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.


paris.jpg I met my husband Mike in Paris, and, no, it was not like that.  He was visiting his sister and I was a friend of hers traveling through Europe.

Well, one day we convinced him to go shopping with us. I needed something to layer in because it was a cold summer and there was this nearby shop that made elaborate and exquisite batik sarongs that can double as wraps, scarves, whatever the need (this is pre Pashmina).

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paperhearts.jpgSo when did Valentine’s Day turn into such a big deal? Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve been bombarded like me by spam email soliciting for various gifts of flowers, candies, cards, chocolates, clothes, hats, and stuffed animals. Commercials everywhere are constantly warning us not to forget our loved ones. Whatever happened to the good old days of cutting out simple paper hearts, scarfing down a couple of powdery candies stamped with “Be Mine” on the side, and calling it a day? Nowadays, even entertainment companies are getting in on the act with TV series offering special holiday centered programming and movies such as New Line Cinema’s latest, “Valentine’s Day,” hitting theaters this weekend. And don’t forget the restaurants offering a simple night out for two starting at $200 and going up from there.

Does anyone remember the origin of this day and what its original intent was? According to Wikipedia, Saint Valentine's Day (commonly simply Valentine's Day) is an annual <holiday held on February 14 celebrating <love and <affection between <intimate companions. The holiday is named after one or more early Christian <martyrs named <Valentine and was established by <Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by <presenting flowers, offering <confectionery, and sending <greeting cards (known as "valentines"). The holiday first became associated with <romantic love in the circle of <Geoffrey Chaucer in the <High Middle Ages, when the tradition of <courtly love flourished. Modern Valentine's Day symbols include the <heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged <Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have largely given way to mass-produced <greeting cards. No kidding…

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ferry.building.jpgOur editor, Amy asked that I think of something about candy for this Valentine’s Day issue, so I racked my brain trying to come up with something to say about candy that I haven’t already said. It would be one thing if I found a new candy, but I haven’t.  Also, since my last story about the sweet, romantic thing my husband did when he presented me with a gorgeous piece of jewelry for my birthday, his romantic gestures have taken the form of making sure I didn’t come home to a messy house when I’ve been out of town. I gotta tell ya, that stuff goes a long way with me.

It did occur to me though, that my recent trip to San Francisco for Sketchfest would qualify for the spirit of Valentine’s Day. I fell in love with the city….again. Eugene Pack, the creator of Celebrity Biography: In Their Own Words and Dayle Rayfel invited me to join them in the show and they were my food adventure buddies. Dayle is a vegan and Eugene slowly revealed himself to be the kind of exercise fanatic that tells you a location is a” nice walk” when its 27 blocks away. 

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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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