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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

02.13.2006

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feed me a seduction in three courses 
by Yee-Fan Sun
| 
1 2 3 4 5
continued form page 1

make-ahead tips
This sophisticated, elegant menu (page 1) might look like a lot of effort for a weekday Valentine's celebration, but most of the major work can be done the night before. Make the mango sauce the evening before and marinate the pork overnight (you'll actually get the best flavor this way). Bake the shells for the cream puffs as well. Take care of these two tasks, and you can get dinner on the table in an hour and a half on the day of your big feast.

If you're feeling particularly industrious, you can also make the mashed potatoes and salad dressing a day in advance. Strawberries, green beans, and shallots can also be washed, prepped and stored in containers to further cut down on your day-of kitchen duties. Of course, sharing the cooking with your special someone will make the work even faster and a whole lot more enjoyable to boot.

arugula with blue cheese, cherries and almonds

4 cups arugula, washed and dried
1.5 oz. blue cheese
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. (heaping) dried cherries

serves 2

1 Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or so. Add the almonds, turn off the heat, and lift the skillet off the burner. Quickly toss the almonds in the pan to heat them up; you should almost immediately begin to see the edges of the nuts brown. Transfer to a bowl as soon as they've begun to turn color, removing any nuts that get too burnt.

2 Reserve a few almonds and dried cherries to drizzle on top of each salad. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Just before dinner, toss the ingredients in the bowl with enough vinaigrette (below) to taste. Divide the salad onto two plates, and garnish with remaining almonds and cherries.

honey-shallot vinaigrette
This recipe makes enough for about double what you'll need to dress the salad. You can halve it if you like, but since I usually buy arugula in bags that are big enough to serve 4 people, making this quantity gives me enough dressing for leftovers the next day.

1 tsp. minced shallot
1 tsp. honey
tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

serves 4

Combine the shallot, honey, salt and vinegar in a small jar with a screwcap (recycled mustard jars and the like work well; you could, of course, use a bowl instead, but the jar has the advantage of letting you shake up the ingredients really well without making a mess). Blend with a fork, breaking up the honey as best you can. Add the oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Screw on the lid for the jar, and shake the whole thing up to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. The dressing will keep for a few days in the fridge; just reshake before using.

skedaddle this wasy for the main dish...

 

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