Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I have a special post for you today, the delicious Valentine's day dinner I made for my special someone to celebrate yesterday (leaving us free to go out tonight). When thinking about what to make for this dinner, my head was literally swimming with ideas, but I realized most of them were things that I love, not necessarily the boyfriend's favorites. So I did some thinking and some editing and here is what I came up with.
1. Saying I love you with fine Italian meats and cheeses.
We have an arugala salad with shaved Parmesan in the middle. And it is surrounded by pepperoni and prosciutto; mozzerella, provolone, and Pecorino Toscano Fresco cheeses; roasted red peppers and stuffed cherry peppers. We ate this platter as our afternoon snack/late lunch. I also served it with these Garlic Knots, which were the easiest yeast bread I have ever attempted.
The stuffed cherry peppers were on an antipasto platter we had in a restaurant a few weeks ago, and the boyfriend literally could not stop talking about them, so I had to put them on my tray. They are so easy to make.
Stuffed Cherry Peppers:
1/2 jar of pickled hot cherry peppers
Cut the tops off the cherry peppers and remove the seeds. Wash any remaining seeds out. Slice the pepperoni into thin strips and cube the cheese. Take two thin slices of pepperoni and wrap it around a mozzarella cube. Stuff the wrapped cube into a cherry pepper. That's it! Spicy deliciousness is your's to enjoy.
2. For dinner, try a little something new, with an old favorite.
It's a little hard to guess what it is, but I am proud to say that it is Rabbit Armando, with risotto made from fresh rabbit stock, and stuffed artichokes. Risotto is the old favorite. I had never made rabbit before, I in fact only have had it once, when we were in Argentina, but I loved it so much I have been on a quest to find it ever since. It was easy to make and very affordable. My rabbit came whole and not de-boned (which was slightly unexpected, and I didn't notice until it thawed). So I de-boned it myself (leaving the leg bones in), using this Martha recipe as a guide, and made stock from the bones. Then I used the stock to make the risotto.
Braised Rabbit Armando:
1 whole rabbit, cleaned, spine removed, about 2 lbs
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
A small handful of fresh oregano
A handful of fresh parsley
8 oz of shitake mushrooms
4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 thick slices of Pancetta
3/4 cup of white wine
Cut the rabbit into big serving pieces (legs, loin, etc). Chop the onion, and shallot. Mince the garlic and herbs. Put rabbit in a plastic bag, and add the chopped herbs and veggies, mushrooms, olive oil and vinegar. Chop the Pancetta and add that as well. Let marinate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the rabbit mixture to the pan and brown for a few minutes, then stir and flip the rabbit pieces and brown, about 5 minutes total. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to cook until rabbit is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. (adapted from Mario Batali)
1 cup of arborio rice
3 thick slices of Pancetta
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of white wine
4-6 cups of rabbit stock (or beef stock)
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small pot, over medium-high heat, cook the Pancetta. Remove the Pancetta from the pan and set aside, leave the rendered fat. Cook the garlic and shallots until slightly softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. and the rice and toast until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until almost all absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock and cook until absorbed. Keep adding stock 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, until rice is cooked and creamy, about 4-6 cups, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese, until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in reserved Pancetta. Serve with additional cheese sprinkled on top.
2 artichokes, cut in half and chokes removed
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the panko, cheese, garlic and olive oil. Stuff each choke with some of the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a small baking dish (I used a pie pan) and fill with 1/2 inch of water. Cover with tinfoil and bake until the breadcrumbs are browned, about an hour. (adapted from Martha)
3. Wait a little while after eating, to enjoy dessert. And the same goes for all of you. So, coming soon, our very special dessert.
Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Eating.