Thursday, February 01, 2007

What to Cook on Valentines Day

So I've never much cared for Valentines day, I've always seen it as a sort of pointless holiday; however I'm liking it more now that I'm married--it has become the day that I get a box of chocolate covered strawberries, what's not to like?

This year, since I'm out of school and can actually think about things like this, I've decided to have French themed dinner. I thought it would be super fun to host a French party (not exactly sure what that would entail but it sounds fun) however we're going to be in Florida until the 11th and that's cutting it a little close don't you think?

The best French cookbook I've ever seen (not only for the food, some of which is too exotic for my taste buds, but also for the photography) is Saveur Cooks: Authentic French, available here for a steal.

Here's a taste of my Valentine's Day menu (I'll feature a some more in upcoming posts):

Appetizer: Cheese Fondue (Saveur Cooks)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 1/2 Cups Savoyard white wine, such as chignin or crepy or other light, dry white wine (non-alcoholic cooking wine is available)
  • 1 lb beaufort or gruyere cheese, grated or cubed
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 Cup kirsch
  • 8 thick slices of French country bread, cut into 1" cubes, each one with a piece of crust

1. Rub a medium-sized heavy pot with garlic, then discard garlic. Ad wine and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gradually add cheese, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until melted. Do not allow to boil. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add nutmeg, pepper to taste and kirsch. Transfer to a chafing dish or fondue pot.

2. To serve fondue, put the fondue pot in the middle of the table, with the bread cubes in a basket. Diners spear cubes with their fondue forks and dip them in the pot. Stir the pot frequently to prevent the cheese from coagulating. If fondue becomes too thick, stir in 1/4 C of dry white wine.

First Course: French Onion Soup (serves 6) from The New Best Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 medium red onions sliced thin
  • salt
  • 6 Cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4 C low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 C dry red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ground black pepper

Note: 8 cups of rich beef stock can replace the chicken broth, beef broth and the red wine.

Cheese Topped Crust:

  • 1 baguette, cut on the bias into 3/4 inch slices (2 slices per serving)
  • 4 1/2 oz Swiss cheese, sliced 1/ 16 inches thick
  • 3 oz Asiago cheese, freshly grated (about 1 1/2 Cups)

1. For the soup: Melt the butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the sliced onions and 1/2 tsp salt and stir to coat the onions thoroughly with butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are reduced and syrupy and the inside of the pot is coated with a very deep brown crust, 30-35 minutes. Stir in the chicken and beef broths, red wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, scraping the pot bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits and bring to a simmer. Simmer to blend the flavors about 20 minutes and discard the herbs. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

  • 2. For the Crusts: Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position; heat the broiler. Set heat-safe soup bowls or crocks on a baking sheet; fill each with about 1 1/2 Cups of soup. Top each bowl with 2 baguette slices and divide the Swiss cheese slices, placing them in a single layer, if possible, on the the bread. Sprinkle with about 2 Tbsp grated Asiago and broil until well browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes (*I found 3 minutes to be perfectly adequate, watch it). Cool 5 minutes and serve.


Bruce Young said...

Sounds yummy.

Tu sais que j'aime beaucoup tout ce qui est francais, y compris les aliments.

(For a translation, go to and paste in the French.)

older singer said...

It's not what you cook, it's what you wear when you're cooking it.
And don't forget the traditional valentine's decorations:
one of those chocolate striped cookies with a hole in the middle, two gummy or jelly hearts, one skewer. Put hearts over cookie hole, spear them together with the skewer, arrange in a vase with other candy flowers--such as those made by putting two chocolate kisses together bottom sides touching, wrapping the "rosebud" in red saran wrap, then covering the "stem" (another skewer?) with green floral tape.
It's actually a cute little arrangement.

Factotum said...

I'll keep that in mind--exactly what should one wear when you cook French cuisine?

older singer said...

You can borrow my French Maid costume.

Anonymous said...

Are you having fun at Disneyworld?

waiting patiently said...

According to my sources, you are home from Florida and have not yet posted photographs nor your longish critique of My Name is Asher Lev. When might we expect those things?