Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Elegant Dinner for Valentine's Day

If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know that I had do not enjoy long, complicated recipes. I like simple recipes with ingredients that I can find with ease. I know myself, and know that I will not enjoy making a dish that is overly complicated. Valentine's Day should be fun and relaxed, so I go for simple.

I was browsing my cookbooks this week looking for a nice menu and I ran across these lovely dishes in The Wine Cook Book by The Browns, published in 1960. I'm going to serve this with a nice salad, and a loaf of French bread. I made changes to the recipes for clarification and taste, so they aren't identical to the published recipes.

A note on the wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, or a Pinot Blanc will work well for these recipes. It doesn't need to be expensive either. You'll need a total of four cups for the following recipes. This would be more than one standard bottle of wine, which is fine, because if you buy two bottles, then you'll be able to have a glass with dinner too.

Peach Soup

2 cups sliced peaches
2 cups white wine
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 cloves
sugar to taste

Place a pint of water in a medium pan to heat. Add peaches and cook until tender. Press through a colander or use a hand blender. Place the peaches back in the pan as they are strained. Boil for a few minutes. Stir in the wine, and add sugar to taste. Heat until just boiling and serve in bowls.

Notes: honey can be used instead of sugar. The soup can be garnished with whipped cream.

Mussels in White Wine

2 quarts mussels
1 small sweet onion, sliced thinly
handful of fresh minced parsley
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup white wine
1 tsp. butter
ground black pepper

Wash mussels several times in clean water each time. Place the mussels in a deep soup pot, sprinkle with parsley, onion and garlic. Add the butter and the wine. Cook for 15 minutes on high heat, covered tightly. The mussels are done when opened. Serve in bowls with the liquid. To eat, remove the mussel from the shell, dip in the broth and eat.

Fish in Sauce

1 cup white wine
2 pounds firm fleshed fish *see note
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 thinly sliced onion
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 fresh, chopped tomato
ground black pepper
1 tbsp. flour

In a heavy skillet heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and onion until very lightly browned and soft. Be careful not to scorch. Add the tomato, seasonings and the fish to the pan. Cover the pan and saute over medium heat, shaking the pan often so it doesn't stick. When tender, lift out the fish and keep warm on a platter. Stir the flour into the broth of the pan, add the wine and bring to boiling.

Firm fleshed fish should be one that won't fall apart easily. Catfish, Cod, Halibut, Red snapper, Striped bass, Grouper or Mahi-Mahi will work well. If you aren't sure ask at the fish counter when you buy it.

On OFL I have an article with plans for a romantic evening with menu:


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February Tidbits: Love and Garden Fever

It's February, which always brings to mind love for me, not only because of Valentine's Day, but it's my 23rd anniversary this year and my daughter's twelve birthday. Yes, it's a chaotic, but memorable month in our family. I thought I'd start things out with a note on some past blogs that have some great information. I especially love the party recipes.

Tea Cookies, Cake & Homemade Vanilla Sugar Recipes:

Homemade Frosting Goodness:

Valentine's Recipes from 1938

Valentine's Day Party Recipes:

February is also a time to start thinking about landscaping. Why so early? If you're in a warm climate, it's not too early at all. In Florida, trees and shrubs can be transplanted. Evergreens and summer flowering shrubs can be pruned, but just as in cold climates NEVER prune spring flowering shrubs until after they bloom. You'll be cutting off the future buds.

In colder climates there is something important we can be doing. Since the trees and bushes have shed their leaves it's a good time to look at them and make notes of what needs pruning. You can look at the bare branches and determine if they look properly shaped. Keep a notebook and make sketches of what you want to do when it warms up. Keep in mind that large pine trees often do better if the lower branches are trimmed so they aren't touching the ground.

It's also a great time to look at your landscape as a whole, and plan what you want to add or change this year. Again, takes notes, sketch out plans, and look through nursery catalogs and websites. Be sure to make a budget because purchases can get our of hand very quickly.

On OFL we have some tips on keeping a garden diary: