Table for Two: Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day – Wednesday, February 14th – is almost here. Visit the Co-op for gifts, flowers, and the ingredients you’ll need to create an elegant, wholesome meal to share with someone special. Gather some inspiration for your celebration with the following collection of recipes for an appetizer, main dish and dessert finish.

Recipe & Photo: strongertogether.com

Three Cheese Fondue

Fondue is a special and delicious way to start and share a meal. Don’t have a fondue pot? No problem. Just use individual ramekins as serving dishes. Get creative with accompaniments. Serve fondue with crusty bread, cubes of roasted potato, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, carrots or peppers (try jalapeños for a burst of heat).

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 6 oz Jack cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 oz Gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon grated shallots
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:

Dredge the cheeses in the flour. Place the wine and the shallots in a heavy pot over medium heat and bring to a light simmer. Stir in the cheese a little at a time until the mixture is smooth and all of the cheese is melted. Add the remaining ingredients and transfer to a fondue pot or individual stoneware ramekins.

Dinner: the Main Event

For many Valentine’s Day is a personal holiday. Some decide to celebrate with a nostalgic dish, an rich indulgence, or with something simple and delicious. Many traditional Valentine dinners feature the delicate flavors of seafood or hearty steak. However you commemorate the day, enjoy good food and company.

Photo: eatingwell.com

Seared Steak with Caramelized Onions & Blue Cheese Sauce

It only takes one skillet to make this restaurant-worthy pan-seared steak recipe with creamy caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1-1 1/4 pounds boneless strip steak (or Sweetheart tenderloin) (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Fourme d’Ambert French blue cheese

Directions:

Pat steaks dry and cut into 4 equal portions. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Add the steaks and cook until browned on the bottom, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn over, reduce heat to medium-low and cook to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside, covered with foil.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium. Stir in onion, water and brown sugar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown and the liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. (Add more water a tablespoon at a time if the onions are browning too quickly.)

Remove from the heat. Stir in blue cheese and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve the steaks with about 2 tablespoons sauce each.

Recipe & Photo: strongertogether.coop

Creamy Risotto with Mushrooms

Risotto is all about the rice and the stirring. Arborio is a short grain rice that makes its own sauce by giving off starch as it simmers in tasty stock. Cream adds a little richness to the dish, and a pile of earthy, meaty, seared mushrooms play off risotto’s delightful creaminess. Risotto on its own makes a simple vegetarian meal, or serve as a side with beef, chicken, fish and sautéed vegetables, such as asparagus, spinach or zucchini.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • Parsley and rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Directions:

Warm the stock by putting it in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and have a ladle close at hand. Melt the butter in a large sautée pan over medium heat, and cook the onion just until softened, but not colored. Add the rice and increase the heat to medium high. Stir the rice until it crackles a little, 2-3 minutes.

Add the wine and salt to the pan, and stir until the wine evaporates, about 2 minutes. Add warm stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Start testing the rice for doneness at about 20 minutes; keep stirring in stock until it is just tender. If you run out of stock, add water. To check for doneness, try a grain of rice. If there’s not crunch in the center, it’s done.

When done, stir in the Parmesan, cream and parsley and cook just to melt the cheese and thicken the creamy sauce to the desired consistency, then remove from the heat.

While you are finishing the risotto, cook the mushrooms. In another large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on high heat, then add the mushrooms and sear, stirring. Cook for about 5 minutes, until browned and softened. Season with salt and pepper. Serve risotto topped with additional sliced mushrooms, sprinkled with chives and garnished with more parsley and a rosemary sprig, if desired.

For Dessert:

The following easy and elegant parfait makes any meal or occasion just a little more special. Accompany this dessert with a plate of delicate shortbread cookies. Use blueberries, raspberries, or pitted cherries instead of the strawberries, if you prefer.

Recipe & Photo: strongertogether.coop

Chocolate Strawberry Fool (for Love)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold

Directions:

Place 1 cup of strawberries in a small bowl and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Mash the strawberries into small pieces using a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour the cold whipping cream into a cold, medium-sized bowl. Using a beater, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold the mashed strawberries and 3/4 of the chocolate into the whipped cream.

Using a tablespoon, fill a wide-mouth glass (such as a martini glass or tumbler) 1/3 full with the whipped cream, then top with a layer of sliced strawberries. Repeat with more whipped cream and another layer of strawberries. Top with remaining whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.