For a Valentine of substance, try a homemade meal

On Valentine's Day few gifts can surpass the shared intimacy of a supper for two. The most elaborate meal in a renowned restaurant can't compare with food lovingly prepared at home. Here are some things to keep in mind as the romantic occasion is planned:

Splurge a little. Don't buy a food item because you can get a second meal from it.

Select a recipe that's delicious but easy to prepare -- unless you are a gourmet cook -- and of course make certain that you have chosen food that will be enjoyed.

Consider this special meal a Valentine, and picture how it will look as a whole. Make it pretty but with enough substance to be practical.

Fondue is simple to prepare, yet has a bit of variety with its dipping sauces. And few meals offer more of a break from the usual, or a more romantic atmosphere.

Another supper choice would be a deluxe lobster, crab, or shrimp casserole with a vegetable and salad of your choice. You might even like to share an antipasto first, allowing time between courses.

If that doesn't appeal to you, serve a seafood cocktail before the fondue-dipping ceremony or perhaps a slice of homemade p^ate' before the seafood casserole.

A pink-frosted cake in the shape of a heart would be a nice dessert touch, or you might try a delicious mini-fudge cake for two. Beef Tenderloin Fondue Salad oil 1 pound trimmed beef tenderloin cut in 3/4-inch cubes Dipping Sauces (recipes follow) Heat oil in saucepan to 425 degrees F. on range. (Do not let oil smoke.) Pour oil in fondue cooker to no more than 1/2 capacity or to depth of about 2 inches. Place over canned heat or alcohol burner. Have beef cubes at room temperature in serving bowl. Set out small bowls for the dipping sauces. Spear beef cubes on fondue fork and hold in hot oil until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer cooked beef to dinner plates for easy dipping into sauces. Serves 2. Red Hot Dipping Sauce 1/3 cup ketchup 1 tablespoon vinegar 1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish, or to taste Combine all ingredients until blended. Chill. Makes about 1/3 cup. Blue Cheese Sauce 1/2 cup dairy sour cream 1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese Dash Worcestershire sauce Combine all ingredients. Chill well. Caper Butter 1/4 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 tablespoons capers with liquid

In small mixer bowl, combine butter and capers with liquid. Beat until light and fluffy. Company Seafood-Artichoke Casserole 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, cooked medium shrimp, or cooked lobster 1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained 1 4-ounce can mushrooms, drained 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 1/2 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon salt Dash cayenne pepper 1 cup half-and-half cream 2 tablespoons cereal crumbs 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese Paprika

Cut artichoke hearts in half. Place artichokes in a well-greased, shallow 1 1/2-quart casserole. Cover with mushrooms and crabmeat.

Melt butter. Blend in flour and seasonings. Add cream gradually and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Pour sauce over crabmeat.

Combine crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle over sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a 450-degree F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until bubbly. Mini Fudge Cake for Two 1/3 cup shortening 1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted 1 egg 1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces 9 walnut halves

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Blend in vanilla and cooled chocolate. Add egg, beating well.

Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with 3/4 cup water, beating after each addition. Spread batter in greased and lightly floured 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces.

Arrange walnut halves over top. Bake in a 350-degree F. oven about 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched in center. Cool in pan.

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