Friday, February 15, 2013

Dinner of Love

Valentine's Day Menu

Appetizer:
Strawberry Chocolates

Salad:
Heart Gelatin Salad

Entree: 
Specialty-Marinated Steaks
Heart-felt Beef Ravioli
Hearty Potatoes

Dessert: 
Red Velvet Cupcakes






To make Strawberry Chocolates: Ingredients ~ Chocolate (the good stuff, not almond bark. This is a special occasion), strawberries, quartered (if I did it again, I'd just include lots of tiny chunks of diced strawberries. There was a bit too much chocolate. Even for me.

  1. Melt chocolate
  2. Spoon some into ice cube trays (the more angular and the less square the easier it is to get out when it's done). 
  3. If I could do it again, I'd dip the strawberries into the melting chocolate. maybe not so much if I really did use lots of smaller berries...
  4. stick the strawberries into the tray, gently pressing down so that the chocolate in the bottom of the tray comes up around the berries.
  5. spoon chocolate on top. 








I'd like to label this picture "why I only photographed 3 cavities in the beginning of the tutorial. 
To make heart Gelatin: You will need a  few varieties of gelatin, a cookie cutter, a few shallow pans, and plain gelatin (Like Knox). Follow package instructions for jigglers in desired number of varieties of jello. We used 4. Pink, light red, red, dark red. pour into shallow pan. Let chill based on instructions (usually about 3 hours). select a heart cookie cutter that is about 1 inch wide (we didn't have one that small. I'll work on that). Cut as many hearts in the gelatin as you can get. Save the scraps. Place the hearts along the outside of the  bowl (if I did it again, I'd do a couple individual-servings bowls. It's fancier). Make plain gelatin according to directions (we included pineapple juice. It was too strong of a flavor. Pick something milder. Maybe apple?). Let cool (we skipped that step, and I wish we hadn't) to room temperature. pour onto hearts. Let sit in refrigerator 1 hour. Add any remaining hearts, reserving a few for the very top, and the scraps. Try to get them at a variety of depths. If they sink to the bottom, wait a bit and try again. After 2 hours, place all leftover hearts so that they are barely covered by the gelatin (if they're not covered, they sort of shrivel. Not that I'd know or anything...). Chill one more hour or until it is time for the meal. 

To make Ravioli: 
For filling:
  • 1/2 lb Beef
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 small onion
  • parmasan cheese to taste
  • parsley, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
For pasta dough:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
Instructions:

  1. Mix ingredients for pasta dough. kneed about 20 times. the dough should be solid and not crumbly or gooey. stiffer than bread dough, but still maleable. let rest.
  2. Dice garlic and onion (I puree'd mine. Picky eater.)
  3. Brown garlic, onion, beef, and seasonings
  4. Roll out 1/2 the dough really thin (thinner than mine, trust me...) on floured surface
  5. Add egg to beef mixture.
  6. Gently press a heart cookie  cutter into the dough so that it doesn't break through but creates an outline to set the filling into. 
  7. Spoon onto hearts in dough, keeping meat together and dough as clean as possible. 
  8. Roll the second half of the dough on floured surface and gently lay it over-top of the beef-centered hearts. Don't drag the dough! Place it gently and keep it there. 
  9. Take the cookie cutter and center the meat mixture in the cutter and push down, cutting out all of the layers at once. Then press the edges together with your fingers to seal it a little more securely.  Repeat steps 6-9 until dough or mixture is gone, being careful not to get too much flour in the dough so that it's too stiff. 
  10. Let sit 20-30 minutes to dry pasta a bit. This will help it not fall apart when cooking.
  11. Place water in a pot and gently add ravioli one at a time so they don't stick together. Simmer pasta in enough water to cover the pasta until done. Cooking time will depend on how thin you made the shells. If they're thin enough, they'll need about 5 minutes. Ours needed a bit more. Everything harmful was previously cooked, so you're really just worrying about al Dente


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To serve, drizzle a little marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce over them. I used some of my homemade spaghetti sauce from my freezer and boiled it down a little longer.

For Potatoes:
Let me just say these were the best ever! I'll make them again, even if I didn't use the hearts. The recipe is here, and she deserves the credit. First slice the potatoes, then cut them out in desired shape. We didn't have a heart cookie cutter we were satisfied with, so we used a flower and a petal cutter from a Wilton set. She boiled hers a bit before baking them. We got a little overzealous and added them to the oil mixture before we remembered to boil them, and they were still delicious. Also, when broiling, don't leave them in too long. I might have slightly burnt some of the edges (okay, really I didn't burn them, I burned the stuff stuck to the pan.  And I just have to say, this was the best part of dinner! They were amazing.




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