• February 2011

Rekindle the Romance with This Valentine's Meal

By Chefs Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith
Culinaria Cooking School

Julia Child once said, “The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. But I wouldn’t keep him around long if I didn’t feed him well.”

We speak from experience when we say that preparing a fine meal and opening a nice bottle of wine is the ticket to marital bliss. “I have been married for decades, and whenever my wife and I want to reconnect, I prepare a special meal like the delicious three-course meal that you’ll find below by Culinaria Cooking School Chef Robyn Alexander for: Seafood Chowder, Saffron and Mushroom Risotto, and Steak au Poivre,” Chef Stephen says.

Or leave the cooking to us! Bring your loved one to our Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two class on Monday, February 14, from 7-10 p.m.

You’ll learn to prepare, then feast on:

  • Basil-Eggplant Soup
  • Grilled Sea Scallops With Basil and Lavender Essence
  • Pasta With Asparagus, Chicken, and Gorgonzola
  • Warm Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream

See more Couples Classes, below.

Valentines Day Menu 2011

Seafood Chowder
Serves 4

What you’ll need:

2 bacon strips, diced
½ med. leek, white part only, thinly sliced
3 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large russet potato, cut into ½-inch dice
3 cups chicken stock
2 ears corn, shucked
¼ lb. lobster tail and/or claw meat, steamed, shelled, and diced
¼ lb. crab meat, picked for shells
¼ lb. shrimp, peeled, and deveined
¼ lb. sea or bay scallops
½ large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch dice
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Parsley, minced for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how:

1. In a large saucepan, brown bacon. Drain, except for 1 T.

2. Sauté leek, garlic, and celery. Cook until softened.

3. Add stock, salt, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

4. While potatoes are cooking, cut corn off cobs. Use the back of knife to scrape corn “milk” out of cobs into a small bowl.

5. Add corn to soup and simmer for 5 more minutes.

6. Add lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, red pepper, and cream (if desired), and simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste.

7. Garnish chowder with minced parsley and serve.

Saffron and Mushroom Risotto
Serves 4

What you’ll need:

½ cup vegetable stock, hot
1 pinch saffron threads
8 oz. cremini mushrooms
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
4-6 cups vegetable stock, warmed
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 T. butter
1 med. shallot, finely diced
¼ cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup arborio rice, uncooked
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 T. Italian parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how:

1. Place saffron threads in a bowl with 1/2 cup of hot stock. Set aside, and let the saffron “bloom” for at least 20 minutes.

2. Add butter and oil to the frying pan. Sauté mushrooms over high heat, and set aside.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter with the extra-virgin olive oil. Sauté shallots and onion until translucent.

4. Add the uncooked Arborio rice, and stir for two minutes. Add a ladle of broth, reduce heat to a simmer, and stir until the liquid is absorbed.

5. Add vegetable stock and saffron threads; stir and simmer until absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup of warm vegetable stock, stirring between additions, for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. (It will be creamy and al dente.)

6. Add the Parmesan cheese, and stir to combine.

7. Fold in sautéed mushrooms, and serve risotto on individual plates and garnish with fresh, chopped parsley.

Steak au Poivre
Serves 4

What you’ll need:

3 T. crushed black peppercorns
4 5-oz. beef tenderloin slices
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1 T. shallots, diced
½ cup Cognac (or Armagnac)
½ cup beef or veal stock
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 cup heavy cream (optional)

Here’s how:

1. Press cracked peppercorns onto both sides of each piece of meat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the beef pieces with salt just before cooking. Heat butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat.

3. Sear meat, turning only once, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a warmed plate; keep warm.

4. To make the sauce, pour off any remaining fat and maintain high heat. Stir-fry diced shallots in the pan. Deglaze the sauté pan with Cognac, stirring to loosen up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

5. Add the stock, mustard, and cream and reduce by half. Pour over beef and serve at once.

Click here to register for any of the following Couples Classes: www.culinariacookingschool.com

Couples Cooking: Chinatown — Fri., Feb. 4, 7-10 pm
Chef Robyn Alexander will teach couples how to use healthy, natural ingredients to whip up an authentic Chinese meal. On the menu: Fried Five-Spice Chicken Wings, Potstickers, Shrimp With Lobster Sauce, Gai Lan, and Almond Cookies. — $125 / couple

Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two — Mon., Feb. 14, 7-10 pm
Ever since Marc Antony first fed Cleopatra grapes, food and its sensual side has been intertwined with romance. Join Chefs Robyn Alexander, Stephen Sands, and wine director John Peters for this gastronomically delightful evening that includes: Basil-Eggplant Soup; Grilled Sea Scallops With Basil and Lavender Essence; Pasta With Asparagus, Chicken, and Gorgonzola; and Warm Chocolate Cake with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream. — $120 / couple

Couples Cooking: Bay-Area Bistro — Sat., Feb. 26, 7-10 pm
Chef Robyn Alexander invites you to come with a friend or partner to prepare a meal together with ingredients inspired by the San Francisco Bay area: Toasted Garlic With Croutons; Seared Scallop Salad; Bacon-Wrapped Salmon with Caramelized Onions; Sautéed Greens; and Cinnamon and Oatmeal Strawberry Shortcake. —
$120 / couple

Date Night — Fri., March 11, 7-10 pm
What a great date night, says Chef Stephen Sands, who will show you and a date how to work in the kitchen as a couple as you prepare a hearty and satisfying meal, including: Tomato and White Bean Bruschetta; Stuffed Chicken Breast; Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes; Grilled Asparagus With Fresh Lemon; and Chocolate Tart With Raspberry Coulis and Whipped Cream. — $120 / couple

Intimate Dinner for Two — Thurs., March 24, 7-10 pm
Chef Bonita Woods knows that working with someone in the kitchen can be quite romantic. Together, you and your loved one will prepare this fun and festive winter menu: Pork Loin Wellington With Crimini Duxelle; Cranberry Chutney; Green Beans With Fresh Herbs and Seared Tomato; Twice-Baked Potato; Spinach and Olive Salad; and Creamy Pumpkin Mousse Pie. — $120 / couple

Couples Cooking: Bayou’s Best — Sat., March 26, 7-10pm
Inspired by New Orleans cuisine, couples will prepare a meal that would make any Cajun proud, says Chef Robyn Alexander, who will be teaching couples to prepare: Hush Puppies; Shrimp Étouffée; Succotash; Ginger Yams and Apples; and Beignets and Chicory Coffee. — $120 / couple

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