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Caribbean Cooking: Valentine’s Day 2009

“May this Valentine’s Day be filled with love, understanding, and contentment as you journey through life with those you hold dear.”
– Darly Henerson

“True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.”
– Erich Segal

A little History

In ancient Roman times Emperor Claudius II believed that soldiers should remain bachelors, so they would be able to concentrate on fighting, but a priest named Valentine, secretly performed marriage ceremonies. He was caught and because of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14th; now known as Valentine’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day and celebrated by lovers.

In 1847 in Worcester, Massachusetts, a lady named Esther Howland started creating hand-made Valentine cards; this was the beginning of a very successful business, both in Europe and the Americas. It is now a traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending cards, flowers or chocolates—often anonymously.

Have someone special over for the entire day. Chocolate, wine, and other foods have long been known as the tools for the art of seduction and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Dress for the occasion. Get your loved one’s mouth watering, start with a special breakfast. Hand-write the evening menu and place it on a beautifully set dinner table. Create a romantic meal by using seductive foods, soft relaxing dinner music, and lots of candles. Let your imagination go wild and have fun!

MENU for Valentine’s Day

Breakfast:
CREAM CHEESE AND APPLE FRENCH TOAST

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

Filling:
1 Granny Smith apple
1 tsp. Brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
4 slices bread, crust removed

Batter:
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla
1/8 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
Garnish: Mint leaves and maple syrup

Peel, core and dice apple; fry in butter until softened. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cream cheese.  When heated through spread mixture between two slices of bread. Mix together egg, vanilla, milk and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Heat skillet. Place prepared bread into egg mixture, turn, then pan fry until golden on both sides. Garnish with mint leaves and serve with maple syrup.

Lunch:
GREEN TOSSED SALAD and CROISSANT BAKE

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2

2 croissants
Dijon mustard, to taste
2 slices smoked turkey or ham
2 slices cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven 375ºF/190ºC. Halve croissants lengthwise. Smear with mustard then layer with slices of ham and cheese. Put in buttered ramekins – must fig snugly. Whisk eggs and milk together, season with salt and pepper and pour half over croissants. Place top on croissants and pour remaining egg mixture over each croissant. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 325ºF/160ºC and continue baking until set, about 15 minutes.

Dinner:
ROASTED RED SNAPPER WITH SALSA

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 – 8 oz/225 g snapper fillets
Salt and pepper
1/2 bunch arugula
1/2 bunch watercress

Salsa:
1 large tomato
1 Tbsp. scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven 400ºF/200ºC. Combine oil, limejuice and cilantro in a small bowl. Place fish (skin side down) on a greased baking sheet. Brush with oil mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest 20 minutes. Then bake for 20 minutes. Meantime, combine salsa ingredients in food processor and pulse lightly. Arrange arugula and watercress on plates, lay snapper over greens and top with salsa.

HERBED ORANGE RICE

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

2 tsp. butter
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 cup Basmati rice
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp. scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped

Melt butter and sauté onion over low heat, briefly. Add rice and cook stirring for 3 minutes. Add the broth, orange juice, ginger, zest, and salt; bring to a boil. Cook covered over low heat approximately 20 minutes. Fluff with fork. Stir in scallions and parsley

“Knock Your Socks Off” Chocolate Cake

For Valentine’s Day, this is a very moist, delicious cake filled with all kinds of sensual delights.

1 (18.25 oz) package devil’s food cake mix
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar or powdered sugar
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1/2 pint heavy cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare chocolate cake according to directions, using a 9×13 inch baking pan. When the cake has finished cooking and cooling, mix cream cheese and sugar together until blended in a medium-size mixing bowl. In a separate bowl beat heavy cream with sugar and vanilla to taste.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake. Next, pour the cherry pie filling over the cream cheese mixture. Cover with whipped cream and serve “to each other”

Note: This cake is a wonderful combination of a black forest cake and cherry cheesecake.

Hint: The cake may be made ahead, topped with the cream cheese mixture and cherry pie filling and then refrigerated. Add whipped cream just before serving.

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