Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

Pomegranate Jellies with maple mascarpone

Love is in the air.

Can you feel it? Love in fruity, creamy, bright, and chocolatey goodness. Something for everyone, and every bit a delightful treat. This is my vision for a heady Valentines Day, and I hope it inspires you - wherever you are and in whatever you do.

Scroll down for recipes...

Love potion twelve
Love Potion Twelve is crisp and strong. Not the kind of strong that makes you wince, but the kind that softly makes the backs of your knees tingle and finds you amorous. Be ready for relaxation as you luxuriate with this fine sipper.........

Blood orange, fried rosemary, candied walnut, olive salad

This romance is for you. It is for lovers, it is for sharing at dinner with friends. Simple flavors brought to great intensity, through the *pop* of contrasts in texture and flavor or layers enveloping each other. I hope you will try each of these and see for yourself how delicious they are. Do let me know which is your favorite.

Eton mess
Dark Chocolate cherry semifreddo
Eton mess is an easy dessert to prepare, and packs a whollup of textures and bright flavor. You'll love the crunch of meringue, the velvet of cream, and the bright *pop* of fresh fruit folded in....

The semifreddo is almost as involved to prepare as it is delicious. Which means it is worth trying, at the very least to commiserate with me after you have done so. I can assure you it is every bit as sinful and jaw droppingly outrageous as it seems. Get ready for your chocolate fill.

Pomegranate Jellies with Maple Mascarpone
makes 4

2 cups fruit juice - I used fresh blueberry lemonade for its rich color
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 leaf gelatine
1 cup mascarpone
2 tbsp good maple syrup - get Grade B if you can
grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) for greasing the molds

Pour 1/4 cup of the juice into a bowl and add the gelatine. Allow to sit for a minute while bringing the remaining juice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add to the gelatine mixture and stir to dissolve the gelatine. Lightly grease four mini jelly, tartlet, or mini-muffin tins with oil. Spoon the mixture into the molds and gently add in the pomegranate seeds.

Chill until set in refrigerator, 4 hours or overnight. In a small bowl, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup until combined, and set aside. To release the jellies from their tins, warm enough water in a saucepan so that you can set the mold down into it for a few seconds. Place a serving dish on top of the mold, invert, and lift the mold up to reveal the jelly. Serve with the maple mascarpone beside and enjoy.

Blood Orange, Candied Walnut, Fried Rosemary, and Olive Salad
serves 2

for the salad -
6-8 blood oranges
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cup Castelvetrano olives, or other olive to your liking - these are buttery and amazing
1 cup candied walnuts (can be found at specialty shops)

for the dressing -
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
a handful of pomegranate kernels
freshly cracked white pepper to taste
pinch fleur de sel

Using a sharp knife, cut the tops and bottoms off of the oranges. Slice in facets down the orange to remove sides; make sure to remove the white pith. Set aside. Pluck rosemary leaves from the sprig and fry for 10 seconds in hot oil over high heat in a small skillet. Remove onto absorbent paper and set aside. Press the heel of your hand down onto the side of the knife to crush each olive and remove its pit. Separate olive chunks into halves or thirds and place into a small bowl with a bit of extra virgin olive oil to soak. Break candied walnuts into smaller bits with your fingers and place into a separate small bowl.

Add all dressing ingredients together except fleur de sel into a bowl and whisk to combine. Slice oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds and place onto serving platter. Scatter fried rosemary and candied walnuts on top. Add olive chunks, followed with a drizzle of dressing and fleur de sel. Keep more dressing table side as needed. Great served with crusty bread.

Love Potion Twelve Cocktail
serves 2

1 cup chilled vodka or other spirit, to your liking (I used Tito's vodka, which is nicely smooth)
2 tbsp brandy (I used cherry, but any to your liking will do)
1/2 cup pink lemonade or blood orange juice
1 tbsp fresh beet juice - adds rich color and is subtle in flavor
1 tbsp agave nectar
blood orange slices, for garnish

If you have a juicer, juice one beet. Otherwise, simmer quartered beet in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover until soft when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Mash beet with fork, pour liquid and press solids through a sieve to strain. Refrigerate. Stir together agave and brandy until agave dissolves. Add a few ice cubes into a cocktail mixer and add in all ingredients except for garnish, stirring to combine. Strain into coupe or martini glasses and garnish with orange slices. Sip, sit back and let the potion do its magic....

Eton Mess
Serves 4

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulls removed and quartered
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup heavy cream

for the meringues -
3 pastured egg whites at room temperature
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (F). Line two baking trays with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until white and foamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add cane sugar in 3 parcels, beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about 3 more minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat to blend for another minute or so. Meringue should be thick and glossy when done.

Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fit with a 1/2-inch tip or ziploc bag. Place either into a drinking glass with the bag edge tucked over for neatness. Seal if using a ziploc bag, and cut 1/2-inch off one corner. Pipe 1-inch rounds spaced one inch apart. Bake meringues until set, about 2 hours. Allow to cool completely in the oven with door ajar. Store between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature. Will keep up to a week.

Meanwhile, toss strawberries in caster sugar in a small bowl and set aside for 15 minutes or so, until the juices start to run. Mash the raspberries with the back of a fork and add in confectioners' sugar to blend. Add vanilla seeds to heavy cream and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold some of the cream into the raspberry mixture in its bowl, and coarsely crumble a few of the meringues, folding in to combine.

To serve, layer some of the strawberries in bowls, followed by whipped cream and the raspberry mixture, followed by a few bits of coarsely broken meringue and more fruit with their syrup. Layer until you like the effect and serve immediately.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Semifreddo
Serves 10

1 1/4 cups luxardo cherries (pitted) with their syrup (can be found at specialty shops)
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp liquid glucose
2/3 cup brandy - I used Kirsch
2 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks and replaced in refrigerator
5 eggs, free range if possible (they will be more buoyant and delicious)
4 egg yolks
1 lb dark chocolate, melted - I used Callebaut 60% dark bittersweet
1/2 lb dark chocolate, melted, for collar

Combine cherries, 3/4 cup sugar, glucose and 1/2 the brandy in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 15 minutes or until syrup is reduced by almost half. Chill in refrigerator. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and yolks, the remaining sugar and brandy in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes or until thick. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for a further 5-7 minutes, until cool again. 

Fold in melted chocolate, then fold in whipped cream. Pour one-third of the chocolate mixture into a 8-inch springform pan. Scatter with 7 or so cherries, drizzle a little syrup, and using the tip of a bread knife, swirl around to create a marbled effect. Repeat same layering until all chocolate mixture is used. There will be cherries and syrup left over to serve. Freeze semifreddo for 24 hours (and up to 3 days) before serving.

The day of serving, work a thin knife around the perimeter of the pan to separate the semifreddo from its surface. Unfasten spring, and using a couple offset spatulas, work around the base of pan to release and carefully slide onto a serving platter. Return to freezer.

For chocolate collar, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Lay a few 6-inch x 15-inch pieces of baking paper on a tray and spread each one with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes or until just set - you will know because it becomes opaque and stiffens. Remove semifreddo from freezer and place a chocolate-lined baking paper strip around, with the chocolate-side inward. Carefully peel back paper. If not quite ready, place the whole thing back in the freezer and wait 30 seconds or so and attempt again. Repeat with remaining baking paper strips to wrap around the entire perimeter. You can layer strips of chocolate around for any breaks in the collar.  Follow same process, replacing into freezer to firm, as needed. Return to freezer until ready to serve. Heat remaining cherries on low heat to loosen the syrup and serve in a bowl beside semifreddo. 

I am extremely pleased with each of the results these treats offer. I want to know what knocks your socks off! And however you spend V-day, know that you are loved.......

In other news, in this month's AARP Magazine, my wonderful team and I styled and photographed some Ina Garten - the Barefoot Contessa - recipes, for more ideas of romance. Here are a couple outtakes (you can access the recipes through the link!) ~

Be mine. I love you. Happy Valentine's Day!!! xxxxxxooo


  1. I love all your colors and uses of red and how glamorous everything looks. The semifreddo looks amazing and I am dying for that cocktail.

    1. Hey friend I am not a lot attracted in reading blogs but this is a realy good blog so i couldn’t ignore it.please keep it up.
      Thanks & Regards

  2. Happy V'Day, Melina .. your recipes, your recipes are kill me... wonderful posting

  3. Wow, wow, wow...I'm drooling. Happy Valentine's Day, indeed.

  4. What a gorgeous post MElina!! Drooling over pictures. They are a visual treat :)

  5. OMG! Your photos are simply beautiful! I fell in live with your blog!

  6. Yay! Thanks so much for the loving.

    Val, that cocktail does the job.... just looking at it made me rosy. :)

    Nisa's Mom, thanks so much for letting me "kill." I hope to do it again for you soon!

    Thank you Leda!

    Nandita, thank you :D It was a labor of love and with your words, worth every bit.

    Kucharnia I am glad you found me and now it is love. Looking forward to more swooning soon.

  7. Your photos, your recipes, and your writing are all *****! Keep on Keepin' on!

  8. Hi! I’m new follower of your blog and would like to invite you to join me at my weekly Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    I hope you can make it!


    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick