Back to the Kitchen: Sweet and Savory Valentines

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gwenapronBY GWEN KENNEALLY

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Last year I gave you some recipes from my just released “Sweet And Savory Cookbook” (Huqua Press). This year I am giving you some of the new recipes that I have been working on for the up coming Sweet and Savory Holiday Addition to share with your true love.  You will have leftovers for the long Valentines weekend or plenty if you have a family Valentines Day as these recipes serve 4-6. (Except the cupcakes that make 12 large or 24 mini. Of course with the combo of bacon and chocolate maybe they do only serve 4-6!)

It is the sweet taste of a lover’s kiss that we all long for, but it is the savory times that allow us to grow closer and deepen our relationship. This perfect blend for a relationship is a perfect blend for a beautiful sweet and savory Valentine’s romantic dinner for two.

After all do we really want to go out to an over crowded, over priced trendy restaurant or would we rather have an intimate supper at home.

What better way to spend an evening with that special someone having a course after course of yummy sensuous food? These recipes are seeped with everyday natural aphrodisiac foods that ignite Cupids bow and allow you to have a cozy romantic delicious evening at home. I invite you to be creative in the kitchen, light some candles and a fire, bring all of the love in your heart and have a perfectly Sweet and Savory Valentines supper and a true celebration of Saint Valentine!

Fig and Hazelnut Jam

4 tablespoons brandy

1/2-cup water

1-cup sugar

12 dried figs, halved (or 20 fresh figs, halved)

1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

In a medium saucepan combine water and sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves about 5 minutes. Add the brandy. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse the figs and hazelnuts until well mixed. Add the brandy sugar mixture and plus until wall combined. Spoon into jars, and let cool.  Cover and refrigerate.

Apples and Fig Jam with Parmesan

24 apple slices

24 slices good quality Parmesan Cheese

Fig and Hazelnut jam

Place apple slices on a plate and smear with fig hazelnut jam. Place a slice of cheese on each fig-covered apple. Makes 24

Roasted Asparagus, Goat cheese and Fig Jam Wrapped in Prosciutto

24 asparagus

4 ounces goat cheese

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

2 ounces Fig and Hazelnut jam

Snap the end of the asparagus spear to get rid of the wooden end. Gently toss lightly in olive oil and bake in a preheated 400 oven. Cook until tender about 10 minutes and then let cool. Lay slice of prosciutto on cutting board. Spread with goat cheese and then spread with fig jam.  Lay 1 asparagus spear at the end of the slice and roll jellyroll style around the asparagus spear. Makes 24.

Baked Brie with Mushrooms, Cranberries, Caramelized Onions and Garlic

4 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, sliced

1-tablespoon thyme, minced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 cups crimini mushrooms sliced

1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries or a combo of both

1 8-inch-diameter 32- to 36-ounce 
French Brie

French bread baguettes, sliced

Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme and mushrooms, cherries or cranberries and stir until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. Preheat oven to 350 Unwrap brie, reserving bottom of wooden box. Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom intact. Return Brie to box, rind side down. Place box on baking sheet. Top Brie evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes. Transfer Brie in box to platter. Surround with baguette slices.

Hot Honey Mustard Salmon

4- 6-ounce salmon filets

Salt and pepper

2 heaping tablespoons hot mustard

2 heaping tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1-cup panko crumbs

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

½ teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch ginger, peeled and minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking pan with foil and set the fish on it, skin-side down.  Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk together the honey, mustard and thyme. In another small bowl mix panko, oil, garlic, ginger, paprika, thyme, and parsley with a little touch of salt and pepper. Slather fish with the honey-mustard-thyme mix, giving it a good coating. Then spread the crumb mixture all over the top of the salmon.  Bake salmon for 10-15 minutes or until fish is cooked to your liking. Serve immediately! Serves 4  

Sweet Potato Drops

3 eggs

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

3 pounds sweet potatoes cooked, peeled and mashed

3 cups bread crumbs divided

2 cups goats’ cheese

¼ teaspoon baking powder

3 cups peanut or sunflower oil

Whisk together eggs, salt, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside and then mix sweet potatoes, 1-½ cup breadcrumbs, goat’s cheese and baking powder. Roll into 24 2-inch balls; dip in egg mixture and then roll evenly in the remaining breadcrumbs. Heat oil to high and carefully drop in batches and cook until golden brown. Let drain on a paper towel and serve warm! Serves 6

Kale and Cherries

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 cups vegetable stock

2 pounds chopped kale

1 cup dried cherries

½ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup feta cheese

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion softens, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, honey, cider vinegar and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil on high heat. Add kale, cover, and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the dried cherries, and continue cooking on medium high heat, stirring often. The liquid should reduce by half and the cherries will get plump in about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with almonds and feta cheese.

Chocolate Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes

Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1-tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

4 large eggs

¼ cup organic maple syrup + a bit more for finishing drizzle

1 ¼ cups milk

Preheat oven to 350. Line the cupcake pans with your choice of cupcake liners. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in maple syrup. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes until golden and the tester comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

2-cup heavy cream

1 pound Ghirardelli 60 % cacao squares chopped, or chips

½ pound bacon, cooked crispy and crunchy, chopped into pieces

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cream to a full boil; turn off heat. Add chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover with cream. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl and let chill overnight or until spreadable. When cupcakes have cooled, spread some frosting on top. Sprinkle bacon on top of the cupcakes and chill until ready to eat! Makes 24 minis or 12 large.

 

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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