Valentine’s Day Dinner: Cook Once, Eat Twice
Since one of my favorite foods is lobster it’s definitely on my Valentine’s Day dinner menu this year. It also helps that, along with hearts and roses, its vibrant red color makes it a natural for the day we celebrate love.
The whole ritual of making lobster and cracking its shell to get to the tender meat makes it an extraspecial food. It’s even more special when someone shells it for you, so for my husband I’m going to make a lobster chowder as a first course (from the Fall and Holiday issue of the Canal House Cookbook. (Here’s a step-by-step recipe for boiling the lobsters, which is the best way to get started.) This chowder is rich with potatoes, diced celery and onion, white wine, fresh tarragon, fresh chives, and a few dashes of cream.
For dinner on Valentine’s Day it’s important to design a menu that’s satisfying and flavorful (like lobster) but doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed. (Romance doesn’t exactly flower when you’ve overindulged and just feel lethargic.) And since romance is all about the senses, strew some red rose petals on the table, for lovely fragrance and a visual treat to go along with the edible ones.
Once our baby’s asleep, my husband and I will light some candles, open a bottle of champagne, and start the evening off right. Then, after dinner, we’ll have just a bit of a sweet, with Be-Mine chocolate brownies, which have a powdered-sugar heart on top. (I did this for my Valentine’s Day Better TV segment and it was a hit.) Simply make a heart-shaped stencil or cutout from a piece of paper, then sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and remove the stencil. It’s a fun, thoughtful touch you can pull off in minutes.
But back to our lobster. While I’m parboiling the crustaceans for the chowder (for which I use meat from the whole lobster-tail, knuckes, and claws), I plan to cook at least one extra lobster tail for my portable lunch the next day. I’m making lobster rolls (another of my favorites). All I’ll have to do is chop the lobster meat, and dress it with a light mixture of mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, tarragon, and a bit of hot-pepper sauce. Tuck it into a soft hot-dog roll and this delicious sandwich is good to go.
Want to cook better? Watch Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine’s fabulous how-to videos on Better TV.