When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I believe there are two kinds of people. You have the people who adore this holiday and go all out every year, whether they are in a relationship or not, and you have the other people who absolutely despise it. I would typically categorize myself into the group that hates it, but recently I’ve become more accepting of the holiday. I think too many people focus on the need to impress their partner on Valentine’s Day by dropping a nice chunk of change. Too many people get caught up in a materialistic view and think they need to buy flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and even an expensive dinner. For me, I find Valentine’s Day more romantic when you and your significant other spend time creating something together. You can go out to dinner or buy flowers whenever, but what’s more romantic than spending an evening in cooking a meal together and drinking wine? To me, absolutely nothing. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share with all you wonderful readers a three course meal that you and your partner can make together, including a cocktail to have with dessert.
Crab Cakes with Remoulade & Apple Celery Slaw
My favorite appetizer is crab cakes, and these are REALLY simple to make. I created this recipe so that all you need to do is put it all into a bowl and mix. You can even mix everything and shape the cakes ahead of time, but they can easily be done the day of. These are classic crab cakes with a spicy remoulade and a crunchy apple celery slaw to help cut the heat of the remoulade.
For Crab Cakes:
1 lb lump crab meat (fresh or canned)
1 tbsp butter
½ small onion, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup mayo
1 ½ tsp cayenne
¼ cup chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper to the pan and cook until onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic and cooked until aromatic. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl add the crab meat, mayo, cayenne, parsley, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, egg, dijon mustard, the onion/pepper mix,salt, pepper, and ½ cup of the panko. Mix together until combined. If the mixture is a little runny, add a little more bread crumbs.
- With the remaining breadcrumbs, pour them out onto a flat plate. To form the crab cakes use a number 12 ice cream scoop. Scoop a portion out of the mix and place on the plate with the remaining breadcrumbs. Form into a patty and coat both sides of the cake with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until there is no more mix left.
- In a small saute pan with a metal handle (do not use one with plastic or coating because you have to put the pan in the oven), heat some oil, about 1 tbsp. Use an oil with a neutral flavor like canola or vegetable. Add the crab cakes to the pan. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip over the cakes and place the saute pan in the preheated 350F oven. Cook for 5 more minutes. The crab cakes should be golden brown on both sides.
For Spicy Remoulade:
1 cup mayo
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp creamy horseradish
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp capers, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 tsp hot sauce (I used sriracha)
- In a bowl combine mayo, paprika, cayenne, dijon mustard, creamy horseradish, minced garlic, juice and zest of lemon, parsley, capers, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix together until evenly combined. Serve with the crab cakes.
For Apple Celery Slaw:
½ green apple, julienned
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced on a bias
¼ cup parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Arugula
Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Toss together the julienned green apple, bias cut celery stalk, parsley, lemon juice, arugula, salt, and pepper. Make sure everything is evenly coated. Serve with the remoulade and crab cakes.
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Cauliflower Mash & Asparagus
Want to eat something rich but not break the bank spending money on a steak? Fear not! Short ribs are your answer. They’ve grown in popularity recently which has made the price go up, but not so much that you’ll see a dent in your account. Honestly, it’ll be cheaper to buy short ribs rather than filets. They are also really versatile, and when cooked for a long period of time in red wine, they fall away from the bone and you get a delicious meal.
For Red Wine Braised Short Ribs:
3 lbs beef short ribs, bone in
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, julienned
4 garlic cloves
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups red wine (pick a red wine you enjoy drinking)
1 cup beef stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Season the short ribs with plenty of salt and pepper. On your stovetop in a deep pot, heat about 2 tbsp vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan but leave the oil and any rendered fat.
- Add the julienned onions and saute in the pan until translucent. Add the garlic cloves and brown sugar. Add the short ribs back into the pan. Pour in the red wine and beef stock, the liquid should just cover them. Add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and cover the pan with the lid.
- Depending on how your butcher or grocery store portions their short ribs, the cooking time will vary. I recommend setting the heat down to low on the stove and checking the meat every hour. You’ll know the short ribs are ready by how they start to pull away from the bone and easily fall apart when you lift them. You should be able to cut it with a fork.
For the Cauliflower Mash
1 cauliflower, finely chopped
1 large russet potato, small dice
3 garlic cloves
1 medium sizes onion, small dice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cream
- Finely chop the cauliflower. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to mash. Clean and peel the russet potato. Cut into small, uniform pieces.
