Valentine’s specials are meant to be shared

Published 8:21 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

Today’s Special

Short February is not short on opportunities for enjoying delicious food. Soon we’ll be eating, watching the Super Bowl and later eating our way through Mardi Gra. But Today’s Special is dedicated to Valentine’s Day.  Love comes from the kitchen, whether it’s for a table for two or for the whole family.  Set a pretty table, fill a vase with flowers and light the candles. Love is in the air.

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First breakfast. Berry Breakfast Bake is easy to make and rewarms nicely in the microwave. A slice of bacon is all you need to go with it.  So worth getting out of bed for. 

For lunch make a grilled cheese sandwich that is straight from Italy, and serve with a variety of olives and pepperoncini.  Packaged mozzarella or cheddar works fine, but it is so much better with fresh mozzarella balls that you find in the cheese section of the grocery deli and slice yourself.  It’s an open face sandwich (meaning you have more calories to spend on dinner!). Or you can turn this sandwich into an appetizer. 

Now for a lovely, romantic dinner.  Mix up the Green Goddess Dressing first. Fresh herbs make this old favorite new again. Let it refrigerate several hours. Homemade salad dressings are the best!

For a memorable main course:  Baked salmon, instead of beef this year, served with my sister’s famous Grisanti’s fettuccine.  Finish off with an Italian classic homemade chocolate ice cream topped with a rich chocolate sauce, a huge dollop of real whipped cream and a cherry on top and served with your favorite hazelnut or amaretto flavored cookies.  

Happy Valentine’s Day! You add the love, for the more you add, the better it is! 


Berry Breakfast Bake

4 large bakery croissants, cut in small cubes

1 ½ cups mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries fresh or frozen)

 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup whole milk

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Place croissant cubes and berries in an 8” square or comparable sized buttered baking dish. Beat pour over the bread and berries.  Cover tightly, refrigerate overnight or at least an hour. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while oven is preheating to 350°. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until top is golden. Top with vanilla glaze: ½ cup powdered sugar, 2 – 3 tablespoons heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract whisked together until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Drizzle over the baked dish, serve warm. 


Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 5 canned plum tomatoes, finely chopped

3 – 4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Sea salt and ground black pepper

4 – 6 slices crusty Italian bread

1 clove garlic, peeled, cut in half

About 3 ounces sliced mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in small frying pan. Add tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 8 – 10 minutes, to reduce tomato mixture. Lightly toast the bread, then lightly rub cut garlic clove on one side. Spread a spoonful of tomato mixture on each piece of bread, top with sliced cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts. Serve hot. As an appetizer: cut each prepared slice in half; top with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper and a scant drizzle of olive oil.  Serve warm.


Green Goddess Dressing

2 cups mayonnaise (Dukes or Hellmans)

4 canned anchovy fillets, minced

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 green onions, white and green both finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

¼ cup fresh chives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Mix ingredients all together and blend well. Refrigerate overnight. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. 


Oven Baked Salmon

Extra virgin olive oil

2 – 3# piece of salmon, skin removed

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

 Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Preheat oven to 425°. Brush 9×13 inch glass baking dish with olive oil. Season salmon with garlic, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix Dijon, mayonnaise, lemon, parsley and dill. Place seasoned salmon in oiled pan, brush with Dijon mixture. Bake until salmon is just cooked all the way through, about 25 minutes. Broil top for another minute to brown. Sprinkle with more fresh parsley and dill, with extra lemon slices on the side to serve.


Patti’s Famous Grisanti Fettuccini 

Bring ½ cup butter and 1 cup of whipping cream to a slow boil. Remove from heat and add a generous half cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until smooth. Season with cracked pepper and garlic flakes as desired.  Toss with cooked fettuccine pasta. (To make it even more special, top with grilled shrimp.)


Gelato al cioccolato

3 ½ cups whole milk

4-inch piece of vanilla bean pod

8 ounces good quality cooking chocolate, melted

4 egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar

Heat milk with vanilla bean in small saucepan. Remove from heat as soon as small bubbles form on the surface. Do not let it boil. Beat egg yolks with whisk. Gradually incorporate sugar and continue beating for about 5 minutes, until mixture is a pale yellow. Strain the milk and very slowly add to egg mixture drop by drop. Melt chocolate in double boiler, then pour custard mixture into double boiler with melted chocolate. Stir over moderate heat until the water in the pan is boiling and the custard thickens to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Freeze in ice-cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 3 ¾ cups.