Valentines

ImageWhether you surprise her with reservations at her favorite restaurant or make a romantic dinner for two at home, you've got to make her Seductive Strawberry Zabaglione for dessert. Red, ripe strawberries, velvety custard, and sweet Italian wine are so sexy.

I developed this recipe with men in mind because it's easy to make, allows you to flex some muscle, which will impress her, and makes an elegant presentation.

Think of it as your minimal-effort dessert with maximum sex appeal. Though I wouldn't carry that thinking into the bedroom. I'm just saying.

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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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"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!

fennelpasta.jpgAs a little girl, my favorite candies were Twizzlers and black jelly beans. Every Easter I would pick all the black jelly beans out of the bowl and leave the rest for everybody else. Though I rarely eat jelly beans any more, I love to cook with fennel, which has a distinctive licorice scent and flavor.

Although fennel has become fashionable over the last couple of years, this herb has actually been enjoyed in cooking since antiquity. Many cultures use fennel as a culinary ingredient and as an herbal medicine, and as evidenced at my house, it’s a staple in Italian cooking.

It is a remarkably versatile herb and pairs beautifully with fruits such as oranges and apples as well as classic Mediterranean ingredients such as olives and eggplant. When eaten raw, its crunchy celery-like texture and sweet licorice flavor gives depth to salads. When sautéed or roasted, it takes on a savory quality. In fact, all parts of the fennel, from the bulb to the feathery fronds, are edible.

And since it’s St. Valentine’s Day this week, I thought you'd like to know that ancient Romans considered fennel an aphrodisiac and likely would have used it instead of chocolate for a romantic evening. As so many culinary trends are cycical, I'm predicting that fennel will become the new chocolate for Valentine's Day.

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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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