Valentine’s Day Dinner

Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love, meant for two: you and your significant other.

Try Smitty’s recipe for Hollandaise Sauce
Try Lou Phillips picks for Valentine’s Day wines

There are many ways people celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is the single biggest day of the year for both flowers and chocolates to be given out. It is also a big night to go out for dinner. However, you can both stay in and make an evening of it. I’m talking about dinner and a movie. Pick a romantic movie you will both enjoy. You can go with an old classic such as, “It Happened One Night” or “The Shop Around the Corner” or one of the newer classics, such as “Sleepless in Seattle” or “When Harry Met Sally.”

As for the menu, this dinner is designed to incorporate foods considered to be aphrodisiacs — oysters, fennel, garlic, arugula, avocado, sweet basil, nutmeg, asparagus, figs, honey, mustard, coffee, chocolate and wine.

 Oysters Rockefeller

½ stick butter
2 T minced celery
1 T minced scallions
1 T chopped parsley
1 T chopped watercress
1 T chopped shallots
1½ T chopped spinach
1 oz. Pernod to taste, or add 1 T fennel to the sautéed ingredients
1 minced clove of garlic
A few shakes of Tabasco
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute all of the ingredients together. Pop open four oysters. Separate the meat from the shell, but leave it on the shell, and place in a sauté pan; top each one with the mixture.

Bake in a 450-degree oven until warm — about 10 to 15 minutes — and top with a little Hollandaise Sauce.

Simple salad

Chopped Sweet Basil Leaves
Red Onion, sliced
Mandarin Orange, cut into segments

Arrange the greens on a plate and top with avocado, onion and oranges. Drizzle with vinegareette.

Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

1 garlic clove, minced
1 T Dijon mustard
1/3 C raspberry vinegar
1 C vegetable oil
¼ C frozen passion fruit juice concentrate
3 diced sweet basil leaves
Pinch of salt & pepper

Place the ingredients in a jar and shake well.

Fig-Stuffed Center-Cut Pork Loin

The pork loin is easy to make and you will glaze it with honey mustard and black pepper.

Start with a 3- to 4-inch thick piece of center-cut pork loin. With a sharp, thin knife cut an “X” through the meat: Push the knife through the center of the loin, pull it out, turn the knife 90 degrees and repeat. Stuff about 5 to 8 figs through the meat, packed tightly.

Rough chop a clove of garlic, pour 1 tablespoon of salt over it and using the side of your knife, rub the salt into the garlic to make a paste. Rub the paste over the loin.

Sear the pork on the stove top fat side down. Flip the loin over and spoon on a glaze made of 1 tablespoon each of honey and Dijon mustard. Sprinkle the glaze with course-ground black pepper and place the pork loin in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Repeat the glaze after 10 minutes. Cook for about 15 minutes or until medium rare (at 145 degrees). Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Place the pan back on the stove top and pour in 1 cup of water and let it reduce to make a nice pan sauce.

Side dishes

The pork can be accompanied with feta-mashed potatoes and asparagus. Add 2 tablespoons of feta cheese to mashed potatoes and season with fresh-grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. If there is any hollandaise left, use it on steamed or oven-roasted asparagus.

 Chocolate Mousse

Of course, there should be chocolate on the menu. For dessert, serve a chocolate mousse. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream into soft peaks in a cold bowl and place in the refrigerator.

Bring some water to a boil in a sauce pan and then shut off the burner. Combine 4½ oz. of chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons of espresso in a bowl and place the bowl over the heated sauce pan. Stir often until the mixture is melted and smooth.

Separate 3 eggs. Whip 3 egg whites until they start to peak and add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whip this until soft peaks form.

When the chocolate has cooled to about 99 degrees, add the 3 yolks one at a time stirring the entire time. Fold in half the whipped cream. Then gently fold in the egg whites, one third at a time. Finally, fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

Put 1 tablespoon of raspberry liquor in the bottom of a wine glass. Top with the chocolate mousse. Dip a lady finger in a dark rum to serve it as a garnish.

Don’t forget to decorate the table with flowers and enjoy a glass of wine. Happy Valentine’s Day.