Saturday, January 16, 2010

Valentines Day Food Can Be An Aphrodisiac?



















While discussing how aphrodisiac foods can play a part in your romantic dinner recipe. A simple saute procedure for sea scallops and a Red Wine reduction while still hot poured over fresh mozzarella cheese can play a big part for the ending to a perfect evening, after all it's Valentines Day and a day for love.
As legend has it, the goddess Aphrodite was carried to earth on the shell of a scallop. And, thanks to this very tough job, scallops have been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac reputation since the time of ancient Greece.

Today there is evidence that scallops’ aphrodisiac classification may be more than folkloric mystique. Like others such as (mussels, oysters and clams), scallops were featured in a 2005 study that indicated that these succulent gems of the sea just may have some fact potential for raising sexual hormone levels in both men and women. Wow quite an amazing discovery.
Scallops have always been a favorite of mine, and not always easy to find the large ones, that are Sea Scallops. Their flesh is far milder than many of the ocean’s creatures. Their texture is soft and so sweet. Their shells make beautiful serving vessels. And, when served at their freshest, scallops are one of the best tasting shell fish in the sea. In my opinion. In this post you will find from start to finish a romantic dinner to make for that "special someone in your life, friend first and foremost one who shares your passion for food......and what's in store later... life is full of surprises, and this one can be a night to remember.




My husband and I have been married now almost ten years. There isn't a day that goes by, I think "how lucky I am to have found the love of my life". We share the same things in common, and of course coming from an Italian background food and tradition is very important to us. Valentines Day is a day to show affection and love to one another, not by just giving gifts but enjoying time together which to us is more important. Every day is special, but celebrate each day as it comes, love is rare and should be nurtured and never taken for granted. So, this post, is dedicated to my dear husband Nemo, for the wonderful years we have had and looking forward to the new memories we will make. I wish you all the same happiness that life holds for you all as well.



My menu consists starting with of course the famous aphrodisiac scallop appetizer. Following the main course of mussels, calamari and shrimp over linguine, then a wonderful heart shaped pastry filled with Italian pastry cream with glazed strawberries for dessert. Then of course there's just a little more.




Starting off with our appetizer, an easy way to make seared scallops, pan fried outside on the grill in a little olive oil. After they are browned and removed the red wine is added until it thickened and the sauce has a nice buttery wine taste.

Sea Scallop Insalata Caprese Appetizer





The scallops cook quickly make sure you cook them till they are started to look done on top, they need to cook on one side much longer than when flipped to get seared through and crusty golden brown on one side.






They should look very golden brown when flipped. The flavors in the pan will be mixed with the wine to make that awesome tasting sauce that you will pour over this appetizer.



Remove the scallops add the butter and wine and cook down till a thicker sauce that takes around five minutes of boiling.




Add the hot glaze over the stacks of fresh sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil ( you will find the basil in the fresh vegetable section of your grocery stores off season) The hot sauce will slightly melt the mozzarella and make a delicious glaze over your scallops.


The scallops are sweet and very tender.



You should need around eight large scallops for two.


Appetizer Recipe:
8 sea scallops
2 thick sliced vine ripe tomato's
1/2 cup of red wine
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
6 tablespoon of olive oil
In a very hot heavy skillet, add olive oil, test the pan for heat by adding water droplets, if the oil pops, its ready don't stand in front of the pan. Add the scallops and brown on one side and cook on one till you see the tops looking like they are cooking through around seven minutes. Flip over, cook not as long on this side, as they should be almost all done. Around three minutes. Remove from pan set aside, lower heat and add the wine, butter, brown sugar, cook for around 5 minutes and the sauce will thicken a little. Stack the tomato, mozzarella, basil together. Add scallops on top, drizzle sauce over the top and serve.

Mussels, Shrimp and Calamari over Linguine with Wine Sauce



Mussels and yet another known aphrodisiac, as they say. The food of love. Coupled with shrimp and calamari, this is a beautiful color to serve your significant other on Valentines Day. Tender delicious seafood with a delicate wine sauce.




Fresh tomatoes to make a marinara sauce are always the best choice. When you can't get them, choose Diced tomatoes with basil and olive oil canned. Put in the food processor and process for 30 seconds to get a pulp that is still a little chunky.



Saute shrimp and mussels in olive oil and chopped garlic until the mussels start to open, around 7 minutes.


The add the marinara sauce. Add the wine, calamari goes in last since it takes very little time to cook. You don't want it to become rubbery. In the meantime start boiling the linguine in salted water. When the pasta is cooked you can add olive oil and a little butter. Set aside until your ready to serve the sauce on top.