- In a pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they become translucent, add the whole garlic cloves and cook until starting to brown. Add the finely chopped cauliflower and small diced potato and saute those until starting to show some color. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cream; it will just cover the cauliflower and potato. The cream should never come to a boil, so keep the heat low, and let everything simmer in the pot until the cauliflower and potato is tender.
- Transfer the cauliflower mixture into a food processor. BE CAREFUL! You’re handling hot ingredients and make sure to watch for splattering cream. Turn the food processor on and puree until smooth. Taste the mash and add a little more salt or pepper depending on your preference.
- Remove from the food processor and put into a serving bowl.
For the Asparagus:
1 bunch asparagus, stalky ends cut
Salt and Pepper
- In a deep pot, fill it with water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Drain into a colander and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Remove the asparagus from the ice water bath and store in the fridge.
- When ready to eat, heat some vegetable oil in a saute pan. Add the asparagus and saute until cooked, around 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the mash.
Dessert & Cocktail
Raspberry Macarons & Champagne Mojito
I didn’t go for chocolate, because chocolate on Valentine’s Day is overrated. Chocolate can be messy and complicated, but macarons are the perfect little dessert you can eat with your hands and won’t leave you with a mess. Chocolate can make you feel bloated, and feeling bloated isn’t sexy. So instead, I want to share a recipe for a wonderfully light cookie that’s sweet and the perfect minty drink to accompany it.
For the Macarons:
⅔ cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 large eggs whites, room temperature
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring
3 tbsp raspberry compound
8 oz mascarpone cheese
- Preheat an oven to 280F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. I recommend you cut the parchment down to fit into the pan; if you are having trouble with the parchment paper staying in place, lightly spray the sheet pan with non stick spray. This will help the parchment stick to the pan but won’t affect the macarons.
- Sift together the ground almonds/almond flour and powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and begin to beat on medium speed. When the eggs are frothy, gradually add the granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should be glossy. Gently stir in the vanilla extract and a few drops of red food coloring. If you overbeat the meringue it will become lumpy. The texture should always be smooth.
- Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and gently fold it into the meringue. Use a flexible silicone spatula for this. Lift from the bottom, around the sides, and toward the middle. Do not stir or whisk, this will over agitate the meringue and you will lose air. Once incorporated, add in the second half and repeat.
- At this stage, you’re going to need to “punch” the meringue. Use the flat of the spatula and smack it down into the center of the meringue. Scrape everything into the middle and smack it again. Do this about 10 times or until the meringue drips slowly into the middle of the bowl. You shouldn’t have to force it with a spatula. Think the consistency of molasses. If the batter is too runny, the macarons won’t rise and you’ll end up with flat discs.
- Pour the mix into a pastry bag, or use a gallon size Ziploc bag (just make sure to snip a teeny bit from one of the bottom corners). On the prepared baking sheets, pipe 1 inch rounds with at least 1 inch between each cookie.
- If you need to smooth out the tops, gently tap the baking sheet against the counter. Allow the piped macarons to dry for about 15 minutes.
- Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. The macarons are done when they are baked all the way through and the shells are just hard. If you underbake them the insides will still be mushy, if you overbake the tops will start to brown. Transfer them to a wire rack or a cool baking tray.
- When completely cooled you can assemble them. Take your mascarpone cheese and raspberry compound. Mix the two in a bowl. Using a knife spread about 1 tablespoon onto one side of the cookie, top with another. Do this until all the macarons have been used.
- Eat them!!
For the Champagne Mojito:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch mint
2 cups rum
1 cup champagne
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat. Whisk the mix until the sugar dissolves, creating simple syrup. Let it cool down to room temperature.
- In a bowl combine simple syrup, mint, and rum. Take five of the six limes and cut in half. Lightly squeeze juice into the simple syrup mix, then put the half into the bowl. Muddle everything with a wooden spoon.
- Strain into another bowl; you don’t want any lime pulp or mint leaves in your mix. Pour the strained rum mix half way up several glasses. Top with the champagne. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Don’t spend a lot of money this Valentine’s Day; instead spend the day as a couple doing something together. Make an awesome meal, have a couple glasses of wine and a cocktail, and enjoy each others’ company. That’s really what Valentine’s Day is all about: enjoying your partner’s company and eating some good food.