Way back, in the mists of time, I was a chef. I loved cooking and creating interesting menus for my clients and for my friends and family at home. Before I owned my own catering company, I worked for another caterer. One day the head chef and I were asked to create a special menu for the upcoming Valentine Week. It was to be a take away, three course meal people could warm up when they got it home. The head chef and I were very much alike and needless to say, we got a little carried away. We thought the menu was a hit because putting it together was so much fun. My partner in crime looked like he stepped out of central casting: “Sun-kissed, California Surfer-boy.” Handsome face, strong, well toned body and a bit of the devil in him. (A match made in heaven.)
Ultimately, our menu was not accepted by our bosses. It was “too much and wholly inappropriate.” It didn’t matter. It was the creating that was the fun part.
A year later, when I started my own business, I put it on my own Valentine’s menu and it became a favorite among my clients and they asked for it every year. I will list it below and I want you to think about it. There really is something between a couple who gets together to make something fun and exciting. That is what Valentine’s Day should be about- not what you see advertised on television. Valentine’s Day should be a group activity where you do things together- to benefit together as you share the love you feel for each other - together.
Men: Don’t waste your money on the gigantic teddy bear that is being advertised now with the tag line that insinuates this overstuffed doll will guarantee you will get lucky on Thursday night. Do you want to win over a woman? Get out a piece of paper and some colored pens and draw (yes, draw) a picture on one half, fold it over and write- that means using your own words- and tell her how you feel about her. And ladies? That goes for you, too. Don’t forget to do something romantic for him. This is a duet of which you are an active participant.
And for you singles out there… Do you fancy someone? Get up the courage and invite them over. Tell them about this menu you want to try cooking with him/her. I can tell you that it is guaranteed to, at the very least, get your mind in the right place and maybe in the process win over a heart. I know it can. How? Let’s just say I learned a lot about surfing after creating this menu.
Peel Me Shrimp
Oh Baby Lamb Chops
Hot Firm Asparagus
Deeply Double Dip Strawberries
What you Don’t Need: Utensils
The entire thing is eaten with your hands.
What you do need:
12 jumbo shrimp, with the shell on (boiled for 2 minutes, served with shell ON)
Cocktail sauce (ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, black pepper)
8 Baby Lamb Chops (Ask your butcher to cut them from a rack of lamb for you and to dress the legs. Broil with olive oil, herbs de provence until medium rare)
16 Asparagus (peeled, boiled until bright green and still hard, then plunged into ice water to retain color)
12 Large, plump, juicy strawberries (melt a good chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds, dip tip into chocolate, place on parchment paper to cool and serve with whipped cream for more dipping)
Set up a picnic on the floor near the fireplace. Don’t have a fireplace? Make a romantic area with lit candles. Be careful they are extinguished if you leave the room. (Set them on a mirror you lay on the floor to increase their light and to protect your floor or carpet.)
Champagne of course!
Happy Valentine’s Day – make me proud of you!!