Just the right spice, the sauce is cooked to perfection. The mussels, shrimp and calamari are a perfect match for pasta. The colors are wonderful and the aroma is just terrific.


Tender calamari, melts in your mouth, soft mussels and a great wine sauce to make your partner happy happy!



This is an easy dish to prepare and the step by step will amaze anyone like you cooked all day. A very simple dish.




2 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 box black mussels
12 large shrimp
1/2 cup red wine
8 vine ripe tomatoes run through food processor to make marinara sauce or two 1lb cans of diced tomatoes with olive oil and basil
4 leaves chopped fresh basil, 1/2 teaspoon each parsley, oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, red pepper flakes, black pepper
1/2 pound calamari cut in pieces with a cooking shears

1 lb linguine, cooked
4 leaves chopped fresh basil for garnish
2 tablespoon bread crumbs
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add garlic, saute until brown. Add the mussels, and shrimp. When shells start to open, takes about 7 minutes, add the marinara , cook five minutes. Add wine and spices, cook 3 more minutes. Then add calamari, cook 5 more minutes. Boil the pasta (in salted boiling water) to desired doneness, then drain ( you can start this step while saute the mussels and shrimp as suggested above). Put pasta on a plate and spoon the fish on top of the linguine sprinkle with fresh basil, red pepper flakes, Italian flavored bread crumbs. .

So, do aphrodisiacs really exist?

Strawberry Glazed Amaretto Shortbread Heart Tart



Fresh strawberries seem to be very popular for Valentines Day, so this dessert will be the perfect ending.



The tart is a shortbread crust and has coconut, macadamia nuts, to make this rich buttery crust.


This cookie dough is a perfect crust for this dessert. You will need to find a small heart shaped pan, mine came from Wilton's, and I purchased various sizes, this one is perfect for one person, and I made several at once, however you can make just two, and make cookies with the remaining dough.


Press the dough into a greased heart shaped pan this one is made by Wiltons and I have several graduated sizes, this is a small tart size pan.Even though it is usually not necessary to grease with this kind of dough, I like to make sure it will easily come out without breaking apart.


When evenly browned, remove from the oven, and immediately flip it onto wax paper and cool.



This filling is a regular pastry cream then, Amaretto instead of vanilla is separated.


Fill the heart with pastry cream.


I purchased the already made glazed, and presliced the strawberries.



Mix the sliced strawberries in the glaze, and place one by one one the tart until its filled up.


Recipe for Tart Cookie Crust:
1 cup macadamia nuts, almonds or pistachio's
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, you will need extra is you are making cookies to roll out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Process nuts and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until finely ground; set aside. Process 1 cup coconut until coarsely ground; set aside.
Put butter, cream of coconut, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an industrial mixer, beat on medium until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in coconut extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, salt, nut mixture, and ground coconut; mix until combined.
Refrigerate until firm, at the minimum an hour. For cookies use below method. For using to fit into heart shaped pan, just take a portion of dough to fit, push into a greased pan ( you can use any shape for the appropriate holiday, even a Christmas Tree work well.)
Let dough come to room temperature. Roll out small sections at a time on lightly floured board to 1/4 inch thick. For tart, take a handful of dough and roll out to fit pan.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut dough into shapes, rounds, squares. Place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart sprayed with a light cooking oil. Lightly brush tops with beaten egg white; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on sheets of wax paper or on wire
Italian Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon Amaretto
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to a boil . In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated with milk and vanilla. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture. Using strainer into the saucepan, pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and Amaretto. Let cool slightly. Chill at least 2 hours


White Chocolate Covered Strawberries for the End of your evening!




A little colored sugar, some white chocolate chip, and the rest of those strawberries. This is for later with that bottle of champange that chilling in the fridge.


Easy to do this one. Clean the strawberries, dry them. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Spread the red sugar on wax paper. Dip the strawberries in melted chocolate and roll in sugar. Dry on wax paper, chill to set.
Oh course, if Scallops and some of these foods are truly an Aphrodisiac, then here is the the ending of this perfect evening......



To end this perfect evening. Pictured is, some confetti that says I love you, long stemmed roses, my chocolate covered strawberries, champagne, scented candlelight, and a wonderful strawberry scented bubble bath. Have a lovely Valentines Day!











I hope you enjoyed this Valentines Day Post and have a wonderful Romantic Dinner with that certain someone.
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