Feb 12, 2014 5:30 PM by Jennifer English

Let's Make a Meal: Valentine's Day Treat

I am so swept up in the Olympic Spirit that I almost forgot it was Valentines Day this week. So I turned to my friends at Driscoll's berries for an inspiration and a recipe that will make a loved one swoon.


· 1 ready-to-roll pie crust
· 1/2 cup heavy cream
· 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
· 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1/2 package (16 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries
· 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
· fresh mint leaves


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Unroll pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Cut 6 hearts with a 4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
Meanwhile, beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Cut one strawberry in half. Set aside. Hull remaining strawberries and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.
Place one baked heart on a serving plate. Top with one quarter whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Top with second heart and repeat. Top with third heart and strawberry half. Drizzle with melted chocolate and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

In honor of the Sochi games, and the celebration of all things Russian, I have been craving one of my favorite combinations, icy cold vodka and thick cut smoked salmon with buckwheat blini and a touch of sour cream. The salmon also called Tsar cut is outrageously rich and wonderful. It would be a lovely thing to serve your valentine. The best is to cold cure a side of salmon and then to cut in in the thick style. Here is my favorite salmon cure recipe. I have adapted it from a technique I learned from Chef Marcus Samuelson. It is delicious. I suggest you make 2 sides while you are at it since the results are so yummy. You can substitute dill for the fennel fronds if you prefer , or add them to the mixture if you wish.


1 lb. salmon fillet (1 inch thick), skin on and bones removed
2 Tbsp. Vodka or Aquavit ,
1 cup coarse sea salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
Zest of one lemon
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fennel seeds, lightly toasted
2 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Baste the fish with the vodka or Aquavit and refridgerate on a pyrex dish.
2. Whisk the salt, sugar, fennel fronds, and lemon zest in a bowl.
3. Place a piece of plastic wrap that's three times the width of the salmon fillet on your work surface. Spread half the cure across the plastic evenly.
4. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the cure. Cover the exposed flesh with the rest of the cure, pressing down firmly.
5. Toss the fennel slices, fennel seeds, and pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle evenly across the top of the fish.
6. Use plastic wrap and tightly wrap the seasoned/salted/spiced fish. The be sure to place the entire wrapped side in a ziploc bag. Refrigerate for two days.
7. Unwrap the fish an carefully rinse the fish with cold water to remove excess salt. Do not drown the fish, just cleanse it gently. Pat the cured fish dry and then serve in 1" wide , thick, luxurious steaks of the cured salmon.


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