Newsletters: 17 Jan., 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 17 Jan., 2011. View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

A new year, another couple of recipes

It’s only January, but I have to talk about Valentine’s Day this month because the February newsletter will be too late. If, like me, you’re too practical and down-to-earth (and aggressively single) to enjoy all that mushy stuff, feel free to roll your eyes. Next month I’ll talk about the cold, dark winter and the patience of seeds in the dark warmth of the earth, I promise.

My favorite Valentine’s Day story is about a young couple (no, not Gift of the Magi; I think this was a Reader’s Digest filler) who agreed not to buy each other Valentine’s Day gifts, to save money. So the Day came, and the young man produced a package for his beloved, which turned out to be a small volume of love poems. His wife was delighted, but objected that they had agreed not to buy gifts that year. With a grin, he pointed out the library stamp, and the due date.

The thing is, it is possible to be romantic without spending a bunch of money. Going out for a fancy dinner and show is a lot of fun, true, but I submit that staying in for dinner and a show can be just as good a date. In fact, staying home has some advantages — if only that the couch is a far more comfortable place to neck than movie theater seats. You can of course rent a movie, but I encourage you to emulate the young man in the story. The library has movies for free, you can usually keep them longer, and if the hold line is too long to get the one you want soon enough, why not pick up some silly old musical or even a “B” horror movie? I mean, how much of it are you really going to watch, considering that comfy couch and all?

About that food…
I went looking in Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite for a discussion of food erotica — basically, reading cookbooks in bed, dreaming of all that rich and succulent food — but instead found an interesting discussion of the seductiveness of culinary ability in men. So, knowing that many men are more comfortable in front of a grill than at a kitchen counter, I thought a little commentary on barbecuing in the winter might be useful to my gentlemen readers.

Winter grilling by Kelly Iverson
(with advice from Barbecue Master Kevin Iverson)
So you want to grill steaks for your sweetie on Valentines Day, huh? Well, relax, winter grilling isn’t all that different from summer grilling; the basics remain the same but with a winter spin. You trade the T-shirt for a parka, flip-flops for hunter socks and boots and the cold beer for a hot-buttered rum. Seriously, it isn’t that different, the cold affects the heat that is produced by the grill so you either run the grill hotter or extend the time it takes to cook the steak. If you can be out of the wind, if there is one, is even better as the wind sucks the heat away even faster requiring not only a hotter grill but also more time. So grab those steaks and your parka, fire up the grill and plan on a great, winter-grilled dinner with your favorite person!

To finish off, here are a couple of dishes with supposed aphrodisiac qualities, from Aphrodite : a memoir of the senses / Isabel Allende. HarperFlamingo, c1998. I was going to suggest strawberries dipped in chocolate, which are a classic, but this is the wrong season for strawberries. I wonder if one could make a sort of dried-strawberry bark…?

Noodles with artichoke
1/3 c olive oil
1 c bottled marinated artichokes, chopped, liquid reserved
1 small jar pimentos
1/4 c pine nuts (optional)
1/2 lb. noodles, cooked and drained
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
6 large black or green olives, chopped
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
salt, pepper to taste
Heat oil, artichoke liquid, pimentos, and pine nuts. Combine all ingredients in the warm noodle pot. May also be made a day ahead and served cold.

Curried sea bass
1/2 small onion, quartered
1/2 carrot, sliced
1 bouquet garni
salt, pepper to taste
1 c water
2 sea bass fillets, skinned and washed
1/2 lemon
Boil onion, carrot, bouquet garni, salt, and pepper in water 15 min. Rub the fish with the lemon and place in a pot; cover with boiling water mixture. Cook 15 min. on low. Remove and keep warm. Reserve liquid for sauce.
sauce:
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tart apple, peeled and grated
pinch brown sugar
1 tsp. flour
liquid from cooking fish
1/2 c coconut milk
2 heaped Tbsp. grated coconut
salt, pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Melt butter; stir in curry powder, vinegar, apple, and sugar. Add flour and cook 5 min. on low. Gradually stir in reserved fish liquid, coconut milk, and coconut; continue cooking 10 min. Adjust seasonings; keep warm but do not allow to boil. Add cream and egg yolk; pour over fish.

Well, and one more, just because of the name.

Chicken breast Valentino
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (i.e. both sides), quartered
salt, pepper to taste
1 egg yolk beaten with a little milk
1 Tbsp. cooked, chopped red pepper
4 Tbsp. Kahlua
1/2 tsp. salsa picante
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c chopped roasted peanuts
Melt butter and mix in flour; add cream and chicken stock, being careful to prevent lumps. Add chicken and season. Cover and cook 30 min. on low, turning occasionally. Add egg yolk, red pepper, Kahlua, salsa, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook another 10 min., stirring gently. Sprinkle with peanuts. May be made ahead and reheated.

The gardening season officially begins on January 1st, and ends on December 31.
— Marie Huston —

And love can come to everyone,
The best things in life are free.
— Lew Bowen & Buddy De Silva, Good news —

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
— H. L. Mencken —

There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
— Isabel Allende —

Who can give law to lovers? Love is a greater law to itself.
— Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae —

Quien bien te quiere te hará llorar (Anyone who loves you well will make you cry).
— Spanish proverb —

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