Posted By: Shopprice New Zealand
This year, it’s time to kick it old-school.
Admit it—there’s something retro about Valentine’s Day. I mean, even the phrase “Be My Valentine” can sound hopelessly hokey. But isn’t that a part of its charm? All that heart-on-the-sleeve sincerity is what the holiday is all about. Along with celebrating the ones you love with a home-cooked meal.
So this year, I wanted to create a menu that captures the romance and nostalgia of the holiday without feeling stuffy or old fashioned. On a quest for menu inspiration, I started combing through old February issues of Gourmetin the Condé Nast library. As I pored over a 1966 apres-ski menu, one of the librarians asked me about my quest. When I explained, she led me away from the dusty old copies of Gourmet to the shelves of Glamour magazine. I quickly got excited as my fairy librarian godmother started opening up February issues from the mid-’70s, each of which featured a Valentine’s Day menu plan for two, complete with adorable hand-drawn illustrations.
Valentine’s Day Menu—Magazine Inset / Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Alex Brannian, Food Styling by Ali Nardi
One menu in particular caught my eye: a 1977 menu that featured two of the most deliciously iconic Valentine’s Day foods: Lamb chops and couer a la creme, along with watercress salad, Swedish potatoes, and brandied coffee. But though the elements of the vintage Glamour menu are all things I would happily cook today, the recipes needed a bit of updating. So I started playing with the old Glamour recipes to bring them up to 2016 standards without changing the original essence of the meal. Here are the smart ideas I unearthed from the menu:
Watercress Salad With Warm Mustard Dressing / Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Alex Brannian, Food Styling by Ali Nardi
YOU WANT TO COOK YOUR SALAD DRESSING
I can’t think of the last time I made a warm egg-based salad dressing by whisking an egg and mustard and lemon juice in a bowl over a pot of simmering water until it gets frothy and thick—scratch that, I’d never made salad dressing this way before. But after following Glamour‘s recipe, I’m hooked. I love how it’s creamy and rich without actually containing any dairy, and how light and frothy it is—thickly coating the watercress leaves without being overpowering. I cut down on the sugar in the dressing and cut out the bacon in favor of pumpkin seeds, toasted with a pinch of smoked paprika to get a more modern hit of smoky crunch.
Rosemary Rack of Lamb With Roasted Potatoes and Carrots for Two / Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Alex Brannian, Food Styling by Ali Nardi
THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN PINK BABY LAMB CHOPS
I love my lamb chops a little pink. But the temperature in the original Glamour recipe directs you to cook them to is 145°F, which would leave you with medium-well chops instead. I cooked them to 125°F instead, bumping up the rosemary (and using fresh instead of dried) and adding a touch more garlic, too (don’t worry, nothing too fragrant here). Lamb chops are one of those things that it can be hard to eat with a knife and fork. But that hardly matters. Don’t be shy about picking up your food and eating it with your hands—watching your date enjoy eating in such a visceral, hands-on way is always sexy. Just make sure you’ve set out some sturdy cloth napkins.
MORE BUTTER, ESPECIALLY COMPOUND BUTTER, IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING
Some things never change: Then as now, people love crispy Hasselbeck (a.k.a. Swedish) potatoes. The potatoes are thinly sliced almost all the way through, then slathered in butter before baking. The carrots in the menu are glazed in even more butter. To infuse both sides with more flavor, I created simple compound butters for them: A miso and smoked paprika butter to give the potatoes an umami boost, and a honey and coriander butter to give sweetness and zest to the carrots. And since I already had the oven on for the potatoes and the lamb, I decided to roast the carrots instead of glazing them.
Coeur à la Creme With Roasted Strawberry Sauce / Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Alex Brannian, Food Styling by Ali Nardi
WINTER STRAWBERRIES ARE SAD, BUT NOT WHEN YOU ROAST THEM
A classic French dessert traditionally served with strawberries, “coeur à la creme” literally translates to “cream heart,” and so it is: A combination of fresh cream cheese and plenty of heavy cream for good measure, pressed into heart-shaped molds with holes to drain excess whey and firm up the dessert. The original was good, but mild, so I upped the tang by swapping in fresh goat cheese for some of the cream cheese, and stirring in a bit of lemon zest and vanilla paste for extra-potent flavor (and those pretty speckles). You can make the dish in a fine mesh strainer, but a heart-shaped serving is just so much more fun, so I think it’s totally worth the $12 to get a set of two heart-shaped molds.
The Glamour coeur à la creme is supposed to be served with a simple sauce of strawberries—frozen or fresh—pureed with your liqueur of choice (I always go for brandy). But since I already had the oven on for dinner, I decided to roast fresh berries instead, adding some brandy, sugar, vanilla paste, and a little bit of water to create a sauce with way more texture and flavor than the original. Sure, you could serve it with champagne, the way most celebratory desserts are served these days. But I say follow the 1977 menu exactly here and pour shots of brandy into a couple mugs of coffee, and see how, like Valentine’s Day itself, some sweet ideas never get old.
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