Valentines

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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ImageThe day after Christmas I went to the supermarket and the Valentine's candy was already out. I have already had a handful of wine orders asking what to pair the wine with for a special Valentine's Day dinner. I have to say I am impressed by the early excitement this holiday is already showing. Let's face it, we all love to celebrate, so why not embrace it.

There’s no denying it, a heartfelt dessert, is one of life’s sweetest ways to say I love you. Offering confectionery to your beloved on Valentine’s Day has been a tradition celebrated and expressed by lovers since the Middle Ages.

Sparkling hearts, winged Cupids and dreamy white doves have always reigned supreme as traditional symbols of Valentine’s Day commemorations, however, for me, chocolate is synonymous with the celebration of this love-filled holiday.

Of course the best Valentine’s Day treats aren’t the ones you buy; they’re the ones you make yourself. This Chocolate Lover’s Cake with Raspberry-Chambord Sauce will remind your sweetheart just how much they mean to you. The cake’s fudge-like center and rich chocolate taste are the perfect ending to a day basking in the glow of love.

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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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romantic-dinner.jpgAdmit it, no one has gotten to this point in their life having had one gleeful Valentine's celebration after another. Unlike the envelope of dime store Valentines from everyone in your fifth grade class things have probably changed over the years. Perhaps there is no one "special" in your life except for some close friends or co-workers or maybe this is the year that you can't wait for that solid red holiday of love and chocolate! What do I fantasize about, what would rock my world?

A romantic evening with my sweetheart ...I think of Valentine's day as a fragrant smelling celebration of love. The scent of chocolate cooking, Stargazer lilies, or perhaps long stem deep red roses, a familiar aftershave, saffron, rack of lamb with overtones of rosemary and garlic, long stem strawberries and the smell of bee's wax candles lighting up the whole house. No electric lights just the soft volume of Diana Krall's love songs playing as we sit in front of the yellow flamed fire sipping good champagne, talking and smiling, smooching and dancing. The night is ours, not to be rush but savored, enjoyed and repeated....

Poached oyster stew with saffron

Rack of lamb
Asparagus, broiled
Tomato goat cheese gratin
Watercress maple salad

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

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breaking-up.jpgI broke up with my boyfriend the night before I took off for Ohio to canvass for Obama.  Well really, I broke up with him three nights later, but I knew in my head that I would do it the night before I left.  What I did that night before was tell him I could not talk to him for three days.  Three days of: landing in Ohio the morning after the red-eye; having breakfast with Carol Ogline (my 84 year old host) at the fanciest restaurant in Alliance; Ohio (where the side salad is $3.00 extra); driving to the Alliance, Ohio campaign office (the first national campaign office to ever exist there); taking off from the office to canvass down the street; getting chased down that same street by a rabid dog, finding out the owner was an Obama supporter and recruiting him to volunteer; returning to the office to make phone calls; going back to Carol Ogline's house and eating peanut butter sandwiches with her at 1am while her 1 month old puppy rolled around on the floor; getting back to the campaign office the next day to canvass some more; promising a man I would show up at 6am the day after election day and chop the wood piled in his yard if he voted; taking a picture at the end of that street; returning to the office to make phone calls; going to Applebee's with my volunteer coordinator; returning to the office the next day to canvass, swaying a voter, swaying another voter, going to another county to meet the 20 new volunteers that had just arrived; jumping on a conference call to hear Obama give us all an amazing half time speech; and going into the backyard after that phone call to sit by the empty pool and have that final phone conversation with my boyfriend.

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