salt & pepper. Gently toss together just to coat the potatoes. Once potatoes are completely coated, create a well in the center of the mixture and add in your egg. Knead the dough until it is just combined, about 2 minutes, you can do this right in the bowl. My advice is to wash hands after it is mostly combined, and the ncome back for the last 30 seconds to bring it together. That makes it easier to discern whether it needs more flour or not. We don’t want our dough to be sticky, but anything will stick to hands when they are covered! If it is still sticky, add about 1 T at a time until it doesn’t stick to your hands. It is also a good trick to flour your hands a bit to avoid sticking. Divide the dough into 4 portions, cover 3 of them. Flour your surface and roll 1 portion at a time into a long snake, about 20”. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 1” pieces. You can then use a gnocchi board for texture or leave as is. Repeat with other portions, while placing finished gnocchi onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Put on a pot of boiling water and add gnocchi in batches when it reaches a rolling boil. It will only take 3-4 minutes for them to be fully cooked. Once they have floated to the top of the water, they have about a minute left. Remove using a wok spider or a slotted spoon. Gently toss right into your cream sauce & top with fresh basil.
A Rose Wine Cream Sauce is a lovely accompaniment to our homemade gnocchi. For the rose component, we slowly simmer 1 cup of rose wine until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. This cooks off the alcohol & concentrates the flavor. This is a step that can easily be skipped for a still delish cream sauce!!
Rose Wine Cream Sauce:
- 1 T Olive Oil
- 2 T Butter
- 1/2 Onion Chopped Finely
- 2 Garlic Cloves Grated
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
- 1/4 Cup Rose Wine Reduction
Add your butter and olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat up on medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional minute, while stirring constantly. Using a whisk add in your cream. Season with pepper and let the cream simmer for 2-4 minutes to thicken a bit, while stirring often. Whisk in your parmesan & rose reduction. Season with salt and pepper to taste and turn on low. Keep warm while you cook your gnocchi.
To finish off the meal, we went with a simple chocolate trifle! You can make cake or buy store bought, same with the whipped cream. All we did was layer some cake, whipped cream & fresh berries, for a lovely treat! You could add chocolate sauce as well – whatever sounds good to you!! Hope you enjoy this menu, please let me know if you have any questions about any of the recipes!!