I’ve never done the Valentine’s Day thing. The big fancy dinner, the flowers, the chocolate. Frankly, I’m just not into it. While I do love going out to dinner and exploring new places, I don’t particularly like crowded and cramped restaurants, prix fixe or valet parking. I do like cooking a new meal, using fine china and dining at our formal table using cloth napkins.
I’ve cooked for Tom almost every Valentine’s day we’ve been together. In fact, the only year I didn’t cook for him, I tend to forget how we celebrated. Our first February 14th, I made him seared tuna steak with a cold noodle salad. It was his first tuna steak and we ate on the floor of my East Village studio because it was the only place to sit comfortably in those 275 square feet.
The second year is the one I really tend to forget. It’s the year he had a Spanish class until late and we went to Otto for pizza on my lunch hour. A cab splashed me with some very dirty melted snow as Tom was walking me back to work.
Last year, I made a pizza with sausage, artichokes and ricotta. Speaking of love, I love pizza.
This year, I sauteed sausage, heirloom tomatoes and swiss chard and spooned it over some Parmesan farro risotto. I served it in my pretty fine china and we had a quiet meal without the tv.
I had also made some of David Lebovitz’s Easiest chocolate ice cream the night before, which ended up being supremely smooth and delicious. Of course, I made some modifications because I just couldn’t help myself. I subbed vodka for the dark rum because that’s what was in the cabinet, and I sprinkled it with fleur de sel which made the chocolate even more chocolatey and gave it a subtle crunch every few bites. The entire dessert-making process took less than 10 minutes, but tasted like it took 100. Too bad it all kind of melted before I took the photo which makes it look wholly unappetizing. Sigh. Aha! Replaced it with something MUCH better than the melty poo.
Sausage, Heirloom Tomatoes & Swiss Chard with Parmesan Farro Risotto
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 sausage links (again, I like Aidells)
1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems removed and washed
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large, purple heirloom tomato, chopped
1/4 cup stock (I used beef)
pinch dried and ground chipotle pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until it browns and gets slightly crunchy then add the tomatoes, garlic, chipotle pepper and stock. Simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then add the chard and toss for a few more minutes until the green begin to wilt. Serve over Parmesan Farro Risotto and garnish with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.
Parmesan Farro Risotto
8 oz. Pearled Farro (Available at Whole Foods, or online)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken or beef stock (warmed up in the microwave)
1.5 oz. Parmesan cheese
(Notice thereâ€™s no salt – the stock and cheese have enough)
Heat the butter in a heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Once itâ€™s warm, add the farro and toast it for 1 – 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Begin adding the stock in 1/4 cup increments, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed before adding more stock. Continue this process until you run out of stock, or the farro stops absorbing liquid – about 20 minutes. Taste the farro to ensure that it is tender. Stir in the cheese until the it’s completely melted and the farro is creamy. You may need to add more stock at this point to loosen the risotto. Serve immediately.
David Lebovitz’s Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream
2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp. milk, whole or low-fat (I used skim because it’s what I had and it worked well. I suspect whole milk would take it to a whole new level though.)
6 tbsp. Baileys liquor
1 medium-sized ripe banana, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 tbsp. dark rum (I used Vodka — Grey Goose, because that’s how I roll)
In a small bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or in the microwave), melt the chocolate with the milk. Blend the melted chocolate the Baileys, the banana, and rum until smooth. Pour into a plastic or metal container, cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours.