Posts Tagged ‘valentine’s day’

Sifted: Sweet and Salty Desserts + More Delicious Bits

5 Hot Links We’re Loving:

  1. Guinness and chocolate is a match made in heaven. Add pretzels to the mix, and now we’re really talking. Sprinkle Bake’s Guinness pretzel truffles are perfect for Valentine’s Day.
  2. You can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes. Speckled with caramel and sprinkled with salt, Baking with Blondie’s recipe is a winner.
  3. Saltine crackers are the secret weapon in a Pinch of Yum’s 10-minute peanut butter fudge. Share them or keep them for yourself; they’re too easy not to make.
  4. For Anti-Valentine’s Day, treat yourself to A Cozy Kitchen’s dinner for one: cacio e pepe. With just four tasty ingredients (butter, lots of black pepper, cheese and pasta), it’s hard to go wrong.
  5. Mardi Gras may be over, but any day would be a good day for Tracey’s Culinary Adventure’s beignets.

Craving More?

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Date Ideas Better Than Dinner and a Movie

When it comes to dating, every move you make is an opportunity for your partner to judge you. Choosing dinner and a movie just might scream “Hi, I’m boring.” So why not try something different?

Have a 4-Course Dinner ‑ at 4 Different Places
Get in your apps, main, dessert and drinks, but do it at four different joints that you know rock that course best. Bey, yeah! Not only will it have you traveling around the city and getting to know each other, but you’ll have four chances to make your date sweat over who’s paying.

Do Something Neither of You Has Ever Done
Skydiving, a piercing, or hot-air ballooning are all pretty random, unconventional things that are easier to try with some eye candy by your side. Since you’re both total newbs at whatever you’re trying, this levels the playing field while upping the adrenaline (i.e., the recipe for a good time).

Work Up a Sweat
Minds out of the gutter. Hitting a gym or recreation center is a great way to get competitive with each other. Whether he spots you on the bench press or you help him bend into a yoga pose, it’ll get you both feeling at ease with the other. And, hey, even if the body odor takes over and ends things, at least you got a great workout in. Win/win.

Remember, the point of dating is not only to seal the deal with a hottie but also to have a little fun. Before long your “date-nights” will consist of sitting on the couch eating pizza and watching Law & Order reruns on Netflix, so you might as well enjoy your options while you can.

Get more of Cooking Channel’s best Valentine’s Day ideas.

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Valentine’s Day Four-Ingredient Dessert

The best part of this Valentine’s Day dessert? It requires only four ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs and sugar. Tyler Florence’s Flourless Chocolate Cake is not for the timid — it’s an intensely rich chocolate experience. Top with confectioners’ sugar for a romantic presentation and serve with freshly whipped cream to balance the flavors. Your sweetie will thank you.

Here’s how it’s done:

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How to Make Fondue

Traditionally, fondue was nothing more than melted chocolate kept warm in a pot called a Caquelon, which was set over a sterno or other source of fire. This version is a ganache, which is thick enough to cling to the treats dipped into it, but thin enough to stay liquid without the fire. I’ve poured the chocolate into individual ramekins, so each person has their own “pot” of  warm chocolate to dip into. Set out an assortment of fruits, cake, cookies, meringues and/or dried fruit. It is a fast, simple, fun dessert for a larger party or a romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special.

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Music for Valentine’s Day Lovers and Haters

Love it or hate it … it’s coming. Valentine’s Day.

Whether you are setting the mood for a romantic evening, or hating on that absurd flying baby with an arrow, we’ve got your playlist covered.

Valentine’s Day Lovers

Lucky enough to have found that someone special?

Instead of going out to a crowded overpriced restaurant, stay in with the one you love and prepare our best Valentine’s Day dishes. Add in the tunes from our LOVE Valentine’s playlist above and your night is set.

Valentine’s Day Haters

Nobody special this year and don’t want to resort to pulling a Manti Te’o? Just broke up that someone not-so special? Don’t fret.

Pick one (or three) of our best devilish chocolate dessert recipes, crawl up on the couch in your sweatpants and play our HATE Valentine’s playlist.

You can learn more about Andrew and The Beat Advisory at

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Birch & Barley’s Tiffany + Kyle: Where There’s Heat in the Kitchen

To get ready for Valentine’s Day, we asked some husband-wife chef and restaurant management duos to share their romantic stories: how they met, what they like to cook to celebrate the holiday and whether their restaurants go all out in the name of love.

Written by Tiffany MacIsaac, Executive Pastry Chef of the Washington D.C.-based Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Her husband, Kyle Bailey, is the Executive Chef of Birch & Barley, one of NRG’s popular restaurants featuring a seasonally inspired menu and an extensive (read: 500+) list of beers.

Kyle and I met at the since-shuttered Ilo, a three-star restaurant located in a NYC hotel. At the time we were both in relationships, but we became fast friends. One night a week, Kyle would need to stay to work the room service shift after dinner. No one ever ordered, though, so we would get a pack of beer from the corner store and drink it while we waited. A closing restaurant can be a depressing environment to work in, but we always worked hard and pushed one another. After the restaurant closed, we went our separate ways, but we stayed in touch. When Kyle was working at another restaurant, Cru, he recommended me for a pastry chef position (even though his girlfriend at the time was a pastry chef) and the rest is history.

Being married (going on 3.5 years now) and working together presents its challenges, but we overcome these by being very communicative. (Kyle likens us to Dr. Dre and Eminem: “We fight nonstop, but we get along better than anyone else.”) We’re incredibly honest with each other in the kitchen and never hold back on giving feedback about a certain dish – we’re both striving for greatness.

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Easy Gift Idea: Chocolate-Covered Toffee

Chocolate-covered toffee is one of my favorite candies and it’s easy to make. All you need is a candy thermometer and some time. The result is a buttery caramel, with a slightly toasty flavor. I added a bit of coffee to the toffee, giving them a slight bitter edge, which is a perfect complement to the sweet candy. To finish them off, dip some of them in milk chocolate or drizzle in dark chocolate and sprinkle with toasted almonds and sea salt. They make a lovely Valentine’s gift.

Chocolate-Covered Toffee

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup water
2 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
toasted nuts, optional
Sea salt, optional

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The Mikulas: Nurturing Love — and Diverse Passions — at NYC’s Salinas

To get ready for Valentine’s Day, we asked some husband-wife chef and restaurant management duos to share their romantic stories: how they met, what they like to cook to celebrate the holiday and whether their restaurants go all out in the name of love.

Written by Mary Catherine Mikula, a partner behind NYC’s Salinas restaurant, along with her husband, Donald Mikula, and Nicolas Matar. Inspired by their extensive travels along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, they opened this Spanish tapas restaurant in 2011 with chef Luis A Bollo at the helm.

Donald and I met while on a photo shoot for Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. He has been a celebrity hairstylist for 25 years; by the time I returned to New York from the trip, he had left a message with my agent insisting I come in to his salon for a haircut. I obliged, and the rest is history.

Together, we bring our diverse backgrounds and passions to Salinas – an unusual formula that works well for the restaurant, we think. Everyone calls Donald “the captain” – he makes the restaurant livelier by engaging guests in conversation and forming personal connections, and adorns the walls with photos he’s taken during our travels. And I am known as “mama bear;” I like to make sure all is well with the staff, handle all the office tasks – scheduling, reservations – and create a new playlist for the restaurant every day.

Before Salinas, we rarely went out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We could never find a spot that felt romantic and cozy (or well-lit – a major pet-peeve of mine), and so we (and by we, I mean Donald) would cook. Ironically, one dish we loved to prepare was paella – and this was years before we opened the restaurant. We would open up a bottle of wine and share some Manchengo cheese while cooking.

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Jenn Louis: Portland’s Thoughful Eats and Beverage Pairings

To get ready for Valentine’s Day, we asked some husband-wife chef and restaurant management duos to share their romantic stories: how they met, what they like to cook to celebrate the holiday and whether their restaurants go all out in the name of love.

Written by Jenn Louis, the chef behind two popular Portland establishments, Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern. She co-owns the restaurants — which feature rustic, yet refined menus of Pacific Northwest ingredients — with her husband, the restaurants’ bar manager and beverage mastermind, David Welch.

David and I met while working at a restaurant – go figure. I had worked at Portland-based Wildwood for almost two years after graduating from the Western Culinary Institute of Portland and was finishing a Sunday brunch shift. I was very tired, having worked the Saturday night dinner service the night before. In walks a handsome man, sporting black high-water pants, a white t-shirt, a red v-neck cardigan sweater, chunky black shoes and tiny spectacles. I looked up and thought, “who the heck is this Mr. Rogers?” Really, it was love at first sight. We were married in 2003, and in 2008, David and I transformed a renovated warehouse into our first restaurant: Lincoln. In 2011 we opened Sunshine Tavern, where we offer family-friendly comfort food and playful cocktails.

We have always worked in the service industry, so our Valentine’s Day is spent at work. It is a long and a busy day, so I usually prepare something for the prep staff to eat (sticky buns, creamy macaroni and cheese) and then either he or I will sneak off to a little shop where they sell our favorite candy: dark chocolate bars filled with salted caramel. We usually enjoy that at the end of the day – a reward for a hard day’s work. This year, Sunshine is offering its normal menu, and Lincoln Restaurant will have a prix fixe menu featuring options for appetizer and entree (from a foie gras and chicken liver pate to to a cassoulet of lamb sausage, rabbit confit and roasted pork belly), panna cotta with Campari gelato for dessert and optional wine pairings for each course.

David’s and my ideal Valentine’s Day dinner (which is usually delayed until the next weekend!) is a Berlioni cocktail with a kale and grapefruit salad, a rabbit and pork polpetone with polenta taragana (recipes after the jump) with a bottle of 2011 Vietti Barbara d’Asit, and for dessert, one of those chocolate and salted-caramel bars with homemade nocino.

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Rice Krispies Treats Go Compost for Valentine’s Day

The “compost” cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC inspired these crispy rice treats. They have everything but the kitchen sink in them: pretzels, Oreos, milk chocolate and potato chips. These are all added to the rice cereal and tossed with buttery marshmallows, and it’s seriously tasty. You can add any of your favorite snack foods to the recipe. Just chop them up so you can press the treats into a heart shaped cookie cutter. They are perfect to make with kids but, really, adults love them just as much.

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