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tandem cooking: mood food 
a valentine's day menu
1 2 3 4
continued from page 2

person A

person B

1 Prep your veggies …
For the crostini: Soak 4 shiitake mushrooms in hot water (if you’re using dehydrated).
For the salad: Wash the greens. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a small mixing bowl of water. Slice the pear and let the slices sit in the acidulated water.
For the pesto: Mince 3 cloves of garlic and dry basil leaves.
For the rice: Mince ½ a small onion.
2 Make the dressing: Take 1/3 of the garlic and add it to a small bowl. Add the cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, and whisk together briskly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
3 Prep the nuts: Toast 2 Tbsp. walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the nuts are crisp and aromatic (5 minutes or so). Repeat with 2 Tbsp. pine nuts (if you have a large skillet, you can try and toast the two types simultaneously, but I’m kind of a spaz – I find it way too hard to keep the two segregated while I toss and stir).
4 Make the pesto: Place 1 cup packed fresh basil, ½ of the remaining garlic, 2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts and 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a food processor or blender. Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.
5 Make the crostini: Cut 6 ½" thick slices from your baguette. Brush the slices with olive oil. Place the baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven, and toast until both sides are golden (you’ll need to flip about 5 minutes or so into the cooking time). While the bread’s toasting, slice the mushrooms. In a small skillet, sauté the remaining garlic in olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Place a slice of brie on each toasted slice, top with a dollop of the mushroom mixture, and pop the crostini back into the oven. Cook for another three to five minutes, until the cheese is good and melty. Garnish with slivered fresh basil.

1 Preheat the oven to 350F. Place one rack in the middle and a second close to the bottom.
2 For the custard: Heat 1 cup milk/cream (I use half heavy cream, half skim) and 1 tsp. vanilla on medium until steaming, then remove from heat. Let it sit, covered, for twenty minutes or so.
3 Meanwhile, caramelize the custard dish as follows: Pour ¼ cup sugar and 1 T. water in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring only until the sugar is dissolved. As the sugar begins to liquefy, bubble and turn sticky, begin swirling the mixture by lifting the pan slightly above the burner, and gently tilting it around. Continue to cook, swirling frequently, until you have a rich, golden caramel (this will take fifteen minutes or so). Immediately pour the caramel into the custard cup, tilting the cup to coat the bottom completely. Let cool.
4 If 20 minutes haven’t passed yet, give your co-chef a hand while you wait for the milk to cool.
5 Finish the custard: Set a small pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Whisk one egg, one extra yolk, 1 Tbsp. of sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth. Gradually add in the vanilla-flavored milk mixture. Pour it all into a 10-12 oz. custard dish. Place the custard dish in a baking pan with high sides (I use a 9"x9" cake pan): Add the hot water to the baking pan, filling it up so that the water level is about 1" from the top of the custard cup. Pop it in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 45 minutes (don’t forget to set the timer)., until the custard looks set around the edges, but still trembles in the center.

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