hearttable.jpgI could tell you that my Valentine's dinner for my sweetheart will be sensual, fragrant, relatively quick and most of all it should reflect my love with no ambiguous interpretation. But, I'm going in a different direction this year.

This dinner is about giving the gift of love on a plate. My love and the love of the women that have passed through his life. The strong woman that have made Larry the sweet, kind and loving person that are I am honored to be with. This menu will be a tribute to departed generations. On Valentine's evening they will join us with their recipes and love that they left behind.

I suppose we could have dinner at the same restaurant that we met for the first time years ago, sit at the same table but somehow that doesn't feel as intimate as this special dinner that I have planned. With many candles illuminating the dining room, the house smelling so wonderful, romance will be in the air.

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LinzerCookiesLinzer cookies are based on the famous Linzertorte - a delicious tart made using a rich buttery dough with ground nuts, lemon zest, and cinnamon. It is one of the oldest known tart recipes, discovered in an Austrian abbey that dates back to 1653. The tart is traditionally filled with black currant preserves and topped with a lattice crust.

In the States, raspberry has replaced black currant as the jam of choice. Linzer cookies employ the same recipe as the Linzertorte but instead the dough is cut into cookies and two of them form a sandwich with the preserves. Many years ago, when I was working long hours on a television show in NYC, my friend Michele stopped by my office and surprised me with a box of homemade heart-shaped Linzer cookies.

It’s still a favorite Valentine’s Day memory – make some for your Valentine this year, it will make a lasting impression.

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broken-heart.jpgLately it’s been quiet in my place. I’m amazed by how only a week can feel like a lifetime after ending a half-year relationship with the person I was convinced I loved. The red pillow on the other side of my memory foam mattress hasn't been touched, the non-slam toilet seat in my bathroom is permanently up and the only article of clothing that remains folded in my apartment are the green pajama bottoms she borrowed last time she was here.

There is no longer a need for a mutually accepted group to be played on my record console; the more sultry romantic sounds of Elysian Fields, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds soundtrack have been replaced with the more discordant melodies and raucous noises from Joy Division, Igor Stravinksy and Chet Baker. A new tone has prevailed underneath my spacious ceilings, not a tone of vivacious spirit or luminous activity, but one of concord and settled reconciliation. All these lofty words are used to cover up sorrow with a big cheeky grin because now I can expand my mind opposed to my heart. Oh, who am I kidding?


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candybox.jpgWhen you stumble upon a private chef who bakes intricately designed chocolate boxes in the finest quality ingredients- you know it’s an excellent day.  Chef Connie Mullins knew she was destined be a chef at a very young age.  She started to bake when she was just 5 years old and decorated her first cake at the age of 10. At 12 years old, she began to play around with food and since then, she’s worked in an array of roles within the culinary industry.  “I had an aunt that sewed for Victor Costa,” said Connie, “She really inspired me.  She was a cake artist and baked beautiful wedding cakes- any type of dessert really.”  Her aunt passed down a book to her from the School of Wilton and that’s how Connie learned to decorate cakes.  She decorated them all through high school and sold them on the side.

And, how did Chef Connie Bakes come to be?  After cooking on her own for so long, Connie enrolled in professional classes at El Centro college in the food and hospitality program.  “At that time, there wasn’t a bakery pastry program,” she said, “But, while I was there, one was approved and I went back through the baking and pastry program as well.”  In fact, it was through this program, that Connie was able to choose her favorite dish she’s ever made. “It was vanilla puddin’ and I started making it in 1973 for my brother,” she said, “When I did enter culinary school and was admitted into the pastry program, it was one of the recipes the chef went over that all pastry chef’s must learn how to master: pastry cream (because it’s used throughout the bake shop).  And, it’s funny because what I had always called my vanilla pudding had been pastry cream all along- and I’d been making it since I was 12 years old just by feel and sight!”

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lovesalad.jpg Reasons why you must absolutely make this salad for your honey on Valentine's Day (what you didn't learn in sex ed) and why you must not let your young teenagers have even a bite of this fruit and veggie mix, which is more of a love potion than an actual salad.  Whew, got all that?

So let's not beat around the bush here, Vitamin C-packed pineapple is said to help counter impotence, fennel contains natural plant estrogen, and spicy radishes are reputed to have been the Egyptian pharaohs' stimulator of choice.  Wow. 

Moving on, the dressing makes the mixture even more alluring: ginger's warming qualities rev circulation.  And sesame seeds are rich in arginine, an amino acid needed to produce nitric oxide which expands blood vessels to enhance blood flow to the sex organs.

Are you running to the store yet?

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