Valentines

My (Foolish) Hearts

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by Ann Nichols

heart_tree1327423453.pngIt is, perhaps, telling that my two favorite holidays are a) non-religious and b) associated with the acquisition of large amounts of candy. I love the autumnal, supernatural-tinged crispness of Halloween, and I adore Valentine’s Day’s pink, and red, and sparkles, and lace, and…hearts. I could live forever without the mushy sentiments. When I was single the romantic aspects of the holiday left me anguished, desperate and anxious for the relief that came on the 15th of February. Now that I am old and married, I am largely of the opinion that if you express your love only (or even mainly) because of Hallmark, you have some work to do on the home front. It is not the sentiment, but the trappings that “send” me.

Although real, anatomical hearts are not particularly prepossessing as objects, they are beautiful in their own way. It would be hard to live without one. What I love, though, is the shape as old as the ice age, a shape that probably came from the combining of an ancient symbol for fire and that of the astrological sign Aries. It is, to my eyes, a perfect shape. It combines gentle curves for those who like curves, and they suggest other things that are rounded, erotic, comforting and otherwise love-worthy. For those who prefer straight lines and pointy things, there is everything below the curves, all straight lines and an exquisite point. Pentagrams are nifty, but they have nary a curve if the scribe is sober. The infinity symbol has two lovely, looping curves but what if one needs the crunchy edginess of a line or an acute angle?

2015 Valentine's Day Gift Guide

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by Maia Harari

While we don't agree on the validity of this holiday, we still wouldn't refuse any of these items it they showed up on our doorstep. Love should be celebrated and we don't mind being spoiled.:)

shavekit

Van Der Hagen's Shave Set
For the metrosexual in your life, this set (complete with soap, badger brush, stand and bowl) is the perfect gift. And at $20 a pop, how can you resist?

  heartspoon

Big Love Ice Cream Spoon
We know, not another heart, but these heart shaped spoons are impossible to resist.

  50cars

50 Cars To Drive
An all-star panel of car enthusiasts, including Jay Leno, select the 50 most memorable cars in the world. The 50 cars in this book could change your entire perception of the automobile.

 
chocolates

Vosges Noir Truffle Heart
It may seem cliche to give chocolates, but this is no ordinary heart shaped box. Inside are the best chocolates the internet has to offer. If you live near one of their Purple House Boutiques, it's a must stop for the free samples and zany, stay-a-while decor.

  pukkalovetea

Pukka Herbal "Love" Tea
A unique blend of rose, lavender, elderflower, chamomile and marigold petals. Love tea was made by Pukka’s herbalist for his then girlfriend on the day he asked her to marry him. She said yes of course.

  givenchy

Givenchy Le Soin Noir Set
For that super special someone worth splurging on. Complete with miracle creams that make you feel like a million bucks (probably because they're made from the rarest deep sea algae and gold flakes).

 
vdayflowers

Bejewled Beauty
Flowers are an obvious choice to be sure, but we'd still like to receive some anyway.

 

heartwafflemaker

Five of Hearts Waffle Maker
Say "I Love You" with a little, holiday-themed breakfast in bed.

  starwarscufflinks

Star Wars Cuff Links
Suprise the geek in your life with these poignant cuff links that capture their moment of true love. Han & Leia forever!

Bleeding Heart Chocolate Chip Bars

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by Cathy Pollak

Bleeding-Heart-Chocolate-Chip-BarsI have two boys. At the ages of eleven and one that's moments away from turning thirteen, it's getting harder and harder to impress them. Or maybe it's better to say, it's getting harder and harder to do things together they think are cool.

Take for instance baking, when they were little pulling out the sprinkles got them excited about spending time in the kitchen. Now, it's getting challenging to keep their attention when it comes to helping. So I asked them to hang out and help me make these chocolate chip bars. Big yawn. Then I told them, how about we make chocolate chip bars with chocolate hearts that bleed red blood right on top? Magically, I had their attention. Boys. Of course they would think a bleeding heart is the perfect Valentine's Day treat!

These little hearts are Junior Mints made especially for Valentine's Day. Their insides are either red or white. The colors are mixed in a package so you do not get all reds in one box. I explained to the boys I could only get maybe half of them to bleed. The white ones also bleed, you just can't see them when they do.

A Classic, Simple Home-Cooked Dinner for Valentine's Day

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by Joseph Erdos

filetsThere's no other holiday like Valentine's Day when lovers are given the chance to express their affection in many ways, be it something as simple as flowers or as fancy as a restaurant dinner. Here in New York City and there are many Valentine's Day dinner specials soon to be available. There is always an opportunity for couples to dine out and have a great, albeit, expensive time. But a private dinner at home can be just as special and a lot less pricey. I don't think there is anything more romantic than cooking for your other half. A meal that's made with love has so much more meaning than anything a restaurant could offer.

I have a simple dinner in mind. This entrée is simple and easy, using basic cooking techniques, so you don't have to spend too much time at the stove. It's uncomplicated, unfussy, hearty, and familiar in flavors: it's steak, potatoes, and spinach. These petite filet mignon make an elegant dinner for two and, with the side dishes included, come in well under 20 dollars, 30 if you include a good bottle of red wine. Celebrate your Valentine with this easy and affordable meal.

Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes

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by James Moore

redvelvetcupcakesRed Velvet is popular around Christmas but in the south you will usually find it served all year long. The bright red cake and white creamy frosting make it perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Americans spend around $655 million each Valentine's Day on candy, making it the fourth biggest holiday of the year for confectionery purchases, after Halloween, Christmas and Easter. But why buy candy when it’s so easy to bake up a batch up red velvet cupcakes.

This is a pretty fool proof recipe and they are best frosted with Easy Vanilla Buttercream. I like to use a large start tip to pipe the frosting on, but feel free to keep simple and use a frosting spatula. Rustic techniques guarantee your Valentine will know it’s homemade.

For Valentine's Day dessert, try Pomme d'Amour

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by Thomas Keller

From the LA Times

kellerdessertSo often when people plan Valentine's Day dinners, they want to finish with a big, elaborate dessert. I prefer to go in a different direction. To me, nothing expresses love better than a simple dish that is taken to a new level because you've taken extra care in its making.

A perfect example is the very simple custard tart called Pomme d'Amour that is made by Knead Patisserie in San Francisco. Technically, I suppose this should be called a croustade d'oeuf, since it's nothing more than a custard baked in a crust, but I like Knead's version enough to call it by its name.

There are only two elements — the crust and the pastry cream filling — but by making each as good as it can be, you wind up with a dish that, like all perfect pairings, is greater than the sum of its parts.

There are no special tools involved and it doesn't call for any exotic ingredients. Instead, what makes this dessert special is taking the appropriate care with each step.

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Ooey Gooey Brownies for Lovers

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by Cathy Pollak

ooey-gooey-browniesIf you love decadence in your dessert...THESE BROWNIES will do the trick. 

Since Valentine's Day is right around the corner, it's time to make a meal plan that says "love" through food. I always think Valentine's dessert should be a little over the top. These definitely fit the bill. Just look at them.

I refrained from adding nuts because my kids don't like them in brownies but if I made them for myself, walnuts be in there too.

My inspiration for these was a half a jar of caramel I found in the fridge. It needed a new life.

What could be better than a warm, gooey brownie......maybe winning the lotto, but this is more of a sure thing!

I know you will enjoy these!

Think Pink

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by Kitty Kaufman

think pink1On this February afternoon two friends are catching up over blended pink drinks. We're in Boston where winter lasts well into April. There is no snow today and the sun is shining but it's cold. We're talking about healthy things that taste good and are easy to make.

We've been working kitchens together longer than we can remember. It started in 4th floor walk-ups across the hall from each other where dinner for seven meant peas, corn and salad with home-made chili, spaghetti with broccoli and garlic bread. We moved on to sharing secrets for perfect matzo balls (don't potchke), cheese plates at the Wine School, salad dressing, brining turkeys and what to serve at the Christmas block party.

Like our hair, our tastes have changed. We nix meat and dairy and drink more red wine. Our mid-day favors drinks whipped in a blender. When I found it last spring, the blender hadn't been used since the last time I crushed ice. That's when I learned that vegetables can be imbibed.

Love Begins in Winter

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by Amy Sherman

chocnovel.jpgThere's nothing more cozy than cuddling up on the sofa with a book and a box of chocolates on a chilly Winter day. And it seems I'm not alone in my love of pairing chocolates with a good read. For Valentine's Day this year one of my favorite chocolatiers Richart has combined a big box of chocolates with a book of short stories, from an award-winning writer Simon Von Booy. Even better, there are twelve specific chocolates that pair with passages from the book! The gift is called Love begins in Winter ($75), after the name of the book.

I haven't experienced any of the lovely pairings yet, but I spoke with Benjamin Auzimour in charge of Richart in North America, and he shared one of his favorites:

"Here's an extract that I like, about happiness, to be read while tasting a Petit Richart filled with salted butter caramel coulis, which will enhance the warmth of the feelings created by the scene.

Seared Scallops Over Celeriac Pancakes with Champagne Beurre Blanc

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by Joseph Erdos

searedscallopsValentine's Day is just a day away and that means romantic dinners for two are in order. But it's one of the worst times to get a restaurant reservation, especially if you're making it at the last minute. So why not cook an elegant restaurant style dinner at home? You'll save yourself some anxiety and some money at the same time. With just a little romantic planning you can put together a great meal worthy of any five star chef.

One of the most elegant meals that come to mind when I think of fine dining is a plate of perfectly seared scallops. It always looks appealing and it's surprisingly easy to prepare. It's what you serve with the scallops that makes the dish even more special. A delicious sauce and a special side can elevate a plate of scallops to new heights. This meal may look more complicated than it is, but it's very manageable to make.

Searing the scallops is the easiest part of this recipe and it only takes minutes. You'll want to have the pancakes and the butter sauce prepared a few minutes beforehand. If you know how to fry hash browns or latkes then you won't find these celeriac pancakes difficult to make at all. The beurre blanc just needs some elbow grease to make, but if you know how to whisk quickly, then you're all set. Enjoy this dinner for two with your special someone.

 

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