An afternoon gathering for the people you most cherish in your life is a wonderful gift to them (and yourself) for Valentine’s Day. Pull out your best china, crystal champagne glasses and silver ware, and cut some roses from your garden to place in little bud vases.
Here’s a chance to show off your fancy pantry skills with elegant little canapés and tea sandwiches. Spread a sturdy white sandwich bread, like a pain de mie (available at La Brea Bakery, with an herbed cream cheese or mild goat cheese. Top with smoked salmon (Trader Joe’s and Costco both sell excellent and well priced smoked salmon), sliced Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced prosciutto or grilled vegetables for starters (use your imagination). Serve a selection of canapes, both open faced or topped.
Pour an inexpensive bubbly, a pink one if you can find it, or pour the champagne over Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Rose Syrup for an unusually delicious treat.
And to finish chocolate, of course- a requirement for a successful Valentine’s fete. Truffles and fancy little chocolate candies are always welcome, and strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue are just what the love doctor ordered. We’re so lucky in Southern California to have great strawberries most of the year available at local farmer’s markets. Visit Tamai Farms or Harry’s Berries this weekend at the Santa Monica farmer’s markets. And here's a great recipe for Chocolate Fondue for you.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate Truffles courtesy of Albert Uster Imports
from Michael Recchiutti
1 cups premium cocoa powder (Valrohna or Scharffen Berger), sifted
1 1/4 cups spring water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons heavy cream
5 ounces 62% Scharffen Berger (premium semi-sweet chocolate), chopped
Pound cake and fruit (such as bananas, apples, strawberries, and plums), cut into bite sized pieces
Sift the cocoa into mixing bowl and set aside. Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup into a pot and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until sugar solution has reduced by about 30%. Pour the cocoa powder into the solution and blend with a whisk until smooth. Return the chocolate mixture to the stove and continue cooking over medium heat. Add heavy cream, bring to boil and allow to simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in chopped chocolate. Pour into fondue pot and keep warm.