Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

Face it, if you are in love, being alone on Valentine's Day is really, honest-to-God lonely! I know there are lots of things that should be on the menu when dining with the one you love--oysters, roast beef, asparagus, strawberries, chocolate, lavender and mint--but what do you eat when you're alone? Regular readers of this blog will know by now I am not the kind of guy to eat something from a can or a TV dinner. So today's solo Valentine's Day dinner was salmon.
I am learning about "plating," which is the presentation of food on plates. So I was practicing today not only with the menu but with the presentation of the meal. I try to use flowers, usually, but today was sort of an off day for that, since most of the flower shops are pushing Valentine arrangements. I'll wait a bit. Meanwhile, I could at least arrange the table for a Valentine mood.
Then there is the actual food.
The main item is salmon. This is salmon first seared with olive oil, then slowly poached in white wine.
While the poaching was going on, I quartered and boiled some baby Dutch potatoes. I also blanched some asparagus spears. Asparagus is supposed to be slightly aphrodisiac. I only know it is good in spring.
I also had a flash of inspiration from memories of vacations to Florida and having my very first shrimp cocktail at Howard Johnson's. The restaurant chain, famed for its franchise on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and especially for its 28 delicious flavors of ice cream, no longer exists. Like so many once-good ideas that got bastardized by corporate greed, Howard Johnson's lost touch with its family core audience and fell by the wayside, so to speak. There were once carrot curls and parsley sprigs and really classy but not-expensive choices on the menu. Pierre Franey was contracted to provide advice on cuisine and the franchise briefly had a lock on the niche, only to lose it, of course!
I digress... anyway, the shrimp cocktail. So I made my own.Shrimp, boiled in white wine and lemon juice, drained, chilled. Mixed ketchup, horseradish and a dash of soy sauce.... A bed of greens, with some cross-cut green onions.... Not bad at all.
I also sliced some baby tomatoes and added them to a few mixed herbs for garnish for the main plate.
The only other minor touches were some sliced garlic for the potatoes, with olive oil, salt and pepper. And I made a little blue cheese-cream cheese accent for the asparagus, with rose peppercorns. I sprinkled dill on the salmon and paprika into the shrimp before putting it over the salad greens.
A little Pinot grigio and we are there. Or I should say I am there, alone!..... sigh.