For this year's Valentine's Day, ASG is giving you a few ideas to make a romantic meal for two over the next couple of Wednesday's leading to the big day. We are choosing recipes we've made ourselves to ensure it fits our criteria ~ simply put - flavorful, light and fun. As romantics know, you want a meal that isn't heavy, overly rich or too pungent. It should be filling and enjoyable. It should reflect the <3 you have for your other.
Our first meal was fun and enjoyable - it is a variation of Julia Child's Potage Magali (or Mediterranean Tomato Soup with Rice) from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II. We chose it for its color, its provencial bent, and its allusion to the French provencial "Song of Magali".
We paired this meal with a non-lettuce salad of our creation, grilled cheese sandwiches in the shapes of hearts, and a pistachio pudding dessert. We enjoyed this with a small glass of rosé and sparkling water.
Together, it is light, colorful and healthy!
Variation on Potage Magali
1/2 cup leeks, cleaned well and sliced thinly
1/2 cup yellow onions, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds of ripe tomatos (about six medium), peeled, seeded and cut coarsely
1/2 cup of canned whole tomatoes
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock, 1 cup water
1/4 cup raw white rice
1 tablespoon parsley, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1/4 tsp. fennel leaves, 1/2 tsp saffron (or safflower) 6-10 fresh basil leaves, save 1 leaf for each serving
1/4 granulated white sugar
salt and black pepper to taste Large soup pot, electric handmixer, strainer
Prep all ingredients beforehand as the cooking process will go quick. For tomatoes (whole or canned), peel them, remove seeds over a strainer to save juice. Discard seeds. Roughly cut tomatoes. Have all ingredients standing by.
In cooking pot, warm olive oil, cook leeks and onion in oil until translucent, being careful not to burn. Add garlic. Allow it to soften before adding tomatoes. Add all tomatoes and leftover juice from process. Continue low heat for 20 minutes, stirring well. Add stock, water, and rice, bring to a simmer. Allow this to simmer another 10 minutes. Add herbs and saffron. Simmer with lid partially on for 40 minutes. Add sugar and mix well. Remove from heat for 20 minutes to rest. Hand blend until all is refined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You could add tomato paste, sugar, salt or pepper until desired consistency, color and flavor. Put back on heat until simmer than serve. Garnish with basil. Serves
Cook leeks and onions in oil until translucent. Add tomatoes and garlic. Stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add liquid and rice, and bring to boil. Add herbs and saffron, season to taste. Simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Garnish with additional fresh herbs.
Heart-Shaped Easy Grilled Cheese Fingerwiches
Thick-sliced, white artisan bread
Sliced white American cheese
Sliced Swiss cheese
Butter, room temperature
Heart cookie cutter - we like the one that allows for two per each sandwich
Pan or skillet, spatuler.
Butter and mayo each side of the bread. Place one slice of both American and Swiss cheese. Use heart cookie cutter to make little sandwiches. In low-medium skillet, use a pat of butter, put in the little hearts and brown carefully - we check every 30 seconds or so to be sure. Remember the pan heats over time, so slightly bringing the temp down after 2 - 3 minutes may be in order. At the end, you should have wonderfully golden brown sandwiches with ooey-gooey cheese in the middle. [We used the scraps to make Philly cheesesteak sandwiches the next day!]
ASG Non-Lettuce Salad Number 1 ~ the 'Colorful' one
We like non-lettuce salad, especially when the main dishe is a soup. We like a hearty, vegetable laden number to fill us up. This salad also keeps well for next day lunch or next day dinner...
3 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes, sliced length and crosswise
1/2 half large English cucumber, well-cleaned, likewise cut into bite-sized pieces with skin (for crunchiness)
1/2 half each of yellow and red bell peppers, well-cleaned, pulp and seeds removed thoroughly, bite-sized cuts
Fresh mint, about 8 leaves, finely diced
Fresh basil, about 8 leaves, finely diced
Store-bought sweet vinegarette, we got a Raspberry Walnut Vinegrette
Mixed micro greens for garnish
As prepping, place all items in a colander, or a paper towel lined metal bowl - this will remove access moisture. After full preparing, carefully fold all ingredients until well combined. On serving, garnish with the micro greens and a light topping of the sweet vinegarette. Store without dressing to keep crispier.
Pistacio Pudding with Golden Oreo Crumbles and Fruit
We wanted a nice, cool finish to this particular meal - so this Jell-O Pistacio Pudding box to two cups of whole milk, mix well for 3 minutes, then let sit for 5 minutes in the fridge, fit the bill. We topped it with crumbles of Golden Oreos as a pseudo-crust, fresh blueberries and rasperries, and a single mint sprig. What's nice about this recipe is you can make to your heart's content - adding or subtracting to preference. Either way, it was a sweet way to end our meal.
For meal - prep soup, salad, and pistacio pudding the day before if possible, it will mature overnight. On day of serving, simply warm up soup, cook the grilled cheese day-of, and you'll have dessert fairly ready to go. Serve all dishes at the same time, with a nice rosé. Dessert can be an activity together!
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See us again next Wednesday for the next Valentine's meal!