This year we have planted our very first strawberry plants. I wish I could brag and say that the berries in this awesome recipe came from our garden. While we are producing beautiful berries, as soon as they ripen, my guys are out in the garden having a snack. Maybe next year, when the novelty of eating berries right off the plant has worn thin, I might get enough to really work with in the kitchen.
Spinach Day is observed on March 26th each year. Popeye must be thrilled! Spinach is one of the best sources of iron, and is loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Research shows that spinach improves your cardiovascular health. Did you know that during her reign as queen of France, Catherine de Medici loved spinach so much that it was served at every meal. And have you noticed that dishes made with spinach are often called “Florentine” reflecting Catherine’s birthplace, Florence. Hum, I never knew the reason behind so many dishes bearing the name Florentine. Makes sense.
The world’s largest producers of spinach are the farmers of China, followed by the United States. No surprise that California is one of the top producing states in the country.
I adore spinach in just about everything. This spinach salad is so basic, so simple yet so delicious. Since our first recipe of the day was for a diabetic-healthily fish, I thought we’d just keep on trucking on this good-for-you delicious kick.
Spinach and Green Apple Matchstick Salad
1/3 cup Walnut Piece
1 Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5 oz Baby Spinach Leaves (about 5 cups lightly packed)
To Toast Walnuts:
Place walnut pieces in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool before using.
To Toss the Spinach Salad:
Core the apple and slice it into match sticks. Set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the spinach with the dressing until evenly coated then divide the spinach among 4 serving plates.
Sprinkle a quarter of the apple pieces on top of each salad. Follow with the walnut pieces.
Back in January, I shared with you a wonderful menu for Valentine’s Day that was all about the romance of surf and turf. What is it about a beefy steak and a sweet, succulent lobster tail that just naturally belong together? If your budget is like mine these days, why spend a small fortune to have someone cook something that you can do at home, for a lot less money and a lot more personal style. (And by style I mean you can come to the table in your PJs if you are so incline).
Then I got to thinking. While some of us love the combination of steak and lobster, not everyone does. No, really. There are people out there that don’t eat red meat or things that once swam in the ocean. To each their own. For my vegetarian friends, sorry, but I’m just not into creating truly vegetarian menus. I do create meatless dishes for my Catholic Fridays, but often those include seafood of some sort. And those that don’t swim do contain some form of animal product such as cheese or butter or eggs or – well, you get the picture.
For those who do not want a steak and lobster Valentine’s Supper, may I suggest my Chicken Piccata? I’ve shared the recipe with you before, so be sure to follow the link. I’ve coupled this awesome Lemon-Wine chicken with asparagus, another dish from the past. But don’t worry, I’ve come up with some new offerings to tantalize the taste buds. I’ve got a real “strawberry fields forever” thing going on. Since neither the salad nor dessert take a whole basket of strawberries, I’ve brought the two together for one special evening. No sense in wasting fresh, sweet strawberries, right?
So take a gander at this Romantic Menu and please let me know your thoughts. I love hearing from you.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Supper of Romance
Baked Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts and Strawberries
Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Ganache and Berries
Baked Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli
1 cup of good quality mayo
Meyer Lemon Juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Lemon, sliced for garnish
In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise with a little lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve with the crab cakes.
Slice a lemon into thin slices or wedges for a garnish. Set aside until ready to serve.
½ lb. of cooked jumbo lump crab
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1 or 2 Shallows,finely chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
¼ cup of Panko breadcrumbs
zest of a ½ lemon
Creole seasoning to taste
Spray a small baking sheet or pie tin with olive oil spray. Do not use parchment or foil. Set aside until ready to use.
Gently flake crab meat, removing any shells. Set aside.
Chop celery, shallots and red pepper. Set aside.
Chop the parsley and basil. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard . Zest the lemon directly into the mixture. Season with Creole seasoning.
Fold in the celery, shallots, red pepper, parsley and basil and panko breadcrumbs.
Gently fold in the lump crab meat until everything is evenly combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Place mixture into refrigerator for 20 minutes, setting a timer to remind you to remove after the chill time. This allows the panko to set up and hold everything together.
Meanwhile, set the oven to heat to 500 degrees.
Using a 3-inch ring mold filled almost to the top, form and pack down the crab cakes directly on the prepared pan.
Place them into the very hot oven for 8 minutes. Do not touch or flip cakes during this time. After the 8 minutes of baking time, remove cakes from the oven. Allow cakes to rest on the hot pan for one more minute before removing.
Using a fish spatula carefully lift the crab cake gently off the pan. When plating the cakes, flip them over so that the deeper golden side is now facing up.
Garnish with aioli and some parsley if desired for color. Arrange lemon slices or wedges on the serving platter in an attractive way. Serve and enjoy.
Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic-Parmesan Butter
1/2 lb Angel Hair Pasta
4-5 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Chopped Parsley, for garnish
Fill large pasta pot with salted water. Heat on high to rapid boil, lower temperature to a rolling boil and maintain until ready to use.
Heat a small saute pan over low heat. Add minced garlic and butter. Saute until butter melts and garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Keep warm over very low heat until ready to use.
Place pasta into boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta well, return to pan.
Pour garlic butter over hot pasta. Toss to coat well. Transfer to serving bowl. Add Parmesan cheese, toss to blend. Sprinkle with parsley for added color and serve.
Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts and Strawberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Walnuts
Melt butter with brown sugar in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add walnuts, stir to coat.
Empty walnuts on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. Separate into individual nuts and let cool.
4 cups fresh spinach
10 Strawberries, sliced
Remove stems from the spinach. Roughly chop leaves and place in a large shallow bowl.
Wash and hull strawberries. Slice in half or quarters lengthwise depending upon size of berries.
Toss strawberries with the spinach and set aside.
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup crumbled feta (about 1 oz), optional
In a small bowl whisk together the honey, mustard, vinegar, and salt.
Drizzle 3/4 of the dressing over the salad and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Serve sprinkled with cheese (if using) and with the remaining dressing on the side.
Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Ganache
8 large eggs
3 cups 70% dark chocolate bar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Set aside until ready to use.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs on high-speed until fluffy and light yellow in color, about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the butter in 15 second intervals until just melted.
While the butter is melting and the eggs are fluffing, chop the chocolate. Once the chocolate is chopped, add to the bowl with melted butter. Return to microwave for 1 minute to microwave on high. Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate has melted completely and incorporated with butter.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the whipped eggs. Stir well to combine completely.
Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking after 25 minutes to avoid over baking.
Remove Torte from the oven and cool in the pan on a baking rack for a few minutes. Run a knife around the edge and remove from pan once cool enough to handle. Leave on the rack, with a baking pan beneath. Spread ganache over the torte. Garnish as desired. Chill until about 20 minutes before serving to allow everything to set up nicely.
1 cup 70% dark chocolate bar
1/4 cup heavy cream
While the Torte is baking, make the chocolate ganache. Chop the chocolate. In a heat-proof bowl or top of double boiler, add the dark chocolate over simmering water.
When the chocolate has begun to melt, add the cream and mix well until smooth and silky.
Allow ganache to cool to the touch before pouring over the Torte.
To serve, garnish Torte as desired with strawberries and mint leaves.