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Ellen’s Kitchen & Garden

A valentine’s dinner for two

Posted Friday,
February 10, 2012
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By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Valentine’s Day calls for a special dinner. This one is so easy and requires very little work or clean up.

It’s one of my favorite menus: baked salmon, herbed rice (the recipe used with my Chicken Piccata), fresh asparagus and Coeur a la Crème for dessert. With exception of the dessert, this dinner can be made in about half an hour. The dessert can be made in just 15 minutes but needs to be refrigerated overnight or for at least eight hours.

Timing is everything so if you’re planning to serve the rice recipe suggested below, the first thing you’ll want to do is preheat the oven, then measure the rice and water and bring it to a boil. While bringing the rice to a boil, prep the salmon, because both go in the oven at the same time and cook for the same length of time.

Baked Salmon
Serves 2

2 4-ounce salmon pieces (at room temperature)
fresh dill
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Heat oven to 400°. While the oven is heating, place the salmon on pieces of foil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and then place sprigs of dill on each piece. Squeeze lemon juice on the fish and fold the foil around the salmon to create a little packet. When ready, put the salmon in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Coeur a la Crème
Serves 4-6

This is so easy and delicious. It calls for a Coeur a la Crème dish, a porcelain heart-shaped mold, but if you don’t have one, a colander will work just as well. You’ll also need cheesecloth to line the dish or colander. Rhodes Gift Shop has a wonderful buy on homemade Vanilla Extract if you need some.

1½ 8-ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1½ cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 pint of fresh strawberries

First line the dish with cheesecloth. Put the cream cheese into mixer bowl and with the paddle attachment, beat at a moderate speed. Lower the rate and gradually add the sugar. If the speed is too fast, the sugar will blow out of the bowl all over your counter. Once blended, add the vanilla extract and then the cream. Slowing and carefully bring the speed up to high. If you raise it too quickly, it will splash all over. In a short time the mixture will fluff up to a light and creamy consistency. Pour the mixture into the dish (or colander) and fold the cheesecloth over to cover. Place the dish on a plate (it will drain a little) and then in the refrigerator for at least eight hours.

Puree half of the strawberries and slice the other half. Use the cheesecloth to help un-mold the dessert. Decorate with the puree and sliced berries.
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